What Are Swedish Dishcloths?

If you've never tried a Swedish dishcloth, here's why you should.

patterned swedish dishcloth bundle on green background
Photo: Amazon

You've seen Swedish dishcloths in advertisements or simply on display at retail stores, but perhaps you've never thought to invest in one. Their premise seems too good to be true: inexpensive, super absorbent, and environmentally friendly — all that and they're printed with eye-catching designs — surely there has to be some kind of downside. But in their 72-year existence, Swedish dishcloths haven't garnered any reason for distrust. Whether you're an environmentalist, a Scandiphile, or are just looking to save some money, you might find that Swedish dishcloths will change the way you clean for good.

What Are Swedish Dishcloths?

Swedish dishcloths are highly absorbent towels that can be used for cleaning. Think of them as a cross between paper towels and sponges with a much longer lifespan. Created in 1949 by engineer Curt Lindquist, Swedish dishcloths are best known as a highly effective alternative to paper towels: They're far more absorbent and take less energy and material to create. If you're looking to reduce or even eliminate your paper towel use, a Swedish dishcloth will definitely get you there.

What Are Swedish Dishcloths Made From?

Swedish dishcloths are 70% wood pulp and 30% cotton, both ingredients that can be found in paper towels. However, Swedish dishcloths are far more effective and can replace at least 15 rolls of paper towels. They absorb much more water and can easily be wrung out and cleaned.

How to Use a Swedish Dishcloth

Using a Swedish dishcloth is remarkably easy — simply wet it and squeeze out the excess liquid to boost the cloth's absorbency. You can use your dishcloth in conjunction with a cleaning agent, such as vinegar, cleaning sprays, or even soap. But as absorbent as they are, Swedish dishcloths are not intended to dry surfaces, so you should keep a small towel on hand for that final dry and polish. Additionally, you shouldn't use a Swedish dishcloth on sharp surfaces, like blades or cheese graters.

How to Clean Swedish Dishcloths

Swedish dishcloths don't require any special cleaning techniques — in fact, you can just wash them with your next load of laundry or dirty dishes. According to Swedish dishcloth manufacturer Three Bluebirds, you can also boil or microwave them for a short time, or hand-wash them using a bleach solution. To dry your Swedish dishcloths, simply hang them or lay them flat on a surface such as a countertop or dish rack. Don't put a Swedish dishcloth in the dryer because it will shrink substantially.

Are Swedish Dishcloths Compostable?

Swedish dishcloths are compostable and 100% biodegradable. They'll take between 6 and 8 weeks to break down once discarded.

How Long Do Swedish Dishcloths Last?

Swedish dishcloths typically last for 6-9 months. A Swedish dishcloth's lifespan really depends on how often it's used and its quality of construction — Three Bluebirds attests their dishcloths can survive up to 200 uses and washes.

Where to Find Swedish Dishcloths

Swedish dishcloths are abundantly available from online retailers. However, they've started appearing more frequently at everyday kitchen stores and other shops.


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