Author Topic: Cloth napkin questions  (Read 2016 times)

Linea_Norway

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Cloth napkin questions
« on: April 04, 2017, 05:57:20 AM »
Hello,

I am a frequent user of paper napkins. I use one at every meal, but if they are big enough and clean enough I refold them and use one again at the next meal. So on average I use 0,75 paper napkin a day or so. My husband uses 1 per week.

I buy napkins in bulk quite cheaply at Ikea, in plain color, no fancy pants napkins. These are good quality napkins in 3 layer paper and feel OK to the skin. We have a bin for paper recycling.

When at our mountain cabin, I use the paper napkin after dinner to wipe my dinner plate, because we don't have running water there and need to wash the dishes by hand with little water. Therefore the plates should not be too greasy. I can also use kitchen paper from the roll.

Is there really anything to save for me on buying (or making) cloth napkins? Or is it not worth the hassle? They do require washing, after all.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of napkins in cotton or polyester or a mixture of those two?
I know linnen is a material that wrinkles a lot. I don not want to iron napkins. I also want to wash them in the washing machine at warm temperature, typically 30-40 C. They should also survive an occasional 60C wash.


KCM5

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Re: Cloth napkin questions
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2017, 06:07:50 AM »
I use cotton or cotton/poly blend napkins at home. I do that because I don't like having to buy things or throw things away.

I got the napkins at goodwill or for free (a lot of people apparently have cloth napkins that they don't use!). I never iron them and sometimes if I didn't get to the laundry on time (I use a tumble dryer) they are a bit wrinkled. I just don't care that much! I wash them in cold water (we wash all our clothes in cold water) and dry them.

Regarding using cloth for greasy things - I have a couple of kitchen cloths from ikea (the white ones with a stripe or two - they always have them) that I use for greasy things that look terribly grease stained but since their sole purpose is to get greasy, that's okay. I don't use kitchen paper towels either.

MayDay

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Re: Cloth napkin questions
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2017, 06:39:38 AM »
We use all cloth napkins. With four people we might go through 5-10 a day depending on how messy the food is.

I sewed them out of scraps so they are basically free. They are small enough not to impact how much laundry we do. I prefer 100% cotton for soaking up spills. Polyester isn't absorbent.  I don't care if they get stains, we keep using them and eventually either the stains wash out, or not.

charis

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Re: Cloth napkin questions
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2017, 06:45:59 AM »
We use cloth napkins, much less waste.  We have about 4x what we need per meal; I resuse them for a few meals (goes back to same person, only clean ones for guests), basically until they are visibly dirty; and toss them in with regular laundry, so it's no more effort than normal. 

oneyearfromnow

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Re: Cloth napkin questions
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2017, 06:47:17 AM »
Ah! Subject matter that is important to me 

For me, sitting down to a nice meal, perhaps a glass of wine, with a proper dinner sized (*) napkin just elevates the dining experience.

Ive made all of my cloth dinner napkins.  I wash warm, and yes, I iron them to dry.  Many are over 15 years old, and they still look brand new.

I do have some napkins that I made with a poly-cotton blend.  I use them in my lunch kit, or when we are out on a picnic.  If they get something greasier on them, Ill soak them in some soapy water.  They can go in the dryer, and because of the polyester, have minimal wrinkling, although the dryer fades the fabric.

    Proper sized about 42 square


dodojojo

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Re: Cloth napkin questions
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2017, 07:24:39 AM »
Disposable cleaning items aren't exactly verboten but I did switch to re-useable as much as possible a few years ago.  I keep paper towels around for nasty messes (greasy stove or cat accidents).  I even experimented with toilet cloth (strips that I cut up), but that one I gave up.

Otherwise, I switched to cloth napkins, mesh towels to wash dishes, small towels for general cleaning and hankerchiefs.  I have some nice soft all cotton napkins that I can use when there are guests, but otherwise, I'm not bothered by stains or wrinkles. They get cleaned along with normal laundry. I don't think they create too much more pollution as they are just a small addition to the wash.  Some were purchased new and others were picked up at the thrift store.  And yes, people do donate some very nice napkins.  I use one napkin a day and hang it on the back of chairs or the refrigerator inbetween meals.

