On my quest to discover the best handkerchief for blowing nose, I realized something important:

The handkerchief is back, baby!

Hankies say a lot about you. The fact that you carry one is a silent statement in itself. That you’re prepared for any spill or sneeze. That life won’t foil you when you can’t reach the kleenex in time.

Part of the hanky comeback lies in the old-world charm and class that carrying one conveys.

They recall a time when you had to be prepared for anything while always staying classy.

An even bigger part of the appeal is that they are so much better than facial tissues.

Like, it’s not even close.

A good handkerchief can last for years. It’s environmentally friendly. Handkerchiefs are easier on the sneeze and even easier on the wallet.

We’re going to show you why handkerchiefs are so great and reveal what makes the best handkerchief for blowing your nose, stifling sneezes and so much more.

Why handkerchiefs are better than tissues

If you’re thinking about which hanky is best, well done! You’ve immediately eliminated tissues as an option. Facial tissues are not environmentally friendly.

Apart from the chemicals used to bleach, color, soften and strengthen the tissue, they take an enormous amount of water and wood to manufacture.

They’re bad for the environment and bad for your face!

Tissues are bad for sensitive skin

Toxic waste Simpsons gif

Next time you reach for your favorite box of tissues, take a look at the chemicals on the packaging. We’re not one to cause panic over chemicals, but it’s worth noting that some, like Isopropyl Palmitate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, are known to cause skin irritation, particularly for people with hypersensitive skin.

If you’re feeling raw or itchy from blowing your nose with tissues, this could be the problem.

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Chemicals: not ideal for noses

Handkerchiefs are easier on the environment

Tissue paper is still paper. And like all paper, it comes from trees.

The softness of the tissue is because it’s pulped from the virgin wood of trees. Even if manufacturers manage plantations more effectively, a single facial tissue takes over half a gallon of water to produce!


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Worth saving, don’t you think?

All those trees. All that water, chemicals, packaging, distribution and storage.

All leading up to a few seconds of use before its disposed.

Out of sight, out of mind.

Into the landfills and the oceans.

Washing and reusing handkerchiefs is a much better option for your nose and for the environment.

What about recycled tissues?

Recycled facial tissues solve many of the environmental problems. But many types of tissue paper cannot be recycled and those that can end up much coarser and harder.

If you have to blow your already sensitive nose with it, it might as well be sandpaper.

Although this option is definitely more environmentally friendly, it’s certainly not nose-friendly!

Handkerchief nose blow gif

Handkerchief benefits

Cotton on!

A quality handkerchief is made from 100% cotton. Synthetic blends are not as absorbent, soft or hard-wearing while cotton fibers are more durable.

Whether you prefer heavy duty cotton handkerchiefs for the most epic of colds, or the soft cotton handkerchiefs to keep your nose comfy – the choice is all yours.

The best thing is that cotton handkerchiefs are made to last.

Not only are cotton fibers strong enough to survive hundreds of washes and thousands of sneezes, but a cotton handkerchief becomes softer and more comfortable with every wash.

Handkerchief dab gif
Soft as a baby’s bottom

Are cotton handkerchiefs all the same?

Not all 100% cotton fabrics are equal.

Organic cotton is grown and processed with sustainable practices in mind. Organic cotton uses less water and energy to produce.

There are no (or very little) synthetic pesticides. No chlorine bleach, synthetic dyes or fragrances.

Save the environment AND save your money

You’re going to need more than one handkerchief. Ideally, you should be using a fresh one each day and when battling a cold, you’ll want a few extra hankies on hand.

You can expect to pay between $20 to $30 dollars for a set of organic cotton handkerchiefs.

Now $25 to blow your nose sounds like a lot. After all, a box of facial tissues costs 10% of that. But when you consider that you’ll be using your handkerchiefs over and over again, you’ll end up saving a lot of money in the long run.

This is especially true if you have a persistent cold, during allergy season, or you lead an active lifestyle that includes jogging, yoga, gym or cycling.

If you’re using facial tissues, you’re throwing your money away. And even if you can afford it; the environment can’t.

Throwing money gif

The ‘ick’ factor – handkerchief vs kleenex

Over time, people used hankies less and less because of the ick factor. And let’s be honest – nobody wants to walk around with a pocket full of snot through the day. It’s unsanitary and unhygienic.

Gagging gif

Kleenex killed the handkerchief by running marketing that talked about the ick factor.

Vintage kleenex ads encouraged you to blow your nose and throw the tissue away. A typical example being “Handkerchiefs won’t keep your fingers germ free. Kleenex will.” from 1933. Or “Don’t put a cold in your pocket” from 1941.

