How We Do It- Cloth Napkins

We use cloth napkins in our house or more accurately we use washcloths. This not only saves money, but is terrific for the many spills that occur during mealtimes with children. The wash cloths are fabulous for spills, major or minor, as well as for grimy faces and hands. One washcloth will clean the baby even after he has played in eaten his spaghetti. To avoid washing hundreds of napkins washcloths every day, each person has their own unique napkin ring. We made ours, but it would also be fun to shop for a special napkin ring for each member of the family. When we finish a meal each person looks over their napkin and if it is clean they put it back in the napkin ring. Then they all go into a drawer until the next meal. After dinner each day all washcloths are put in the laundry keeping the amount of washcloths washed in a given day to a minimum.

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31 Responses to How We Do It- Cloth Napkins
  1. Jean
    February 25, 2009 | 1:44 pm

    washcloth you normally use in restroom being used as NAPKIN at meal times…. That’s something I need to think about! Thanks for the tip!


  2. Raising Olives
    February 25, 2009 | 1:53 pm

    Don’t just think restroom washclothes either, some of our favorites we bought in the kitchen linens section.


  3. Pat Leuchtman
    February 25, 2009 | 2:11 pm

    We have done this in the past when our children were young. Now we use regular cloth napkins – a lot have a chicken motif – but we still use unique napkin rings. You have a beautiful beautiful family.


  4. Best Life
    February 25, 2009 | 2:41 pm

    I think it’s a good idea, but I am not sure about putting used ones back in the drawer. We also use placemats at every meal and my little ones can’t always tell if they’re clean. Do you wash them at the end of the day regardless of how clean they seem? Anyway, just thinking. It is a good idea. Lisa~


  5. Laryssa @ Heaven In The Home
    February 25, 2009 | 2:48 pm

    Thanks for this great tip!
    We have been using cloth napkins for years, but I really like your idea of the personalized napkin rings to cut down on the amount of laundry done. You have a beautiful family by the way!


  6. Linda C
    February 25, 2009 | 2:54 pm

    Great idea and they are ready made!

    I just made some cloth napkins for Thanksgiving last fall from some stained tablecloths.

    Love the decorated rings:)

    Linda C


  7. Raising Olives
    February 25, 2009 | 3:10 pm

    Best Life,

    Absolutely, we always wash them at the end of the day regardless!



  8. Buffie
    February 25, 2009 | 3:52 pm

    This is a great idea. I’ve been resisting using my good cloth napkins because my daughter is a messy eater.


  9. Nikki
    February 25, 2009 | 4:08 pm

    I love using washcloths as napkins! The cloth napkins I had didn’t do a very good job. But I love your idea even more of assigning napkin rings to everyone and reusing them throughout the day and then washing them. Very smart!


  10. Jerralea
    February 25, 2009 | 5:48 pm

    I never thought of using washcloths! I usually cut up my old sheets, hem them and then use as napkins.


  11. Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates
    February 26, 2009 | 12:27 am

    What a great idea! And your family is just precious!


  12. Amanda
    February 26, 2009 | 1:33 am

    This is such a neat idea!! You are so crestive and thoughtful and loving… you should DEFINTELY stop by my blog and participate in the jubilee. You have earned it!!

    God bless-


  13. Kim
    March 30, 2009 | 12:53 am

    The cloth napkin idea is great! Paper towels and paper napkins can be so costly and wasteful! Thanks!


  14. Kimarie
    March 30, 2009 | 3:41 pm

    Consider cotton bandannas, too! They are inexpensive and come in a wide variety of colors and themes. The children’s favorite is camouflage! I also picked up 6 kitchen towels on sale that can be cut in half, hemmed on the cut side, and then I’ll have another 12 napkins that are more absorbent than the bandannas.


  15. Angela
    May 1, 2009 | 11:33 pm

    Yet another of your fabulous ideas I am going to be intigrating into our lives soon. THANK YOU!!

    Tho I am curious. What is your view on toilet roll tissue verses like puffs face tissues? Have you ever thought about that one, and done the math?? Would it be cheeper to use like kleanex or puffs tissues, instead of tp? Cause you get what 3 boxes for lets say $5 or 6-12 rolls for $5. How many uses do you get out of the 6-12 rolls verses the several hundered tissues you would get in 3 large boxes? Hmmm. It is definantly enough to make me wonder…..


