Kitchen sink with Grove European dish cloth hanging on the sink rim

We tried it: 5 ways to use European dish cloths.

Last Updated: February 1, 2022

Reusable, eco-friendly, and biodegradable—what's not to love about European dish cloths? Read on to see how well these cloths (aka Swedish dish cloths) hold up to an obstacle course of filth.

By Mackenzie Sanford

I’m not very good at cutting down on waste. Paper towels, cleaning wipes, synthetic sponges—I know they’re wasteful and bad for the environment, but I can’t seem to quit ‘em—they’re so darn convenient.

But since I discovered sustainable and reusable options for many of my favorite conveniences, I've been able to use them without feeling quite as guilty.

So when I found out about European dish cloths, my interest was piqued. I’m easily swayed by anything invented in Europe—it makes me feel fancy, and I like feeling fancy. And if it just so happens to be environmentally friendly, even better! Reusable, you say? European, you whisper in my ear? I’ll take two!

To test the effectiveness and strength of these nifty cloths, I created an obstacle course of filth that would make clean-freaks and health inspectors weep. Read on to see how well Grove Co.’s European Dish Cloths hold up to my dirty ministrations.

First, what is a European dish cloth?

A couple clean, unused Grove Co. European Dish Cloths

Grove Co. European Dish Cloths are reusable sponge cloths made from a sturdy, sustainable combination of biodegradable cellulose and cotton.

"Sponge cloth" sounds kind of strange, but that’s exactly what they are—the size of a washcloth with the absorbency of the strongest sponge you own. Most European dish cloths can hold up to 20x their weight in liquid—and they dry out faster than your average sponge, to boot.

Grove's European Dish Cloths come in packs of two, with different print options. Have a look!

Grove Tip

So what is a Swedish dish cloth?

A Swedish dish cloth is the same thing as a European dish cloth—surprise!

Swedish dish cloth lore says that they were invented by a Swedish engineer around 1949 named Curt Lindquist who, for reasons unknown, decided to put a sponge in a meat grinder, flatten it out, and mix it with cotton. A bit weird and random, but who am I to judge genius? Thus, the European or Swedish dish cloth was born.

A quick guide on European Dish Cloths

European Dish Cloth Infographic

How long do European dish cloths last?

Euro dish cloths last about 9–12 months, depending on how much and how rigorously you use them.

The best part? These little guys are compostable, so when your Euro cloth is ready to meet its maker (hey, Curt!), you can just toss it in the compost bin and avoid adding more waste to the landfills.

Love a visual? Have a look at this quick video on how to use the European dish cloth.

How to use a European dish cloth

Illustration of water droplets

European dish cloths are great for cleaning up any messes that call for paper towels, cleaning wipes, or a dish towel. Swedish dish cloths are rather stiff when dry and don’t do a very good job cleaning up messes until they've been moistened.

To use your cloth (by whichever name you choose), wet it first. It doesn't need to be dripping wet—just give it enough moisture so that it's pliable.

I tested out five uses for Grove’s European Dish Cloth, choosing tasks I’d normally clean with paper towels or a sponge. The pack of cloths came with two, but I chose to use the same one for all of my experiments so I could compare the two after I finished playing mad scientist.

Task 1: Doing the dishes

I wanted to see how the Euro cloth compared to my beloved microfiber cloth and, of course, a sponge.

To do this, I covered three plates in gouda cheese, Kewpie mayo, red chili paste, frozen blueberries, and molasses, then nuked them for three minutes and let ‘em chill on the counter all afternoon while I hung out with my sister.

Dirty dishes with colorful food messes waiting to be cleaned

Dishes before cleaning

Three clean plates with European dish cloth, sponge and microfiber towel

Dishes after cleaning with European Dish Cloth

The verdict

A few hours later, I came back and scrubbed the heck out of them with the help of Mrs. Meyer's dish soap (the peony scent is my fav).

You won’t be surprised to hear that the sponge scrubbed off all that hardened cheese more quickly than the other two, but you might be a bit surprised (I know I was) to hear that the Euro cloth performed better than the microfiber. 8/10

Task 2. Cleaning up baking messes

I made scones and, in the interest of good journalism, made an even bigger mess than usual so I could try out the Swedish dish cloth.

Here we have flour, semi-soft butter clumps, walnuts, and egg goo. So, how’d the dish cloth do?

