Do you only rinse it with water and accept stains? Boil it? Soak it in bleach? Put it in the washing machine? Put it in the dishwasher? Are they disposable?

  • 4
    And the answer is - all of the above, depending on your personal parameters, frugality or lavishness, and the use you put it to.
    – Ecnerwal
    May 7, 2017 at 18:13
  • I've tried bleach and it makes fruit stains from jelly turn brown.
    – Chris H
    May 8, 2017 at 17:24
  • @ChrisH - Is that an endorsement for that method, or warning-away? :D May 8, 2017 at 20:33
  • @PoloHoleSet neither. If sterilising is important you might want to use bleach anyway. If appearance is important you probably won't want it to go brown and may appreciate my hint. If you only use it for cheese-making you don't need to worry.
    – Chris H
    May 9, 2017 at 5:48

3 Answers 3


To sterilise and degrease it, you can put it in a bowl of hot water with baking soda, and then steam it in a pan for half an hour, or better still, use a pressure cooker. Microwaving it works too but can be a bit messy - I do that to my dish sponges and small kitchen towels

  • Why does the cheesecloth need to be separated from the steam with a bowl? Why can't you boil it in a baking soda solution?
    – Chloe
    May 8, 2017 at 16:51
  • 3
    @Chloe, baking soda is alkaline and is hostile to both aluminium and stainless steel, and even some ceramics. This is just to preserve the pans really. Nowhere as bad as sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) used in food factories, but anything alkaline is really bad for aluminium, and bad for stainless over time.
    – user110084
    May 8, 2017 at 16:56

For real cheesecloth, I throw it in the washing machine, with my clothes. It doesn't get sterile, but it gets clean enough that I don't worry about it becoming rancid. Rinsing it alone wouldn't suffice if you've been using it to strain fatty foods, like yogurt or cheese.

For the cheap "cheesecloth" that sold in the cleaning sections of grocery stores, that would shred to threads if you tried to clean it. It's cheap and disposable, so just throw it out.

  • 1
    Do you end up with a scented cheesecloth after the wash from the detergent and softener?
    – user110084
    May 8, 2017 at 16:39
  • 3
    I generally use unscented products, so that's not a problem. You should probably avoid using a fabric softener with something you're going to use for food; just let it drip dry. May 8, 2017 at 16:47
  • 2
    I do this too. No softener and a light dose of lightly scented detergent, plus an extra rinse means it doesn't smell scented. I tend to use a hotter wash than normal (60C) and put in towels with it. The same for jelly bags.
    – Chris H
    May 8, 2017 at 17:21
  • 1
    I imagine that a dishwasher would do at least as well, and it is intended for food use. I just somehow feel that cloth goes in the washing machine ;-) May 8, 2017 at 17:26
  • 1
    The dishwasher doesn't actually do a great job, so I do both. Of course you wash tea (dish) towels in the washing machine and they're often used to cover food (e.g. a basket of bread) as well as to dry dishes you eat from.
    – Chris H
    May 9, 2017 at 5:52

Before the washing machine I put mine through the dishwasher, weighted or clipped to keep it out of the way of the spray arms and to spread it out. This gets the worst of the cheese (or tofu or whatever) off before the washing machine finishes the job, and after that sort of cooking I always have to run the dishwasher, while a suitable load of washing might have to wait.

In the washing machine I use a pre-wash with biotex unscented biological detergent, then a half dose of a minimally-scented detergent and an extra rinse.

I often give it a rinse in boiling water before use (with the aid of a wooden spoon) though not for jam or other things I'm about to boil.

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