What to Use If You Don’t Have Cheesecloth
These substitutes are likely close at hand in your house
Erin Huffstetler is a writer with experience writing about easy ways to save money at home.
Cheesecloth is gauze-like, woven cotton cloth. Its original purpose was for making and wrapping homemade cheese, but it has become a useful tool in other recipes as well. It is used as a strainer when a fine sieve is needed, as a cover for roast turkey or chicken to keep the bird moist, and is made into little pouches for herbs for seasoning meats, broth, soups, and other dishes.
Cheesecloth is something we may not often have in our kitchen. If you don’t have any on hand, luckily there are plenty of alternatives. Just make sure the item is clean before cooking.
Since cheesecloth is cotton, other types of cotton fabric will work as a substitute. You can use a flour sack towel, pillowcase, bandana, scrap of fabric, clean cloth diaper, cloth napkin, or jelly bag to strain foods or contain little bundles of herbs. Choose something you don’t care about because the food you’re straining can permanently stain the fabric. Use a rubber band to secure the fabric over a bowl so it’s held taut while you pour and be sure to pour liquids through the fabric slowly so they have time to work their way through. Don’t forget to toss the fabric in the wash when finished.
Fine Mesh Bag
Fine mesh bags have many uses around the home, from laundry to food-making to painting. In place of cheesecloth, you can use a laundry bag, nut milk bag (used for making almond milk), mesh bag (used for making alcohol), or a paint strainer bag (found in hardware stores) to strain broths, cheeses, yogurts, and other foods. Many people find mesh bags worth buying for the simple reason that they’re much easier to clean than cheesecloth and last a lot longer. If you’ve ever worked with cheesecloth before, you know just how quickly it wears out and how difficult it can be to clean.
Fine Wire Sieve
If you need cheesecloth for straining, a fine wire sieve is often more than adequate for foods like broths and cheeses. It won’t catch quite as many of the fine particles as cheesecloth, so you need to choose the sieve that makes sense for the recipe. For example, if perfectly clear, seed-free jelly is important to you, using a fine wire sieve won’t bring you the results you want.
Although not as common anymore when it comes to fashion, stockings are useful in many other ways—including as a substitute for cheesecloth. Create the perfect strainer by stretching a clean pair of pantyhose or tights over a large mixing bowl. You can also cut off one of the feet, stick some herbs inside, and tie it shut for a spice pouch. Toss the pantyhose in the wash when you’re done and reuse it again and again.
Whether you have disposable coffee filters or a reusable one, either will work in place of cheesecloth when straining. Since the weave of the material is pretty tight (it has to be to keep the grounds out of your coffee), you’ll find it does a beautiful job of straining other foods. If using the filter from your coffee maker, just be sure to clean it well before returning it to the machine.
Cheesecloth is used as a strainer in certain recipes. Several items can be substituted for cheesecloth, many of which you may have at home.
Where to Buy Cheesecloth & How to Find it in the Grocery Store Aisles
Not sure where to find the cheesecloth in the grocery store? Here are the aisles to check.
We’ll also show you which stores you’ll most likely find it in. But first, we’ll give you some links in the table below that you can use to buy it online if you don’t feel like going to the store.
If You’re Looking for High-Quality
If You Want Something Reusable
If You’re Trying to be Eco-Friendly
If You’re Looking for Bulk
If You Want the Most Bang for Your Buck
If You’re Looking for Budget-Friendly
If You Want Pure Cotton
Which Aisle Is Cheesecloth In?
Most times, you’ll be able to find cheesecloth in the aisle of the grocery store with the cooking implements like spatulas, measuring cups and baking dishes.
If you haven’t spotted it in the grocery store, you can check the sewing aisle of any fabric store. There’s a good chance you’ll see it there.
Even some hardware stores sell cheesecloth. You may need to do some digging to find the aisle it’s in, but check the kitchen section as well wherever cleaning supplies are kept (some types of household maintenance and clean-up can be done with it).
Whether you’re trying to narrow down which specific places near you carry cheesecloth or you’re shopping for it online, our store guide below will help you find what you’re looking for.
Where to Buy Cheesecloth?
For sure, you’ll have no trouble getting cheesecloth on Amazon. Choose the yardage that best suits your needs as well as the specific type.+
If you do end up shopping on Amazon, this product is a great find.
Or for extra convenience, consider this nut milk bag which is easier to use than a cheesecloth.
2. Whole Foods
Any Whole Foods should carry cheesecloth. It could be stocked in various locations, including the produce area and the aisle with food storage products. When in doubt, ask an employee—they’ll help you locate it fast.
Use Walmart’s online store locator to see if the store in your area has cheesecloth (it should).
You can buy cheesecloth at Target or have it shipped to you.
Some CVS stores carry Kitchenmate Cheesecloth. Use the store locator on the company website to see if your CVS has it. Also check Rite Aid, Walgreens or any drug store in your area.
6. Michael’s Crafts
Michael’s Crafts sells cheesecloth by the yard, though it may only be available online. You should be able to buy smaller quantities in standard-sized packages in the stores.
7. JoAnn Fabrics
You’ll find cheesecloth sold by the yard here, too, as well as the kind in the grocery store.
8. Home Depot
Here’s another place to get ample square footage of cheesecloth, though you may need to ask for directions to find its aisle.
Safeway supermarkets should have at least one type of cheesecloth.
Kroger, too. Different stores may sell different brands, but you should spot it alongside the kitchen tools.
Your local Albertson’s will also stock cheesecloth with the cooking utensils.
Here’s a Related Article For You: Where to Find Cacao Nibs in the Grocery Store
Can You Buy Cheesecloth at the Grocery Store?
Most grocery stores will carry cheesecloth, but it’s probably just easier to order it online because of how many different varieties and lengths you have available.
What Can Be Used Instead of Cheesecloth?
Any item that’s a thin cotton fabric that liquids can flow through will work instead of cheesecloth. Some ideas to use instead would be: a t-shirt, cloth napkin or coffee filter. Make sure that these things are unbleached and don’t have dye.
Do I Need to Wash Cheesecloth Before Using?
Typically, there’s never a need to wash your cheesecloth before use. I usually don’t do it.
But if you feel your cheesecloth might have a bit of dust or debris on it, it’s not going to hurt to wash it or rinse it in cold water.
Can You Wash & Reuse Cheesecloth?
I like to wash my cheesecloth in fragrance free soap and reuse it a few times. But after a while, it becomes too stretched out and very stained. At this point, I think it’s just best to throw it away or use it as a cleaning rag.
Some cheesecloth products will be more durable and wash better than others. It’s best to consult the manufacturer directions of your specific product.
Wondering where to buy cheesecloth and how to find it in the aisles of your local grocery store or supermarket? We'll tell you everything you need to know.