For shop rags, we mostly use old T-shirts that have been washed and washed and are almost falling apart. But when I have a finishing operation where I want almost zero chance of lint or threads coming loose, I break into our stash of Huck towels.
I was turned on to Huck towels by Ty Black, who used to work in my shop. His then-wife worked at a local hospital and there were always surplus Huck towels around. One common use for them is to clean surgical instruments after they have been sterilized.
Huck towels are 16” x 22”, cotton, very absorbent and a tiny tiny bit rough in texture, which makes them ideal for buffing off wax, especially when it has flashed. We use them to buff out the wax finish on our lump hammers. And when I buff out black wax on furniture, I really like the Huck towels.
Note that their threads remain intact until you cut them, then they fray and you will get stray threads everywhere.
Advisory: I am not a rag expert. Bob Flexner spent an evening telling me all about the world of rags, which has a long history. So if you are one of those people, I’m sure we’ll hear from you in the comments.
Prices vary greatly. When I buy them in bulk, I usually pay about 50 cents per. Our last bag of 50 lasted about 10 years. We washed and rewashed them until they just about disappeared.
— Christopher Schwarz