The Complete Handkerchief History

The Complete Handkerchief History

The humble handkerchief is tied into human history, culture, and literature more than you realize. The history of the hankie spans continents, traditions, and human development. From ritual, to fashion, first century to twenty first. Read on to explore the surprising ways that the handkerchief has featured from historical times, through the modern era, and how it will be with us into the future.

Ancient Times, Faraway Lands

The story of the handkerchief originates in various places simultaneously. We’re all human, so we all sweat the same. Archaeological evidence has been found in China from 1000 BC showing figurines from the Chou dynasty holding pieces of cloth. This was thought to have been for the practical purposes of shielding their faces from the sun, or using it pretty much in the way that we use traditional handkerchiefs today – for blowing our noses, wiping our brow of sweat, or cleaning up a spill.

Even from time in memoriam, there is endless utility for a personal cloth.

Roman culture is awash with references to handkerchiefs. It would be quite a spectacle to see hundreds of Romans waving their handkerchiefs in the air at public games. Handkerchiefs were also used as the “starting gun”for chariot races.

As trade along the Silk Road boomed between the 14th and 15th centuries, goods, as well as culture, were exchanged between Europe and Asia. This included headscarves that doubled as hankies.

Handkerchiefs were also found in Middle Eastern culture, Uighur communities, Turkish culture, and among many other cultures all around the world throughout history. Their purpose ranged from preserving the sacred, bandaging wounds, signalling others, serving as a wallet for coins, or serving decorative and ritual purposes.

A symbol of devotion through history

A handkerchief was so much more than just medieval Kleenex. In fact, hankies were not used to blow one’s nose until the 15th century, when Dutch philosopher Desiderius Erasmus declared that snot on the sleeve was pretty gross.

Handkerchiefs and romance were inextricably linked together in cultures in the middle ages up until the modern era. For example, in the era before the cellphone photo, a knight would tie a lady’s handkerchief to the back of his helmet as a remembrance and token of good luck.

But that’s not all. Handkerchiefs gestures came to be a secret language of love.

Historical handkerchiefs

When a maiden tossed her handkerchief from a window, it was a declaration of love, hopefully to be picked up by the man she intended her love for, and not a passing stranger. Should the object of her affection carefully pick it up and fold it into his pocket, it was the medieval equivalent of swiping right, and finding that it’s a match.

Or, if she was in the market, she would drop her handkerchief on the ground in one of many public parks that were frequented by eligible young gentlemen and chaperoned young women. This would mean that she is looking to meet the person she would love, and who would love her.

Instead of ghosting, or flowery break up letters, lovers just sent those handkerchiefs back to each other, symbolic of returning love.

A woman might send a homemade hankie, embroidered with patterns that carried its own bespoke meaning, to her love interest to be kept as a token. Should lovers exchange hankies with singed edges, it meant a deep, searing, passionate love.

Instead of texting each other “we on 4 2nite?”, a woman could subtly hold her handkerchief in the middle while she had the attention of her paramour. That gesture meant that she would be waiting for him for a midnight rendezvous of love that very night. A man might reply by waving his handkerchief with a flourish, universally read as meaning “yes”.

Handkerchiefs were such a powerful symbol of fidelity and romance, that Shakespeare’s play Othello turned on the incident of a handkerchief. Given to his love Desdemona as a symbol of his love, the mistaken impression that she had given away her handkerchief to another man was scandalous enough to drive him to an ill-fated rage.

Vintage handkerchief

A symbol of Wealth, Status and Class

Handkerchiefs became synonymous with signaling high station in life in Europe and beyond. Everyone from Persian Kings to European royalty adopted the beautifully embroidered hankies crafted from exotic fabrics to demonstrate their divinely ordained VIP status.

If you didn’t have a hankie, it wasn’t full drip (and we’re not talking about a runny nose). This meant that oversize handkerchiefs became quite the rage in 18th century Paris, until King Louis XVI, husband to cake-enthusiast Marie Antoinette, declared that “nobody is allowed to have a bigger one than me” and limited the size to a 16″x 16″square.

In the 19th century, it became fashionable for gentlemen to wear two-piece suits, but to display the handkerchief as a status symbol continued in the form of the pocket square. Although this is now distinct from the handkerchief, the tradition of wearing pocket squares began in veneration of the handkerchief. That’s why the pocket square is worn on the top left breast pocket, away from the miscellaneous contents of your pocket.

A pocket square is not a handkerchief, although it carries all the markers of refinement that handkerchiefs of yore communicated. Generally, in keeping with the tradition, it’s made of a lush fabric, like silk, and embroidered, embossed or printed as an accessory that distinguishes its wearer as a gentleman with a fine sense of fashion.

The 20th Century – the peak and decline of the handkerchief

Handkerchiefs were everywhere as an accessory in the early 20th century. The industrial revolution had led to more economical methods of processing materials and manufacturing products, including handkerchiefs. They had become a necessary part of life for men and women, young and old.

Hankies were no longer made from silk and lace as decorative accessories. They could be mass-produced out of cheaper textiles, like cloth or cotton. Handkerchiefs served the practical purpose of taking care of sniffles, sneezes and wipes, in addition to being fashion statements, or embellishments such as pocket squares.

Historical man handkerchief
An early pocket square

But two things happened that halted the story of the hankie in the twentieth century. During the First World War, the world was struck by a global flu pandemic of 1918’s. Capitalizing on the fact that this pandemic was still very recent history in the world’s collective memory, and that people carried possibly contagious germs on their person, the Kleenex slogan “Don’t carry a cold in your pocket” was ingenious marketing for new disposable facial tissues.

With the “Roaring 20’s” of post-war economic growth, more disposable income meant that there was an appetite for innovation. These facial tissues had been around for a while as a convenient way for a woman to remove makeup at the end of the day.

Handkerchiefs continued to exist throughout the 20th century in fashion and as a practical accessory but their widespread use dramatically tailed off as disposable facial tissues came to dominate the market.

Who doesn’t love a comeback story?

In recent years, the handkerchief has seen a resurgence of interest. Partly due to an appreciation of vintage and retro fashion and partly because people are more aware of the problems of disposable, single-use tissues. I also like to think that innovations like the HankyBook, which provide a new shape and function for the handkerchief, is a big reason why the humble hanky is making a comeback.

HankyBook - The Complete Handkerchief History - HankyBook2
HankyBook - The Complete Handkerchief History - hankybook3

We hope you enjoyed this history of the handkerchief. If you are interested in any other information, we have a truly epic handkerchief resource that covers just about everything you can think of.

The Handkerchief Resource – Tips, History, Where to Shop, etc.

The Handkerchief Resource – Tips, History, Where to Shop, etc.

What is a handkerchief?

Take it away, Collins English Dictionary:

handkerchief is a small square piece of fabric which you use for blowing your nose.

Okay, well that wasn’t particularly helpful, was it? Here’s how I’d define a handkerchief:

The handkerchief is (typically) a square piece of hemmed cloth that is primarily used for personal hygiene, as a clothing accessory, or carried as a handy multi-functional “tool” that can help solve everyday challenges. It has a long history but tremendous staying power and, if anything, its value proposition today may be more important than ever.

