The Incredible Swedish Cleaning Cloths I Bring Back from Every Trip to Stockholm

Chocolate and cleaning products make for great souvenirs.

October 15, 2018

What are your favorite souvenirs to pick up during your travels? If you're like us, I'm going to guess that edible snacks and pantry staples rank pretty high on your list (and maybe some cult French pharmacy products for good measure, if your itinerary happens to include a stop through Paris).

Being married to a Swedish guy, I have the great fortune of visiting Stockholm at least once a year. We usually return from these journeys with suitcases filled to the brim with chocolate bars, fiber-rich crispbreads, and a jar of pickled herring or two. To me, roaming the aisles of a supermarket in a foreign land is one of life's greatest pleasures, but I've come to fall in love with a section usually far removed from the snacks and condiments: the home goods aisle.

It's here where my mother-in-law introduced me to her—and now my—favorite cleaning cloths, the Vileda Wettex Sponge Cloth (you can find them here Stateside on sites like Amazon and Bonanza).

My personal stash. Photo by Hana Asbrink

These super absorbent, affordable cloths come in a pack of three or four, and are in constant use in our home, especially in the kitchen. They act like sponges, but have the surface area of a larger cloth to tackle bigger cleaning projects. You can use them, lightly wetted with water and wrung out, to wipe up all manner of spills, or to scrub up the fronts of your drawers, cabinets, and refrigerator; you can also use them in conjunction with your favorite cleaning spray to really get into grubby corners and polish up scuzzy faucet hardware. Bonus: When wet, they act as excellent non-skid mats for your cutting boards, mixing bowls, and anything else you'd like a bit more grippy support for.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“Just discovered they are excellent for cleaning the bugs off windshields. I completely agree about the joys of exploring grocery stores in foreign lands. Even ethnic markets in my hometown of NYC. It’s almost more fun when you can’t read the labels!”
— Anomy

They are so durable that they take a good while to wear down (one lasts at least a couple of months), but when they finally do, I just relegate them to the floor as rags for the kitchen and bathroom. I also like to use the more spent ones to clean especially dirt-ridden areas, like windowsills, the inner frames of my windows, and the outdoor furniture on our little balcony, all of which are prone to New York City grime.

A limited-edition version features hearts, which obviously make me want to clean more. See how thick each cloth is? Photo by Hana Asbrink

I've tried many similar products and while they're all good enough, the Wettex ones are the most plush and "grabbiest" with the best suction. As for their maintenance, I just throw them into the dishwasher and squeeze them dry when the load is done. I can't tell you how many paper towels we've probably saved over the years with these little kitchen helpers. Because they take up very little space and are extremely light, they are excellent additions to near-full suitcases and care packages (where they double as padding!).

Next time you find yourself abroad or in the market for a new cleaning cloth, consider popping into the home cleaning section of the neighborhood supermarket—you never know what workhorse gems await!

Have you ever picked up a great cleaning souvenir on your travels? Please share them with us below!

Grab your copy

It's here: Our game-changing guide to everyone's favorite room in the house. Your Do-Anything Kitchen gathers the smartest ideas and savviest tricks—from our community, test kitchen, and cooks we love—to help transform your space into its best self.

Grab your copy

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Leeni
  • moira
  • Nee2
  • Susan
  • Lazyretirementgirl
Hana is a food writer/editor based in New York.


Leeni May 12, 2020
I love the Vileda Wettex in a roll. I prefer that thinner type and it can be cut to a desired length. I wash mine in steam cycle and they last forever. Unfortunately I have not found the thinner version anywhere in the USA so I have to wait for next Scandinavian visitor to add to my stock. I have used that same brand for over 30 years and nothing compares to it!
moira March 1, 2019
I always buy linen kitchen towels in Provence and for some reason - I love the sponges in France... Such great things to bring home and incorporate into everyday life to remind you of your travels!
Nee2 February 2, 2019
Nee2 February 1, 2019
So excited that I chanced upon this article tonight.I thought I was the odd one hauling cleaning wipes all the way from Australia to US. They are called Chux. They are amazing for the cleaning all the kitchen messes and last all week. I wash them in the dishwasher too. I hate how the cotton towels don’t wash well and get stained in the kitchen. Also Bounty and Viva are very expensive and bad for the environment too. Such wastage in America. I even asked my sister in law to stuff them in the outside pockets of her suitcases when she visited me. They thought I was silly but if you like it clean you need a Chux !
Susan October 21, 2018
Very lucky here in Canada our local grocery stores carry a wide variety of Vileda products too many to mention here! Outstanding products.
Hana A. October 24, 2018
Oh, that's great to know you can access them in Canada! Have you tried these wonderful cloths, Susan? Thanks for reading!
Lazyretirementgirl October 21, 2018
I often get kitchen towels or table linens when I travel. Textiles make the best, useful, souvenirs.
Hana A. October 24, 2018
I so agree with you, Lazyretirementgirl (love your handle ;)) - thanks for the comment!
Anomy October 21, 2018
We go to Canada every summer, and I always pick up euroscrubbies. Used to be only at one farm stand (the kind of place that sells jams & such). But now there’s also a gift shop in Northern Ontario that sells them. Made from recycled plastics and can clean all manner of heavy jobs, as well as just scrubbing pots. Just discovered they are excellent for cleaning the bugs off windshields.
I completely agree about the joys of exploring grocery stores in foreign lands. Even ethnic markets in my hometown of NYC. It’s almost more fun when you can’t read the labels!
Hana A. October 24, 2018
Hi Anomy - thanks for sharing! Euroscrubbies sound oh-so-adorable and right up my alley, will be sure to check them out. And completely agree about all the great markets here, what a treat to have them so close by.
jutta F. October 21, 2018
When I travel to Germany I always pick up packs of Kracht (since 1810) kitchen towels. They come in 100% linen, great for lint free glasses, and half linen, super absorbent for drying dishes. They last a long time and hold up very well to washing on hot water cycle. Even a little bleach won’t hurt. When they finally do get a hole or a stain, they go in the rag pile for cleaning day- the linen ones are great for mirrors and window cleaning.
Hana A. October 24, 2018
Oh Jutta, these sound right up my alley, thanks so much for the tip!
jutta F. October 24, 2018
Hana, you're so sweet to reply to everyone. Isn't cleaning more fun with beautiful, high quality cleaning tools and products? Germany is known for brushes too. They have a special brush for cleaning almost everything. If you ever visit, go to a brush store.
carol October 19, 2018
Swedish anything is awesome! I drive a Volvo, too :)
Hana A. October 24, 2018
Ha! Too funny, Carol - I love Swedish brands, too (IKEA, anyone?). :) Thanks for your comment!