Does anyone still use handkerchiefs anymore?

United States
February 14, 2011 7:11pm CST
So, i am sitting here, feeling miserable with my nose running all over the place as a result of a nasty cold. My boyfriend just headed down to the local pharmacy to pick up some medicine and some tissues. I have been blowing and blowing my nose all afternoon using the only thing i had available in the house, good old fashioned one-ply toilet paper. My nose however feels as though i have been using sandpaper instead LoL, As i wait for him to come back with a box of wonderfully soft and soothing tissues (the kind with lotion?? a girl can hope!!) i got to thinking.....does anyone use cloth/linen handkerchiefs anymore? I remember as a little girl my grandfather always had one of these in his pockets. My dad even had a collection of them, not that i ever remember him using them, i mostly just remember practicing my ironing on them, or sneaking one out of his drawer to use as a dress of a blanket for one of my barbie dolls. I know they still sell them, and you can even get them embroidered with your initials and what not, but they seem to have become more of a decorative piece. The only time i see them used anymore is in the movies, when undoubtedly some guy is comforting a crying, weeping girl, and he hands her his handkerchief to wipe her eyes with, she generally uses it to blow her nose as well, then tries to pass it back, when he tells her to keep it LoL. So here are my questions to you, do you, or anyone you know still use cloth handkerchiefs? Or have you gone with the disposable kind? Would you use a handkerchief if someone offered you one, or would the germiness factor get to you? Do you think in today's rage of going "green" to save the environment, that people should forgo using the disposable tissues for handkerchiefs?
4 people like this
30 responses
@peavey (16876)
• United States
15 Feb 11
I use handkerchiefs. I made most of my own from used material and they're much softer and easier on a sore nose than even the most expensive disposable tissues. We have lost quality along with our disposable lifestyles. If someone offered me a handkerchief that had been laundered, of course I'd use it. If someone offered me food on a plate that had been washed, I'd eat it... wouldn't you? People have used cloth handkerchiefs for hundreds of years if not more. We have become far too picky and squeamish for our own good. Washed handkerchiefs are probably safer to use than disposable tissues that have been bleached and chemically treated to fluff up and keep their shape while using the least amount of paper possible.
3 people like this
@GardenGerty (105303)
• United States
15 Feb 11
I am fortunate, I do not get many runny noses or colds.I think I would use a handkerchief. Many people use bandannas for sweat. My daughter wanted to use cloth diapers, which comes under this same idea to my mind. Her husband and my husband both felt it was too unsanitary. I do not know, my kids did okay with cloth diapers. Their dad did fine with cloth handkerchiefs, and my husband does okay with his bandannas. Now, my first hubby would fold his neatly in his pocket. My current one just wads that bandanna into his pocket. Probably does not make much difference.
1 person likes this
• United States
15 Feb 11
peavy...you make a myriad of vary valid points. Thank you so much for all of your thoughts! I guess my thought with someone offering me a handkerchief is that even though it LOOKS clean, how do i know that it is? but then again, as you pointed out, when someone offers you food on a plate, you accept it, but how do you know they washed the plates, and didn't just have the dog lick them clean after breakfast this morning? LoL I guess you just have to trust!.
1 person likes this
@peavey (16876)
• United States
15 Feb 11
@GsrdenGerty, my kids did just fine with cloth diapers, too. Disposables have only been around for about 50 years I think... and we worry about places called "landfills" which we used to call dumps, except now they're full of disposable diapers and plastic bags. @fruitcakeliz, to each his or her own, but a piece of bleached, chemical filled paper is hardly "safe," if that's what you're worried about.
1 person likes this
@gloryacam (5543)
• Philippines
15 Feb 11
I still use handkerchiefs. It's a terribly tropical hot weather where I am from, so it's common to be sweaty after a few minutes outside. That's what the hanky is for because if I used tissue paper, the fibers will stick to the skin. However, I don't use the hanky for my colds. Kinda eww. So I use the disposables.
2 people like this
@daeckardt (6245)
• United States
15 Feb 11
It does make sense to use it for sweat. I agree that tissues wouldn't work well for that. I hadn't even thought of that use for them. I only was thinking about colds.
• United States
15 Feb 11
For sweat, i can most certainly see using a cloth. I guess i wasn't thinking about that aspect of it, probably because this frigid cold snowy winter up here in Maine has left me forgetting what sweating is like!! LoL
@gloryacam (5543)
• Philippines
15 Feb 11
Yes, when I lived in a much colder city, I had no use for hankies, too. But, now, I find that my getup won't be complete without the hanky. I've tried small towels before, they're actually better, but they are bulky and hideous!
@hlgmdt (301)
• Philippines
15 Feb 11
Medical practitioners actually recommend the use of handkerchiefs than commercial wipes such as tissue because the latter contain fibers which may cause further irritation. I still use handkerchief to wipe wet hands or to wipe off sweat from my face, or to cover my mouth when I cough or sneeze when I am struck with colds. However, if I have severe runny nose, I use tissue.