In this resource I will provide links to everything you could wish to know about the handkerchief:

  • The history
  • The benefits
  • Common uses
  • Types of handkerchiefs
  • Where to shop

Other Names for Handkerchiefs

I’m a big fan of the “hanky” or “hankie” but here are some other alternative names:

  • Kerchief
  • Bandana
  • Snot rag (ewww)
  • Reusable tissue
  • Rag
  • Pocket square

The Benefits of Handkerchiefs

In the modern context, there are reasons why I think the handkerchief is more important than ever.


Handkerchiefs get a bad rap when it comes to personal hygiene. People think of blowing a nose into one, stuffing it into a bag or pocket and then germs are everywhere.

Yes, using a hanky in this way is definitely not hygienic but neither is having crumpled tissue papers everywhere. Ultimately, it comes down to how you use them. You can go into greater detail with the link below.

Is the Handkerchief More Hygienic Than Tissues?

Tissue vs handkerchief

Of course, the HankyBook was created to make hanky’s more hygienic by default, thanks to its book-shaped form that stops germs and ick from spreading.

HankyBook product


If environmentalism and zero waste mean anything to you then you’ll probably be aware of the problem with single-use tissues. The amount of energy and resources that go into an item that, when used properly, ends up in the trash moments later is just staggering.

The major benefit of handkerchiefs is that they are more environmentally friendly. They can be used for years – in fact, they tend to get softer with age, so they’ll be even kinder to your skin as time goes on.

And to clean then, just a quick toss in with your next wash and they’re ready to go again. If you get a hanky with 100% organic cotton, like the HankyBook, even better!

Multiple Uses

A handkerchief is just very handy to have in your back pocket or bag. View below for the Common Uses section as I discuss the plethora of use cases for handkerchiefs.

Style & Sentiment

Because a handkerchief can be part of your life for many years, or decades, it can become a part of your life. Whether it becomes your child’s comfort blanket, or was there to wipe away a loved one’s tears, or upgrade your style on a big date.

This is why vintage handkerchiefs are so popular. They have a history. They have a story.

Disposable facial tissues are purely functional.

Common Uses of Handkerchiefs

The primary purpose of the handkerchief is wiping one’s nose, blowing into it, catching sneezes – basically, it’s there to help your nose. I’d also put covering your mouth when coughing into the same personal hygiene category.

There is a distinct secondary use as a purely decorative accessory, such as a pocket square adding a bit of style to a suit pocket, or as part of a folk-dance in the Balkans and Middle East.

Finally, there is another bucket of uses that I’d just call: life. The hanky has a wide range of practical purposes from wiping away sweat, spills or makeup, to cover your face from dust. Stemming blood flow, creating an icepack, protecting your brow from the sun, filtering dirty liquid – honestly, there are so many uses of the handkerchief I’d be here all day listing them out.

Lucky I already have some guides that dig deeper:

17 Handkerchief Uses

17 Handkerchief Uses – Infographic

23 Uses for a HankyBook

Where to Buy Handkerchiefs

If you are on the search for the perfect handkerchief, I’ve been down the rabbit hole a few times. That’s why I wrote about the best handkerchief offerings for men and women.

The Top 5 Men’s Handkerchiefs

The 6 Best Handkerchiefs for Ladies

Ladies handkerchiefs

Of course, I encourage you to do your own research. Etsy is a great resource and of course, you can’t beat local thrift and vintage shops.

You can also shop HankyBooks in our online store

Popular Handkerchief Fabrics

If you’re planning to use your hanky for personal hygiene, softness is going to be a big consideration as well as durability and absorbency. I recommend soft organic cotton that meets those three requirements. Always give it a wash first, which will help release the stiffness – and over time it will get even softer.

These days handkerchiefs are made from the following fabrics.

  • Cotton
  • Silk
  • Linen
  • Cotton blend
  • Synthetic

The History of the Handkerchief

From 1000 BC China to the Middle East and Victorian times – the handkerchief has a storied history as any piece of clothing or garment.

I covered a great deal of this handkerchief history in the guide below, including why I think it will still be around for centuries to come.

The Complete Handkerchief History

How to Fold a Pocket Square and Handkerchief

Whether it’s to keep germs trapped, or style for a pocket, handkerchief folding is something I get asked about a lot. HankyBook started with an intricate hanky folding method, so the art of folding is close to our hearts.

To help you familiarize yourself with different handkerchief folding techniques, I created the following guides:

How to Fold a Handkerchief for a Suit Pocket

How to Fold a Handkerchief – Secret Sanitary Method (with video)

How to fold a handkerchief video

How to Fold a Handkerchief for Your Back Pocket

Final Thoughts

It feels funny to talk about joining the handkerchief movement, given the centuries-long history of the handkerchief, but – screw it – that’s what I’m going to do!

I truly believe they are better than facial tissues in almost every way. Everyone should carry a handkerchief, because they’re kinder on the nose, on the planet, and are very handy when life throws spills your way.

Once you’re an owner and a convert, consider introducing them to family and friends. The right handkerchief will make a great gift.

How to Fold a Handkerchief for your Back Pocket

How to Fold a Handkerchief for your Back Pocket

People with runny noses know how many disposable tissues (and sleeves!) they go through. It’s even worse for people like me who suffer from a chronic runny nose. 

I’m a big believer in the fact that the humble handkerchief is a much more sustainable alternative to facial tissues. Handkerchiefs are fun,  fashionable, functional, and above all, friendly to the planet.

“Now hold on,” I hear you say. “Isn’t it gross and unsanitary to be walking around all day with a cloth of snot in your pocket?” Well, it CAN be, if you don’t know how to fold a handkerchief properly.

Here’s how to fold a handkerchief for back pocket ease of use and, more importantly, to prevent the “ick” factor and the spread of germs.

wink gif

The ways to fold a hanky for your back pocket

The point of folding your handkerchief properly is for sanitary reasons and practical reasons. When you’re blowing your nose, you want to have a large enough and thick enough surface area to take care of even the most fearsome sneeze you can muster.

Here is a method for folding your handkerchief that will always keep two layers of fabric between your nose and your hands. This would make sure that your hanky traps almost all of the airborne particles in the fabric.

  1. Place your handkerchief on a flat surface 
  2. Fold it in half
  3. Fold the left side of the handkerchief in to the center point, and do the same for the right side
  4. Holding the middle of the handkerchief at the center point of the left and the right-hand side, raise it and fold it in half horizontally, tucking the fold underneath
  5. Finally, fold it in half vertically, creating a perfect square.

Still don’t get it? Don’t worry, I created a video to provide a visual step-by-step guide to hanky folding

With this method, you’ll be creating a little book with sleeves that are thick enough to prevent contamination and provide a new sleeve for every sneeze or sniffle. It should fit perfectly into your back pocket with ease.

HankyBook - How to Fold a Handkerchief for your Back Pocket - jeans

The problem with the back pocket fold

I used the above method for a long time and I can admit that it works under perfect conditions. But life is not a series of overlapping perfect conditions.

Sometimes you absentmindedly put your keys or wallet in the pocket that you’re keeping your perfectly folded handkerchief in. And you’ll find that it loses its shape and careful folds through the day. 

