"woven fabric, pliable stuff made of intertexture of threads or fibers," Old English claþ "a cloth, sail, cloth covering, woven or felted material to wrap around one," hence, also, "garment," from Proto-Germanic *kalithaz (source also of Old Frisian klath "cloth," Middle Dutch cleet, Dutch kleed "garment, dress," Middle High German kleit, German Kleid "garment"), which is of obscure origin, perhaps a substratum word.
As an adjective, "made or consisting of cloth," from 1590s. Meaning "distinctive clothing worn by some group" (servants of one house, men of some profession or trade) is from 1590s, hence The cloth "the clerical profession" (1701).
also dishcloth, "cloth for washing dishes," 1828, from dish (n.) + cloth. It relegated earlier dish-clout (1520s) to dialect. Dish-rag is by 1839. All have been taken as types of limpness or weakness. Dish-mop, "bundle of threads or cloth scraps fixed securely on a stick," used when the dish-waster is hotter than the hands can bear, is by 1856.