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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
“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.
“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.
You know what isn’t stylish?
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.
“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”
No one will ever know…
Need even more handkerchief uses?
Check out our 17 uses of handkerchiefs infographic.
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.