Besides, you’re not always going to have a flat surface available to refold your hanky. And even if you did, refolding your hanky in this way when it’s half used presents its own set of icky problems when it comes to contamination, not to mention the spectacle of having to fold a soiled handkerchief in public. ‘Snot cool!

This is when inspiration struck and I came up with the pre-“folded” HankyBook.

HankyBook: No folding required

They say that necessity is the mother of invention. Having struggled with allergies and a runny nose for most of my life, I found that facial tissues weren’t the answer. Besides being unsustainable and expensive in the long run, the constant abrasion of the tissue paper on my sensitive skin caused redness, swelling, and inflamed my allergies.

Handkerchiefs are a more sustainable solution for me, but the folding solution is not perfect.

It was the right idea, but the wrong vessel.

So I got some cotton sleeves together, dusted off my sewing machine, and bound the sleeves together inside of a cover. New sneeze, new page.

Leslie Uke

The idea behind this is to prevent contamination and contain sniffles, wipe up spills, clean makeup, or replace any of the functions of facial tissues or handkerchiefs. The fact that it’s a “book” with sleeves means that it will free you from the fuss and hassle of folding it, or worrying about what to do when it unfolds through your day.

Hankybook in back pocket

Best of all, it fits in my pocket ready to be easily pulled out and used at a moment’s notice. No fumbling around for a clean sleeve of a handkerchief, ruining the careful folding process that you can’t easily repeat when you’re on the go, in the office, or in your car. And when you get home, just pop it in the washer to clean it.

Then it caught on

People kept asking me where I bought my very first prototype Hankybook when I used it. I was very surprised at the level of interest among my friends and family, so I made a few more.

Eventually, I launched a successful crowdfunding campaign and we were off to the races. Before I knew it, enquiries were coming in from all corners of the country for HankyBooks.

If you have an issue with sniffles and you’re concerned with the spread of germs, and if you’re tired of facial tissues that are destructive to the planet, maybe you should try the Hankybook. It’s the evolution of the handkerchief, without the “ick” factor. 

Final thoughts

Now you know how to fold a handkerchief. And why a HankyBook means you may not have to worry about folding at all!

But before I leave you, if you’re interested in hankie folding, you may also be curious how to fold a pocket square for a suited breast pocket. That’s one thing HankyBook was definitely not made for.

As luck would have it, I have a pocket square guide for that right here – 7 folding methods (at different difficulty levels) with photos so you can add some style to your next event.

folding pocket square

I hope you found this article useful. Feel free to share it with friends who you think may see the light – the more reusable hanky converts the better for the environment!

Is Tissue Paper Biodegradable and Eco-friendly?

Is Tissue Paper Biodegradable and Eco-friendly?

How many facial tissues have you used this year?

The answer will vary depending on whether you have allergies, the season of the year, or other factors. But the answer is probably “A LOT” and the box of disposable facial tissues in your home right now is evidence of it.

It wasn’t always like this. Facial tissues became all the rage as an alternative to handkerchiefs in the early 20th century when the novelty and convenience of a disposable handkerchief had no consideration for the environment. Since then the disposable facial tissue industry has boomed to the moon.

HankyBook - Is Tissue Paper Biodegradable and Eco-friendly? - money

There’s nothing wrong with big companies who produce tissue paper making profits from their products. They have fulfilled a need and that’s why a company like Kleenex has been successful since the year it introduced its disposable facial tissues nearly 100 years ago in 1924.

But as we enter a time of more responsible and eco-friendly practices, we have to ask the important questions in the age of sustainability:

Is tissue paper eco-friendly?

Is tissue paper biodegradable?

Is the process of manufacturing tissue paper sustainable?

Are there alternatives to tissue paper?

Let’s find out.

How facial tissues are made

The majority of facial tissue paper is made from virgin wood pulp. The trees are logged, cut into chips, and then ground into flakes.

These flakes are mixed into pulp by combining them with a large amount of water. Chemical additives such as bleach are then used to soften, strengthen, and color the paper. This pulp is then poured onto massive steam-heated drums to dry the paper, before the tissue is placed on a heated roller to dry the fabric. 

This fabric is cut to shape, portioned, packaged in wrapping machines, and finally, packed for distribution.

From seed to store, the manufacturing process of tissue paper is an energy-intensive, water-wasting, and chemically infused operation.

HankyBook - Is Tissue Paper Biodegradable and Eco-friendly? - sad

In short: entire plantations are grown for the purpose of being cut down so that we can blow our noses and then throw the tissue in the trash.

Is tissue paper biodegradable?

The short answer to a complicated question is yes, most tissues are biodegradable and compostable. The raw component of facial tissues is wood fibers or recycled material, natural raw materials that will eventually decompose. 

However, the additives used to reinforce the paper mean that it can take anywhere from weeks to many months to fully decompose. Environmental factors like exposure to light, air, and humidity also play a key role.

It’s worth noting that most tissue paper is wrapped in plastic. This plastic will take a much longer time to decompose when disposed of. The plastic wrap of the tissue box can resist breaking down into its chemical components for many decades, clogging up landfills and littering landscapes long after the paper products themselves have biodegraded.

Can tissue paper make my allergies worse?

Facial tissues can worsen acne if you have sensitive skin. This is particularly bad if your tissues are scented. Of course, when you have a runny nose, the constant abrasion of tissue paper on the delicate skin of your mouth and nose area can cause swelling, redness, and irritation.

Is tissue paper toxic?

Next time you’re in the store, or if you have a box of Kleenex handy, take a look at the ingredients. Go on.

You’ll find that it contains ingredients such as Parafinum (a petroleum product), isopropyl palmitate (a notorious pore clogger), and dioxins that are released into the environment as facial tissues decompose.  Some brands continue to manufacture tissues containing formaldehyde, classified as a “probable human carcinogen” by the EPA.

Is tissue paper recyclable?

Unfortunately, most tissue paper is not recyclable. Once they come into contact with body fluids, grease and food waste they cannot be easily “cleaned” in the recycling process. This is the same story for napkins, toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, etc.

Paper trash

What is the safest way to dispose of tissue paper?

Facial tissues should not be flushed away. They do not degrade safely in septic systems and can cause clogging and blockages.

If you want to get rid of your tissue paper without throwing it in the trash, a home compost in your garden is your best bet.


The facial tissue alternative

There is no “Planet B”, so we have to make a Plan B for our wasteful habits. Using something once and throwing it away is not sustainable. Making better buying decisions in the store definitely helps, for example choosing facial tissues that are tree-free – although this type of tissue paper can be really rough on the nose. They certainly don’t work for my sensitive nose.

In my view, the ultimate facial tissue paper alternative is the cotton handkerchief. That’s right, we’re going full circle – a throwback to the OG.

Handkerchiefs can be used, washed, and reused hundreds of times. In fact, the longer you have them the softer they get. Just toss them in with your wash and they are good to go – again and again.

They are a timeless way to take care of sniffles, coughs, colds, runny noses and any spills in a way that doesn’t harm the planet. Handkerchiefs are easily the more sustainable option than facial tissues.

OK, but isn’t walking around with a pocket of snot all day unsanitary?

