Eco Friendly Napkins: Paper vs. Cloth [Green Comparison] (2022)

You use napkins on a regular basis and often throw them out after dinner without a second thought.

However, this is problematic because the napkin should be recycled or composted to reduce waste, and not all napkins allow this. Here’s how to find the greenest napkin.

Should you be using cloth or paper napkins?

There’s no simple answer to this question. While one might seem better than the other, the truth is that both can be problematic for the environment. Paper napkins can only be used once, though, which makes them particularly best to avoid.

Let’s take a closer look at paper vs. cloth napkins to see how they fare when it comes to their eco-friendliness.

Skip to What You Need

  • 1 Paper vs. Cloth Napkins: Which One’s Greener?
  • 2 Paper Napkins – Can You Put Them In The Compost?
  • 3 Are Cloth Napkins The Eco-Friendlier Option? It Depends
    • 3.1 The Cloth Napkins With The Least Environmental Impact
  • 4 Why Cloth Napkins Are Better Than Paper
  • 5 How To Make Paper Napkins Greener
    • 5.1 Choose Paper Napkins Made Of Recycled Paper
  • 6 The Concern Of Using Water To Clean Cloth Napkins
  • 7 Cloth Napkins Can Save You Money
  • 8 Related Questions
    • 8.1 What About Hemp As A Fabric For Cloth Napkins?
    • 8.2 Does A Lot Of Paper Get Into The Landfills?
  • 9 Frequently Asked Questions
    • 9.1 What is the best eco friendly napkin to use?
    • 9.2 Can you recycle paper napkins?
    • 9.3 Are paper napkins compostable?
  • 10 Conclusion

Paper vs. Cloth Napkins: Which One’s Greener?

Paper NapkinsCloth Napkins
How Many Times You Can Use ThemOnceNumerous times
How Is Their Material Sourced?Paper napkins come from trees or recycled paperCloth napkins are made from cotton and other natural fiber crops or fossil fuels in the case of polyester
Can They Be Recycled?No – this is because paper napkins often get dirty, whether from food or bodily fluidsYes – you can’t put them in your recycling bin, but cloth napkins can be given to companies like the American Textile Recycling Service

Paper Napkins – Can You Put Them In The Compost?

When you make compost, you want to get a good balance between green and brown items.

Green items, such as grass cuttings, are rich in protein or nitrogen that help micro-organisms grow.

Brown items, such as paper and paper napkins, are a source of carbon. This is required to filter air through the compost.

Since paper is made from plant materials, paper napkins are inherently biodegradable.

This is why they can be put in the compost heap where they will decompose, and it’s a great alternative since dirty paper napkins can’t be recycled.

But there’s a catch.

If you’ve got things like detergents on your paper napkins, such as if you quickly used one to clean the kitchen counter, or they’re covered in grease, you can’t put them in your compost.

This is because the grease residue can reduce oxygen in the compost, while cleaning products are harmful to microorganisms, as reported by Stanford.

(Video) Household must have?! Swedish dish cloths / cellulose sponges review | Paper towel reusable swap!

Are Cloth Napkins The Eco-Friendlier Option? It Depends

Eco Friendly Napkins: Paper vs. Cloth [Green Comparison] (1)

If you like the idea of reusing a cloth napkin instead of using paper napkins just once before throwing them away, it’s important to realize that not all cloth napkins are eco-friendly.

If you’re purchasing a cloth made of cotton, for instance, this is problematic because cotton uses a lot of pesticides and resources during its production. This makes it less eco-friendly.

The Cloth Napkins With The Least Environmental Impact

When deciding which napkins are greener, it’s worth considering the environmental impact of producing different napkin materials: paper, cotton, and linen.

Let’s take a look at how many resources are required for the production of each of these.

Most Impact: Paper Napkins

These use 24.5 gallons of water to get produced, and they release 7.5 pounds of greenhouse gases, as TreeHugger reports (via Eating Well).

Can Be Worse Than Paper In Some Cases: Cotton Napkins

Cotton requires 43.3 gallons of water, which is even more than paper napkins! In addition, it releases 3.9 pounds of greenhouse gases.

Cotton also requires a lot of pesticides and it is highly irrigated as a crop. This means that the land used for cotton production needs to be watered a lot.

Least Impact: Linen Napkins

If you want to choose the best napkin, go for linen napkins. These only make use of 8.9 gallons of water and release 1.9 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.

