One hundred percent cotton yarns are the most common and preferred yarn to use for knitting a dish cloth. Knitted cotton yarn dish cloths remain soft and flexible after use, are durable and absorb water readily. Cotton knitting yarn, though not as inexpensive as synthetic yarn, is reasonably priced and one skein will usually produce three or four dish cloths. Most cotton yarn packaging will indicate the yarn is good for knitting dish cloths.
For a softer, silk-like feel and more durability, use a cotton/soy yarn blend for knitting your dish cloths. Cotton/soy yarn blends soy protein that is spun with the cotton fibers, usually at a 50-50 ratio. Soy blended yarns are eco-friendly and add strength to the yarn. Using a cotton/soy yarn will add longevity to the dish cloths. For knitted dish cloths that contain a pattern design, using a cotton/soy blended yarn will make the stitches more defined with a smooth finish.
Hand-knitted dish cloths are used for more than washing dinner and glassware -- they also are used to scrub pots and pans. Acrylic yarn makes a better heavy duty scrubber dish cloth for pots and pans because the knitted surface will be rougher and does not become soft with water absorption. Acrylic yarns do not absorb water easily, so a 50-50 blend of cotton and acrylic is more suitable for a duel purpose dish cloth for both pots and dishes.
Yarn made from hemp will be very strong and durable, making it a good choice for dish cloths. Hemp yarn is made from the long strands of the hemp, which is why it is so durable. One hundred percent hemp is stiff when purchased and will be easier to knit if you wash it first in warm soapy water before your begin knitting. After you have knitted the dish cloths it will become more flexible and softer after three of four uses. Hemp is frequently blended 50-50 with cotton, which will give you the added durability with the softness and flexibility of cotton the first time the dish cloth is used.