Cheesecloth is so versatile, from straining stocks and cheesemaking to bundling herbs. This handy tool is a staple in many kitchens across the world.
You can use cheesecloth to make a great variety of homemade delights, including cheese and bitter.
But what can you use if you don’t have a cotton cheesecloth at home? Luckily, there are plenty of cheesecloth substitutes that do a great job at straining.
Here are our 13 best cheesecloth substitutes that you can use instead of a traditional cheesecloth.
1. Kitchen Towel
One of the quickest and easiest alternatives to cheesecloth is a kitchen towel. There is always a kitchen towel lying around somewhere.
Just make sure that your kitchen towel is made with unbleached cotton to ensure that your cheesecloth substitute is food safe.
Simply place the kitchen towel firmly over a pitcher and then pour your mixture through it. This will strain all the unwanted parts from the mixture, leaving only the liquid.
As kitchen towels are also made with cotton, they absorb some of the liquid, so you will need to squeeze this out by hand.
2. Organic Cotton Fabric
Fabric cotton of any kind is ideal as a cheesecloth alternative, from handkerchiefs to pillowcases.
Depending on what you want to strain, you will need a large enough piece of cotton material to use as a cheesecloth.
Plus, check that your cotton fabric is free from bleaches and synthetic dyes as they could end up in your food.
The best cotton material is organic cotton that’s grown without pesticides and chemicals.
3. Unused Flat Fold Cloth Diapers
This may be an unusual cheesecloth substitute but cloth diapers are made from muslin which is perfect for straining.
Make sure that the reusable diapers are new and unused. They also shouldn’t contain any chemicals, such as dye or bleach.
The advantage of flat cotton diapers is that you just throw them into the washing machine.
4. Cotton Pillowcase
If you have an old pillowcase that you don’t use anymore, then you can recycle it as a cheesecloth.
Simply put the clean pillowcase over your dish and strain your chosen mixture through it.
Pillowcases have a fine cotton weave that holds even smaller bits back, so you end up with a clear broth.
This being said, the cotton will absorb some of the liquid, so make sure to squeeze it out after you are done.
5. Clean Panty Hose
If you don’t have anything obvious that could work as a cheesecloth substitute, then you can use clean stockings or a pantyhose as an alternative to cheesecloth.
Made from nylon, these wearables are usually extremely flexible which makes it easier to stretch them over a bowl.
In addition, you can even use it as herb storage. Just cut the panty hose into small pieces, stuff your herbs inside and hang them up to allow the herbs to air.
6. Thick Paper Towels
A good power towel is so flexible that you can use it even for straining. Make sure that you only use a multi-ply paper towel that is strong enough to stay in place.
This being said, you can’t reuse paper towels which is fine as a one-off cheesecloth alternative but it can be expensive if you regularly use this method.
7. Muslin Yarn
Muslin fabric or yarn is the perfect alternative to cheesecloth. If you use organic muslin, then you don’t need to worry about dyes or chemicals ending up in your food.
Standard muslin has a slightly finer weave than cheesecloth which means that it only allows the liquid to get through, holding back any larger pieces.
Plus, muslin is easy to wash and you can reuse it as often as you like.
8. Thin Mesh Bags
Fine mesh bags are super versatile around the kitchen. You can use them for straining dairy or stocking herbs and other treats.
Non-toxic mesh bags are a fantastic cheesecloth alternative that you can reuse several times.
9. Fine Sieve
An extremely fine sieve can also work well as a cheesecloth substitute. Just make sure that the gaps and holes between the tiny wires aren’t too big.
It should allow only the liquid through and catch the larger pieces.
While a finely meshed sieve is not as good as a cheesecloth, it’s still an easy kitchen tool that you might already have at home.
10. Coffee Filters
Coffee filters fulfill exactly the same function as a cheesecloth. Both are perfect for straining and catching larger particles.
In fact, coffee filters usually have a tighter weave than cheesecloth because they need to filter out the finely ground coffee.
If you choose to use coffee filters as a cheesecloth substitute, then pour your mixture slowly through the filters and allow some time for the filtering process.
Depending on what type of coffee filters you use, you may need to dispose of the filters after straining or you can wash them and reuse them for your next concoction.
11. Medical Gauze
Standard cheesecloth is a loosely-woven gauze fabric that is similar to sterile medical gauze.
While medical gauze is slightly thinner, it can still strain a variety of different liquids and ingredients.
You may want to use double layers of medical gauze to ensure that all the pieces come out.
12. Cotton Hankies
Cotton handkerchiefs may be dying out as a fashion accessory but if you still have some lying around, then you can use plain hankies as a substitute for cheesecloth.
Just keep in mind that you need to use a small enough bowl or pitcher where you can stretch over your hankie.
13. Flour Sack Towels
Flour sack dish towels are tough and durable. Made from linen or cotton, these versatile kitchen tools are perfect for keeping bread warm or storing grains.
Their fine texture also makes flour sack towels the ideal cheesecloth alternative. However, these highly-absorbent towels soak up a lot of liquid, so make sure to squeeze them out.
Cheesecloth is wonderfully versatile but you can also use any of the best cheesecloth substitutes to whisk together some homemade treats.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can use a linen dish towel or a paper towel as a cheesecloth substitute. Alternatively, you can also use a strainer with a coffee filter to strain broth and stock.
No, flour cloth and cheesecloth are not exactly the same material. Cotton flour cloth is reusable and you can easily wash it.
On the other hand, cheesecloth gets dirty after a few uses and it’s much more difficult to clean.
The 13 Best Cheesecloth SubstitutesCourse: Substitutes
Cheesecloth is super versatile but if you don’t have any at home? Here are our 13 best cheesecloth substitutes that you can easily use at home.
Organic Cotton Fabric
Unused Flat Fold Cloth Diapers
Clean Panty Hose
Thick Paper Towels
Thin Mesh Bags
Flour Sack Towels
- Decide on what substitute you need
- Pick a substitute from the list above
- Read what you need to substitute with
- Create the recipe and enjoy
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