Linen napkins are produced from the flax plant, which doesn’t require any extra water than rainwater. It also grows naturally, making it highly eco-friendly.

It’s clear to see that linen napkins are much better for the planet than cloth or paper. So, by choosing linen, your kitchen can definitely be greener.

Why Cloth Napkins Are Better Than Paper

Eco Friendly Napkins: Paper vs. Cloth [Green Comparison] (2)

It’s not just that cloth napkins, like those made of linen, have less impact on the earth’s resources than paper.

There are other reasons why you should switch to cloth in the kitchen.

  • When your cloth napkins get dirty, you can pop them in the laundry without having to throw them away. On average, each person in America uses 2,200 two-ply napkins every year, as Business Insider reports. They get thrown away and that’s a lot of waste ending up in landfills that can be avoided with a sustainable cloth napkin.
  • Cloth napkins have more than one use. You can obviously use them when setting the table, but cloth napkins can also be used to mop up any spills or cover food.
  • You can downcycle them. Once your cloth napkins aren’t being used around the kitchen, such as when they have stains that just don’t come out in the wash, you still don’t have to throw them away. You can use them as cleaning rags.
  • When it’s time to get rid of your cloth napkins, you don’t have to pop them in the bin. If they’re made of natural fibers such as linen, hemp, or cotton, you can cut them up into smaller pieces and throw them in the compost pile.

How To Make Paper Napkins Greener

It’s clear that paper napkins get a bit of a bad rap, such as when it comes to their environmental impact.

Even though they tend to have a much shorter lifespan than cloth napkins, paper napkins can still be eco-friendly.

It all comes down to the materials you choose for them. Yes, not all paper napkins are made equal!

Choose Paper Napkins Made Of Recycled Paper

Eco Friendly Napkins: Paper vs. Cloth [Green Comparison] (4)

It takes much less energy to recycle paper than it does to produce it from raw materials.

Making recycled paper uses 31 percent less energy than the production of virgin paper, as reported by Environmental Paper.

If you buy paper napkins that are made of virgin paper, you’re using up a lot of resources. It takes 0,07 gallons of water to make just one paper napkin that’s 0,08 ounces in size.

Now, if every person in the U.S. uses three paper napkins a day, that creates a figure of 450,000,000 napkins being used in just one day.

To produce those napkins, 31,500,000 gallons of water will have to be used. This is basically the equivalent of 477 Olympic swimming pools, as reported by Green Groundswell.

Eco Friendly Napkins: Paper vs. Cloth [Green Comparison] (5)

(Video) Paper vs Unpaper Towels - Comparing Disposable paper towels to Reusable kitchen towel roll

The Concern Of Using Water To Clean Cloth Napkins

Now, people could say that cloth napkins are less eco-friendly than paper napkins that get thrown away because you have to the washcloth.

That can waste a lot of water. Tree Hugger states that washing a napkin in the washing machine can produce five grams of greenhouse gas emissions due to the electricity that’s used.

It also uses a quarter-liter of water.

Then, we also have to consider the detergents that are used as these can contain chemicals that can be harmful to aquatic life if they get into the water system.

However, you can prevent these concerns altogether in some important ways.

  • Instead of using your washing machine, hand-wash your cloth napkins in cool water and hang them out on the washing line to dry. This prevents the use of electricity and hot water.
  • You can also make smarter choices when you need new cloth napkins so that you completely prevent using the earth’s resources. Instead of buying new cloth napkins, consider making them from old fabric that you no longer need.

Cloth Napkins Can Save You Money

Eco Friendly Napkins: Paper vs. Cloth [Green Comparison] (6)

The average paper napkin will cost around $0,02.

Although you might think buying paper napkins in bulk can save you money, you’re just adding more waste to your household.

Cloth napkins will be a bit more expensive. You’re looking at roughly $1, but thrift-store napkins can cost around $0.30.

In addition, you can use cloth napkins for many years. If you use one paper napkin every day, that will add up to $0.14 per week, which is $4.2 every month and $50 every year!

When you think of it like that, it’s much more expensive to buy paper napkins.

(Video) Why Being 'Environmentally Friendly' Is A Scam

Of course, you?d probably buy paper napkins in bulk, and you’re looking at a cost of approximately $5 for 400 napkins.

This could easily last you more than a year if you use just one or two paper napkins every day, but it’s still not as cost-effective as using a cloth napkin.

