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Virtues of the Cloth Napkin

June 9, 2010

This ain’t your Granny’s lesson on manners…

Cloth NapkinsI think the cloth napkin is seriously overlooked and underrated. How many of us only associate them with Grandma’s house and restaurants?

Half a century ago, cloth was the only kind of napkin that existed outside of shirt sleeves and apron fronts. Now we have paper towels, ‘fancy’ dinner napkins and all sorts of colorful party and entertaining napkins. But outside the ease of immediate clean-up, what virtues do these pulp-derived kisser-wipers really possess? Here are some reasons why I think cloth napkins deserve the restoration of their virtue:

They are reusable. Duh. They eliminate the need for tree pulp, water and processing chemicals even paper napkins that are made from recycled paper (do they make those?) would require water and energy to produce.

Let’s take a good look at the laundry aspect: they do not cause a dramatic impact on the amount of laundry we already do. We are already washing and drying, so adopting cloth napkins does not require an adaptation in our daily lifestyles. With cold water washing, line drying and the natural bleaching of the sun, napkins are by far the easiest article to care for.  In fact, it has been my personal experience that folding the napkins has been an invaluable tool in teaching my three-year-old to participate in household chores.When line dried, cloth napkins hardly need ironing, as opposed to the wrinkled wads that the dryer can make!

Napkins and other linens used to be something prized by young brides facing a new household. Fine linens are still given as wedding and house warming gifts and are considered far more sophisticated for entertaining. And when you thing about all the embroidery and monogram options available, why would we opt for the heavily dyed paper counterparts that can stain our guests’ clothing when damp? Most of the cloth napkins we use in our home were wedding gifts or handed down as a serviceable heirlooms.

I hope if you haven’t given cloth napkins a chance yet that you will consider them. Grandma would be proud of you!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 9, 2010 9:13 pm

    Awesome post and eerily appropriate for me today since I just set out fabrics to make our first set of cloth napkins 🙂

  2. greenanthropology permalink*
    June 9, 2010 9:18 pm

    Thanks! I love our cloth napkins- I inherited some from my Mom and some were given as wedding gifts. They are so easy to make, too. I made some white linen ones about a year ago- let me know how they turn out & good luck!

  3. littlehousesouthernprairie permalink
    July 20, 2010 7:53 pm

    donde esta? we demand more blog posts!

    • greenanthropology permalink*
      July 24, 2010 2:39 pm

      I know it’s been a while! I’ve been really focused on getting everything ready for school this fall- I only have 5 prereques before apply to Nursing program. The kiddo will start preschool this fall too!Trying to get back into the swing of blogging.

      • littlehousesouthernprairie permalink
        July 28, 2010 2:08 am

        “School” and “childcare” — where do you get these flimsy excuses?! 😉

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