The Best Cotton Yarn for Making Dishcloths

A red handmade dishcloth hanging by a kitchen sink

Handmade dishcloths are so popular. They are easy to make and practical to use. A dishcloth is a great beginner knitting or crochet project or a fantastic way to try out a new stitch or technique.

My nan bought me a ball of cotton yarn to make dishcloths when I was about 8 and learning to knit. I gave her back a finished cloth, my mum had the other. I’m sure the cloths I made were full of dropped stitches and were funny shapes but they were well used.

For years we used J cloths in our house but searching for a better, more environmentally friendly option I swapped them a few years ago for shop bought cotton cloths. However, because they are white they stain easily, even when they are clean they don’t really look clean after a while. They also pull out of shape easily, twisting when they are washed.

I decided to have a go at making my own handmade dishcloths again. When I had that ball of yarn from my nan all those years ago (around 1978!) it just said “Dishcloth Yarn” on the ball band; easy peasy. When I searched online for dishcloth yarn now though it seemed a simple basic dishcloth yarn no longer exists and I was overwhelmed with all the options of cotton yarn. I found it much harder than I thought it would be to find a recommended yarn so thought I’d do my own research and share it here.

I thought red would be a good colour for my handmade dishcloths, we have red accessories in our kitchen plus I figured it wouldn’t show tea and coffee stains quite as badly as a light coloured yarn.

I purchased 6 different cotton yarns from Love Crafts. They have a great selection and delivery is really quick.

red cotton yarn for dishcloths a comparison

In order to make the test of the different yarns fair I set these rules:

I made the same simple C2C design in all the yarns using a great basic pattern from Eye Love Knots. I made my dishcloths an 11 C2C block square.

I used a 5mm hook throughout.

I measured the dishcloths when they were finished.

Each one was used normally as a dishcloth for a couple of days and then washed in the washing machine at 40 degrees centigrade in with a coloured wash. This was repeated so each cloth was used and washed twice.

best dishcloth yarns, 6 red dishcloths

Let me present my finding to you!

Before I get into the detail I will just say all the yarns worked well and made perfectly fine dishcloths. I’m just going to run through any minor issues I had and my thoughts on each one.

All these prices are correct as at October 2021.


a) King Cole Cottonsoft DK 100g ball £3.99 - Cherry (719)

A soft double knit (light worsted) yarn. Very easy to work with, no issues with splitting. They don’t have a very bright red available but the cherry colour I chose is lovely, it’s a little darker in real life with pink tones than it looks in some of these photos. Great value as it’s a 100g ball, I had lots left over so I think I’d get 3 dishcloths from this ball easily.

The finished dishcloth turned out 20cm x 19cm (8” x 7.5”) This is smaller than some of the others but that’s plenty big enough for my hands, and as I had lots left over I could always make another cloth a little bigger with more C2C blocks in each direction.

It washed well, no loss of colour and no shrinkage after 2 washes, a great soft dishcloth. It did seem to lose a little of its fluffiness after washing and became a little thinner and more gappy. I’m not sure I’m describing this very well! The photos below show it best. The colour balance is off in these 2 photos, I think one is morning light and one afternoon sun, but despite the difference I promise these are the exact same cloth! The one on the right has just been used and washed and actually shows the true colour of this yarn the best.

For me this thinning was actually an advantage, I found out I prefer a thinner cloth whilst doing this experiment, it dries nice and quickly between uses. I found all the yarns thinned a little like this after use but it was most noticeable with this King Cole Cottonsoft yarn.

before and after.jpeg

b) Lily Sugar ‘n Cream Solids Worsted 70g £2.49 - Red (0095)

Sugar ‘n Cream is a favourite in the US from what I can gather. This yarn is a worsted/aran weight so thicker than some of the others I tested.

It’s nowhere near as soft as some of the others I tried and as it’s thicker the finished cloth is much firmer and thicker than the others.

The finished dishcloth turned out 22.5cm x 21.5cm (8.75” x 8.5”)

I had some yarn left but not enough to make another whole cloth making this a more expensive option.

The finished cloth is very thick and absorbent, but for me it’s a little bit too thick. When it’s wet it’s harder to squeeze out for when I’m wiping down surfaces etc.