About every 3 weeks or so I do one laundry load of the dish and cleaning towels.  I bought the dish towels new at stores like Marshall and they average about a dollar per towel.  I bought about 5 or 6 sets and I have been using them for years.  Same applies to buying the cheapest small towels for general cleaning and that really cut down on the paper towel usage.  Again, I think the load of laundry every 3 weeks is a good exchange for filling up land with paper towels and dish sponges.

Linea_Norway

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Re: Cloth napkin questions
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2017, 07:41:32 AM »
Disposable cleaning items aren't exactly verboten but I did switch to re-useable as much as possible a few years ago.  I keep paper towels around for nasty messes (greasy stove or cat accidents).  I even experimented with toilet cloth (strips that I cut up), but that one I gave up.

Otherwise, I switched to cloth napkins, mesh towels to wash dishes, small towels for general cleaning and hankerchiefs.  I have some nice soft all cotton napkins that I can use when there are guests, but otherwise, I'm not bothered by stains or wrinkles. They get cleaned along with normal laundry. I don't think they create too much more pollution as they are just a small addition to the wash.  Some were purchased new and others were picked up at the thrift store.  And yes, people do donate some very nice napkins.  I use one napkin a day and hang it on the back of chairs or the refrigerator inbetween meals.

About every 3 weeks or so I do one laundry load of the dish and cleaning towels.  I bought the dish towels new at stores like Marshall and they average about a dollar per towel.  I bought about 5 or 6 sets and I have been using them for years.  Same applies to buying the cheapest small towels for general cleaning and that really cut down on the paper towel usage.  Again, I think the load of laundry every 3 weeks is a good exchange for filling up land with paper towels and dish sponges.

I have some very luxury napkins (gotten as a gift, together with silvery plates), but they are unpractically white and I never use them. They are also quite stiff.

For dishwashing, we use a brush and wash it in the dishwasher from time to time. The brush lasts for months.
For the kitchen surface I use a cloth. But we do use paper towels at home sometimes.

I might just order some napkins. Amazon UK has some nice ones in polyester for a decent price. Amazon US har som nice cotton ones, but they won't send to Norway. ;-(

I might try the polyester ones first, as I would need them most for wiping my mouth, rather than absorbing fluids from the table. But I'll wait ordering until I get some more input from forumers on which material to buy.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2017, 07:52:03 AM by Linda_Norway »

Moonwaves

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Re: Cloth napkin questions
« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2017, 08:18:10 AM »
I have some very luxury napkins (gotten as a gift, together with silvery plates), but they are unpractically white and I never use them. They are also quite stiff.
...

I might just order some napkins. Amazon UK has some nice ones in polyester for a decent price. Amazon US har som nice cotton ones, but they won't send to Norway. ;-(
If you never use them, then it doesn't really matter if they get destroyed and need to be thrown out, right? So just use one or two of them to see how you feel about it before spending money on more napkins. Or dye them a different, darker colour.

100% cotton napkins for me - got them years ago in Habitat. I just got ones in plain red, navy or beige. Some are a bit stained at this stage but after 16 years (I just counted, wow, how can that be sixteen years ago already!) they're still going strong. Have to admit, I mostly eat alone so sixteen napkins not showing much use after sixteen years isn't as impressive as it might be. I used to always iron them but grew out of that eventually. :)

dodojojo

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Re: Cloth napkin questions
« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2017, 08:38:16 AM »
I hardly iron anything so the napkins aren't going to get any attention there!

Heroes821

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Re: Cloth napkin questions
« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2017, 08:41:56 AM »
Damn, I so thought this was going to be a thread about math.

My family of 4 uses cloth napkins most of the time and even with messy kids and bbq they make it through probably two dinners before heading to the laundry. Changing out papertowls to napkins sounds great.

They do get awfully wrinkled though, but they are used for cleaning so I don't really care about that.

As far as absorption I think ours are mostly cotton.