There’s using a handkerchief, and then there’s using a handkerchief properly – I created a video hanky folding guide and there are plenty others online.

The basic principle is to fold the handkerchief in such a way that you have a new, fresh compartment to blow your nose into with every use. Proper folding of the handkerchief prevents the “ick” factor that you’re thinking of.

In fact, it was this folding method that inspired me to create HankyBook – a little book where each soft cotton page is a fresh sleeve to blow your nose or take care of any number of little spills that life can throw at you. It’s bound between a protective cover, so it easily slips into your pocket or bag. 


Hankybook is much more sustainable and environmentally friendly than facial tissues. It’s a practical and eco-friendly alternative to facial tissues.

Final thoughts

If you’re of an eco-friendly mindset, it makes sense to either compost your used tissues or start switching to reusable handkerchiefs. We live in a world full of waste – particularly when it comes to plastic and paper products.

Every small step helps to change habits and reduce the impact on our planet. Are you ready to take that step?

Simply The Best Organic Cotton Handkerchiefs for 2021 and Beyond

Simply The Best Organic Cotton Handkerchiefs for 2021 and Beyond

Being sick blows.

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And we mean that quite literally. 

Not only is the constant sniffling a pain, but all the wiping and blowing can lead to your already delicate nose being rubbed raw. Ugh. 

At least we have the softness and absorbency of organic cotton handkerchiefs to see us through these troubling times! 

Hankies? You mean tissues, right?

Nope. Where have you been? Paper tissues are old news! 

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Let’s look at the facts. Tissues are:

Terrible for the environment 

A single-use tissue takes so many resources to end up in your hand. And then a quick honk on your nose-horn and they go straight in the bin. Or the landfill because recycling tissue paper is actually not easy.

And tissues are made of paper, you know. You’re basically wiping your nose on thousands and thousands of trees! 

Hankies, however, are clearly the more sustainable option, mostly because they are reusable. Made out of soft, organic cotton, just toss your handkerchief in the wash to be used over and over again – making the impact lighter on your wallet and on the planet! 

Pretty gross

People tend to think of tissues as more hygienic than hankies – you simply blow your nose and toss them safely in the bin along with the germs, right?

In theory, yes. But think about it this way: you’re at the supermarket, out at the park, or busy typing away on that new report when you have to blow your nose… are you getting up to find a bin? Or are you quickly tossing it wherever is handy – your bag, your desk, etc? 

A bunch of snotty rags stashed in your handbag? Uh… no thanks. 

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At least handkerchiefs can be folded to keep germs trapped – or just use a HankyBook.

And very unstylish

These days, it’s all about individuality. You can customize everything from your nails to your phone cover to your face mask… so why stick with boring old tissues?

Handkerchiefs, on the other hand, offer an endless range of styles and variations. From a crisp, simple option, to the bright and funky ones, hankies are the perfect way to express your unique sense of style.

Is organic cotton better than cotton? 

Is there really that much of a difference? You say po-tay-to, I say po-tah-to etc. 

Okay, seriously – who actually says po-tah-to? Probably the same kind of person who thinks organic and non-organic cotton is the same! Let’s look at the reality of non-organic cotton: 

Artificially produced

The main difference between organic and non-organic cotton is how it’s grown. As the world’s most popular material, it can be difficult for farmers to keep up with demand, leading quite a few to resort to artificial ways of speeding up the process. 

While organic cotton is grown naturally, non-organic often makes use of… synthetic chemicals. 

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It may not seem like that big of a deal, but the use of certain chemicals and pesticides can irritate skin and potentially disturb the earth’s soil and water balance.

Less than pure

Non-organic cotton is usually machine-picked, meaning the purity and integrity of the fibers can become lost or damaged. 

Hand-picked organic cotton, on the other hand, retains the purity and softness of the cotton, which leads us to our next point… 

And just plain itchy

If you want softness and durability in your cotton products, organic is the way to go. Free from irritating chemicals, environmentally damaging herbicides, and hand=picked for strength and purity, this is the only material you want near your nose! 

The best organic cotton handkerchiefs 

Well, first of all, you definitely want a handkerchief that is made from organic, breathable cotton. Not only are organically sourced hankies better for the environment, but the soft cotton material is also gentle on the skin and ultra-absorbent. 

Second of all: why stop at just one? Get a bunch and mix and match your stylish accessories!

So, with that in mind, let’s look at some of the best organic cotton handkerchiefs for all types of people: 

The princess 

Did you know that back in Roman times, hankies were considered luxury items? It makes sense: dainty, elegant and ever so chic, a hanky is the ultimate fashion accessory. 

Whether you’re discreetly dabbing away a tear, touching up your makeup, or just love cute swathes of cotton, today’s hankies can be just as elegant and feminine as when our ancestors used them. Just take a look at these pretty pastels or these floral stunners. Throw in this vintage handkerchief and you’ll truly have a stylish hanky for every occasion.

The problem solver

One doesn’t exactly think of organic handkerchiefs in terms of innovation – but they never met me. 

I have:

  • An engineer background
  • A passion for creating sustainable products
  • A runny nose that never says quit

Those three things were the impetus behind my creating HankyBook’s soft, sustainably sourced, super soft organic cotton “pages” in the form of a book shape that is easy to use AND keeps germs from spreading. 

Leslie Uke

It’s basically the handkerchief 2.0 and, luckily enough, people seem to love it 🙂

The manly man 

Hankies aren’t just for sneezes, you know. They can also be used to mop up grease spills from your motorbike, the sweat from your brow after a long day of work, or even a tear or two… 

Hey, it’s 2021, there’s nothing wrong with shedding a few manly tears

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Especially not when you’re wiping them away with a stylish, masculine option like this one or this one. While bold, darker colors and classic square shapes are timeless, don’t be afraid to let loose and play around with a few polka dots

The green queen (or king!)

As mentioned above, cotton hankies are great for the environment, especially when certified organic and made out of 100% cotton. 

HankyBook - Simply The Best Organic Cotton Handkerchiefs for 2021 and Beyond -

It stands to reason then that any eco-friendly warrior worth their salt would naturally be a fan of these clean and green anti-germ machines. And, with a large variety of plain, patterned or downright unique options to choose from, caring about the planet has never looked this good! 

The eccentric

Some people just radiate individuality and charm. They never follow trends – they set them! So, if you are someone who marches to the beat of their own drum – why not blow your nose to your very own personalized handkerchief?

HankyBook - Simply The Best Organic Cotton Handkerchiefs for 2021 and Beyond - Leo

You can customize your hanky with anything from your name to an important date to a favorite quote or saying. Not only will you be blowing your nose or wiping up spills in style, but you’ll also be able to express your personality in a truly unique way. One thing’s for certain: there’s only one of you in the world and only one of your hanky! 

In conclusion 

The humble hankie has many uses – from blowing your nose to cleaning your hands, to mopping up life’s many little spills and mishaps. Not only are they soft, absorbent and stylish – they’re cost-effective and eco-friendly too. Not bad for a little piece of fabric! 

Remember, when choosing a hanky, try to pick out one that is 100% certified organic cotton. Your nose, wallet, and planet will thank you!  