After a year, you’ll have to spend another $5 for the paper napkins.

That $1 you spent on a cloth napkin will go the distance because you’re likely to still use your cloth napkin for many more years if you look after it.

In addition, you’re reducing a lot more waste by choosing cloth.

You will have to throw out approximately 400 paper napkins at some point, whereas by using cloth you won’t have to waste anything.

In this way, cloth napkins not only save you a bit of money in the long run, but they also help you live a zero-waste lifestyle.

Related Questions

What About Hemp As A Fabric For Cloth Napkins?

Hemp napkins are an excellent choice.

Hemp plants use 50 percent of the water required by cotton and reduce carbon emissions.

One hectare of industrial hemp absorbs 22 tonnes of CO2 emissions, thanks to hemp’s ability to absorb CO2 into its body and roots, as reported by the Australian parliament.

Does A Lot Of Paper Get Into The Landfills?

You might only think of plastic as being a landfill problem, but the paper isn’t much better.

Roughly 35 percent of municipal solid waste that ends up in landfills is paper that’s been discarded, as Norwex Movement reports.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best eco friendly napkin to use?

Linen napkins are a great sustainable alternative to single use paper napkins. Linen is made from the flax plant, which is a renewable resource that does not use a lot of water to produce. They are reusable and long lasting, washable and compostable when they eventually do wear out. Check out this article for more information on eco friendly alternatives to single use paper napkins.

Can you recycle paper napkins?

Paper napkins usually cannot be recycled once they have been used as they are contaminated with food stuffs, grease or cleaning products. For more information on paper napkins and eco friendly alternatives, check out this article.


Are paper napkins compostable?

Paper napkins that have not been contaminated with grease or chemicals like cleaning detergents can be composted but it is very seldom that a paper napkin is used for any purpose that does not involve grease or detergents so the majority of paper napkins end up going to landfill. Check out this article on paper vs cloth napkins for more information.


When it comes to the paper vs. cloth napkins debate, there are some things to consider.

While the cloth is generally better for the environment because it reduces waste, the fabrics you choose to buy for your cloth napkins as well as how you reuse them are important factors to consider so you make the eco-friendliest choice.


Is it better to use paper or cloth napkins? ›

One of the biggest advantages that reusable napkins have over paper napkins is sustainability. Not only do they have longer lifespans (and more usage per item) than paper, but they are also more effective to use.

What is the best material for reusable napkins? ›

Note: It's best to use 100% cotton or linen as they will be most absorbent, but a blend with at least 80% natural fiber will work too and will require less ironing.

What are paper napkins made of? ›

Core Paper, Jumbo Reels, Wrapping Paper and Cello Phane are some of the raw materials that are used in the production of tissue napkin. The production process includes four basic steps: Pulp & Dye, Pressing, Creeping and Cutting. Paper pulp is prepared by mixing fibre with wood pulp and wash the mix with bleach.

Do cloth napkins help the environment? ›

Cloth napkins are ideal for cleaning your hands and face while eating a meal. Reusable napkins are way better for the environment than paper napkins too! Making the commitment to using eco friendly napkins will save on waste, and honestly, they work better than disposable napkins.

Are cloth napkins cheaper than paper? ›

Cloth Napkins Can Save You Money

Although you might think buying paper napkins in bulk can save you money, you're just adding more waste to your household. Cloth napkins will be a bit more expensive. You're looking at roughly $1, but thrift-store napkins can cost around $0.30.

What is the most eco-friendly menstrual products? ›

The Best Sustainable Period Products That Are Mindful of Our...
  • Saalt Wear Environmental Mesh Hipster $36.00.
  • Aisle Maxi Pad $19.00.
  • Lunette Starter Kit With 2 Cups $109.99 $76.99.
  • DAME. Reusable Applicator Set $36.00.
  • Rael Reusable Menstrual Cup & Case Set $37.00.
  • FLO FLO Organic Non-Applicator Tampons $7.00.
15 Mar 2022

Is handmade paper eco-friendly? ›

Since it is made entirely from recycled and up-cycled materials like coffee husk and other residual plant fibers such as lemongrass, corn husk, mulberry, banana, flax and elephant poo. which is why handmade paper is entirely wood-free. This makes it the most eco-friendly form of paper around.

