What Makes Swedish Dishcloths So Unique?

When U.S. home cooks think about getting a taste of Nordic style, Swedish candies, Swedish meatballs, or Smørrebrød sandwiches might come to mind. But, if your kitchen isn't already stocked with a Swedish dishcloth (or four), allow us to help you say "so long" to single-use paper products and turn you on to this tiny giant in green cleaning.

Swedish dishcloths are thin and ribbed, essentially reusable paper towels but with sponge-like absorbency and huge durability. They're made from a blend of 70% plant-based cellulose wood pulp and 30% cotton. The rigid, stiff cloth softens when dampened, thanks to the wood pulp. You can simply wipe one over a spill to soak it up, or wet it and use it to clean like you would normally use a regular paper towel or dish rag. Swedish dishcloths can also be used with cleaning agents like vinegar and dish soap. To clean the cloths themselves, simply wash 'em down with dish soap in the sink, or throw 'em in the laundry machine or dishwasher, then lay flat to dry. 

Swedish dishcloths can absorb 15 times their weight in liquid, but they also dry super quickly, which means less time for bacteria to get in there, unlike water-logged kitchen sponges, cotton dish towels, and microfiber cloths. (Bacteria are also what's responsible for that unpleasant sponge smell, by the way.) With regular use, a single cloth tends to last for six to nine months, but of course, its performance depends on how roughly it's used.

A greener cleaner

Up to 254 million tons of the trash in landfills worldwide is said to be paper towels. America alone generates an estimated 3,000 tons of that waste every single year. One Swedish dishcloth has the longevity of 15 to 17 rolls of paper towels, so it can keep trees in the forest, not in the landfill, and keep your money in your wallet.

Despite their impressive longevity, due to the natural cotton weave, Swedish dishcloths are 100% biodegradable in just six to eight weeks. Just remember to dispose of it in the compost bin, not one that goes to landfill. Ditch the non-compostable plastic sponges, and dig the whimsical designs to boot. These cloths are also available in solid colors to match your kitchen decor when you wipe down your countertops, floors, appliances, and stovetop after cooking. You can even safely use them on glass, streak-free. Splattered a loose tomato sauce on your kitchen window? No biggie. Also, for apartment-dwellers, a dishcloth folded in a drawer demands way less space than a big ol' paper towel roll eternally occupying your precious countertop area.

Different brands of Swedish dishcloths are available from a wide variety of online retailers such as Touch of Finland, Three Bluebirds or SWEDEdishcloths, or all over Amazon, all for around $5-$7 each. To keep the green train running, ditch the aluminum foil for reusable beeswax wrap. We're also fans of eco-friendly charcoal and planet-friendly wine as part of a sustainable home kitchen.