Messy counter after a baking project with flour and dough all over

Baking mess before clean up

Messy counter after a baking project in the middle of being wiped up with a European dish cloth

Baking mess mid-clean up

Clean kitchen counter with a Grove European dish cloth and a bottle of vinegar cleaning spray

Baking mess after clean up with vinegar spray and dish cloth

The verdict

What a champ! The Euro cloth was definitely on par with a regular washcloth as far as cleaning up big messes goes. It handled my floury detritus with zero issues.

Could I have used a dish towel for this? Sure! But the towel would then have to be tossed in the laundry. All the Euro dish cloth took was a quick rinse in the sink, and I was able to use it with a 1:1 ratio of distilled white vinegar and water to wipe down the counter. Immaculate. 10/10

Task 3. Sopping up spills

Ever the cynic, I decided that the European dish cloth probably couldn’t absorb 20x it’s weight and that it was just a marketing ploy ol’ Curt devised to boost sales.

To test my theory, I poured one cup of Oatly and promptly spilled it all over the counter.

Before cleaning up the oat milk spill

Midway through cleaning up the oat milk spill

After cleaning up the oat milk spill with the European Dish Cloth

The verdict

I was legit shocked when this cloth absorbed an entire cup of oat milk. It took two rounds to fully sop up all of the milk—I wrung the cloth out over the sink once and, still damp, laid it out to suck up the last bit of liquid.

I shudder to think how many paper towels I’d have wasted to clean up all that milk. 11/10

Task 4. Wiping down the mirror

To really give the cloth a run for its money, I scrounged under the sink and found a bottle of noxious glass cleaner that contains ammonia and probably predates the internet.

I wanted to see if a) the cloth would dissolve immediately upon contact with the expired chemicals and b) if it would leave streaks.

A reflection of a person taking a photo of a dirty bathroom mirror with their phone

Mirror before clean up

Person taking a photo of the bathroom mirror they just cleaned with a European dish cloth

Mirror after clean up with European Dish Cloth

The verdict

The Swedish dish cloth stayed in one piece when lesser cloths would have crumbled, all while delivering a streak-free shine. 10/10

Task 5. Cleaning the bathroom counter

For my final test, I used Bon Ami to clean the bathroom counter. I wanted to see if an abrasive cleaning powder would tear or shred the Swedish dish cloth.

Bon Ami isn't actually from France, by the way—it's from Kansas City, MO. But it sounds European and it’s eco-friendly, which is why I use it. Well, that, and it’s just an all-around great natural cleaner.

Dirty bathroom counter next to sink

Bathroom counter before clean up

Bathroom counter in the middle of being wiped with a European dish cloth

Bathroom counter mid-clean up

Clean bathroom counter next to the sink

Bathroom counter after clean up with Bon Ami and dish cloth

As you can see, I did not treat the cloth gently. I balled that baby up and scoured off makeup, dried-on hair gel, and leftover soap scum.

No rips! No shedding! The cloth stayed totally intact and did a great job of cleaning my daily grit and grime. 10/10

How to clean European dish cloths

European dish cloth nice and clean in the dishwasher

Grove's European Dish Cloths are microwave and dishwasher safe, which makes ‘em super easy to clean.

Here are the four ways you can clean and sanitize your dish cloth:

1. Put it in the dishwasher.

When you’re ready to run a load of dishes, place the cloth in the top rack of your dishwasher and let 'er run.

2. Clean by hand.

Just grab your favorite dish soap then work it into the cloth. Then, rinse it thoroughly and let it air dry.

3. Toss in the microwave.

A quicker way to sanitize the cloth is to get it wet and put it in the microwave for one to two minutes on high.

4. Boil the cloth.

Sanitize your cloth by placing it in boiling water for a couple of minutes. Then, let it air dry.

My final thoughts

Two European dish cloths on the counter: 1 new, 1 just washed

Here's a side-by-side comparison of my cloth after using it and washing it in the dishwasher vs, the cloth I didn’t use. Lookin' pretty good! It definitely shrunk a bit as it dried but grew to its original size again after I ran it under the sink.

Overall, I’m totally thrilled with Grove’s European Dish Cloths. They’re an easy and effective substitute in any instance where you’d normally reach for single-use paper towels, a dish towel, or non-biodegradable sponges. I’m excited to put both of the cloths into circulation and see how much filth and mistreatment they can take before I need to replace them.

Mackenzie Sanford is a writer and musician trying not to burn her house down in the Midwest.

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