Craftivism cold and flu season handkerchief

Published on February 27th, 2013 | by Becky Striepe

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Cold & Flu Season is Here: Let’s Talk Hankies!

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cold and flu season handkerchief

I spent basically all of last week battling a horrendous ick: fever chills, watery eyes, and (of course) an endlessly runny nose. From what I’ve been hearing, this has been one of the worst cold and flu seasons in years, and that means a lot of paper tissues headed straight to the landfill. I know, handkerchiefs aren’t a sexy topic, but when you’re blowing your nose approximately every 45 seconds, I think it’s an important one to talk about.

Whether you buy a handmade hankie or make you own, choosing a reusable er…nose-blowing solution….is great for the planet. Disposable paper products are a multi-billion dollar industry, though, so makes of disposable tissues have big reasons to make you feel like an old-fashioned, reusable hankie is unsanitary or just plain gross.

Yes, there’s an initial ick factor with a reusable hankie. Putting boogers back in your pocket? YUCK! But if you choose the right materials for your hankies and keep a stash of them on hand, your nose-blowing can be as sanitary as it is Earth-friendly.

Handkerchief Tips and Tricks

The most important part of making the hankie thing work is choosing the right fabrics. I’ve been using handkerchiefs for years, and the best fabric by far for absorbing moisture and making the experience pleasant is linen. If you can’t find a linen that you like, very soft organic cotton will work fine, just make sure that it’s not sateen – that shiny coating hinders absorption.

If the thought of sticking a hankie in your pocket grosses you out, you can make yourself a little bag to stash yours in. Check out Julie’s easy drawstring bag tutorial – she’ll have you whipping up a bag in minutes!

You also want to make sure that you have more than one hankie. A stash of 4-5 is good to start. Even the softest, most absorbent linen hankie will eventually get saturated, and you want to be able to switch out for a clean one when they happens. The last thing you want to do when you’re sick is deal with a load of laundry!

Last thing: at the risk of getting too detailed, I’ll tell you that there is a trick to using hankies. If you just blew your nose and have to do it again – and this is going to sound obvious – don’t use the same spot on the hankie! Fold it a different way, so you have a dry spot to blow your nose or catch a sneeze.

OK, so are you ready to jump on the hankie train? Check out a couple of different ways that you can sew your own on the next page!

Image Credit: Handkerchief photo via Shutterstock

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About the Author

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .



  • Charlotte in Newnan, Ga

    I love to use hankies. My kids request them now :) I find beautiful vintage print ones at estate sales. Usually very inexpensive.

  • GJ

    Thank you for bringing up a subject that most cringe from. Your tips were right-on. I think that cloth on your nose seems to be less irritating but when you do have a poor pitiful sore nose, I have learned is to put chap-stick on it.

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