Cheesecloth was originally used in the production of cheese, thus the name “cheesecloth”. Over the years, cheesecloth has been found useful for many other applications, such as in the kitchen where it is can be used for cooking or for general cleaning and polishing. Before you go ahead and use cheesecloth for anything, it is important to know what cheesecloth is made out of and the various cheesecloth grades. Each grade is meant for different applications. Choosing the right type of cheesecloth to accomplish your goals is important as it will save you money and help perform your tasks better. Grades are distinguished by the number of vertical and horizontal threads per inch. Cheesecloth grades come in open weaves #10 (20 x 12) #20 (20 x 16), finer weaves #40 (24 x 20), #50 (28 x 24), and #60 (32 x 38), and extra fine weaves grades #80 (40 x 32) and #90 (44 x 36).
Lower graded cheesecloth is a more loosely woven cotton and is (generally) the most economical and is disposable. Open weave cheesecloth can be used for all purposes such as waxing, cleaning, cooking, wine filtering (the holes from the open weave are close together enough to prevent solids from going through the cheesecloth, but are open enough to allow liquids to drain through), polishing or anything other household chores.
The finer weaves can be used for the same applications as the more open weaves, although they are of higher quality and are slightly less economical. They can also be used for faux paintings, arts and crafts, furniture finishing, making a Halloween costume, or covering items during the winter. It’s also good for cooking and cleaning too. Another advantage of finer weaves is the ability to wash and reuse them.
Extra fine weaves are also washable, stronger, more durable and reusable. They should be used for specialty uses like cheese making, dressmaking, decorating, book-binding, arts and crafts, making tea bags, butter muslin and goat cheese.