Large Family Napkins


We’ve used cloth napkins for years, but they were always kept away in a drawer in the kitchen and had to be gotten out at each meal.  It just wasn’t convenient.

While visiting another large family, I found a solution that has solved even more meal time problems than I knew I had!

Our friends kept brown washcloths in two decorative planters at either end of their long farmhouse table.  I adapted this by putting extra rust and tan washcloths my mom had given us and we hardly ever used in 2 decorative containers I had been using for pencils. Because my containers were much smaller than their planters, I rolled each washcloth.

The problems this solved:

1.  Something quick to grab for spills.

2.  Washable and reusable napkins.

3.  Napkins that my child with sensory issues will use (she hates paper napkins).

4.  Napkins are always on the table.

5.  They even look pretty!

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32 Comments on Large Family Napkins

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32 thoughts on “Large Family Napkins

  1. I use some white everyday cloth napkins made from birdseye cotton that I purchased on Etsy! I lOVE how soft they are and how we used them for everything… spills, napkins, dusting, snotty noses:) Then they get bleached, washed and reused;)

    The Etsy name is LoveForEarth

    • I have been looking at “unpaper towels” on Etsy too. My husband isn’t opposed, but since they are kind of expensive, I have to save up for them. I love the idea of using a decorative bucket. I was just planning to use one of those stainless steel plastic bag dispensers mounted to the wall to hold them, but a decorative bucket would have so much more charm :)

  2. I have been slowly making the switch away from paper, or at least trying to. This is a great idea. I just need to find a cute container…which may have to wait till I leave the island and go for a visit and shopping in ‘the real world” LOL. Thanks!!!

  3. What an awesome idea….we have been known to use dish towels in a pinch…and I was just recently telling the girls that we were going to make it a sewing project to make cloth napkins but I love the wash cloth idea!!!

  4. I don’t have a large family but MAN do we go through papertowels. If I started using cloth ones, I could save a ton. But I hate washing clothes too but that has to be done anyway. I love this!

  5. I love, love, love this idea! Napkins have been a pain in my neck for years. Why did it never occur to me to use washcloths as napkins?? Thanks for this idea!

  6. LOVE this idea! We’ve always used cloth napkins but they are getting pretty bad. I was thinking just the other day that I need to replace them but cloth napkins can be expensive and taking the time to sew when I don’t use a machine, UGH… So, wash clothes it is for us!
    Another idea for wash clothes: when my kids are sick with yucky noses, we give them a super soft baby wash cloth for a “night time kleenex”. It lasts them the whole night, is soft for the nose and easily washes when they’re done.

  7. Hi!

    This is going on a little tangent, so my apologies, but how often do you wash the “napkins”- how many sets do you need?

    And as far as washing goes (here’s the tangent)- I’d love to hear how often people change sheets on a little’s bed (we just moved everyone out of crib/toddler beds into big girl and boy beds). The crib sheets were much easier!


  8. My “mom I wish I’d been born to” does that with white terry finger tip towels in a pottery bowl. So I had a pottery bowl that had a hairline crack in it and am using it for my napkins. We were given a set of napkins to coordinate with the seasons so I just keep them all in it since there are only 4 of each design. We use them, then toss them in my dirty kitchen rag bucket and wash with the rest of the kitchen clothes once or twice a week. Works great! And if you don’t care what the washcloths look like, keep an eye out at the huge mass market retailer. I just replaced ours in our bathroom with a cheap 18 for 4.00 deal package.

  9. We use hankerchiefs for napkins. You can always find them the the thrift store, the dollar store, even Joanns for really cheap. They add a little bit of rustic fun to the table. :)

  10. What an awesome idea! I have alot of new washcloths left from wedding presents given to us 9 yrs. ago! We have a small family, but this would be great for us because my 2 girls use alot of paper towels & napkins. I am allways doing laundry daily anyway so a few more washcloths won’t be a big deal! Thanks for sharing your ideas with us! Now off to find the perfect container or basket! :)

  11. Here’s another idea for wash cloths: I keep dark brown or red wash cloths on hand in the bathroom and kitchen. When the little kids get a scraped knee or cut,using brown or red wash cloth to wash the cut or scrape, the dark color hides the blood and we don’t have scared upset kids at seeing the blood.

  12. If you don’t have a bucket or pottery to hold the napkins, a small basket might work. I keep on on my table for paper napkins… it would work for cloth ones, I’m sure!

  13. Don’t ya love learning things from others and feeling “ahead of the game.” I just dont have enough mental energy to figure it all out myself! the family that discippled me in my teens used cloth napkins and I just always have.

    I shy away from actual cloth napkins wiht most meals because I dont want to pretreat them:) But washcloths, especially dark ones are much easier. We have a dresser in the dining room with a drawer stuffed full of napkins that I always mean to fold/roll. Be warned that little helpers will stuff dirty/wet/used towels into the clean receptacle. At one point I had a pretty wet bag hanging on a hidden edge of the buffet/dresser to hold dirty towels until they were washed. It is a lot cheaper to wash a load of napkins then to fil it with paper towels or paper napkins:)

    I like the idea of the towels staying on the table. We use our table for so much during the day that they would get moved…I’m also looking for jobs for preschoolers during the dinner rush.

    At the moment we use baskets to hold washcloths in the bathroom and the baby’s room. but we arent really country/basket people. I like the idea of flower pots better:)

  14. For people that sew I get flannel when it’s on sale and make cloth napkins. The flannel is soft and super absorbent. We use them for everything. Napkins, spills, and snotty noses.

  15. We do something similar, but I use tea towels I bought cheap at IKEA. The fact that they’re larger than normal cloth napkins is great since we can use them for more than one meal before tossing in the laundry. I keep them folded in a small cute basket.

  16. When i had a busy house and little ones, i enjoyed remaking things into cloth napkins. The memories from a favorite shirt, or skirt or whatever were always fun. And free. Now that it is just us two, i dont use cloth as often, sadly. I think i will start again.