Easy Eco Swap: Cloth Napkins vs. Paper

EASY ECO SWAP CLOTH NAPKINS VS. PAPER Are you still using paper napkins at dinnertime? I know, I know – it’s tough to think about adding to the laundry pile when you have a busy, messy family – but I’d like to try to convince you to make the switch to cloth. Here’s the why and the how….

Why use cloth?

  • Uses fewer resources – Paper napkins are a big waste of resources – especially those made from virgin paper and bleached with chlorine.
  • Produces less waste – Take a minute to imagine a year’s worth of paper napkins in a big pile. Now imagine all the waste from cloth napkins – none!
  • More durable – Cloth napkins won’t fall apart after a few wipes.
  • Looks nicer – Family dinnertime is often the highlight of the day for us. Delicious, homemade food and colorful, cloth napkins make it even better!

Making cloth work for you

organic cotton napkins from Etsy via mindfulmomma.comBuy ’em – You don’t have to spend a ton of money on cloth napkins. In fact, you can find great deals at places like Target or online at Amazon. Don’t rule out thrift or consignment shops either – they are a great source for gently used and even new cloth napkins. If you are looking for something unique or a little more special, check out cloth napkins on Etsy. These organic cotton ones caught my eye! Tip: keep a different set of cloth napkins for company since the family napkins may get worn over time.
Handmade napkins via mindfulmomma.comMake ’em – Got a sewing machine? Handmade cloth napkins are super simple to makeTip: buy fabric quarters (also known as “fat quarters”) at the fabric store. They are just the right size for napkins and it’s easy to get a bunch of different fabrics. And if you want to get fancy – add some rick-rack trim! Clean ’em – Yes, using cloth napkins means more laundry, but what’s a handful of napkins in the pile? We wash ours once a week. During the week, we *try* to keep our napkins straight so we don’t share germs. Napkin rings help. Tip: keep an eco-friendly stain remover and this stain removal chart handy for zapping any stains before they go into the washer.

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Are you ready to make the swap to cloth?

postsiggie4 copy     Like this post? Here are more Easy Eco Swaps and Easy Eco Tips for ya!  (Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post. If you make a purchase through a link, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting Mindful Momma!)


  1. This was one of the first and easiest steps we took to “go green”. It is such an easy habit to get into. We keep ours folded in a drawer by the dining room table and toss them in the wash after dinner. Piece o cake!

  2. I have been using cloth napkins for years and they are still going strong. You save so much money in the long run and they take up zero room in a load of laundry you are already washing!

  3. Love the idea about getting out my sewing machine to make my own napkins. That stain chart will come in handy.

    1. LOL – I haven’t had my sewing machine out for a while either Anna. But I love to sew and napkins are a rewarding project because they are such a simple project and so useful!

  4. I bought a set of large washcloths in various colors, and we use them as napkins. Soft and absorbent!

  5. We have been using cloth napkins for 2-3 years. So super easy. I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond and they had colorful cotton napkins in sets of 8 different colors. I bought two sets and brought the napkins home to the family. Everyone got to pick “their color”. We are a family of 6 so that meant that we had two colors left over for when guests visited. The napkins got folded in a way that they could be refolded to expose a new clean side and we could use one napkin for a few days before it needed washing. I keep a little bucket in the kitchen for dirty kitchen laundry – this includes, the cloth napkins, kitchen counter rags (bought at Target…great for wiping down counters), cloth hand and face wipes (cloth wipes with sherpa on one side and flannel on the other…similar to cloth diaper wipes, but custom made ages ago to match the color of my kitchen so I wouldn’t ever mix up wipes for faces and wipes for bottoms), and lastly dish towels. This extra laundry can get washed every 1-2 weeks. So easy and all our cloth use has greatly reduced our use of paper napkins and paper towels.

    1. So glad to hear the switch to cloth napkins has worked out for you Karen!

  6. This is a much more sustainable solution to dining room. What’s strange is this is how it used to be not too long ago. Time to get back to this simple and eco-friendly solution.

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