Swedish Dishcloths Are the Reusable, Compostable, and Adorable Alternative to Paper Towels

updated Dec 20, 2023
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Cleaning and environmental friendliness can often be at odds, considering the harsh chemicals in cleaning products, the plastic containers they come in, and all the paper towels used along with them. Of course, many people have come up with smart solutions, from cleaning with vinegar to repurposing old T-shirts as reusable cleaning rags. For those still trying to make their cleaning routines more environmentally sustainable, here’s one more solution: reusable Swedish dishcloths.

A rave review in New York Magazine’s The Strategist brought these cute, practical products to my attention. Made of a combination of cellulose and cotton, these small towels are both reusable and biodegradable, so you can compost them once they’re ready to retire. Depending on the specific listing, they promise to absorb 15 to 20 times their own weight in liquid, replace up to 17 rolls of paper towels, and last up to 200 washes in the washing machine. 

An added bonus: They come in a huge variety of cheerful prints to bring some joy into your household chores. Patterns include lemons, chickens, vegetables, llamas in decorative knitwear, retro coffee sets, and more. “No one brand is better than another with these, I’ve found,” writes Ashlea Halpern in The Strategist, “so I tend to just pick by pattern.”

Swedish dishcloths can be used for pretty much any household cleaning task. Halpern writes that she uses them for everything from dusting and wiping down countertops to scrubbing the toilet and cleaning up after her dog when it vomits. As long as you clean the cloths properly — by using bleach or boiling water — you can use them interchangeably for any kind of cleaning. Here’s how Halpern does it:

“When a cloth gets grungy, I wring it out with dish soap and hot water and nuke it in the microwave for 90 seconds. Unless the dog puked — in which case, I’ll use soap and water, give it a good hard squeeze, and chuck it in the washing machine with the rest of the laundry. One spin cycle later and it’s good as new.”

Want to see if they live up to the hype? A set of three of these dishcloths comes in at $18 and is available in your choice of 30 (!) prints. Here’s to making your kitchen a little more eco-friendly, one fun product swap at a time.

This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Swedish Dishcloths Are the Reusable, Compostable, and Adorable Alternative to Paper Towels