Cheesecloth was once only used to separate curds from whey in cheesemaking. Today, you can use it to make nut milk, prepare greek yogurt, or extract ginger juice, too. With all its various applications, it can be nice to save and reuse cheesecloth instead of buying new sheets every time. If the label on your cheesecloth says one-time use only, you may be able to wash it by hand once or twice, but it will start to break down very soon. If you invest in high-quality cheesecloth, however, you can hand wash it or launder it in the washing machine with your kitchen towels and reuse it nearly indefinitely.

EditWashing by Hand

  1. Rinse your cheesecloth in hot water immediately after use. Try to remove as many bits of food as you can. The faster you get to rinsing the cheesecloth, the easier it will be to get food and stains out of it. If you donít have time to rinse it thoroughly right away, put it in a bowl of hot water to soak until you can wash it.[1]
  2. Soak the cheesecloth in a baking soda solution to remove tough debris. If your cheesecloth has bits of food or stains that are difficult to get out with just hot water, add baking soda to a hot water soak. Use Ĺ cup (90 g) baking soda per 1 gallon (3.75 L) of water. Leave the cheesecloth in the solution for 10-30 minutes, depending on how severe the stains are. Rinse the cheesecloth thoroughly after you soak it.[2]
  3. Add white vinegar or lemon juice to the soak water to fade stains and debris. If you have extra stubborn debris or stains on the cheesecloth, add a stain fighting ingredient to your baking soda soak solution. Simply add of white vinegar or lemon juice per 1 gallon (3.75 L) of hot water along with the baking soda before you soak the cheesecloth.[3]

    • You can also spot-treat a stain by dipping a toothbrush into the vinegar or lemon juice and rubbing it against the stain before you soak it.
    • Be sure to rinse the cheesecloth very thoroughly after to wash out all the vinegar and lemon juice. They can attract fruit flies if not completely rinsed out of the cheesecloth.

  4. Boil the cheesecloth for 5 minutes for extra sterilization. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Place your cheesecloth inside and let it boil for at least 5 minutes. This will **** any lingering bacteria that may be left in the cheesecloth.[4]

    • Itís a good idea to boil the cheesecloth every time after you use it, whether youíve just rinsed it or if youíve soaked it to get rid of stubborn debris.

EditLaundering in the Washing Machine

  1. Rinse the cheesecloth before you launder it to get rid of food debris. Run the cheesecloth under hot water immediately after you use it so the food stains donít set into the cloth. Hang it to dry until you are ready to put it in the washing machine.

    • Itís best not to put wet cheesecloth pieces in the laundry basket because it can encourage mold growth.

  2. Wash high-quality cheesecloth in the washing machine. If you have a cheesecloth thatís designed for reuse and made from a high-quality knit material (like cotton), you can wash it with other kitchen cloths. Use a detergent meant for delicate fabrics. It should be free of dyes or perfumes, which could damage the cheesecloth or leach out into your food. Use warm or hot water in the wash and a cold water rinse with bleach.[5]

    • Avoid using a fabric softener when cleaning your cheesecloth. The extra fragrance and softening agents will leave a coating on your cheesecloth and can leach into your food the next time you use it.[6]
    • Cheesecloth thatís labeled single-use cannot be washed in the washing machine. You may be able to hand wash it and reuse once or twice, but itís better to buy cheesecloth meant for reuse.

  3. Launder muslin with other towels in the washing machine. If you use muslin as an extra-sturdy cheesecloth alternative, you can easily wash it in your washing machine. Add it in the same load with your kitchen or bath towels. Check the label on your detergent to make sure it doesnít contain dyes or fragrances that could contaminate your food the next time you use the muslin.

    • Avoid using fabric softener for your muslin, as it could cause buildup on the cloth that can leach into your food.
    • The muslin will shrink after you wash it the first time.[7]
    • Pick a lightweight unbleached muslin as an easy to clean cheesecloth alternative. Unbleached muslin will have a natural cream color.[8]
    • Find muslin at your local fabric store. Tell them you are looking for muslin to use as cheesecloth for straining or squeezing.

EditDrying and Storing

  1. Dry the cheesecloth in the dryer or outside in the sun. After youíve washed your cheesecloth by hand or in the washing machine, put it through a hot cycle in the dryer. You can also dry it outside in the sun if itís hot outside and it can dry quickly. Hang it on a clothesline or d**** it over a clean chair in direct sunlight.[9]
  2. Fold and store the cheesecloth in a plastic bag. When the cheesecloth is completely dry, fold it 2 or 3 times until it forms a small square or rectangle. Store it in a cool, dry place in an airtight plastic bag until you are ready to use it again.
  3. Reuse sterilized cheesecloth even if itís stained. Itís natural that cheesecloth will get stained sooner or later. If the stain doesnít wash out in the laundry, it wonít leach out into your food, either. Be sure to sterilize the cheesecloth by boiling it after you hand wash it or launder it in the washing machine. Dry the cheesecloth before you store it.

    • If the stains really bother you, add bleach to your soak water the next time you wash the cheesecloth. Use bleach per 1 gallon (1.75 L) water.

EditThings You'll Need

EditWashing by Hand

  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar or lemon juice
  • Pot
  • Hot water

EditLaundering in the Washing Machine

  • Gentle detergent
  • Bleach

EditDrying and Storing

  • Plastic bag
  • Clothesline

EditSources and Citations

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