image description

Ask Kirstin: Cloth Vs. Paper Napkins

Place Setting

Send your questions about ingredients, recipes and cooking techniques to me at This week, I help you choose between cloth and paper napkins.


We have an ongoing debate at home. My daughter wants cloth napkins. I hate to iron so I prefer paper napkins, and my husband just plonks a roll of paper towels on the table. What do you suggest? — Rosa L.

I would rather peel 12 pounds of potatoes than iron four napkins, but I agree with your daughter that cloth is better, for a number of reasons. First, it is a greener choice, you are not dabbing a smidgen of BBQ sauce on a big fancy paper napkin, just to throw it away. Second, it just looks and feels nicer, and third, it is a chance to use your heirlooms, which we love, because whether it is the napkins or napkin holders they will remind you of your ancestors, and give you a chance to talk about them and feel like they are joining you at the table.

As far as the ironing part, I have given that up, and I am giving you the permission to as well. Wrinkles are beautiful, on my face and on the table. And if you stuff the napkin in a glass or put it in a napkin holder, no one will notice, and if they do… tell them sweetly where the iron is.


Join the Discussion

5 Responses

  1. Val Joiner says:

    I can vouch for the wrinkles. They’re not a big deal. Letting go of perfection is the ultimate freedom.

  2. noelskitchen says:

    Our family uses cloth napkins as much as possible. I agree, not only is it a way for us to be “green in the kichen”, it’s also less expensive than purchasing paper towels or paper napkins. Simply throw them in the wash with your dish towels. You can find tons of them at your local thrift shops, designs for every occasion and sometimes if I’m lucky I find old laced ones that are perfect fo a more formal dinner setting. 

    • Kirstin says:

      and no need for a table of matched napkins either… they can be so sweet all mixed up 

  3. ginarau says:

    We’ve been using cloth napkins for years and I couldn’t imagine going back to paper. They’re soft and give our meals a sense of comfort and tradition. My kids have also taken them to school in their lunch bags, each since kindergarten and (knock on wood), we’ve never lost one. 

    ps. We only iron them when my mother in law visits. 

Connect with Us


Recent Comments


2012 IACP Cookbook Award Finalist


CoomMomPicks Pick of the Year