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Topic: Paper versus cloth napkins

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Subject: Paper versus cloth napkins
Date Posted: 1/28/2012 3:21 PM ET
Member Since: 8/14/2010
Posts: 482
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I keep seeing that using cloth napkins to the exclusion of paper napkins will save me money even with the extra washing. Does anyone regularly use cloth napkins?

Subject: yep
Date Posted: 2/1/2012 11:24 AM ET
Member Since: 3/15/2006
Posts: 119
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when you consider u already have 2 do laundry,there is no added expense, but save $1 a roll,I have found at thrift stores & yard sales,but I use washcloths on toddler, no contest,better value, but for nasty jobs there are a few paper towel & baby wipes around, family of 4,go thru a case of each a yr,much less than most.

Date Posted: 2/1/2012 5:48 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2007
Posts: 2,424
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DH & I use cloth/cotton napkins.  I have about 30 in sets of two.  I bought them only when I saw them on clearance sale at Kohl's so they were probably about $1 each.  We generally use them three or four times before I put new ones out.  I store the dirty ones in a bag in the laundry room and once I have 20 or so I'll wash them by themselves in the washer.  I don't wash until I have enough to make a good size load.  I wash them in warm water with a few drops of tea tree oil to disinfect since you can't use bleach on the colors and I don't wash anything else with them so they don't pick up stray cat hair or other lint.  Put them in the dryer and fold when still warm.  Never iron them.  So it would depend on how  many times you use them and how  many you are using.  If you have a family of four and you each use one napkin for three meals, and you each eat nine meals at home per week you would use three napkins each, or twelve total per week.  Not enough to wash, but in two weeks you could wash 24, or if you use them fewer times then your pile would get big faster and you could wash them more often.

It takes me two or three months to go through a regular paper towel roll since I only use them for cooking (draining bacon or baking or under other greasy items).  I have a basket of rags to use for spills and other cleaning that a paper towel might be used for.  The rags are old socks, frayed washclothes, t-shirts, etc that have been cut into flat pieces.  I regularly wash them with my (I only use white) towels with bleach.  If I use them for something too dirty, like the wheel wells on the car, they just get tossed.



Last Edited on: 2/1/12 5:54 PM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 2/3/2012 8:32 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2005
Posts: 2,354
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I have a lot of cloth napkins.  SOme are actual cloth napkins (bought at rummage sales), others are old socks (my husband kills the elastic long before he wears the fabric--I don't get it) that I cut up.  I have a serger so I could finish the edges.  I also cut up some old clothes and hemmed the edges to make napkins.

We use the socks/other small ones as kitchen-clean-up clothes/dishrags, and the nicer looking ones for actual napkins. 

Been doing it for a few years now.  Still going fine.  He was deeply suspicious but has admitted it works really well. I've built up our supply to the point I have a full load of washclothes/rags.  More than is needed, but I don't like putting the kitchen rags in my normal wash.  I like to run these on a hot wash and the rest I do on cold.  Means if one sneaks through soaking wet (dishcloths) I don't have to worry.

Date Posted: 2/3/2012 9:23 PM ET
Member Since: 8/14/2010
Posts: 482
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Thanks for the input. I only have a couple of sets but I have fabric that I could use to make some. I'm going to start incorporating them and just add to my collection as I find them on sale.

Date Posted: 2/7/2012 6:03 PM ET
Member Since: 3/13/2009
Posts: 8,022
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Even with the money saved, I wouldn't switch.  Cloth napkins never seem to get the grease off my fingers. 

Date Posted: 2/20/2012 11:57 AM ET
Member Since: 2/15/2012
Posts: 674
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I have been using cloth napkins for years. I just wash them with the towels. I bought most of mine at the Crate and Barrel Outlet for about $1 apiece. I also get them when seasonal items go on clearance at other stores. We also reuse ours a few times before washing. I highly recommend them.

 

Date Posted: 3/5/2012 4:59 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2005
Posts: 2,354
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Jennifer: I've found there are HUGE differences between cloth napkins.   Some of them work wonderfully, others don't do anything but look nice (if that).

I found that sweaters make awful rags, much to my surprise. We editted all of those out, and have taken some of the acutal napkins (as opposed to my cut up & made napkins) out as well, because they just don't absorb.  Why you'd make a cloth napkin out of anything that doesn't wipe/absorb I don't know, but some do.

Date Posted: 3/13/2012 12:51 PM ET
Member Since: 3/13/2009
Posts: 8,022
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Kayote, what kind of materials do you suggest using to make cloth napkins?  If I can find some that actually work, I'd consider using them. 

Date Posted: 4/1/2012 8:05 PM ET
Member Since: 6/21/2008
Posts: 6,540
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I use 100 % cotton cloth napkins and have for over 30 years.  After they get too stained to use for napkins, we use them for rags. The best ones are made of cotton from India, IMHO.  The cotton is more absorbant and washes without needing pressing.  If the cotton is too tightly woven it is not as good for a napkin.         I  can barely stand a paper napkin in a resturant.  If the food is greasy, we wet the napkins and that takes care of that as they say.....

Date Posted: 4/17/2012 7:33 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2005
Posts: 2,354
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The best ones are sock material, but we tend to use those as kitchen rags rather than normal napkins.

I don't know what the cloth is. I just buy them at rummage sales or I cut up some clothing. I don't know the difference, just that some do and some don't absorb.  Sweaters don't.

 

Date Posted: 5/30/2013 12:22 AM ET
Member Since: 1/16/2009
Posts: 112
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We have some that are made of Hatian cotton (or so I'm told - I'm a guy who has no clue).  In any event they work just fine and have for three or four years now.  We use once and toss in the laundry with regular wash and usually line dry.  We have had some given to us or somehow acquired that were useless at aborbing anything at all.  Those went away rapidly.  The current ones are a heavy fabric with a texture and are really great. 

Date Posted: 8/19/2013 3:19 PM ET
Member Since: 8/14/2008
Posts: 3,574
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You can further cut your use of paper towels by buying big packages of coffee filters, which are cheaper than paper towels, to use for somme things, which the coffee filters actually do better. Coffee filter do a better job of drianing off greese. Coffee filters are perfect places inside a colinder to strain something. Coffee filters are lint free and do a great job washing windows and mirrors. Coffee filters are also great between china for protection. Also use them between non-stick skillets when they are stacked and put away, and wrap your fragile christmas ornaments in them before putting them away in Jan.

Date Posted: 9/28/2013 11:46 PM ET
Member Since: 11/5/2011
Posts: 100
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I use cloth napkins all the time. My parents think I'm being "fancy", but really, I'm just very cheap frugal. =) I mostly got mine from thrift shops and tag sales.

The matchy ones I use for dinner, and with the odd ball ones, I wrap my daughters lunch in one, and tuck it all into a reuseable cloth lunch bag. 

Subject: cloth vs paper napkins
Date Posted: 3/5/2014 2:39 AM ET
Member Since: 6/15/2013
Posts: 2
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I have been making cloth napkins for 10 years now. I buy a yard of fabric on sale right after a holiday for seasonal prints. I cut it into 12" squares and hem the edges. Nine napkins for about $2 total. I just launder them with towels.