How to Fold a Handkerchief for a Suit Pocket (7 Methods + Photos)

How to Fold a Handkerchief for a Suit Pocket (7 Methods + Photos)

If you’ve been wondering how to fold a handkerchief for an oh-so-elegant suit pocket look, you’ve come to the right place.

Perhaps you’ve always wanted to try out a fancy handkerchief fold. Or maybe you tried, and the result was something that looks more like you’ve stuffed a sock in your suit pocket.

Or maybe you used your hanky for…function, and now you are worried about getting your pocket dirty if you don’t wrap up the ick. 

Whatever the reason, we are here to help! 

Handkerchiefs + Suits = Peanut Butter + Jelly

Styling your suit with a hanky or a pocket square is a must for many reasons: 

  • First, it adds that pop of color you might be missing! 
  • Second, it can complement your tie or bow. 
  • Third, it looks pretty posh! Someone might even call you sir… 
  • Fourth, just to change your look up a bit. The same suit can be given a fresh look with a different fold and pop of color.  

A pocket square is truly timeless if you do it right. And now – let me show you how to do it right! 

7 different handkerchief folds to cover all occasions. 

The Presidential Fold 

This is an effortless fold, no origami required! All you need to do is fold your hanky in half (or as many times as you need to fit the width of your shirt pocket. (Side-to-side) 

Once you have the width folded nicely, fold it over again at the height (top to bottom), but don’t take it all the way, allow a centimeter or so to show off both edges. 

Now you can easily pop it into your shirt with both edges facing outwards and upwards! 

Simply stylish! 

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Single Corner Fold 

This is also quite an easy fold, similar to the first one. We are going to fold our hanky in half, but this time, diagonally. 

From there on, we will take the two corners on the outer side and fold them in halfway, one at a time. 

You should have a shape with a single corner/triangle pointing upwards and two folds over the middle. This will be the side facing up and out of your shirt pocket. 

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Double Corner Fold

This one is exactly like the Presidential Fold, but with an interesting and easy twist. 

Again, fold your hanky over diagonally, but here is the twist. Have the corners that would touch miss each other slightly so that you have two points next to each other. Now we just repeat the process and fold in the side corners halfway on both sides to allow it to fit in your pocket.

Allow the folds to point outwards and the two tips upward. 

It looks intricate, but it took just a few seconds. 

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Three Corner Fold

By now you should get the hang of these. This time we are going to try three corners/tips. A little more intricate but still something anyone can do.  

Firstly fold your handkerchief diagonally as in the Double Corner Fold, allowing the corners to just miss each other at the top. Now you take the left long corner on the fold and fold it upwards, allowing its corner to run parallel to the two tips you just folded. Take the right side and wrap it across and around to hold it all together. 

You now have a crown in your pocket! 

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The Puff Fold 

This is as easy as it gets. 

Lay your hanky flat down, pinch the centre and pull it up. You should now be holding it in a way that allows all the corners to hang evenly. Now you can take these ends and fold them up if they are too long for your pocket and leave the closed “puff” facing upwards in your pocket. 

And you thought creating stylish folds for your suit would be hard! 

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Upside Down Pinch 

Similar to the Puff Fold, we are going to pinch the centre of the hanky and pick it up. Slide your hands over the hanging fabric to reduce the “puff”. Now, taking the pinched centre, we are going to start rolling it into a fold towards the open end. 

When the hanky is a pocket worthy size, you can flip it upside down and pop the folded side into your pocket, leaving the ends exposed like an open flower.   

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Pyramid Fold 

So far, so easy – right? 

Well, that’s about to end. 

Ladies and gentlemen, it is time for some origami!

We know you can do this, but if you get lost, you can just follow the images! 

First, fold your hanky in half, diagonally. Then take one corner and fold it back towards the long folded side. Allow the corner to go just past the folded line. It should now look like a diamond on a square shape. 

Take this same corner and bring it back, again just past the folded line. Repeat this process until you have a completed zig-zag pattern. 

From there on you will turn your creation over and fold in the sides to fit into your pocket, as with the previous styles. 

Pop it in with the zigzags facing outwards and adjust if necessary. 

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Final thoughts 

You have truly become the James Bond of hanky origami. You will quickly notice that these folds come quite naturally once you have some practice. Also keep in mind that while these are some of our favorite folds, there are no right or wrong styles! 

Give it an extra corner, give it an extra twist, do it upside down or inside out. The only thing that matters is that you feel amazing and dashing! 

Now that you have the style down, you just need the hanky! Be sure to check out our fav 5 men’s hankies.

23 Uses Of The Modern Tissue Paper Substitute

23 Uses Of The Modern Tissue Paper Substitute

Have you been wondering what a good tissue paper substitute would be?

The single-use sanitary product may be mainstream, but it’s also not particularly great for the environment. Nor is it necessarily more hygienic than a handkerchief.

Handkerchiefs are a great solution. But there’s a new kind of handkerchief that improves and modernizes the trusted hanky: it’s called a HankyBook!

I created HankyBook to offer the most sustainable, hygienic, and stylish product to tackle sniffles, sneezes, sweat and more!

A true, tissue replacement if I do say so myself.

HankyBook is a stylish and multi-purpose set of handkerchiefs, presented in a uniquely charming book form. The lightweight “book” is the perfect travel companion and tissue paper replacement. Store one in your back pocket, bag, or purse and you’re ready to clean up any mess in no time at all. A quick wash and your HankyBook is ready for another day’s work.

HankyBook - 23 Uses Of The Modern Tissue Paper Substitute - HankyBook Explained

To try a HankyBook is to adopt one. Every day you’ll discover new ways for your hanky friend to make your life so much easier (and cleaner!)

Here are a few of the most common uses of the HankyBook.


Before you hit the mat, make sure you’ve got your lightweight HankyBook tucked into the waist of your stretch pants. You could even place it right next to your mat for easy access. A runny nose? Sweaty brow? No problem! HankyBook’s absorbent and ultra-soft cotton will wipe away distractions and keep you in a focused state of mind.

HankyBook - 23 Uses Of The Modern Tissue Paper Substitute - Yoga no sweat1


Bringing a precious bundle of cuteness into the world is one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do. But it will also require an incredible amount of work. Babies haven’t quite mastered the art of managing their bodily fluids. So welcome to drool-city, spit-up town, and messy eating village. It is a non-stop cleanup job. With HankyBook you don’t need to accumulate an army of tissues or always looking for a trashcan. You can make your life easier and save money in the long run.

Why not get up to 6 HankyBooks and then two of these stylish, reusable travel pouches. If you get them in different colors, then you can have one for used HankyBooks and another for clean. No more digging around in your bag, trying to find the least used tissue. Just an organized HankyBook strategy for moms to cope with their disorganization-causing bundles of joy. A HankyBook 3-pack will make the perfect baby shower gift for expecting moms.

HankyBook - 23 Uses Of The Modern Tissue Paper Substitute - Mom and Baby


There’s nothing worse than a cold that will not go away. It’s not just the runny nose; it’s the rawness caused by constantly blowing your nose on paper tissues. Tissues that are so easily left around will invariably spread germs to surfaces where the cold virus can remain for hours or even days. Nobody wants to spread their awful cold to loved ones, but that’s what often happens. Thanks to the HankyBook’s shape, with its protective outer cover, you can now keep the germs away from other surfaces. Not only that but its soft organic cotton is a welcome relief for the raw skin around your nose. Blow with confidence. Blow with comfort. Blow with HankyBook.

