Does Anyone Still Use Cloth Napkins?

It's time to ditch the paper. Here's why.

cloth napkin place setting

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If you’re like me, you have countless table setting photos saved, full of ornately folded cloth napkins that coordinate perfectly with matching china. The reality of my everyday table is much different, the cleanup depending on paper towels ripped carelessly off the roll and shoved to the side of a dinner plate. While the meal is still delicious, the appearance doesn’t quite add up to the carefully curated pictures. 

I justify using up that paper towel roll. After all, cloth napkins require washing and maybe even ironing, and our family life is busy. Does anyone really put all that effort into using cloth napkins? The answer is a resounding yes.

Here’s why we all should bring back the cloth napkin once and for all. 

Cloth wipes better

Do you love wings or barbecue? Eat pizza every Friday night? If you’re nodding along to these questions, it’s easy to admit the limits of paper napkins. Cloth napkins absorb moisture better and won’t fall apart when faced with the hard jobs. Any saucy, juicy Southern meal is easier to handle with a cloth option.

As a bonus, children can’t shred them into a mess, and the family furry friend won’t eat them to get the sauce. Hopefully.

They can be as fancy as you want

You can put as much effort into your napkins as you like. If you aren’t scared of linen, the beautiful texture adds another level to the table. Try these hints for washing and ironing precious textiles.  

Decorative folding also adds another layer of excitement to a table setting. Whether the napkin transforms into a convenient pocket for utensils or tents on top of dishes to remind guests of a five-star restaurant, this group of instructions can help you find the best fold for a creative table. 

Laundry doesn’t have to be an issue

If ironing seems like the last task you’d want to do when making a meal, you aren’t alone. That’s why those paper towel rolls are often present at our family functions. However, buying napkins made from polyester or other fabric that resists wrinkles can limit the effort.

Polyester is also the choice of many restaurants due to the durability and resistance to fading. There’s one limitation with choosing an anti-wrinkle fabric: Typically, this type of cloth will be a little less able to absorb liquid. 

They're better for the environment 

The EPA estimated that paper and paperboard made up 23% of the municipal solid waste for 2018. That equates to around 67,390,000 tons of trash. While there’s a larger focus on recycling paper waste in the last few years, paper napkins can’t be reused because they hold food.

Cloth napkins are a more sustainable choice. They are able to be used over and over, decreasing the throw away trash from the kitchen. They can also be made of anything—old shirts, sheets, or any textile that needs a new life. This video uses burlap to make a no-sew, monogrammed cocktail napkin fit for any cold beverage. 

They are inexpensive

With inflation hitting everyone hard at the grocery store, having a cloth napkin that you pay for once and use again and again just makes budgetary sense. 

Cloth napkins, in any form, set the stage for a special event. Always a beautiful addition, they reflect the cuisine or theme of a meal and play a key part in the decoration. Simply put, no paper napkin can match the beauty of a cloth napkin, whether the meal is casual or formal. 

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