When it comes to dining, there are several options for wiping your hands and face. Most people probably opt for a paper napkin, while there are others who use their jeans, shirt, dish rag or paper towel, you know who you are. But what about cloth napkins? Are they worth investing in, or are they just an unnecessary hassle? Keep reading because I am going to explore the pros and cons of using cloth napkins and whether they're a worthy addition to your everyday place setting.

Summer place setting with cloth napkin and fine china

 My Cloth Napkin History

My grandmother always had cloth napkins on the table. They were a green paisley print cotton napkin. I remember them being thick and bigger than the fancy linen napkins she used for special occasions. They were always on the kitchen table which was covered in a solid green table cloth. She kept the napkins in a basket in the center of the table. All meals took place at this table. I’m pretty sure the napkins were ironed but not so sure on how often she washed them. They always seemed fresh to me but then again, I was very young when I visited her and anything that didn’t have a grass stain on it was clean to me. Growing up, my mom used cloth napkins every day. I used to love to iron them when they came out of the washer. (Obviously that was a short-lived phase) She would roll them up and put them in the fridge for a couple of hours before ironing them. She swore this made them iron up easily and hold their shape. There was a turning point though, around the time my younger sister was out of the high chair and sitting at the table, my mom started using those Vanity Fair paper napkins. Eventually she went back to the cloth napkins when my sisters and I were a little older and still using them every day.

 Pros and Cons of the Cloth Napkin

 Now let's talk about the pros of using cloth napkins. For starters, they're eco-friendly. Unlike paper towels and disposable napkins, cloth napkins can last for years when cared for properly. This saves both money and resources in the long run. Additionally, cloth napkins are more formal than paper products. They add a level of fancy to any meal, even take-out pizza, making guests feel even more special. Plus, they can be used for any occasion, whether it's a formal dinner party or a casual meal with friends and family. However, there are also some cons to using cloth napkins like the maintenance factor. They need to be washed and dried after each use, which can be time-consuming. Additionally, if you're using light-colored cloth napkins, they can easily stain. Red wine, spaghetti sauce, and other food stains can be difficult to remove, and they may require a lot of effort to get them looking clean again. When it comes to washing cloth napkins, opinions vary. Some people wash them after every use, I myself like to use them multiple times before washing unless they are really soiled from a messy meal. There's no right or wrong answer, but it's important to use good judgment. If the napkin is visibly soiled or has an unpleasant odor, it's time to wash it. As for ironing, that's a personal preference too. I enjoy the crisp look of ironed napkin, while I know my sister is happy to skip this step. When it comes to cloth napkin materials, there are many options. Cotton is the most commonly used material, but linen, rayon blends and even polyester are also popular. Fabrics have come a long way from 100% linen. We can now find wrinkle free, more absorbent, more durable and washable fabrics than ever before and most importantly a lot of these fabrics are made from recycled products. We are seeing this in clothing as well as upholstery fabrics and now napkins. Thank goodness! Each material has its pros and cons, so it's important to consider your needs and preferences. Cotton is durable and easy to clean, while linen is more elegant and has a lovely texture, usually both need ironing if you want them to maintain their shape. Polyester, rayon and recycled fabrics usually don’t require ironing and keep their shape even after coming out of the dryer.

 Where do you stand on the Cloth Napkin?

 To sum up my rant on cloth napkins; they are a great choice for those who want to elevate their dining experience and be eco-friendly. While they require some extra maintenance, they can be a valuable addition to your tableware. Just remember that they require washing and drying after each use and may stain easily. But if you care for them properly, they can last for years and add a special touch to any meal. So, we know cloth napkins make meals special but they are also part of the table décor. Roll them up, tie them with some string and add a name tag, or fold them in a triangle and place them in the center of the plate, or hang them on the back of the chair. Get creative. Cloth napkins are decorative and functional; they add color and set the tone for the table. Let’s not just end it there, how about cloth cocktail napkins to up your happy hour game. Who’s with me on this? Just try adding cloth napkins into your everyday place setting. Who knows, it just might be the one thing you are missing in life!

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