HankyBook - 23 Uses Of The Modern Tissue Paper Substitute - Sneeze Illustration


You’re on the treadmill. Your heart is pounding. Your blood is racing. But your forehead is perspiring, and it’s dripping into your eyes. Oh, and now your nose has also started running. Your workout is about to be interrupted.

That is unless you can reach into your waistband or pocket and pull out a HankyBook. A forehead wipe with one hanky, a nose blow with another, and now you’re back in full stride. HankyBook’s versatility really comes in handy with sportsmen and women of all ages. From wiping away blood after a collision on the courts to drying hands before a deadlift, to even wiping down sweat on gym equipment – HankyBook is what you need.

HankyBook - 23 Uses Of The Modern Tissue Paper Substitute - Running Girl


The best part of getting a new pair of glasses is that for one brief moment they are completely clear. Every day after that is a constant battle to keep your lenses free of dust and finger smudges. Keeping a cleaning cloth handy, specifically for sunglasses or prescription glasses, is less than ideal. You can try. Chances are you will lose it or always forget it behind. That’s why HankyBook, being a multi-purpose solution that you won’t lose, is the perfect solution. Its soft cotton material is ideal for giving lenses that pristine, first-day look.

HankyBook - 23 Uses Of The Modern Tissue Paper Substitute - Glases


It could be a story that pulls on the heart strings, or a stubborn table greeting a stubbed toe. You might have sensitive eyes, or you might just have a sensitive soul. But one thing is for certain; emotion will bubble up when it’s least expected. With a HankyBook by your side, you always have help to wipe away those tears.

HankyBook - 23 Uses Of The Modern Tissue Paper Substitute - 3 girls cry


It’s a hot summer’s day, and your ice-cream is melting all over your hand. It’s a lunch break at work and sauce has dripped onto your shoe. Food is messy, and there are times where you don’t have a napkin ready to clean up the mess. That’s why you should always have a HankyBook in your back pocket. It’s so useful for so many things we could have called it the HandyBook. Next time you have an unfortunate spill, a quick wipe with your favorite tissue paper alternative and you can get back to enjoying your delicious treat.


Laptops. Televisions. Computer screens. We love them so. But, apparently, not as much as dust loves them. Next time the light hits your screen in a way that reveals the true dusty horror, just whip out your HankyBook and thanks to its ultra-soft cotton, you can wipe away the dust without any concern about scratching delicate surfaces.


Hit the town with confidence knowing that your HankyBook will keep your makeup smearing in check. Lipstick and mascara like to spread into unwanted territory, especially when out dancing or when eating greasy foods. With a HankyBook conveniently tucked away in your small purse you can sharpen up the borders of your lipstick and clean up mascara that’s heading south (under eye). The HankyBook’s soft organic cotton and compact travel convenience are perfect for the job!

HankyBook - 23 Uses Of The Modern Tissue Paper Substitute - Makeup Clean up


When the winter months arrive, it brings with it a chorus of sniffles. Sometimes it feels like your nose is running and it’s not. Normally it feels like it’s running and it is. That’s when you need to pull a HankyBook out of your pocket to blow and wipe away those winter blues.


For cyclists, it’s about being as streamlined as possible. Taking an extra bag with a towel, tissues, and all sorts of another paraphernalia is just not an option. The HankyBook’s versatility and lightweight form mean you can simply tuck it under your cycling shorts and hop on your bike. If the wind has your nose running or sweat is getting in your eye, simply slide out your trusty HankyBook, and in no time you’re ready to hit the open road again.

HankyBook - 23 Uses Of The Modern Tissue Paper Substitute - Biker


When going on a hike up the mountain or to the forest, you only want to take what is absolutely necessary. HankyBook is the lightweight solution that will save space in your backpack. Use it to blow your nose, hold a piping hot cup, or wipe sweat from your brow. If you respect nature, you don’t want to leave behind a trail of scrunched up tissue paper. Heck, if you respect nature you wouldn’t want to use throw-away tissues made from trees in the first place. HankyBook isn’t just normal friendly. It’s eco-friendly!

HankyBook - 23 Uses Of The Modern Tissue Paper Substitute - Backpacker


If you’re used to working in the garden, then you’re probably used to getting your hands dirty. Whether you want to clear off dirt so you can pull on gardening gloves, or merely want to avoid using your pants to clean your hands because there’s no other option. HankyBook is the perfect gardening companion. And it’s eco-friendly for extra green-thumb credentials!


A beverage coozy helps to insulate a cold bottle or can of your favorite drink. On a hot summer day, with no coozy in sight, your versatile HankyBook will comfortable wrap around your beverage. Now you can enjoy refreshing cool sips while others have to slurp warm liquid instead.


Only those with sensitive noses can truly know how annoying allergy season is. While others deeply breathe in the pollen floating with the breeze, those with an allergy are more like to sneeze. When it sets in it can be solid months of a runny nose and sneezing fits that come at the most inopportune moments. Instead of carrying around a shopping bag full of tissues, just have a fresh HankyBook with you wherever you go. At a moments notice you can have your HankyBook out and ready to save the day. Best of all, you don’t have to chop down a whole forest to cover all the tissue paper that you’d need to make it through allergy season.

If you know someone that suffers from allergies, why not surprise them with a HankyBook? In their sneeziest moments, there is nothing they’d appreciate more.


You have visitors coming over any minute, and you can’t find the duster. Have no fear, HankyBook is here. The versatile little helper is so soft that it will make a perfect impromptu dust remover for any surface. It will wipe off flat surfaces in an instant, exactly what you need when leading friends to an outside table that you forgot to wipe down.


There is nothing as precious as seeing your little one sucking his or her thumb while clutching their favorite blanky. We never thought of HankyBook as a blanky but apparently, there’s something that infants and younger children really love about it. Maybe it’s our patterns, or how smooth it is to the touch. Whatever the reason, we’ve been delighted to hear about this unexpected use of the HankyBook.


It is inevitable that in life we fall. When we get up, it’s a relief to have a HankyBook to use as a makeshift bandage, or to dab away blood from a knee scrape. It’s also perfect for bloody noses, which can occur from an accident or on their own. Whatever the cause, they can be embarrassing, awkward, and incredibly messy. If you’re in a (nose) pinch, let HankyBook absorb the damage and save the day.


You have some friends over for a get-together and there are more beverages than there are coasters. What are you going to do – hold onto your drink all day? No, just grab your HankyBook. Its flat shape will protect any surface, and the absorption of the HankyBook cotton is ideal for capturing any dripping condensation. The stylish designs and unique functionality may even make for a great conversation starter.


If your hands are perspiring or you’ve just washed them, and there’s no towel handy, reach for your companion HankyBook and get your palms dry in seconds. Next time nerves strike, and you have to shake hands, HankyBook could help you avoid a squishy handshake faux pas that you’ll never live down.