Are recycled napkins clean? ›

Paper towels/napkins/tissues/paper plates

Because they usually come in contact with food wastes, greases, and possibly bodily fluids, they are not able to be "cleaned" during the recycling process and should not be with other "clean" paper waste like magazines and copy paper. Always throw these items into the trash.

Are cotton napkins better for the environment? ›

If you add up the emissions from growing the raw materials, manufacturing the napkins, as well as washing and drying, the paper napkin is the clear winner with 10 grams of greenhouse gas emissions vs. 127 grams for the linen and 1020 grams for the cotton.

What makes a good paper napkin? ›

Disposable napkins usually come in 1-ply, 2-ply, or 3-ply, and the higher the ply-count, the more absorbent and high-quality they are. While 1-ply paper napkins might be more affordable, you will miss out on the soft, absorbent qualities of 2-ply or 3-ply napkins.

Are paper napkins biodegradable? ›

Can I place used paper towels, napkins, and tissue in my compost cart? Yes, absolutely. These items can be composted even if they are wet or stained with food, vegetable oil, or grease. Please do not place paper towels, napkins, or tissue into the recycling!

Which is more cost effective napkins or paper towels? ›

“People in lower-income tiers are more likely to use paper towels as napkins, toilet paper as facial tissue,” says Rosenberg. “It's cheaper to use paper towels as napkins than to buy napkins.”

What are paper napkins called? ›

A napkin, serviette or face towelette is a square of cloth or paper tissue used at the table for wiping the mouth and fingers while eating.

Why should we use cloth napkins instead of paper towels? ›

It will help you get away from any wastage at all! With the use of cloth napkins, the amount of trash generated will get less. Every single year, millions of tons of trash are being thrown away. This not only destroys natural resources but also becomes a huge trouble for wildlife.

How can we make our periods more eco friendly? ›

Eco-Friendly Options for Menstrual Products
  1. Single Use Menstrual Products and Plastic.
  2. Menstrual Cups.
  3. Menstrual Discs.
  4. Period Underwear.
  5. Reusable Menstrual Pads.
  6. Cost of Eco-Friendly Options.
  7. Greener Options for Disposable Menstrual Products.
17 Aug 2021

Why should we use cloth napkins? ›

Cloth napkins work better for wiping excess moisture or sauce than paper. They stay together instead of falling apart with use throughout a meal. Also, one cloth napkin can absorb a lot more liquid than paper, making them not only a good substitute for paper napkins, but also paper towels.

What is the difference between paper napkin and tissue? ›

Tissues are generally made gentler, so as not to irritate the sensitive skin around the nose, while napkins are made sturdier, so they don't fall apart when wiping something sticky.

What can be used in place of napkins to reduce waste? ›

Try going old school and using a handkerchief! You can either make your own by upcycling fabric you already have, much like the cloth napkins, or purchase them. It's important to make sure you wash your handkerchief regularly and don't let anyone else use it to prevent the spread of germs!

Is it cheaper to make your own napkins? ›

I love decorating our dinner table settings with beautiful linen napkins but with so many colours to choose from, the costs of buying multiple sets of napkins can really add up! This is when DIY can come in handy because napkins are actually really easy to make at home and it's cheaper to do so as well.

What are eco-friendly pads? ›

The pads should be 100% organic unbleached cotton, sometimes hemp or bamboo are used. Sustainable period pads should also be free from fragrance, dyes, chemicals, chlorine and dioxin. Dioxin is a byproduct of chlorine and known to disrupt endocrine system and reproductive health.

Are eco period pads good? ›

In terms of comfort, they didn't really feel any different to single-use pads, and even after an overnight wear I didn't experience any leaks. The sceptic in me was surprised, even by the absorbency factor, which was probably on par with regular pads.

Are organic pads eco-friendly? ›


Unlike synthetic products, organic pads are made from biodegradable materials and don't contribute to pollution. Moreover, the manufacture of period products from organic cotton produces 94% less greenhouse gas emissions and uses 71% less water.

Why paper is eco-friendly? ›

Paper is biodegradable because is made from plant materials and most plant materials are biodegradable. Paper is easily recycled and can be recycled up 6 or 7 times before the paper fibres become too short to be used for paper production, deeming it more eco-friendly than plastic.

Is eco-friendly paper cheaper? ›

In general, recycled paper is cheaper than virgin paper. It is often impossible to tell the difference between quality recycled and virgin paper. POST-consumer waste is paper that has been used by the consumer (newspaper, magazines, product cartons...).

