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Cloth napkins: like or dislike?


Welcome to Like or Dislike, where you get to share how you really feel about ingredients from the pantry, ingredients I'm thinking about adding to my pantry, other seasonal foods, and favorite cooking gear. The things you like are sure to find their way to the recipes here on The Perfect Pantry, so do tell.

When, twenty years ago, our daughter returned from a year of study and eco-travel around the world, the first thing she did was banish paper napkins (serviettes, for those of you who live where "napkins" means diapers) from our house. She was right, of course, that we'd never paid attention to the huge amount of paper waste we were generating. These days, we have a huge stash of mismatched cloth napkins that we use for everyday as well as for special occasions. It's possible that, at some point, we actually had matching napkins, but now we have a hodge-podge of colors and patterns. Sometimes our table settings look a bit like a Mardi Gras parade, but the crazy collection of cloth napkins has become who we are. How about you? Do you use paper napkins, cloth napkins, or both? And if you use cloth napkins, do they match? [Thanks to my husband Ted for suggesting this week's Like or Dislike question.]

Cloth napkins: like or dislike?

Last week: lentils. Mostly, lentil lovers here. A few people just do not like the texture, and I understand that. Of course, I'm not giving up trying to convince you to give lentils another chance, so you're likely to find more lentil recipes here.

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We began using cloth napkins two years ago. We used cloth for holiday dinners and paper for everyday. We love using cloth napkins and decided to make the switch. We bought a couple of packages of white napkins at Target and began using those everyday. I've gotten into quilting recently and have decided to make matching placemats, table toppers and napkins for the table. Why not make the table a special occasion everyday?
We're vegetarian and I do love lentils. I've under cooked them mostly. My first attempt at lentil loaf was soggy and fell apart. I'd love to perfect the technique of cooking them for lentil loaf and lentil chilie. I will check your recipes for sure.


We use both, and I prefer cloth. They match (most of the time) and even if stained, it matters not.

Cloth for 3 years now. Mine are mismatch.

Love cloth, use them all the time - have for years -

I prefer quality paper napkins. In my experience there are stains that never come out of the cloth napkins.

I use both, usually reserving the cloth napkins for holiday dinners and events where guests are present. I must admit that I am keeping the fancy decorated paper napkins industry alive and well in the USA. I buy them for holidays, for the seasons, to match color schemes for parties. I know it's bad of me, but trees are a renewable resource.

I haven't used paper napkins in over 20 years....it is so much nicer to use cloth. They are bigger and don't fall apart. If they don't get too dirty, each family member and visitor can have their own napkin ring (clothespins are great for that on vacation with people's names on them), and even a lot of them don't take up a lot of room in the washing machine. You can get really cheap ones online....i've even made them! I also have a hodge lodge of many napkins, but have a group of eight or so plain colored ones for company.

Have always used cloth napkins (married 56 yrs) -got a bunch of unique
and fun napkins PLUS napkin ring holders--
part of the family culture--

Oh my word, I love cloth napkins and always use them for guests but I never even thought of using them all the time for everyday. And of course, I have more napkins than any single food blogger could ever need; I think this post has been life-changing for me!

My family and friend are special and worth the extra work to set the table with cloth napkins.

I love cloth napkins! I have a collection of vintage white linen napkins. I even iron them.

I admit that I don't use cloth napkins enough. They have to have the right material/right texture for feel and absorbency and getting them clean can be a challenge. Your collection looks great thought, Lydia! And I love the cheer they bring to the table. :-)


Cloth napkins with napkin rings every day for us. I spent 3 months in Europe and never used a paper napkin at home once I got back.

LIKE cloth napkins, but don't use them every day; on weekends, when we're all miraculously home at the same time, i use cloth...makes our "breaking bread together" more special; however, when it's just me having a quick bite, i use paper. I have accumulated many sets of cloth napkins over the years, but during that time, some have gone MIA, some have stains that won't come out. Those are the ones we use, the "nice ones" are kept for holiday gatherings and when company comes over. But i like the hodge-podge mismatched look.... maybe i should mix up the "nice ones" as well? LOL Thanks to Ted for this question! I look forward to these like/dislike questions, they're fun and hope you keep this going as long as possible ;0)

Cloth napkins are all we've ever used - although I do keep paper on hand for car trip picnics. As to matching.... yeah, we can always find 2 that match, or we buy 2 more LOL. We have a set of 'good' ones (matching) for dinner parties.

Never considered cloth for every day (just the two of us). Never considered paper for company! But, getting the linen, white and off white especially, cloth napkins free of stains is very, very difficult and stressful. What are the tricks for lipstick and cranberry?

I grew up using cloth napkins. I use paper now. I had not thought about it until now. I have made my life mostly eco, but paper towels and napkins never occurred to me to go cloth' Guess I'll have to make some.