  16. Cardamom's Pod
    May 2, 2009 | 6:35 am

    Just thought you’d get a laugh to know that after a brief search for unpainted wooden napkin rings – I went out to the shed and found a couple lengths of PVC pipe! I plan to cut these, sand them, have the children paint them with acrylic paint markers, and viola! 🙂 I will post on my site when I’m done and link here…


  17. Stefanie
    May 3, 2009 | 9:51 pm

    I use baby washcloths for napkins for the kids I babysit. I wet the washcloths and give one to each kid. I like being able to rinse them out and re-use them for messy eaters. The kids even like to wipe the table when their done!


  18. niki
    August 7, 2009 | 10:06 am

    I do this for my son! Never considered using them for the whole family.


    Thanks for sharing this.


    Stop by and visit me over at Free 2 Be Frugal!


  19. Emily
    August 7, 2009 | 11:26 am

    I use cloth napkins a lot. It’s just my husband and I right now, but when we have children, the washcloths are a great idea!


  20. Julie
    August 7, 2009 | 12:41 pm

    I like this idea, better than making my own. You can pick up huge packs on clearance for a couple of dollars at the end of each season from Target. I use them for everything, but didn’t think about napkins!



  21. Andrea @ The Train To Crazy
    August 7, 2009 | 3:16 pm

    How practical! I had never thought about using regular wash cloths at the table. I usually use them to clean everyone up but this takes it a step further. Nice! Regular napkins are NOT very absorbent (the cloth kind) so this would be great!


  22. Mommy-Wise
    August 7, 2009 | 4:04 pm

    Great craft idea too!! Personalized napkin rings!!


  23. zeemaid
    July 27, 2010 | 10:29 pm

    Another great idea. I’ve wet baby wash cloths for the kids but they stain really fast and get dingy looking. I love the idea of separate napkin rings.

    How did you make them?


  24. […] store one of our sets of silverware in the top drawer of this buffet.  This is also where we store cloth napkins, place mats, table clothes and serving dishes.  We use the bowl on top to store our fresh […]

  25. […] of clothes, towels, and bedding that any group of 12 people would produce and in addition we use cloth napkins, cloth diapers, cloth wipes, and cloth cleaning rags. This saves money and resources, but produces […]

  26. PVC Nakpin Rings
    September 25, 2010 | 7:26 am

    […] I’ve dubbed Redneck Napkin Rings. I’d seen the idea of personalized napkin rings on my friend’s blog, and had been dreaming of a way to do it myself for little to no money. We found some black wooden […]

  27. Dineen
    October 16, 2011 | 12:40 pm

    We re-use napkins; keeping them in the basket on the table for a day or two. The little’s gets thrown in more frequently than mom or dad’s, but I like the individual napkin ring idea. I’ve bought good heavy cotton napkins on sale that really work, but I like the washcloth idea too.


  28. Lynne Burton
    May 31, 2012 | 4:27 pm

    I’m thinking of having a lot of wash cloths for napkins and paper towels. Thanks for the advice!


  29. Trisha
    May 31, 2012 | 10:16 pm

    I have started using washcloths/rags in place of paper towels & baby wipes (we still use them on baby rear ends – just quit wiping up faces & hands.) Here is my silly problem – I only have 5 kids, so I wash whites about twice a week. Any suggestions on where to pile the wet/dirty/downright disgusting cloths between washings? At first, they just built up around the sink (not an option, obviously!) so we started throwing them in a plastic bag but they quickly got stinky!


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Our cloths are not white, so we wash those cloths with every load. I also do so much laundry every day that we don’t have much of a problem with that.

    I have a sink in our laundry closet and any items that are wet/damp get hung up on the side of the sink until they are dry and then they are put into the hamper.


  30. Asiyah
    June 19, 2012 | 11:03 pm

    I have beem using cloth for everything for years now. Of course, due to time things wear out and are replaced. My first set of napkins were all from thrift stores. A collection of various gingham and country patterns with different main colors. Easy to keep straight at a glance. My current napkin strategy has yet to evolve to an easy ‘that one’s mine’ level. Due to just having arrived back into the US and also on one income, working up into a more comfortable level takes a bit of time. Right now, we have been using a bit of geometry to identify the napkins. One person folds to triangle, another a square, rectangle, small truangle, hexagon, and some other various folds. I have to say I do look forward to an easier method. I think your home designed rings are definately a great thought for creative kids.

    As with you, we wash the cloths daily. They are able to go into any load. The younger boys get to use two napkims. One for under their chins and the other for laps and fingers. It really helps for yogurt and sloppy stuffs. I think the reasom for washing so often is not having so many items. It creates a need to keep things tidy and enough for the morrow.


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