How do you make an eco-friendly paper? ›

Make Your Own Eco-Friendly Paper for Earth Day
  1. Supplies: Paper or Newspaper. ...
  2. Step 1: Tear or Shred the Paper. ...
  3. Step 2: Soak the Paper. ...
  4. Step 3: Blend the Paper. ...
  5. Step 4: Add the Paper to the Bin. ...
  6. Step 5: Set Up Your Work Space. ...
  7. Step 6: Add Your Pigment. ...
  8. Step 7: Master the Mould & Deckle Technique.
20 Apr 2021

How long do cloth napkins last? ›

I would estimate that most of my daily-use cloth napkins last about 5-7 years. Some hold up longer than others. But the great thing about cloth napkins is once they are too stained or dingey for everyday use, they can still be put to good use.

Can you reuse cloth napkins? ›

– Using cloth napkins instead of paper is not only easier on the wallet, it also allows you to reduce your waste and reuse your cloth napkins. Ultimately, it's always better to choose reusable over disposable whenever possible.

Is recycled paper hygienic? ›

Is Recycled Toilet Paper Safe and Sanitary? Bought from a reputable brand, recycled toilet paper is usually of a similar quality to regular toilet paper and is completely safe and sanitary to use. The only potential safety issue is the possibility that recycled toilet paper may contain traces of the chemical BPA.

What is the best color for table napkin? ›

napkin color and design

Napkins at a formal meal should match the color of the tablecloth (generally ivoy or white).

What is a good size for cloth napkins? ›

Standard size cloth napkins vary in size; however, most include the following sizes: 16 x 16 inches, 18 x 18 inches, 20 x 20 inches. Larger napkins can include 20 x 20 inches and 21 x 21 inches, and can be often found in more formal occasions, including weddings and higher-end restaurants.

Which pad is best for school students? ›

  • Whisper Ultra Clean XL+ with Herbal Oil Sanitary Pad. Pack of 50. 4.5. (1,39,760) ₹442. ...
  • STAYFREE Secure Cottony Soft Regular Sanitary Pad. Pack of 60. 4.3. (49,629) ...
  • niine Dry Comfort Ultra Thin XL Sanitary Pads, Fluid Lo... Pack of 40. 4.2. (2,133) ...
  • Fem Ultracare XL Plus Sanitary Napkins | Provides Up to... Pack of 30. (40) ₹247.

Is cotton paper eco-friendly? ›

Cotton papers are usually made from recycled textile scraps such as T-shirts or jeans. It's an eco-friendly alternative that feels like cloth (or US bills - those are made of linens).

Is cotton paper more eco-friendly? ›

Handmade cotton rag papers are made from post consumer fibres, such as old t-shirts. They have the potential to achieve the lowest carbon footprint during production.

Are paper towels eco-friendly? ›

On the whole, paper towels are not sustainable. Paper towels' production causes deforestation, chemical pollution in freshwaters, and fill up our landfill. And then, they are made for single-usage and disposal. Some better sustainable alternatives are reusable cloth towels and modern air dryers.

What makes napkins strong? ›

A three-ply napkin has higher wet strength. It resists breaking better than its one-ply counterpart. More fibers = more strength. More strength = fewer tiny pieces of tissue to coat your sticky hands during a messy meal.

What are recycled napkins made from? ›

Made from 100% recycled paper with a minimum 50% post-consumer content. Packaged in minimum 50% pre-consumer recycled plastic.

What are the 4 factor to consider in selecting proper table napkin? ›

Is the function or atmosphere informal or formal? What is the experience you want for your customer? Should the napkin be strictly functional or an added element to enhance the table setting? What will your guests be eating and wearing?

Are cloth pads biodegradable? ›

The results suggest that these sanitary napkins may be biodegradable, which may degrade in years due to some amount of plastic coating, but they are not compostable.
Published: Monday 13 December 2021.
Cloth-based sanitary napkinsCloth and Hemp (plant material)Reusable – 1 to 2 years
3 more rows
13 Dec 2021

How long does a paper napkin take to decompose? ›

Due to this, they are easily broken down. Given the right condition, your paper napkin should decompose within a month and six months. This is a very short time, and this benefits the environment.

