How to Make a Handkerchief to Save Money & Your Nose!

Fy Nyth
by Fy Nyth

Today is a snowy morning and the mountains are very white. So, it's a good morning to do some inside things. Today, I wanted to talk about saving resources and money. I’m talking about how to make a handkerchief in order to replace one-use tissues.

My runny nose

I've used a ton of tissues my whole life because I have a lot of allergies and hay fever. I tend to get a runny nose over-exposure to a whole lot of things. That’s why I have all-natural fibers in the house.

I also seem to be more sensitive than a lot of people to dairy products. If I have too much dairy, my nose will run. And, if you’ve ever been in a cold climate, you probably know if you go from a warm room, beside a wood stove, to outside in the cold, your nose tends to run.

Reusable tissues

Last year, I was inspired when we had a toilet paper shortage by people making their own toilet paper out of cloth. You wash them, just like cloth diapers.

I washed lots of cloth diapers for my younger siblings growing up. And, while I haven’t been personally inspired to do the cloth toilet paper yet, one of the things some lady mentioned is that she used to get raw from the abrasion of the toilet paper and experienced none of that anymore with cloth toilet paper.

I haven’t had that problem, but I do get a very raw nose, especially in winter. I live in a super-dry climate with almost no humidity, high elevation, and high exposure to sunlight in the winter. The sun is reflective on white surfaces like snow. You can even burn the underside of your chin or the inside of your nostril from the winter sun!

I tend to get chapped on my nose, partially from blowing it often. I thought if cloth can help with that, I should try using cloth hankies. All my grandparents used cloth handkerchiefs. When I was growing up, my grandfather would pull his hankie from his pocket, unfold it to a clean side, and use it.

I grew up using disposable paper (which goes in the compost anyway), but I decided to try cloth hankies. I got a few, and I’ve been using them for a year and a half.

I have three kinds because I wasn’t sure which I’d like best. I got three fabrics of the many fabrics one could make cloth tissues out of. Here’s my experience:

Felted handkerchief

Felted handkerchief

These are smaller. I actually like this size pretty well. It’s made out of lightweight felted material. It’s a little softer. These reusable tissues are ok. I find them to be a little too thickly textured for my preferences. Maybe it’s because I’m used to paper tissues.

They are pretty soft, but because they are thick they aren’t my favorite cloth tissues.

White cotton handkerchief

White cotton handkerchiefs

Then, I tried some of these. I don’t iron them. They also have some stains on them. I’m not into ironing. I don’t even own an iron. These cloth tissues work fine. It’s a lighter-weight cotton fabric. I enjoy the weight of the fabric, but it does get stained if it’s white.

Gray handkerchief

Gray handkerchiefs

So, I got some of these, which are gray. They might have stains on them, but they don’t show up because it’s colored. These reusable tissues have probably become my favorite handkerchiefs, but I’m using all of them up until they wear out. 

How I use handkerchiefs

They are pretty handy. I keep one in my coat pocket and one in my pants pocket if I wear pants (sometimes I’ll wear skirts that don’t have pockets). I’ll keep one sitting on my desk. I just throw them in the laundry, with my regular laundry.

I do occasionally use paper tissues if I get a nosebleed because the air is dry. That way I can discard them and not worry about getting blood stains out of the cloth. 

To go back to my original reason for trying them, I get the chapped feeling on the side of my nose much less with reusable cloth tissue rather than the disposable ones. If you have allergies or live in a climate where your nose tends to drip, you may enjoy trying one or more of these as well. Over time you actually save money. They’re not a disposable product, so there’s that benefit.

How to make a handkerchief

If you want to know how to make a handkerchief, lots of people make these. I could make my own — I know how to sew, I just don’t enjoy it. It’s just a square cut with the edges sewn. It’s pretty simple. Being a lighter material, there’s a rolled seam on the edge to finish it and keep it from unraveling. It would be fairly easy to learn how to make a handkerchief yourself if you know how to sew and enjoy it. 

Paper products are in short supply again, so it’s always good to have options. I hope you’re enjoying your day and have somewhere comfy and cozy like a wood stove to hang out at. Do you use cloth tissues? Would you want to learn how to make a handkerchief? Drop a comment and let me know. 

Join the conversation
  • Mary.jean.cunningham Mary.jean.cunningham on May 20, 2023

    Love using cloth handkerchiefs and find tissues, even the more expensive ones, feel so cheap compared to the feel of nice fabric - also, well-worn cloth handkerchiefs are fantastic when you have a cold - even when they are past their prime they are superior to tissues. Some folks believe paper tissues to be more hygenic, but I am seldom ill. They are also regarded as unsanitary, but think about it - do you throw your underwear away at the end of every day? And that touches things a lot worse! Just wash those handkerchiefs and go on living! Sometimes I iron them, sometimes I don't, but I love them all!

  • Tina Tina on May 20, 2023

    what is the best fabric for tgese cloth handkerchiefs?