If you’ve come here to learn how to fold a pocket square, an adornment for your jacket pocket, then this is not the article for you.

Luckily we cover folding in our pocket square guide so if that’s what you’re looking for, see you over there!

No – this article is focused on actual handkerchief folding.

Breast pocket squares are used for looking dapper. They are an accessory.

Handkerchiefs are more like a necessity. They are used to dab away sweat, stifle sneezes and aid runny noses.

Keep reading on for my hanky folding tutorial – undisputedly the best and most sanitary method of folding a hankie around.

But first…

Why Can’t I Fold Handkerchiefs However I want?

You can!

 You can do it gif

If you’re happy folding it into halves until it’s a handy size, great.

If you like to crumple it up into a ball, again, totally your prerogative.

The problem is that using a handkerchief (without the secret sanitary method!), it’s hard to avoid getting germs everywhere.

Most people will blow their nose and then stuff the hanky into their back pocket or a bag and when used that way, yes, the “ick” is very real.

In Search of the “ick-free” Handkerchief

I’ve always suffered with a runny nose.

Go for a walk – runny nose.

Drink something hot – runny nose.

Eat something cold – runny nose.

You get the idea.

My nose is always open for withdrawals and it has really hampered my life.

Tissue sneeze
Me, 24/7

I was a big tissue user but learning how bad tissues are for the environment really put me off. Not to mention how they made my nose permanently red and raw.

Cotton hankies were the solution to both those problems.

Soft cotton was soothing for my raw nose and the fact that you can toss them in the wash and they’re good as new (in fact they even get softer and better with time) was the perfect solution to eco-unfriendly, single-use facial tissues.

But hygiene is very important to me, so I put my engineering brain to use and created:

The Secret Sanitary Hanky Folding Method

Okay, so you want to know how to fold a handkerchief. Let’s get right to it.

My handkerchief folding technique has a simple aim:

To use as much hanky real estate for nose blowing as possible but always ensuring that germs do not spread.

With this folding method, you will always keep two layers between nose-blowing spaces and germs will always be kept trapped inside, with outer book-like covers that don’t get used.

All you need is a flat surface and a hanky.

Lay your handkerchief out on a flat surface and then hit play below to check out my step-by-step tutorial.

Or for a quick-fire method, here is a gif from someone online who had the same idea. All it takes is five folds to achieve the perfect shape.

How to fold a handkerchief gif
Via Reddit

What About a No-Fold Sanitary Handkerchief?

If you’ve visited the site before you’ll know that my folding idea was just the start.

The folding became the idea behind HankyBook.

With HankyBook, you get all the benefits of a handkerchief but with soft covers and cotton fabric “pages” to blow your nose.

The unique “book” shape essentially mimics what the sanitary folding method does but with less effort – no folding required!

HankyBook product

Simply open, blow, turn the page, blow again.

The absorbable and thick cotton layers prevent the ick from spreading, and the covers mean you can just close the HankyBook and pop it in a pocket without any worries about germ getting everywhere.

Hankybook in back pocket

When you get home, toss it in the wash and later it will be fresh as a daisy and ready for another day of sneezes, sniffles and spills.


If you’re a handkerchief user, worried about spreading germs – then the sanitary folding method is the solution. It’s a bit of a puzzle at first but practice makes perfect.

If you’re impatient, why not try a HankyBook – it’s the evolution of the handkerchief and you don’t need to learn a thing!