Friday, February 3, 2012

I don't buy.... Napkins

We have used cloth napkins for a long time but most of that time we have also used paper napkins some of the time too because either I didn't have enough napkins (or perhaps I didn't do laundry often enough!) or the ones we had did not pass the "Ken test" as he wants the ones he uses to be large and very absorbent. So generally we would use cloth but paper was still being used too. Also I tended to take paper napkins with us on picnics or places like that.
I think we have gotten to the place where I can say I don't buy them. That is not to say that I won't ever again for some situation but for normal home use we don't need them anymore. I actually had bought a package of napkins several months back (at the time I had been having trouble keeping up with laundry) but then we never opened them. Yesterday I took the package to the church building so they could be used there as I didn't need them taking up space in my house.

Here is how we have made cloth napkins work for us:

-Cloth napkins could be expensive if you went out and bought them (though over time I would guess even that investment would be worth it) but they are super easy to make! Ours are homemade. You do want to choose a material that absorbs well. Since I like to recycle things what has worked best for us is making them out of old cotton t-shirts or thick cotton work shirts. When you upcycle it makes the fabric free too! Simply cut them out the size you desire - I am personally happy with ones that are 8 inches square but Ken prefers them about a foot square. They don't all have to be the same size (and they aren't at our house). As far as sewing just a straight seam hem on the sides does the trick.

-We have them in a basket on the middle of our table and you take one if you need one.

- They get laundered with our other laundry. They are simple for even little kids to fold (those and washcloths are what I have always started my kids out with when they help fold cloths).

-They are easy to take on picnics and trips too. If I am packing food that means I am also going to have some dishes or containers. I simply keep the napkins with them and everything gets washed upon our return.

-I solved some of the issues I had mentioned simply by making more napkins that Ken liked- so now we don't run out very fast at all. My Mom also made and gave me some for my birthday so that helped our stash out. Those were nicer so some of them I set aside for "company" napkins. :-) I haven't actually counted but I would guess we have over 60 napkins now.

 I don't know how much money we save every year by using cloth instead of paper but it is something. I also really like the fact that we aren't creating more garbage (though if you do use paper- remember that you can compost them).

I am linking this to Frugal Friday at Life as MOM.


Alison said...

We made the switch to cloth napkins at the first of the year. I purchased a $4 pkg. of 16 wash cloths and they have been working out perfectly. I already had 12 "company" cloth napkins so I don't have to give the wash cloths to visitors!

In the future, I would like to make something that looks better on the table, but that will have to wait because we are moving soon.

Erin said...

We are just plain spoiled on cloth napkins now! We can't even go on a road trip without bringing them along. My husband's request. :-) We are "enthusiastic" eaters, so one cloth napkin does the job of 4 or more paper ones. We started using them over 5 years ago when I bought 7 4-pks. of cotton/linen blend napkins at a local dollar store. They are fast nearing retirement, but I can't seem to find replacements that we like. The idea of old shirts (flannel maybe?) is a good one. I'll have to be on the hunt.

Becky R said...

I have been an all cloth house since before 2008.

Some cloth napkin tips:

-every thrift shop I have ever been in had washclothes and / or cloth napkins for sale
-washclothes work great
-hand towels work great
-kitchen towels work great

Cloth tissues tips:

-The best cloth tissues I have are flannel that I have sewed together into a rectangle
-even if wahsing your used tissues grosses you out save t-shirt and clothes that are beyond repair, too small, and/or badly stained, cut into tissues size, use once and toss (better if you wash them, but if you are just not there yet at least you are giving one more use to old cloth)

Also when natural fabrics are no good for rags, tissues, napkins, etc. throw them in compost.

Melissa said...

I have the problem of not keeping up with laundry and I think our stash has dwindled to around twenty - I really need to catch up.

I use flannel because it is soft.

Amelia said...

I have made napkins and make mine around 8 inches square too. I just pink the edges and ziz-zag. Done! : )

I found I washed them so often it worked nicely to put them unfolded in a basket on the counter for my family to just grab out of. I wash mine with the kitchen dish towels.


April said...

Abbi...we really do think alike. I was just getting ready to post the very same thing! I make my napkins out of the ends of fabric when I am sewing something and I also use up odd and end thread that way. We use our cloth napkins for sandwich baggies and everything. Your post was awesome.

angie said...

We each choose a different pattern of cloth napkin, so that the person can use their own for the next meal. That way they don't have to be washed after every meal.
But I have trouble getting stains out of them in an efficient manner.


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