Condo Blues: Using Cloth Handkerchiefs – a Good Thing or Just Gross?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Using Cloth Handkerchiefs – a Good Thing or Just Gross?

Ah-ah-ah-choo! Even though the weather is cold and the ground is still frozen, my seasonal allergies have kicked in lately. I’m sneezing and my face is leaking like it’s the middle of July or something – but it’s still only March!

After two weeks of sniffling and blowing my nose, it should be red and tender. Not this time – I switched to using reusable cloth handkerchiefs and boy does my nose thank me. So does my wallet. And maybe the planet does too.

To be honest, I grew up using disposable tissues. As a kid the only hankies in my possession were from my Grandmother and they became elaborately draped dresses for my Barbie dolls (a skill that came in handy when I went to an actual toga party in college) or worn on my head because they were bandanas.

As I was going through my old renaissance festival performer prop boxes I came across some of those old handkerchiefs. I used to carry them with me because obviously they were a lot more period to use then a 21st century paper tissue. Since those performance days are long gone, I figured why not try using those hankies now? If I didn’t like them or found it kinda gross, I always have the backup box of disposable tissues in the bathroom.

Turns out I actually like using the hankies better. They are softer on my nose. Using a handkerchief once and putting it in my pocket or purse for another future use was just like doing the same with a paper tissue so didn’t find it disgusting. And if I did, I just tossed the handkerchief into the laundry hamper and grabbed a fresh one.

Since I already had a few handkercheifs the price couldn’t be beat – free. But you could easily and cheaply stock up on handkerchiefs by checking out a thrift store or eBay for vintage handkerchiefs, or buy a bunch of bandanas or a box of men’s handkerchiefs at a department or dollar store. Just make sure you wash them in washing machine first to soften them up before using them the first time.

Etsy has several sellers who make and sell flannel handkerchiefs. I’m told that using a flannel hankie feels even better on your nose when you’re in the throws of nasty cold than a soft cotton hankie. Flannel hankies are something that I’ve put on my eco To Do List.

Blitzkrieg’s gotten into the spirit too. But instead of using his own reusable cloth handkerchief he likes to cuddle up next to me and wipe his runny nose on my pant leg. Pekinese Snot Love? Doubt it. I think it has more to do with promixty than anything else. Well, at least it’s better than his habit of shredding the disposable tissues I’ve accidentally dropped on the floor.

What do you think? Have you tried using handkerchiefs? Would you try it? Did you like them or not?

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Unknown said...

I remember hankies when I was young. My mother had us carry one everyday to school.
Great idea!

Willo said...

I've got to get started doing this. I just ran out of my last travel pack. Sounds like it's time to start.

Storm, The Psychotic Housewife said...

I keep both on hand. If we are in the middle of a round of colds, we use disposables, but the rest of the time we use pretty cloth ones. :)

Erika Jean said...

There's no way I could. I'm kinda a germaphobe and wouldn't wnat to stink ANYTHING full of germy boogers in my purse or pockeT!

And then I think about washing them... I would HAVE to wash them in a separate load because I couldn't stand the though of my boogers sloshing around with my undergarments and outerwear ;-)

I don't use reusable napkins or TP for the same reasons! lol, I was i was more environmental friendly... I do what I can.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Erika Jean on this one. I'm also pretty hooked on the disposable tissues with lotion that are scented with menthol since a little aromatherapy when my nose is stuffy helps. My allergies get bad and what comes out, I'd prefer to dispose of it immediately.

Cloth napkins, I can get into and do use. I've also switched to rags instead of paper towels and cloth shopping bags instead of plastic.

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

Rona - I remember my mom carrying one in her purse when I was little. I also remember her spitting on it and then using it to rub something off of my face. (ew)

Willo - good luck with the swtich!

Storm - I do the same thing. And it's nice to have a box of disposables around for guests too.

Erika Jean & Anon- There's a lot of options when it comes to green living.That's one thing you won't find (I hope) on my blog - the need to feel that you should beating yourself up if you aren't doing what I do for whatever reason and I think Ick Factor is a valid reason. Or maybe that's just me trying to justify what I can't bring myself to do reusable TP. :)

Anonymous said...

We use the cloth ones too. Generally we like them better. Washing them took a little getting used to, but there you go.

angie said...

We use cloth and will never, ever go back to paper hankies. We do keep a box on hand for when people come to visit.

So much easier on the sniffer too!

Anonymous said...

I started carrying one for church because I tend to cry when moved emotionally. Then, I added another one 'cause my cousin uses the first one in church when he starts sweating. I love my cousin but, ew! So now I carry 2 napkins most of the time one for me personally and another for others and messy moments.
I am slowly making my life free disposable waste. And by sharing I teach one.

Anonymous said...

I will definately go for hankies in future! Just had a massive cold and ended up not only with an extemly sore nose but also a rush all over my face ... (thanks to the 'great' bleaching methods they use on most disposables!)I have quite sensitive skin and rather prefer washing the hankies more often! This helps me to eliminate toxins in my home and helps the environment

Becky R said...

I use cloth hankies. They are great and super soft on my nose. I wash with all my other laundry and line dry (the sun kills any germs the washer didn't.) It is not gross at all.

Jess said...

I don't know if they still do it, but when I was an exchange student in Holland in the 90s all the kids used cloth hankies. I remember they would keep them in their sleeves for easy access, with a corner sticking out when they needed it. I don't usually think things are gross, but I have to admit it's taken me a while to try this one ... just blew my nose on a bandana and it felt ... great :) though. It is so nice to rid ourselves of these dependencies on disposable (i.e. have to repurchase) items we've been convinced are necessary! Yay to rags in the kitchen, cloth hankies, etc.

Anonymous said...

The ick factor is definitely understandable, part of the reason why I haven't switched yet. But it's up next on the list along with cloth makeup removal pads. And I was just thinking, you could always construct a little "hankie bag" for your purse to keep your hankie in after use (almost like a mini laundry bag) :-)

Anonymous said...

I live in a tropical country, men and women with handkerchiefs are a common view, no one think it's disgusting, old fashion or what, on the contrary people take hankies with them are thought to be fancy, educated, hygiene awareness. But nowadays ladies would prefer use tissue, maybe for practical reason.My husband and I use both.

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