NeonPegasus

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Re: Cloth napkin questions
« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2017, 08:55:45 AM »
I bought a bunch of cloths from BBB. They are actually a little smaller than napkin size but we've been using them for 8 years and they're still fine. Definitely go with all cotton for absorbency. I throw them in the wash with other clothes so it doesn't create additional laundry. I switched to washable napkins because we'd use 5 cheap paper napkins per person at dinner and they'd get stuck to our faces and it was really ridiculous.

I bought really nice material and made huge cloth napkins (16" square) for special occasions. They have a beautiful pattern on one side and dark blue terry cloth on the other. For the money and time I spent on them, they're worth like $40 a piece, lol. But they are lovely at Thanksgiving.

Later on, I took some old baby towels and other scrap material and made some more of the smaller ones. I've liked those.

Unfortunately, the old baby towels were polyester so I can vouch that they aren't as good as cotton. 

Linea_Norway

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Re: Cloth napkin questions
« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2017, 09:03:54 AM »
I have some very luxury napkins (gotten as a gift, together with silvery plates), but they are unpractically white and I never use them. They are also quite stiff.
If you never use them, then it doesn't really matter if they get destroyed and need to be thrown out, right? So just use one or two of them to see how you feel about it before spending money on more napkins. Or dye them a different, darker colour.

100% cotton napkins for me - got them years ago in Habitat. I just got ones in plain red, navy or beige. Some are a bit stained at this stage but after 16 years (I just counted, wow, how can that be sixteen years ago already!) they're still going strong. Have to admit, I mostly eat alone so sixteen napkins not showing much use after sixteen years isn't as impressive as it might be. I used to always iron them but grew out of that eventually. :)

I'm home now and got the fancy pants napkins our of the drawer. One is completely unused. I put that one back. The other 5 are now at the dinner table, ready to be tried out. I might colour them later, maybe in August, with mushrooms. Then I can put them in the coloured wash, which I do more often than white wash. I noticed that the ones that have been washed before are not quite as stiff as the unused one. I think they are made out of cotton.

Linea_Norway

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Re: Cloth napkin questions
« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2017, 09:07:14 AM »
Damn, I so thought this was going to be a thread about math.

We have a notebook on the dining table for making notes and calculations. I don't like writing on a napkin. ;-)

JoJo

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Re: Cloth napkin questions
« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2017, 02:36:06 PM »
Nothing to add but I used to waitress and the funnest part was folding the cloth napkins in a fancy pattern!   We'd have bags of them everyday and the owners wife would wash every night.

Cranky

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Re: Cloth napkin questions
« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2017, 03:29:00 PM »
I have a basket of random cotton napkins I've bought at the thrift store or rummage sales, as they catch my eye - I won't pay more than 25 cents for one. I do a load of towels and kitchen laundry every week. I don't know whether there's any money to be saved, but cloth napkins feel a lot nicer to me.

(I do have some nice linen napkins from family hand me downs, but we use those for holidays.)

I teach at a school that requires cloth napkins and placemats, so I'm used to having a nice napkin with my meal there, too!

Poundwise

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Re: Cloth napkin questions
« Reply #15 on: April 05, 2017, 10:35:03 AM »
I've been using cloth napkins for years. I have three sets... one for company, which I bother to do stain removal on, and iron. The other 2 sets are for common usage... I just throw them in the wash, don't ever iron, and only seldom fold.

When I lived in France, each person had a special bag with a different embroidered pattern on it. You were supposed to remember which pattern, put your napkin in it after meals, and reuse the napkin for a few days. It was a lovely, and convenient, custom. I hear that is what napkin rings were originally for.  I'm intending to do something similar someday, when I see the right DIY napkin holder.


Dianalou

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Re: Cloth napkin questions
« Reply #16 on: April 05, 2017, 02:06:11 PM »
We use cloth napkins in our house. We just keep them on the table until they look dirty and then wash them. They are also good hankies in a pinch and for little ones to learn to help with folding laundry.

When I was growing up my sister's school did a 'green' challenge and one of the challenges was to stop using paper napkins for a week. For whatever reason this is the only change that stuck. We always had coordinating napkins to match the season or holiday. My Mom would get cheap fabric from JoAnns and sew them. Since I grew up with cloth napkins at every meal, all year round I never thought they were this luxury fancy item until friends started coming over and commenting on how they didn't want to stain the napkins.