Site search



The Problem with Handkerchiefs

Now that we’ve closed all the windows, my allergies are acting up again. They periodically will until spring, depending on how often we clean the house and bathe the cats. I go through a frightening number of tissues—not even recycled, but the good ones with lotion, so I can avoid the dreaded lizard nose.


To cut back on my tissue use at least a little bit, I bought some handkerchiefs to use at home. But I just can’t figure out how to make them practical. I decided to use them only one day each and tried to find out how to fold them properly, but I’m still a little grossed out when I pull out a used handkerchief. There don’t seem to be any general tips out there. Doesn’t anyone even use them anymore? My dad does, but he just balls them up and sticks them in his pocket. Ew! Maybe if I store them in an old tissue box and toss them into the laundry after one use? That would solve my storage problem, but it wouldn’t be very efficient. Any suggestions?


Comment from Joy Ribisi
Time October 15, 2009 at 10:17 pm

I use vintage hankies and new hankies — I love love LOVE them! They are so super soft so you don’t get lizard nose! Much better than the lotion tissues (which usually makes me break out). I do still use paper tissues but having a dozen hankies around really cuts back on the paper use and makes me feel better when I pull a pretty hankie out of my bag.
I wash them often, usually using them for the day or until they’re just too used to be beneficial anymore. I keep them in my purse or pocket if I have some.
I love hankies! Go for it!!!

Comment from Brenda Pike
Time October 15, 2009 at 10:32 pm

I made the mistake of using my handkerchiefs right away, but they were so much softer after I washed them. Do you put them in something or just leave them loose in your bag?

Comment from Joy Ribisi
Time October 16, 2009 at 8:10 am

I either leave them loose in my bag or put them in a pocket in my purse.

Comment from Sharon
Time October 16, 2009 at 8:03 pm

I think the trick is to get the Giant Man Hankie instead of the delicate ladylike ones. Those are just for dabbing at tears without smearing your makeup; if you might have to blow your nose, you need at least four square feet of flannel. Then you use the corners and sides one by one, and go through two per day.

I had a hankie-using friend in college, and that appeared to be his MO. He didn’t have the best hygiene, though, so maybe he just didn’t mind the goop.

Comment from Sharon
Time October 23, 2009 at 2:44 pm

Following up with some serious hankie tips from my sister.
1) Use the huge, man-sized kerchiefs.
2) Fold in half. Use one side of this half-sized handkerchief till it’s icky, then fold in half the other way, so the ick is now on the inside. When that’s too icky, fold in half again and you can get a little more use out of the quarter sized hankie.
3) With each size, start at the bottom of the hankie, and when you fold it around your nose, start at the outside and work your way in.
4) When washing, make sure to unfold entirely.

I can provide diagrams, if it’ll help!

Comment from Brenda Pike
Time October 23, 2009 at 2:50 pm

No diagrams–I want a video of you gesturing like a flight attendant with a handkerchief.

Comment from Erin aka Conscious Shopper
Time October 28, 2009 at 10:23 pm

I love this idea for handkerchiefs from Soule Mama:

Pingback from Looking Back at 2009 « Pragmatic Environmentalism
Time January 4, 2010 at 9:07 pm

[…] Handkerchiefs – I’ve gotten used to them. I still keep a box of tissues for when I’m sick, but for everyday use, hankies work great. Jason’s even started carrying one around, too. […]

Pingback from Pragmatic Environmentalism
Time January 18, 2011 at 2:53 pm

[…] One year ago: The Problem with Handkerchiefs […]

Write a comment