When it comes to water filters, there are a lot of different options to choose from. But one of the most interesting – and oldest – water filtration methods is using a piece of cloth.

You may be wondering why on earth anyone would want to use a piece of cloth to filter their water, but there are actually some great benefits to this method.

Water filters through a piece of cloth because it is effective at removing debris and other particles from the liquid. By using a filter, you can improve the quality of your water and keep your system running smoothly.

There are many different types of water filters, but one of the most interesting ones is called a cloth filter.

So how do cloth filters work?

Well, when you use water filtered through cloth, all you have to do is place the piece of fabric in your reservoir, and let the liquid flow through. The fabric will remove any sediment or other debris from the water, and will also serve as a barrier for any bacteria you don’t want to consume.

A cloth as a filter is effective because most germs are attached to particles and plankton, particularly copepods, within the water. Most cholera, bacteria and other pathogens are removed by passing the water through a good filter.

Benefits of cloth filters

Cloth filters offer many benefits that other types of filtering systems do not. For example, many cloth filters have a large surface area, which means they can filter more water at a faster rate.

Easy to Use

For example, they are extremely easy to use. Most people concern themselves with how hard it is to maintain their water filter system, which makes cloth filters anideal choice.

These filters are simple to clean and maintain, and they don’t require any electricity or other complicated materials to operate.


Most cloth filters are also lightweight, so they’re easy to transport. Many models are small enough to fit in a backpack or other accessory bag for your filter system.

Modern filters are still made after the traditional pattern of a tightly-woven mesh or cloth, but they are made from plastic or other man-made materials instead of cotton, wood pulp, hemp, or other plant fibers.

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While these modern replacements may not offer you the benefit of being able to hang your cloth filter up inbetween uses, they still provide the same level of filtration.


Many people feel more comfortable using a piece of cloth as a water filter because it has been used for thousands of years. It may take longer than some other filtering systems, but once you have your cloth in place , your water will be filtered through it for you.

No Moving Parts

Cloth filters may not have many moving parts, but this is what makes them so great. You don’t have to worry about wear and tear or repairs on your cloth filter because there are none.

Most systems require regular cleaning, but with these filters, all you need to do is soak the material in vinegar or another sanitizing solution, and it will be good as new.

Types of Cloth Filters

While there are many different types of cloth filters available, one of the most common is the coffee filter.

Many people will cut up a simple coffee filter to use as their cloth filter because it works so well. Coffee filters can last for several uses and they are very easy to clean after each use.

Another great option is the bandana, which also makes a good substitute for those who don’t want to purchase fabric or traditional filters.

Bandanas may not be effective at keeping sediment out of your water as other types of filters, but you can still get plenty of filtered water by using this method.

Making Your Own Cloth Filter

You can make your own cloth filter fairly easily and inexpensively, but it’s important to make sure that you follow all safety precautions when making and testing your system.

Pro Tip – It is important to make sure that the holes in your filter are small enough to be effective, but not so small that they will restrict the flow of water.

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Step #1

Take a piece of fabric and place it over a pot or other container you can boil water in.

The traditional pattern for a cloth filter is to use an open weave with spaces less than one-tenth of an inch wide, but this may vary depending on what type of cloth you’re using as well as what kind of debris you’re filtering out.

As long as there are no gaps more than one-tenth of an inch wide, your filter should work just fine.

Step #2

Pin the cloth tightly over the top of your container, and then place it on a stove or other heat source.

You can boil water for as long as you need to in order to kill all pathogens and make the water safe for human consumption. Boiling will take longer than other methods because you have a smaller distance between your filter and the heat source, but it is one of the cheapest options available.

If boiling isn’t an option for you, you can also try placing your cloth filter in direct sunlight instead. Sunlight has been used for thousands of years to disinfect water, so it’s still an effective method even if it doesn’t come without risks.

Step #3

Take your boiled or sun-heated water and allow it to cool.

Once the water has cooled enough for you to drink, pour yourself a glass and enjoy!

It may take some time before you’re used to using your cloth filter, but once you get the hang of it, it’s simple and convenient, just the way it has been for thousands of years.

Why Choose a Cloth Filter

Cloth filters are better for the environment than plastic filters because they will eventually biodegrade . While it may take cloth up to six months to break down when left out in direct sunlight, there is no risk of toxic chemicals from plastic leaching into your drinking water when using a cloth filter.

Plastic filters can also pose a health hazard even after you think they’ve been disposed of, since animals can mistake them for food and ingest them.

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Since cloth filters will break down on their own, the only risk to wildlife is if a person mistakenly throws a used cloth filter into the trash instead of properly disposing of it.

While cloth filters are cheap to replace, they can require more maintenance than other types of filtration systems

It’s important to clean your filter after each use so that it will be ready for the next time you plan on using it. Many people find this much easier to do, than having to replace a plastic filter every few months.

Another advantage of a cloth filter is that it can remove contaminants from your water, including particles as small as pathogens.

This type of filtration is especially important when you’re traveling to a place where the local water contains parasites or other types of harmful bacteria.

Cloth filters are also very convenient because they are lightweight and easy to carry, especially if you use a cloth bag.

This makes them great for hikers or campers who want to drink clean water without the hassles of heavy filters that need to be regularly maintained.

With all these benefits, it’s no wonder that people around the world still choose this type of filter when they want a cheap water purification system that works every time.

Final Thoughts

One of the simplest and most effective ways to make your water safe to drink is by using a cloth filter.

Cloth filters, like all improvised water purification systems, do need some maintenance before and after each use in order to keep them clean and ready for the next time you plan on using your system.

They can also take longer than other methods to purify water because you have a smaller distance between the heat source and your filter, but they are still very effective at what they do.

While cloth filters require more work than just boiling water, their ability to remove harmful bacteria and parasites from your drinking water is well worth the extra effort.

About the author

I started working as a quality control manager with the Water Authority of Nassau County in 2005. After a few years, I moved into Water Waste Prevention, where I currently work as the production supervisor. I love my job and the people I work with, but most of all I love spending time with my family.