I've been milking for years. I've been straining milk for years. First, I would like to add that a milk strainer is, by far, the best way to strain milk.
I tried to use a coffee filter among other things to strain my milk. Go here if you would like to hear me complain about those experiences. There are other DIY hacks for straining milk, but I don't like any of them for one reason or another.
Here are my top 6 Reasons to Consider a strainer:
1. You can will do a lot more with your strainer than strain milk. What can you do with a milk strainer?
... Strain milk
... Strain berries (for making jelly)
... Strain tomatoes (for canning tomato juice)
... Strain lard (to get the whitest, cleanest lard
... Strain beef tallow (for clean, white tallow to eat, make candles, or repurpose)
... Strain curds from whey (when cheesemaking)
... Strain maple sap to make syrup
...Strain maple syrup after cooking
... Strain bone broth (for clear broth)
... Strain anything!
As you can see, there are many more homesteading uses for a strainer than just milk. If you happen to own a diary animal, I think a strainer will make your life easier.
2. I want clean, debris free, hair free, floater free, raw milk.
To read why we went "raw" go here.
I don't pasteurize or homogenize my milk. I drink it raw, straight from the tap, so it needs to be perfectly clear, clean, and lint free. Using a "milk filter" to strain your milk is the answer. It is made for clarifying milk. It catches it all.
3. Consistent results.
These items do more than just net me perfectly clean milk — they also can indicate if there are any problems with my milk.
Slow straining? Won't strain? Mastitis? All these symptoms are clear to see by using milk filters & strainers regularly. Problematic milk may work itself through cheesecloth or other lint free cloth without notice, but it won't make it through my milk strainer undetected.
Which is a great thing! If my cows are sick or in need of attention, I want to know ASAP. If there is a mastitis flare up teasing an udder, I can often keep it at bay with frequent milkings. My straining setup is the indicator I sometimes need to let me know something may be wrong.
It's not perfect, and certainly can't diagnose any illnesses, but can give me a warning when the milk is acting odd.
4. It's quick and easy to use.
When we lost the centerpiece to our old strainer, I was scouring the internet looking for other methods to straining. Let me tell you, if they work (some didn't) they can be a royal pain.
Trying to balance the coffee filter, or the mesh strainer, or the towel, or the cheesecloth over the container catching the milk is miserable at best. If it teeters off balance, you are cleaning milk off the world. If it falls, you are cleaning milk off the world. If you don't stand there and hold it, you are cleaning milk off the world.
Did I mention that the DIY solutions took approximately 10,000 times longer to strain the milk (than a real strainer), so not only are you babysitting the apparatus you just created, you are babysitting it forever.
I have other things to do.
5. It will make your life simpler.
If you're going to do this homesteader thing and milk your own cow (or goat or sheep) and make your own dairy products, cheese, lard, tallow, and food for a foreseeable amount of time, it makes sense to invest in the right products to make it as easy and simple as possible.
Homesteading is hard. It is a lot of work. It takes a lot of time to do these things by hand. If there is a tool available (like a strainer) that will streamline the process, make it easier on you, or get the job done faster, I think you should take advantage of it.
6. Easy clean-up.
Just stick the thing in the dishwasher and send it through a sanitize cycle. Done. Clean.
If you are milking something and need to strain milk every day, and you are using a homegrown concoction, you may want to consider a real strainer.
I am sure there are even more reasons to justify purchasing the right milk strainer. I know it makes my life on this farm easier. I know that living four months without it was agony; it took me and one of my children to get the milk properly strained each day. I'm pretty sure neither of us wanted to be standing there watching the milk strain.