• United States
16 Feb 11
Interesting fact! Thank you so much for sharing it. That sounds like a good idea, using a combination of the two, one that is disposable for more germ-filled uses, and one for day to day uses.
@nijolechu (1845)
• Canada
15 Feb 11
Sorry, I am not one of those people that like to carry handkerchiefs around with me in my pocket. I guess I am afraid of getting the germs from having it kept in my pocket at all times. My older relatives still do like to use handkerchiefs though. I just use the disposable kinds of handkerchiefs or just carry around a pack of tissues in my pocket.
1 person likes this
• United States
16 Feb 11
Yes, handkerchiefs do seem to be slowly becoming a thing of the past. thank you so much for sharing!
• United States
15 Feb 11
I am one who uses the disposable tissues, as I do get many colds. I do use quite a bit of them, and feel that a hankie would not be hygienic for me. I am sure it could save using the cloth ones but I tend to think that the second day of my cold and or flu that it would be best to continue to use a fresh one as my hopes is that my cold symptoms are getting better so I do not want to continue using a hankie repetitively spreading my own germs.
1 person likes this
• United States
16 Feb 11
probably a very good idea, you don't want to re-infect yourself when you are just getting to be on the mend!!
@scheng1 (24741)
• Singapore
15 Feb 11
Hi Fruitcakeliz, I definitely do not use handkerchief anymore. I think it is unhygienic to carry the germs in the handkerchief in our bags for hours and hours, before we get to wash it. It is better to use disposable tissue, so that we can throw it away immediately after use. I think even if a home environment, washing the handkerchief is a waste of soap and water.
1 person likes this
• United States
15 Feb 11
It is kind of icky to think about carrying them around with you all day after blowing your snotty nose in them, isn't it?
• Philippines
15 Feb 11
I still use cloth hankies. Actually, every time that I have colds, I still prefer them over tissues. My nose get irritated when I'm using tissues. I don't mind if I have to wash them and feel the slippery feeling /"yucky" feeling while washing my hankies. There are some techniques how to make them really clean.
1 person likes this
• United States
15 Feb 11
i guess since i have never really used them, i don't know the differnce, but maybe someday i will give them a try!!!
@GardenGerty (105303)
• United States
15 Feb 11
My husband uses bandanna handkerchiefs. My first husband used white handkerchiefs. I would not use either one after them. My current husband uses the bandannas, preferably red, because he has always gotten nosebleeds. It is less obvious that you have one if you have a red handkerchief.
1 person likes this
• United States
15 Feb 11
Wow, that is too bad about the nosebleeds, but smart thinking on using the red bandannas!!
@nicajoice (188)
• Philippines
15 Feb 11
I still use hankies specially on very humid days.. It's really better to use cloth hankies to wipe off sweat... But the problem is, I always misplace my handkerchiefs and never see them again. It's such a waste especially when I lose something that's quite expensive. So my mom told me to just use the disposable ones. :) But, I still like bringing cloth hankies with me but I always have to make sure I don't lose it.
1 person likes this
• United States
15 Feb 11
you should see about attaching one of those little zippy clip things like they use for keys to your hanky and clipping it inside of your pocket, then maybe you would't lose them so often!!
@daeckardt (6245)
• United States
15 Feb 11
I don't think I would be comfortable using a cloth handkerchief. I would think that it would be all used up in very little time if you had a bad cold and then you would have to deal with the germs the rest of the time. I have seen people using them, but most of them were older. I think it is actually healthier to not use the same tissue for any longer than it takes to get it totally moist. There have been times that my nose was so runny that I had to use two or three tissues just to wipe my nose once. I can see why cloth would be "greener" but I can't help but think of using a contaminated handkerchief that might keep me sick for longer. This may just be paranoia, but I'm not sure. Thanks for asking the question!
1 person likes this
• United States
15 Feb 11
I agree with you there, i can't help but thank that a cloth handkerchief would be done with it's usefulness in far to short of a time to help out with my cold symptoms!!
• Oman
15 Feb 11
Honestly I do. My day is completely chaotic when I leave home and start hitting the road then later find out that I have forgotten my handkerchief. Its like a missing shoe for me. I rather return home and get back to me a handkerchief than using easily available tissue paper at work. I have active facial sebaceous glands which prompts me to always make it a point, before having a fresh morning bath, to have the following prepared on my bed: a pair of socks, inner wear, under shirt, wallet, and least not to mention, handkerchief. It indeed makes and lights up my day. In addition, it adds up to my manly physique.
1 person likes this
@dawnald (84146)
• Shingle Springs, California
15 Feb 11
My husband uses hankies, I use tissue. We each prefer our own way...