Hitting the slopes for a skiing vacation is a luxury that all should appreciate. What you should not appreciate is the mess of fluids that skiing through cold wind will create. From a distance, skiing looks elegant, but up close most faces are anything but. Drool, tears, and running noses are a natural part of the experience. That’s why a HankyBook in your back pocket is the perfect fix to keep your face dry and your enjoyment up.

HankyBook - 23 Uses Of The Modern Tissue Paper Substitute - Skii Lift


We’ve covered a lot of practical uses for HankyBook, and we’ve barely scratched the surface. But we wanted to end on a point that is not so much pragmatic as it is meaningful.

The elegant HankyBook was made for people to enjoy and share with the loved ones in their lives. Whether it’s a husband adopting the gentlemanly characteristics of handkerchiefs of old as he wipes away a happy tear from his wife’s cheek. Or a young woman who one day will look back at her old HankyBook as memories from childhood flood back. HankyBook is your dependable companion as the stories of life continue to unfold.

HankyBook - 23 Uses Of The Modern Tissue Paper Substitute - Offering a HankyBook

So, are you ready to replace your tissue paper?

Leslie Uke
Me and my HankyBook
How to Use a Handkerchief (For Life, Love & Everything Else)

How to Use a Handkerchief (For Life, Love & Everything Else)

There are many ways to use the humble handkerchief – from a quick wipe of your brow to catching the, uh, “contents” of your cold.

The beauty of hankies is in large part due to how versatile they are – for men and women! How you use them will depend on the current spillage crisis you have to deal with.

In recent decades the hanky has been largely replaced by the facial tissue, but people are starting to realize that tissues are actually really bad for the environment.  

Consequently, people are looking for more sustainable ways to catch colds and clean up spills.

Like it or not, the handkerchief is enjoying a comeback!

Handkerchief Google Search
Steady Google Trends growth for “handkerchief”

If you are already a handkerchief owner you know that a trusty hanky should always be kept close, whether in your pocket or purse. That way, when the moment strikes, you don’t have to panic or search – you simply mop up before things get messy.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the many ways you can use your handkerchief.

Use handkerchiefs to stay sanitary

Do we really need to explain how to use a handkerchief for blowing your nose?

Okay fine, you probably won’t need to take notes for this one:

Simply unfurl your little cotton square, lift to your nose, and blow.

Oh, and maybe duck out of sight if you’re in polite company!

Many believe that hankies are unhygienic but we compared handkerchiefs and tissues and the results may surprise you.

What we found was that handkerchiefs can be just as sanitary if not more than tissues, as long as you fold them to keep the germs trapped.

When you get home, just pop it in the wash and it’s ready for another day of sneezes and sniffles.

Use handkerchiefs to wipe sweat, spills, anything!

Whether perspiring from a hot day or a hectic activity, handkerchiefs have always been a great tool to dab away forehead moisture, dry sweaty hands and generally soak up light spills of any description.

Handkerchief wipe sweat
Dubstep dab

Use handkerchiefs for the environment

In case it isn’t obvious, using wads of single-use paper to blow your nose isn’t exactly good for the environment.

Here is a breakdown of the environmental impact of hankies versus tissues.

Unrecycled tissues

Unlike tissues, handkerchiefs are a sustainable way of wiping away spills and messes without wasting loads of paper.

A good cotton hanky will last years – maybe even decades!

Use handkerchiefs to save money

You wouldn’t blow your nose with a crisp 20-dollar bill. So why do you still spend oodles of cash on tissues?

Burning money

As anyone who’s ever had a nasty cold will know, you can rack up quite a number of boxes before you’re healthy again. A single handkerchief, on the other hand, will aid you through many maladies before it has to be replaced.

How to get the most out of your hanky

So, now that you’re no doubt convinced of the many hanky benefits, let’s look at some ways to maximize your usage. We can even think of it as Hanky Hacks!



Give it a wash

Imagine being enveloped in soft, comforting cotton. That’s what your nose feels like when you use a handkerchief. If you want to crank it from just soft to ultra-soft, with every wash it will get softer.

Imagine that, a product that actually gets better with time.

Of course, if you want soothing smoothness from day 1, just get a 100% super-soft cotton handkerchief. That’s what I’ve done with HankyBook – my innovative new handkerchief design.

Pop it in your pocket

As you may or may not know, an economy box of tissues doesn’t quite fit into most people’s purses.

And, we’ve more or less scientifically established that nobody uses just one or two tissues.

Luckily, what is a hanky if not portable? Simply pop it in your bag, keep it in your pocket (although traditional hankies don’t make ideal pocket squares), or stash it in your wallet.


Keep it ick-free

If you really want to ascend to the level of hanky master, you must perfect a good folding strategy. A great fold to maximize use and minimize germs can be seen here:

Start with 6 folds on both sides. Once those are messy, flip your hanky inside out for another 2 folds – even 4 if you’re really gifted. The result is over 8 folds to soak up mess, without leaking it inside your pockets.

For step-by-step instructions on how to fold your handkerchief, be sure to check out my video guide.

In fact, I was attempting something similar when I came up for the idea for HankyBook!

So, if you haven’t quite perfected the fold yet, HankyBook is a great alternative. Not only is the folding done for you, but the covers and pages also trap germs to prevent the “ick” from getting anywhere near you or your possessions.

I’ve got one HankyBook in my pocket

How to clean your handkerchief

Your handkerchief keeps you clean… but how do you keep your hanky clean? And, make no mistake, keeping it clean is essential- you don’t want to turn your lovely helper into a germ-rag.

Luckily, cleaning a hanky is not too complicated. We’ve compiled a step-by-step guide to make things a little simpler.

1.       Pop it in the washing machine.

2.       And enjoy!

And that’s it!

A quick wash along with your other items and your hanky will be delightfully clean and fresh. Just make sure you put it through a hot cycle from time to time.

Washing handkerchief

You spin me right round, Hanky, right round…

You can also add a little fabric softener for extra smoothness.

Don’t have a washer? No worries!

Simply pop them in boiling water and then wash by hand as you would with your other clothes.

If you are a true handkerCHIEF (sorry), you can even give it a quick iron afterwards.

This will help your hanky feel even softer than usual.  

How many handkerchiefs should you own?

This one is really down to you.

If you have a sensitive nose a good dozen should keep your nose dry even during the itchier months.

If your nose is as agitated as mine, even that might not be enough.

Check out my HankyBook stash:

Ready. For. Anything.

When it comes to buying a handkerchief, remember, ladies handkerchiefs come in smaller sizes whereas guys tend to prefer hankies that can double as table cloths.

Go figure.

The importance of handkerchiefs

I hope by now you’re as impressed with the noble hanky as we are! If not, then maybe these extra benefits will do the trick!

Handkerchiefs can help you:

Glow up

“Oh, honey, I don’t sweat! I glow.” – You, after you mopped off your sweaty brow with a hanky, leaving just a healthy, pleasing shine.

Wipe off

“Oh no! The red wine! All over the priceless end table that I had borrowed for the weekend from my frail grandmother!” – Not you, since you have a hanky handy to help mop up spills and messes before they stain.

Be trendy

You know what isn’t stylish?

