This ain't your Granny's lesson on manners...
Half a century ago, cloth was the only kind of napkin that existed outside of shirt sleeves and apron fronts. Now we have paper towels, 'fancy' dinner napkins and all sorts of colorful party and entertaining napkins. But outside the ease of immediate clean-up, what virtues do these pulp-derived kisser-wipers really possess? Here are some reasons why I think cloth napkins deserve the restoration of their virtue:
They are reusable. Duh. They eliminate the need for tree pulp, water and processing chemicals even paper napkins that are made from recycled paper (do they make those?) would require water and energy to produce.
Let's take a good look at the laundry aspect: they do not cause a dramatic impact on the amount of laundry we already do. We are already washing and drying, so adopting cloth napkins does not require an adaptation in our daily lifestyles. With cold water washing, line drying and the natural bleaching of the sun, napkins are by far the easiest article to care for. In fact, it has been my personal experience that folding the napkins has been an invaluable tool in teaching my three-year-old to participate in household chores.When line dried, cloth napkins hardly need ironing, as opposed to the wrinkled wads that the dryer can make!
Napkins and other linens used to be something prized by young brides facing a new household. Fine linens are still given as wedding and house warming gifts and are considered far more sophisticated for entertaining. And when you thing about all the embroidery and monogram options available, why would we opt for the heavily dyed paper counterparts that can stain our guests' clothing when damp? Most of the cloth napkins we use in our home were wedding gifts or handed down as a serviceable heirlooms.
I hope if you haven't given cloth napkins a chance yet that you will consider them. Grandma would be proud of you!