What kind of paper is not biodegradable? ›

What Kind Of Paper Is Biodegradable? All most all types of paper are biodegradable. This is because the paper is made from wood pulp, which is biodegradable. Unfortunately, paper products like plates and cups are lined with plastic making them un-biodegradable.

Is it better to use cloth or paper napkins? ›

One of the biggest advantages that reusable napkins have over paper napkins is sustainability. Not only do they have longer lifespans (and more usage per item) than paper, but they are also more effective to use.

Which is better for the environment paper towels or cloth towels? ›

The winner? As you can imagine, while there are some biodegradable and recycled options for paper towels, the reusable cloth is the clear winner of this environmentally-conscious match, even against the reusable bamboo paper towels.

How can I save money on paper products? ›

Paper products aren't free.
6 Smart Strategies for Cutting the Cost of Paper Products
  1. Keep a stack of inexpensive plastic plates in the cupboard for paper plate situations. ...
  2. Use junk mail, printing mistakes and whiteboards for scratch paper. ...
  3. Keep a stack of dark-colored cloth napkins around for napkin use.
16 Aug 2016

How many types of paper napkins are there? ›

There are seven types: cocktail napkins (25×25), lunch napkins (33×33), dinner napkins (40×40), bistro napkins (40×40), silverware napkins (40×40), snack napkins (33×33) and rondo napkins (32×32). Lunch napkins are the most widely produced and used type of tissue napkin and a lunch napkin is 30 GSM.

What material is used for napkins? ›

Cloth napkins can be made from many different materials, but you'll usually see them made from cotton, polyester, or linen. All three materials are great, but they tend to feel a little different. (Cotton may feel soft, whereas polyester may feel smooth.)

Who invented paper napkins? ›

Paper napkins themselves originate from ancient China, when paper was invented in the 2nd century. Chih Pha, folded paper square napkins, were used for serving tea. The historical accuracy of this is backed up by documents describing the possessions of the Yu family from the city of Hangzhou.

Is it better to use cloth table napkins or paper towels? ›

Cloth dishtowels are sturdier and hold more water than their paper alternatives, making for better cleaning and wiping up messes.

Is it OK to use paper napkins at dinner party? ›

If you're having a formal dinner and pulling out all the stops, using your best china, polishing up the silver and using the good crystal, then cloth napkins would be the best choice. When your dinner party is more casual, then paper napkins are perfectly acceptable.

Why do restaurants use cloth napkins? ›

Switching to restaurant-quality napkins and tablecloths can reduce noise in your restaurant. The cloth acts as a barrier between noisy dishware and the table, and absorbs sound in general as there are fewer hard surfaces for sound to reverberate off.

Are paper towels better for the environment? ›

On the whole, paper towels are not sustainable. Paper towels' production causes deforestation, chemical pollution in freshwaters, and fill up our landfill. And then, they are made for single-usage and disposal. Some better sustainable alternatives are reusable cloth towels and modern air dryers.

How do paper towels affect the environment? ›

[1] While paper towels are useful and convenient, have you ever stopped to think about their environmental impact? While paper towels generally have a small carbon footprint—about 0.06 lbs of carbon dioxide each—collectively they are contributing to deforestation, global warming, and an ever-increasing waste problem.

What is the benefits of napkins? ›

Napkins are used while dining outside, in restaurants or at home. They could be used in washrooms and rest houses for drying hands after washing. They are surely the easiest way of removing dirt from your hands or even drying up your hands in a jiffy, in the washroom or the kitchen.

What is the advantage of using table napkin? ›

Table napkins not only help in enhancing and highlighting the decor of your table settings, but also aid in giving a relaxed, comfortable, and spotless dining experience. Undeniably table napkin is an important aspect when it comes to decorating your tabletop.

Why are napkins important? ›

Do you know what is ultimately the purpose of a napkin? Napkins, or serviettes, are the final decorative touch on the table setting and they are used to wipe the mouth or protect clothing.

What are cloth napkins called? ›

A napkin, serviette or face towelette is a square of cloth or paper tissue used at the table for wiping the mouth and fingers while eating. It is usually small and folded, sometimes in intricate designs and shapes.

Which is better cotton or linen napkins? ›

Cotton is more absorbent than linen, making it ideal for mopping up spills. Linen, on the other hand, is more durable and less likely to stain. Linen is a natural fiber that is both hypoallergenic and antibacterial. It also breathes well, making it a good choice for hot summer days.


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