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!