12 Best Cheesecloth Substitutes [Easy Kitchen Strainer Hacks]

Best cheesecloth alternatives for ingredient straining. Easy kitchen strainers including towel fabrics, coffee filters, muslin cloth, and more.

Best Cheesecloth Substitutes

Cheesecloth is a thin, delicate fabric that can be used in many different ways. It’s the best material for straining ingredients to make tofu, ghee, custard, and (of course) cheese.

The problem with cheesecloth is that it can be expensive and hard to find. From coffee filters to colanders, here are the best cheesecloth substitutes to save you time and money.

What is cheesecloth?

Substitute for Cheesecloth

Cheesecloth is a porous material, similar to gauze or cotton, used to strain the proteins from milk to make cheese. Cheesecloth is loosely woven, which makes it a good filter. Recipes that need straining, like homemade ricotta, will work well with cheesecloth. The grade of the cloth depends on the number of squares per square inch.

What is cheesecloth used for?

Cheesecloth is used in recipes that need to be strained. Cheese is one of the foods you can make using cheesecloth, but it is not the only one. You can wrap the chicken in cheesecloth to help keep it moist and succulent. Who doesn’t want that! You can also use it in place of a colander and strain different foods. 

The porous nature of the cloth makes it great for dusting pastries, whether with flour, cinnamon, or icing sugar. A less conventional way to use it would be to bundle herbs with it. Also, because it looks like gauze, it can be used as part of your first aid kit. 

Taking it back to the kitchen, you use cheesecloth to cover food that you don’t want flies or bugs all over when you have cooked food. You can also get more life out of it by using it as a washcloth. It has a bit of an abrasive nature, so it is excellent for hand washing dishes. 

Substitute for Cheesecloth

Kitchen Towel

You may use a kitchen towel as a substitution. This is because towels have the same weaving of the fabric. The main downside is that they are made to absorb moisture, so you need to be more diligent and squeeze the towel out often. It’s also essential to ensure the towel is clean and has no dyes that can contaminate the food. 

Coffee Filters

A coffee filter is made to strain coffee grounds, so it makes a good substitute for cheesecloth. Also, they are made of similar weaving as cheesecloth. The difference is that it is usually finer, and they are made of paper, which means they are not as reusable as cheesecloth, neither are they durable, and they may tear or break when you strain using a filter.  

Fine Mesh Bags

Most fine mesh bags are made using nylon. They are a good substitution and will catch and filter grains. They have a similar weave as cheesecloth, and they can also be washed and reused, making them economical. 

Paper Towel

A paper towel isn’t the best substitute around, but it will do. It can easily break as soon as a liquid or water is added to it. However, you can still strain your soups and stews. It will easily strain but will lose a lot of whatever you are straining in the process.

Fine Wire Sieve

A sieve is a great way to sieve powdered substances like flour to get a finer result, or even rice or stews. It will also filter grains and such. A fine wire sieve can be reused, and it is food safe. It is also durable, making it a good substitute. 

Muslin Fabric

Muslin fabric is very similar to cheesecloth. It is woven similarly to cheesecloth. Liquid can easily pass through, and the bigger pieces remain. Because it is fabric, it can be washed and hence save you a penny or two. 

Cotton Handkerchiefs

You may also use a cotton handkerchief as a sufficient substitute. In most instances, they are made of linen. They work well in keeping the significant bits out and letting liquid, though. To be sure, it is free of contaminants that may come from the fabric. It is best to go for a dye-free handkerchief.


Yes, socks! This may seem like the last thing you want to let near your food. But, socks are woven to be breathable, and this makes them a good substitute for cheesecloth. You can strain liquids effectively. Just make sure they are clean. 

Straining Cloths

A straining cloth is made for precisely that. As such, the structure of the fabric weave works well. Also, you know it is food safe because they are made to be used around food. They are also washable, which makes them a good bet for your pocket especially. 

Sterile Medical Gauze

Medical gauze is made of porous material very similar to each other. as such. The two can be used in place of each other. The difference is that gauze is usually loosely woven, especially when compared to cheesecloth. It’s essential to make sure it hasn’t been used for anything else but the kitchen before you use it in place of cheesecloth to strain food. 

Cotton Fabric

Cotton fabric is breathable, and that’s why it’s a fan favorite for summer wear. But you can also use it in place of cheesecloth. It makes a good substitute because it’s so similar to cheesecloth, and cheesecloth is mostly cotton fabric. You can therefore look for just about any cotton fabric, including pillowcases, sheets, and whatever you can get your hands on. Make sure to choose a fabric with no artificial dye that could run into the food when you strain just as long as it is clean.


Another substitute that you can use is pantyhose. Just like socks, it seems like an unlikely substitute. The rule of thumb is that you need to make sure they are clean first. Pantyhose are stretchy and porous, too, which means that they can strain food well and effectively. To use a pair in place of cheesecloth, stretch it over a bowl and begin the straining. The liquid will seep into the bowl and leave the bigger bits on the top. You can also sieve the flour to get finer dust. 

The great thing about using a pair of pantyhose in place of cheesecloth is that you can also wash it and use it again another time. 

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