Cloth always cloth. We sometimes even use wet towels at each place if the food is finger friendly,and sticky. Saves the environment and is reusable.

We use both, but I really prefer cloth. With napkin rings that do not match. So everyone can claim and identify their own. We also have paper, especially when our children were much younger. But they each had their own napkin ring, etc etc. The napkins don't have to be ironed, although they do look nicer that way.

I love cloth, my husband loves paper. As a matter of fact, I've never seen someone go through so much paper in my life! I use cloth whenever I can, I don't have 2 that match, but I do have a few that "go" together... kind of! Thank you for this post... it was most helpful and I'm going to try to put more cloth in my life!

We always used cloth napkins when I was growing up and I've continued that with my own family. We each have our own special napkins, that we keep rolled in our personalized (with initials) silver napkin rings. Just like when I was a kid. We also have a large selection of other random napkins that we use for guests. Really, the only time we use paper is on picnics. I love the tradition of using cloth napkins and hope that my kids continue it with their own families someday.

I stopped using paper napkins about 5 or 6 years ago. I don't ironed the oens I use everyday for dinner, but when company comes I do. I've also begun collecting old, embroidered hand towels to use instead of paperweights in my guest powder room.
I also use my "good" china regularly and have been known to drink water and oj out of crystal glasses and flutes. Who deserves it more than me and mine?

My napkins match although I miss and match complimentary sets when company comes. I buy linen and/or cottons napkins at TJ Maxx, Marshall's & Tuesday morning mostly.
Even though I have them, I pretty much never use napkin rings. Great questions, Ted.

I love the way they look but don't use them very often. Everyone in my household prefer white paper dinner napkins. I use cloth for special occasions.

We have been using cloth napkins for probably at least 30 years. We started when I bought several bundles at auctions for a song. At times I made some, but continued buying them at auctions quite cheaply. I have also purchased beautiful ones, including pure linen, at auctions. I use the nice ones for guests. We never worry about them matching for everyday and thrown many away that were worn out. I have not had trouble with stains. Maybe it's because I only have 100% cotton. I'm not really sure. We're so used to cloth we don't even think about it. Great website! Thanks much.

Cloth! I started using them for everyday as a single gal at least 10 years ago. I have quite to collection of cotton madras patterns now that my little girl and I use for everyday. I even use them to wrap snacks for on the go in the car. I wash them warm and the only stains are from an accidental inclusion of a felt tip marker in the wash once. I admit to being a bit tired of the old patterns. I am contemplating sewing them into a large picnic quilt/blanket and starting out with all new.

That's interesting. I have always used cloth for special occasions, guests, etc. And we use cloth during Advent. I'll have to look into acquiring some for daily use.

I've used cloth for quite a few years now. Started out with white but did find the stains did start to look bad after awhile. I prefer the dark blues, black, greens and red napkins which do seem to stay looking better longer. (And don't show cranberry or lipstick stains.) For a "quick bit" we also use a stack of kitchen washcloths. They are smaller but do seem to absorb a little more and they are all stained up. (Little ones using them to clean up after crafts didn't help much either to their condition.)

I have always used only cloth napkins. My friends tease me that on occasion I'll use disposable plates but always cloth napkins! The only time I use paper is if I'm serving some sticky finger food like bbq ribs.

I love them because they add a lot of color and are very versitile. I use them when I'm styling my dishes to show my food off.

I would love to use cloth, but my apartment doesn't have a washer & dryer so for now I'm sticking with recycled paper napkins to keep the laundry pile to a reasonable level.

My brother and sister in law asked friends to make cloth napkins for their wedding dinner out of whatever fabric they liked, and those are the day to day napkins they use now. Cute idea!

I moved around with wedding present napkins for many years, until I switched then into daily use. A napkin can be used for days until it is ready for the laundry. When they come out of the dryer I smooth them out, no ironing needed, and over time they get softer and softer, and absorb easily. What does not work is the ones that are all synthetic fiber - stain easily, don't absorb well - they sit in the drawer. I am encouraged to mismatch by you, Lydia, so I can enjoy the odd ones more often. Before I took the napkins out, we usually used the kitchen dish towels at our kitchen meals, though it's the same concept not nearly so enjoyable!

Cloth napkins rule! And, I have a wonderful collection of napkins rings. My collection is a hodge podge and I never try to make them match, even for company. I take a cloth napkin to work. I take cloth napkins on picnics. I take cloth napkins when we travel and we know we are going to provide some of our own meals. If one becomes too stained, it goes into the cleaning rag pile.

Cloth! For the last 37 years, but we use cotton or linen mix dish towels not napkins. I find great ones at sales at Williams Sonoma, Macy's or even Bloomingdale's and get decades out of them. We hang them on a drying rack and don't iron anything other than the inherited white linens for special.
Love the question,thank So!

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