@dawnald (84146)
• Shingle Springs, California
21 May 13
Oh wow, this is old. My ex-husband uses them. lol
• United States
21 May 13
@dawnald --i take it that means you are not together anymore LOL...a lot can change in two years, no? (wasn't expecting to see any activity on my old posts....figured they were all buried and rotted by now LOL)
@dawnald (84146)
• Shingle Springs, California
21 May 13
@@fruitcakeliz I dropped by your profile and there it was. Yeah, when I posted this we were still married, but I had already filed for divorce at that point.
@SIMPLYD (86438)
• Philippines
15 Feb 11
I use a handkerchief everyday when i go out of the house. This was not so , when i was younger because i would usually lose them. Wonders of wonders though, now that i am older i do not lose my handkerchiefs anymore. But i don't use them though, to blow my nose. I always have toilet paper in my bag or in my pocket for that if it happens or for toilet use. My handkerchief is mainly used to cover my nose when the road is dusty or when the jeepney emits smoke during the trip to the office. I use it to wipe my perspiration too. I feel incomplete if i forget to bring a hanky.
• United States
16 Feb 11
You do have many good uses for your handkerchief. I guess when i wrote this post, i forgot about things such as people living where they have to travel on dusy roads, or where it is always oppressively warm and humid. Right now, in the area where i live we are dealing with feet of snow on the ground, and i could only DREAM of weather where it is warm enough i have to wipe my face of sweat! LoL
@SIMPLYD (86438)
• Philippines
16 Feb 11
I also dream of being abroad where there is snow someday.
• United States
16 Feb 11
my dad still does, I think it's nasty, he blows his nose and then sticks the hankerchief back in his pocket, to wait for the next time he needs to blow his nose. I don't know how often he cleans or changes to a different hankerchief, I'm not even sure I want to know
• United States
16 Feb 11
That is probably a question that none of us really want to know the answer to, particularly those who have to actually watch him use it!
@Galena (9123)
15 Feb 11
I do. but that's mostly because I have a feeling of panic and revulsion if I put tissue near my face. tissue is sort of fibery and flaky, and makes me freak out. I couldn't imagine ever touching my face with it. let alone putting it over things I use to breathe. so a hanky is a better option for me. yes it needs washing, but I don't need to worry about little flakes of it getting inside me. tissue freaks me out. I can just about wipe my bum.
• United States
16 Feb 11
Wow, thanks so much for your response, it put a totally different spin on things and when i shared it with my boyfriend he and i launched into a discussion on how various people have different sensory phobias. I am by no means trying to make light of your difficulties, but your last line made me chuckle a little, as that is what i was thinking about as i read the rest of your post "if she has such an issue with paper tissues, what does she do when she goes to the bathroom?"
@monty21 (119)
• India
15 Feb 11
I use handkerchief as using it has many advantages. You can wipe you face after washing your face with water. You can wipe sweat over your face and dust too. When you have got cold, it is very useful at that time. For me, it is the best to use always as you will found it in pocket every time whenever i go to outside.
• United States
16 Feb 11
As long as you remember what you used your handkerchief for, i suppose that is all good. I would feel weird wiping seat off my brow with one that i had used a few hours previously for blowing my nose!!
@beamer88 (4267)
• Philippines
15 Feb 11
I still use handkerchiefs. Honestly, I wasn't even aware that men had forgo the use of such. It's kind of like an accessory for us but useful one. Some even match the color -or at least complement it - to the clothes they're wearing. I for one make it a habit to have my handkerchiefs ironed and folded properly. It would be embarrassing to offer someone a wrinkled, haphazardly-folded one. Besides, I feel that anything on you reflects your personality, and an unkempt handkerchief may project an image of an unorganized person. With regards to using a borrowed handkerchief, well, I guess I would only accept one from a close friend and not from a stranger. And yeah, the 'germiness' factor is the main reason why. So, should we use handkerchiefs instead of disposable ones? Definitely yes. I would even go far to say that production of disposable handkerchiefs should be stopped altogether.
• United States
16 Feb 11
Thank you so much for sharing. It is interesting to see who still uses this practice and where they are from. Many times it seems to be kind of a tradition thing. Yes i do know what you mean when you speak of using hankys that are matched to your outfit and what not, but i guess i always looked at those as more of an accessory, than something with an actual use.
@AmbiePam (50398)
• United States
22 Feb 11
My dad has a lot of them. He keeps one in his pocket at all times. And he uses them. I know he uses them because I have started doing my parent's laundry when I come over to see them. And let me tell you, it's gross. You know, I don't even think he realizes it is good for the environment. I'll have to point that out to him. That will annoy him. lol
@Lakota12 (42681)
• United States
16 Feb 11
My hubby use them all the time I still have a doen brand new ones in his drawer. I use one to clean my glasses but that is it
@jillhill (37383)
• United States
15 Feb 11
I don't use them but I have some....my grandmother crocheted a edge around them and each one of us got one for a keepsake. I can't imagine using them again..I don't think they are the most sanitary thing to use when you have a cold! I did see a gentleman using one the other day.....can't imagine having to wash and iron them like we used to!