And it’s true – contact contamination with a tissue or handkerchief can spread colds and illness. So the message stuck.

Fewer people bought handkerchiefs, and more people bought into the germ-free message of disposable products, like tissues.

But here’s the thing – how often have you blown your nose with a facial tissue without a bin in sight?

Those used tissues that aren’t immediately disposable end up in handbags, pockets, up sleeves… anywhere and everywhere but the bin immediately.

Some even make it all the way to the washing machine. Or you find them bunched up in your pockets a few days later.

The tissue itself isn’t more hygienic. It’s all about using hygienic practices.

How to ick-proof your hanky

When you have a handkerchief, you have to know how to fold it in order to stay sanitary.

Ideally, you want to fold it in a way that presents multiple clean surfaces of the hanky to blow your nose. Each use of the hanky should be on a new leaf.

If you want a clever folding method our how to fold your handkerchief guide takes a bit of practice but will allow you to keep your pockets and hands free of ick.

The best handkerchief for nose-blowing is NOT a pocket square

Steve Nash nose blowing gif

Rule number one – don’t confuse a pocket square with a handkerchief. A pocket square is folded to show out of your breast pocket. It’s a decorative feature of suits, and if you’re looking to impress at a formal occasion, then a pocket square is a must.

Of course, people will be less impressed by your debonair, dashing and dapper appearance if you remove the pocket square from your pocket to blow your nose. A pocket square is most definitely not the best handkerchief for blowing nose.

In fact, it’s a faux pas on par with using your fish knife to eat your dessert.

Just… don’t.

Pocket squares tend to be smaller than handkerchiefs. They’re also made of silk, a material that’s not ideal for blowing your nose. It may be soft, but it’s definitely not absorbent!

Blowing your nose with silk is like taking a bath in milk. Indulgent if you’re Cleopatra, impractical for everyone else!

Some men try to use handkerchiefs as pocket squares but they’re generally too big for the purpose.

Although you’re welcome to try.

You might want to check out my guide to men’s handkerchiefs over here – there are some classic and truly wild options!

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Hankies for her

Handkerchiefs are not just for men to pass onto damsels in distress! No way, no how.

Decorative handkerchiefs that were of a specific style for women were all the rage in the past.

As a result, these handkerchiefs were more for show, rather than for blow. Because a real lady wouldn’t actually blow her nose, would she?

Female facepalm gif

Women’s handkerchiefs were something more refined. Delicate. Frilly.

Designed by men.

Also impractical.

Nowadays it’s possible for soft and delicate to also be durable and practical. You need the comfort of 100% organic cotton. Just like guys do. You need great absorption, value for money, and something that complements your style.

Check out my list of the 6 Best Handkerchiefs for Women and let me know if I missed anything.

HankyBook – the best handkerchief for blowing noses?

As someone who has suffered from a runny nose my whole life, I searched high and low to find the best product to stifle my sniffles. I tried every facial tissue product but they invariably irritated my skin.

So I learned to fold a handkerchief (my engineering background helped!) and found that my nose was less irritated after each blow. I didn’t have to apply all sorts of ointments and salves to soothe the skin that was so abraded by facial tissues.

Even though I became an expert in all sorts of handkerchief origami, sometimes I still couldn’t avoid the ick factor, especially on days when my nose was acting up.

That’s why I invented the HankyBook. It is made from sustainably sourced, 100% organic cotton with each ultra-soft page in a small book form.

HankyBook product

Each page of the HankyBook offers a new surface to blow your nose on. The HankyBook helped me turn the page on the ick factor. And because the pages are bound between two covers, contact contamination is eliminated completely.

I could never have thought that my little improvisation would blossom into a new invention. People love the practicality of the HankyBook and also consider it a charming keepsake.

Why HankyBook?


As someone with chronic nose problems, this product has saved my nose. Stays clean and so easy to carry around. I can’t explain the convenience it has added to my life on a daily basis. I used to run back and forth from the trashcan all the time. Now I just rotate my stack of HankyBooks through the laundry and always have a clean one by my side. Thank you. A++++++”


People use their HankyBooks to clean up spills, or sweat from gym and yoga classes. It’s a great invention for moms and dads of young children as spills and drools are always around the corner.

The soft organic cotton sheets are even handy to clean sunglasses and camera lenses.

The HankyBook slides into any bag or pocket, and is always there when you need it.

It’s machine washable. Durable. Eco-friendly. And cute as a button.

That’s me and my Hanky(Book)!

Simply put, the HankyBook is not just the evolution of the hankie, it is hands-down the best handkerchief for blowing your nose.

Readers can enjoy 10% off when using code: SNIFF10 at checkout. Discover the full range of HankyBooks here.