It was actually so thick that it didn’t dry quick enough for my liking either. I hang my cloth over the tap when it’s not in use to dry and this cloth was often still damp in the morning. If I made another I think I’d go up a hook size to make it more airy and then reduce the number of stitches so the cloth didn’t end up too big.


c) Rico Creative Cotton Aran 50g £2.39 - Red (05)

This is another aran yarn but to be honest it felt closer to a Double Knitting weight to me. It was the softest of all the yarns I tested and an absolute dream to work with. It did feel a little bit less substantial than some of the others.

The finished dishcloth turned out 20.5cm x 20.5cm (8” x 8”)

slightly bobbly.jpeg

After lots of use and 2 washes it did start to bobble slightly.

It made an adequate cloth which works fine but I think when I use this again in future, and I will be as it’s lovely, it will be for something like a baby cardigan or blanket. It’s a little more expensive than the others so will be better suited for something fancier, I think life as a dishcloth is a bit too tough on such a soft yarn.


d) Sirdar Happy Cotton DK 20g £0.99 - Ketchup (790)

At the time of ordering, this yarn was only available as a 20g mini ball and because I didn’t think it through properly I didn’t get 2 balls as I should have done!

I had to make a smaller cloth, only 10 C2C blocks ( instead of the 11 I did for the others) and no border. I simply ran out - a proper game of yarn chicken!


This cotton yarn is much less like a yarn and more like a string or twine. It’s still quite soft, not rough like a ball of garden twine but not super soft like the other yarns I tested. Because of this it feels very different to crochet with and has a much looser holey texture when finished.

The finished dishcloth was only 17.5cm x 17.5cm (7” x 7”)

This is the only yarn that has faded with repeated use and washing, it’s faded to almost a peach colour now. I feel like I shouldn’t like this yarn but I actually really love this one to use for a dishcloth. It’s small, absorbent and it dries quickly. Because it fades I don’t think I’d make a dishcloth to give as a gift with this yarn but I’d certainly consider it again for myself.


e) Epic Yarn and Colors Aran 50g £1.60 - Pepper (032)

A nice quality yarn, soft and very easy to crochet with. It’s really similar to the Rico Creative Cotton yarn but just a tiny bit firmer, not quite so soft (but only because the Rico yarn is super super soft!) .

The finished dishcloth turned out 20.5cm x 20.5cm (8” x 8”)

The cloth looks pretty much identical after 2 uses and washes to how it looked when first finished, no fading, still in good shape etc.


f) Paintbox Yarns Cotton Aran 50g £2.50 - Rose Red (614)

Another great quality yarn, in a blind test I’d be hard pushed to tell the difference between this and the Epic Yarn. They felt exactly the same to work with and I’m finding it difficult to point out any real differences. It is also little changed after plenty of use.

The finished dishcloth turned out 20.5cm x 20.5cm (8” x 8”)

This Paintbox yarn is a little more expensive than the Epic yarn but there appears to be more in a 50g ball. I had almost twice as a much left over after making the same size cloth. so the price difference may be a little deceptive.

a pile of red crochet dishcloths

I made one square dishcloth from each yarn. This is what I had leftover in each.

So, in conclusion:

My overall best buy is a) the King Cole Cottonsoft.

My second choice would be jointly e) Epic Yarn and Colors and f) Paintbox Cotton.

If you like a big, thick cloth then Lily Sugar ‘n Cream is your best bet.

If you like a thinner, stringier cloth and choose a pale colour so the fading is not noticeable then d) the Sirdar Happy Cotton is a good option but I’d not recommend it for a mixed colour cloth - that red has run somewhere after all!

All these yarns make perfectly serviceable dishcloths - I love my new stain resistant handmade cloths, each and every one is better than all my previous shop bought cloths for sure.

red crochet dishcloth

I hope I’ve inspired you to make the switch to a handmade dishcloth.

Out of interest I think yarns a) King Cole Cottonsoft, e) Epic Yarn and Colors and f) Paintbox Cotton would all make great washcloths too, as they are all soft enough to be suitable for you face and body.

Update: I thought you might like to see how my cloths are bearing up after 6 months of constant use. They’ve all been washed many, many times now. Honestly all are holding up really well, none have faded much more than they did after the first wash, all have many more months, maybe years of service left in them. I’m really happy that I made the switch to this kind of cloth.

I shared a collection of free washcloth patterns a while ago, all of these patterns would be ideal for dishcloths too. Just remember to keep your dishcloths and washcloths separate, right?!