Tuesday, April 10, 2012

cloth napkins

I am a big fan of cloth napkins.  I like fun colors and patterns, and often you can find great napkin deals at garage sales or on clearance at your favorite home decor store.
Photo Sources {1} World Market; {2} Pottery Barn; {3} Target; {4} West Elm
However, it can be difficult to find a set of eight or more napkins on sale.  While I do like a mismatched table, I decided to simplify a bit and buy a case of plain white napkins.

I prefer 100% cotton napkins because they are softer and more absorbent than napkins made with polyester.  The up-side of a polyester napkin is that it releases stains easier and doesn't wrinkle, but have you ever tried to wipe up a spill with a polyester napkin?  It just pushes the milk all around the table (yes, we've done this a few times).

So, I ordered sixty restaurant-grade 100% cotton 21"x21" white napkins.  My goal was to pay less than a dollar per napkin.  Anything more than that and I figured I should just make them myself.  I found mine at Image Textiles for 89 cents each, but they've changed their minimum since that time (now it's 120).  Sam's Club carries restaurant-grade napkins too (24 for $22.88 online), but I haven't personally seen or touched these.

I LOVE MY NAPKINS!  Here's my system:

We have a big turquoise laundry basket from Target that sits in the corner of the dining room.  Dirty napkins go in there after each meal.  After a couple of days when we start running low on clean napkins, I dump the dirty napkins into the wash - first, a soak with a scoop of OxiClean, then just a regular wash cycle.  Then I dry 'em and fold 'em.  No ironing for me (would that bug you?).  As I'm folding, I look for napkins that are stained - occasionally a couple make it through the wash without getting entirely white.  These go back to the laundry room for a meeting with the Clorox bleach pen (LOVE!) and another trip through the machines, usually with some slipcovers.  Clean, folded napkins go into a couple of storage baskets that we keep in our hutch, ready for a little helper to set the table.

My kids love to help fold napkins.  But I find this job to be kind of therapeutic  (and I need therapy since I'm a bit OCD about how the napkins look in the baskets), so I often save it for after they've gone to bed.  But they do a pretty good job, and most of them can spot a stain faster than I can.

How are my napkins holding up?  We've used them constantly for over a year now and have had plenty of run-ins with mustard, ketchup, spaghetti sauce, and tacos.  They are holding up great and looking as white and bright as ever (although perhaps a bit wrinkled).

Do you use cloth napkins?


Jessica @ Stay at Home-ista said...

I've tried, really I have, but I just don't have the patience for stain removal.Although, we do use cloth napkins when we are having a nice dinner, we got 20 all white ones with a white monogram (so I could bleach them if I knew how). I'm pinning this and if I ever figure out bleach and how to remove stains efficiently I'm coming back here to copy your system.


Whitney @ Drab to Fab Design said...

I like using cloth napkins, but honestly most of the time I'm too lazy to put them out so disposable napkins are usually what we use. unless we have company!

Kelly @ View Along the Way said...

I use them, but only have so many of each pattern. I am LOVING the idea of buying a ton of white ones and switching them out! This is so smart!

jeanetteann said...

I do use cloth napkins for when we have friends for a meal,but paper at other times. I must admit I prefer the cloth ones though and will have a rethink now I've seen your post. I love your idea of the baskets and no iron. It is the ironing that put me off using them all the time.
I like all white too. Great price, I wonder if I can get a deal like that in Australia?

Sheila said...

We use cloth napkins except for picnics. We have a basket in the center of the table and everyone just grabs one at the beginning of the meal. We are a family of 7 and we have 4 boys, and our youngest children are 4,5,6 &7, so it's just easier to have lots of napkins on the table. I buy cloth napkins at second hand shops, and yard sales, etc. Ours do not match and we have lots of colors. The napkins go directly into the laundry after each meal, with a family our size their is usually a load of whites and a load of colored clothes everyday. I don't obsess about stains... if something gets too stained it becomes a dust cloth. We do have "special occasion" napkins that get extra care, stain treating, ironing etc., but mostly we use the same old same old ones in a pretty basket in the middle of the table.

karen@somewhatquirky said...

we always use cloth. I don't iron the white ones. I also find cute non terry cloth kitchen towels, cut them in half and hem the one side. These make really great napkins because the towels are made to absorb, but generally have some stain resistance built in. I have a lot of white ones that came from estate sales that I treat just like you treat the ones you buy. We keep them in a basket that sits on a shelf under the table. I hate paper napkins - they are fine as long as you don't really need a napkin, but when you actually need a napkin a real one works so much better!