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How to wash cheesecloth: a step-by-step guide

Cheesecloth is a versatile kitchen tool with many applications, from wrapping cheese and straining liquids to basting poultry and bundling herbs. But like any fabric that’s exposed to food particles and oils, cheesecloth needs to be washed regularly to stay clean and ready for the next use. 

Fortunately, cleaning cheesecloth is easy—all you need is a mesh laundry bag, hot water, mild detergent and optional items like cleaning wipes. Learn how to wash and care for your cheesecloth to reuse it again and again.

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What is cheesecloth?

Cheesecloth, often called butter muslin, is a gauzy cotton fabric used for a variety of cooking and crafting purposes. It’s used to wrap herbs and spices, strain liquids and even help with cheese-making.

To make sure food remains uncontaminated, it’s important to clean cheesecloth properly after each use. Doing so will help ensure it stays in optimal condition and free from any particles or debris.

What is cheesecloth made of?

Cheesecloth is a lightweight, open-weave fabric typically made from cotton thread. The thin, gauze-like material is designed to allow liquids to pass through while capturing small solids.

Can you wash and reuse cheesecloth?

It’s important to check the label or packaging when using cheesecloth, as some are designed for single use only. If the cheesecloth is reusable, you can easily wash, dry and store it for future use in cooking or crafting projects. However, some may break down or become too worn after a single use and should not be reused.

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How to clean cheesecloth in the washing machine

Your washing machine is a quick and easy way to keep cheesecloth clean and fresh between uses. Just place your cheesecloth in a mesh laundry bag to help prevent snagging or tearing. Wash the cheesecloth with hot water and mild detergent on the Delicate cycle for a gentle wash action and low-speed spin. Give it an extra rinse with cold water to help ensure that it is clean before placing it in the dryer on a low or no heat setting, or hanging it to air dry.

Read on to learn how to wash and dry your cheesecloth properly.

  • Mesh laundry bag

  • Mild or gentle detergent

  • Cleaning wipes (optional, for messes and spills)

  • Washing machine

  • Dryer

  • Sink or basin (to rinse the cheesecloth before washing)
  • Scissors (if you need to cut the cheesecloth to a specific size or shape)

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Step 1: Rinse in hot water

Before washing cheesecloth, thoroughly rinse it under hot water to remove any visible debris or food particles from the material. You can use a basin or sink to soak the cheesecloth for a few minutes before wringing out any excess water.

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Step 2: Wash the cheesecloth

After placing it in a mesh laundry bag, add the cheesecloth and a mild detergent like Swash® Free and Clear1 to the washer, then select a gentle cycle with hot water. When the cycle is complete, be sure to remove the cheesecloth from the mesh bag and shake off any excess water. Then, give the cheesecloth an extra rinse with cold water to help remove detergent residue. Squeeze out the cheesecloth before tumble drying on a low or no heat setting, or air drying it.

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Step 3: Dry the cheesecloth

To dry the cheesecloth, place it in the dryer on a low or no heat setting. Avoid over-drying and remove the cheesecloth promptly after the time is up. You may also hang the cheesecloth to air dry. When dry, fold and store the cheesecloth until the next use.

Can you wash cheesecloth by hand?

Hand-washing your cheesecloth is just as easy as using the washer. Just rinse it thoroughly under hot water to remove any debris, then soak the cheesecloth in a basin with mild detergent and warm water for a few minutes. Rinse with cold water to help ensure detergent residue is rinsed away. Gently squeeze the excess water out and hang the cheesecloth to air dry.

Can you boil cheesecloth?

Boiling cheesecloth is a great way to clean it between uses without using bleach. Fill a medium pot with water and bring it to a boil, then add the cheesecloth. Boil the fabric for about five minutes before removing it from the heat and allowing it to cool completely.

How do you dry cheesecloth?

To dry your cheesecloth, you can use either the dryer or a drying rack. Air-dry the cloth by hanging it up until completely dry, or use the dryer on low or no heat (remember to remove it promptly once finished to avoid over-drying). High heat should be avoided, as it weakens the fabric’s fibers and can cause shrinkage, tearing and distortion of the material’s shape.

Explore Whirlpool® washers

Whirlpool® washers are designed to help streamline your laundry routine so you can spend more time with your family. Get the clean you need with features like the 2-in-1 Removable Agitator on select top load models by Whirlpool brand that help you customize care for all of your washable items, from cheesecloths to clothes.

Learn more laundry tips from Whirlpool brand

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1. Swash and the recommending brands are owned and distributed by Whirlpool Corporation.