Cheesecloth is a woven cotton fabric similar to gauze with small holes so that the air can flow through it. It is used in cheese production to protect the cheese while it ages and allowing it to breathe. And yes, you can reuse cheesecloth if it’s not labeled as “one-time-use”.
It is also used when the liquid is drained from cheese curds. If there is too much moisture they can’t be shaped into wheels and left to age. One of the cheeses which are wrapped into a cheesecloth while they age is the cheddar cheese also known as wrapped or bandage cheddar.
You can use cheesecloth to make ricotta, goat cheese, farmers’ cheese, tofu, ghee, etc. Or you can use it to strain the stock, soup, nut milk, yogurt, and juices. When you are buying cheesecloth always buy high-quality cheesecloth which can be washed and reused many times.
Ultra-fine and tightly woven cheesecloths make great choices for making cheese. They will hold the cheese curds while they are being separated from the whey.
Avoid low-quality cheesecloth with a one-time use label because it will break down after the first use and you will have to buy another one.
Can I Wash and Reuse Cheesecloth?
You can wash the cheesecloth in the washing machine or by hand and reuse it.
For washing by hand, first, remove the small parts of the cheese or other leftovers you used the cheesecloth for and rinse it thoroughly.
Add half a cup of baking soda to one gallon of hot water and soak the cheesecloth for 10-30 minutes. Rinse the cheesecloth and all the stains will be gone.
If you have any stubborn stains on your cheesecloth you can add ¼ cup of lemon juice or white vinegar and a half cup of baking soda in 1 gallon of hot water and soak the dirty cheesecloth for 30-60 minutes. Rinse it until it is completely clean and all the vinegar or lemon is washed out.
You can also wash high-quality cheesecloth in a washing machine. Just use mild detergent for delicate fabrics free of perfumes and hot water. Don’t use any fabric softeners because they can add an odor to your food.
If you want your cheesecloth to be sterilized and free of bacteria, you can boil it after every use. Bring a pot of water to boil and place the cheesecloth inside to boil for 10-15 minutes.
Rinse the cheesecloth and dry it in a dryer or direct sunlight. Fold it and store it in an airtight plastic bag in a dry and cold place until the next use.
Do I Need to Clean Cheesecloth?
You need to clean the cheesecloth after every use.
Remove the small leftovers with cold water. If you don’t have time, leave it to soak in hot water and wash it later. You can wash the cheesecloth in a washing machine or by hand.
However, don’t forget to dry it because molds can be formed on the wet cheesecloth and destroy it. If your cheesecloth is labeled “one-time-use”, you can wash it by hand but after one or two washings it will be shredded.
Can you Reuse Cheesecloth for Cold Brew?
You can reuse cheesecloth for cold brew. After you put the ground coffee beans in cold water for about 12 hours you will have to strain the liquid.
Place the cheesecloth over the container and pour the coffee over it. Rinse the cheesecloth with cold water to remove the leftover coffee and wash it with hot water. Rinse well and dry it so you can use it again.
What Can be Used Instead of Cheesecloth?
Butter muslin, fine-mesh bags, flour sack towels, large handkerchiefs, fine wire sieve, coffee filter, and pantyhose make great replacements in detail.
Also check: 11 Best Substitutes for Cheesecloth
1. Butter muslin
Butter muslin is also used in cheese production because it is tightly woven and can hold in small curds. Due to the tighter weave of butter muslin, the soft and moist cheeses can preserve a part of the moisture and cheese fats and not been completely drained.
Butter muslin is also harder for cleaning because small parts of the curds, flavors, and odors can stick to it more easily. It also costs more expensive than the cheesecloth. And you can easily find it in the stores which sell cheesecloth.
You can clean it the same way as cheesecloth. You should rinse it right after use and wash it with hot water and mild detergent. Rinse it thoroughly, dry it and store it in a plastic zipper bag until the next use.
You can sterilize the butter muslin after every use if you boil it for about five minutes to prevent any contamination with harmful bacteria.
2. Fine-mesh bags
Fine-mesh bags are usually made of nylon and are sold in different sizes. They are used to strain nut milk, and alcohol, for laundry and painting purposes.
Fine mesh bags are stain-resistant, easy to clean and last longer than cheesecloth. You can wash them in a washing machine or by hand and reuse them many times.
3. Flour sack towels
Flour sack towels are made of cotton and have many uses in the kitchen. They have tight waves and you can use them instead of cheesecloth for straining. Flour sack towels can be washed like the cheesecloth and reused many times.
4. Large handkerchiefs
Large handkerchiefs are made of linen, cotton, or synthetic fabric. They are budget-friendly, you can clean them easily and reuse them many times. Wash them with hot water after every use to keep them clean and safe for the next time you use them.
5. Fine wire sieve
A fine wire sieve can be used instead of cheesecloth to strain some food and juices. It will not catch the smaller parts of the food but you can strain cheese, broth, juice, or soup. After use just rinses it with hot water, rinse and it is ready for the next use.
6. Coffee filter
Both disposable and reusable coffee filters make a great substitute for cheesecloth. They would strain any liquid or food because they are made to strain the small coffee parts.
After you use the coffee filter make sure to clean it if it is reusable so you can enjoy your coffee free of any bad smell.
You can use a pair of new pantyhose as a substitute for cheesecloth. All you need to do is to stretch them over a bowl and strain the cheese, juice, stock, or whatever you want.
You will get nicely strained food because they have a fine texture and will catch even the small parts. After using the wash and save them for the next time you will need to strain something.
If you make cheese, fruit juices, and jams at home you have to strain them. Therefore, you can use cheesecloth or some of the substitutes we mentioned in this article.
You can use whatever else you have at home and save money. Or you can buy butter muslin and use it longer with proper cleaning and storing. It is all up to you.