Box of tissues

Handkerchiefs, on the other hand, can feel like an extension of your personality and sense of style. Particularly a stylish men’s pocket square, like the image below.

Pocket handkerchief
Now we’re talking!


“The suspect who liberated the bank of millions of cold, hard cash, could not be identified, due to a handkerchief covering their face and concealing their identity”

Handkerchief robbery

No one will ever know…

Need even more handkerchief uses?

Check out our 17 uses of handkerchiefs infographic.

Final thoughts

So, in conclusion – hankies are awesome and you can use them however you want.

That’s the beauty: handkerchiefs are reliable, versatile and a throwback that is actually good for the future of our planet. They’re great for men, women, and children.

As for my passion project: the HankyBook – it might be even more versatile as we’ve documented in our “23 uses of the HankyBook” guide.

Whether you go for a traditional handkerchief or a cute HankyBook – it’s time to turn the page on tissues.

Happy blowing!

The Eco-Friendly Tissue Paper and Handkerchief Alternative

The Eco-Friendly Tissue Paper and Handkerchief Alternative

In this age of shameless marketing, people are more suspicious about claims stating “eco-friendly” on any product packaging. As they should be! Many so-called sustainable products are really not as eco-friendly as you’d hope. Less about the “green” of the earth than about the “green” in their wallets.

When selling eco-friendly products to consumers who care about the planet, transparency should be a quality all manufacturers strive for. To that end, let me make the case why I think HankyBooks are good for the earth and a genuinely eco-friendly tissue solution.

The Eco-Friendly Tissue Alternative

HankyBook is a reusable product, acting as a modern alternative to paper tissues. Those tissues, of course, come from trees, using up a large amount of water and chemicals in the process of making them. Most of the tissue paper used in this country is from virgin fiber, meaning it is not recycled but comes directly from trees cut down specifically to make them. Americans on average, go through about 50 pounds of tissue paper per person per year. About ten percent of that is made up of facial tissue.

HankyBook - The Eco-Friendly Tissue Paper and Handkerchief Alternative - HankyBook Explained Tech 01 1

Now, if that tissue had a long-life then that would certainly begin to offset some of the environmental cost. 

Trees are a precious resource. Not least because they act as nature’s own carbon storage. Transforming them into paper also uses a great deal of energy – all for something that is used once and then discarded. In fact, 80% of all products sold in the United States are used just one time and then thrown away.

But single-use tissues are, as the name implies, only good for one use. And because of the chemicals within the tissue, which help to bind the material together, they don’t degrade or recycle well. 

If you are interested in sustainability and zero-waste, then no doubt you’re aware of recycled tissue paper and have likely even given it a try. And after a pack and a red, raw nose you probably realized – there must be a better solution. 

The Evolution of the Handkerchief

With the HankyBook, I wanted to create a genuine eco-friendly to Kleenex and other tissues. A product created to admittedly solve a very human problem (read about my struggles with sniffles here) but that can also tackle wastefulness at the core of our society by providing a reusable tissue option that you can use over and over again without creating waste.

Me and my Hanky!

HankyBooks are crafted from 100% certified organic cotton. This means no pesticides or insecticides are used in the growing of the cotton. Traditional cotton growing uses massive amounts of synthetic pesticide and insecticide – they are some of the most chemically treated crops in the world. Organic cotton production utilizes none of these harmful chemicals, for the well-being of the earth as well as the farmers growing it.

Soft to the touch. Soft to the earth.

If you want to learn more about the environmental impact of tissues, I wrote a longer guide focused on handkerchiefs vs tissues here.

Enjoy and if you try out some of our HankyBooks, please let me know what you think.

Hanky vs Tissue: Which is better for the environment?

Hanky vs Tissue: Which is better for the environment?

The tissue is as commonplace today as the handkerchief was a century ago.

But as we become more aware of our impact on the planet, it may be time to wonder: is tissue paper eco-friendly? Are handkerchiefs better for the environment?

Today we’re going to take a closer look at the hanky or tissue debate. Our planet is precious, and people who believe in sustainability want to know how to live an eco-friendly life. We may have a slight bias towards the HankyBook, but we’re going to stick to the facts.  

The issue With tissues

Tissue paper is made from the timber pulp and while some of this timber is produced using renewable practices, with new trees replacing those that are cut down, much of it is not.

Kimberly-Clark, the producers of Kleenex, eventually buckled to a Greenpeace campaign (called “Kleercut”) to get the company to reduce the amount of virgin forests (old forests that have been untouched until now, and which are the home to many endangered species) being cut down to produce tissue paper.


However, on their website, they still note that they source 30% of their fiber from the Atlantic Forest – a UNESCO World Heritage site that has seen 85% of its forest removed. The plant and animal diversity in this forest are among the greatest in the world, but their home is being decimated.

Next time you blow your nose and immediately throw your tissue in the trash, spare a thought for the orangutangs, pumas, and the thousands of other species that are being pushed to the edge of extinction.  

Are tissues biodegradable and recyclable?

The problem with the tissue paper goes far beyond that of production. Did you know that most tissues cannot be recycled?

Toxic waste
Meanwhile, at Kleenex…

The additives used to reinforce the tissues means they should probably not be composted. They will eventually break down, but it can take months or longer, depending on how the tissue was reinforced.

You feel an itch on your nose, grab a tissue and enjoy a satisfying sneeze. Then it’s in the trash. The years it took to make that tissue ends in just a few seconds. Scale that example to the world’s populations and we’re creating mountains of tissue papers.

There are a few tissue brands that use recycled paper. I know: I tried them all. The problem with recycled tissue paper, and why they haven’t caught on, is that they are very rough on the skin. Not exactly a fun experience at all! 

Handkerchief Vs. Tissue – An Analysis

While the tissue dominates modern culture, the handkerchief is experiencing a resurgence. The question still lingers as to which option is better for the environment. A deep analysis and comparison of the problem was conducted by Greenlifestylemag, using data from Duke University research on paper and Cambridge University research on textiles.

They compared a 1 g tissue with a 15 g handkerchief. If you think that makes no sense because hankies are reusable, don’t worry, they also factored in an estimate of 520 uses for the full lifespan of a handkerchief — just marginally greater than the few seconds of life that a tissue has 😉

They studied the effects of water footprint, energy, and waste. In every category, they concluded that the hanky was easily the more sustainable option.  

The Verdict

With the hanky being the obvious choice for those of us that want a more sustainable solution for sneezes and sniffles, we’re proud to say that the HankyBook is the best handkerchief around. It has practical functions to reduce the use of paper towels and is even more environmentally-friendly than the typical hanky.

Handkerchief blow

If you think that switching from tissue to HankyBook is going to be too hard; think again. In our experience, once someone tries the HankyBook for a few weeks they can’t imagine going back to disposable tissues. See for yourself.

You’ll find that the 100% organic cotton is soft to the touch, that the stitched pages and cover keep germs at bay, and that the stylish design makes it the perfect companion for everything from spill cleaning to nose blowing. When you factor in the environmental footprint and how many forests are being lost to create tissues, paper towels, and toilet paper – it really becomes a choice of significance.

Try your first HankyBook today and enjoy 10% off when you use the code HBSHOP at checkout.

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