Handkerchiefs vs. Recycled Tissues in the Battle Against Endless Toddler Mucous

handkerchief-baby1.jpgWhether he officially has a cold or not, Roscoe seems to always have a slight glaze on the narrow space between his nose and mouth.  Since traditional tissues use only virgin forests to create their products and recommend against recycling after use, we wanted to find a greener option.  The recycled tissue products on the market cost just a few cents more than mainstream brands, but I was seeking out the eco-friendliest (and thriftiest) option. hankerchief-baby-and-mom.jpg

The answer came from my friend Valerie, who used lacy cloth handkerchiefs with her one-year-old daughter’s frequent colds.  To keep track of the tissue while her toddler busily explored her world, Valerie tucked the hanky into the back of her daughter’s waistband so that it fluttered off behind her like a quarterback on the field. 

Now Roscoe has his own set of handkerchiefs and I love them!  They’re softer than tissues, washable, and very helpful for quick face-wipes as well. Most of the time they can totally handle the slime that he generates, although I have occasionally resorted to recycled tissues when he has bad colds that turn his nose-goo into interesting colors.  Ninety-nine percent of the time, our hankies can handle the gunk.

I know that in my grandparents’ generation everyone used handkerchiefs and even prided themselves on their elegant designs.  Other thrifty green parents turn those flannel receiving blankets into handkerchiefs for their children.  Roscoe’s come from a discount store, have never been ironed, and aren’t particularly attractive, but they do the trick! 


  1. I saw children’s hankies the other day and thought how cute these were but wondered if my son would use it correctly or if I’d have a snotty rag laying around. I’ve been using mismatched socks this winter. I stick it in my pocket and use it for my kids. It’s softer and I just wash it. Works the same way.

  2. That’s a good idea on the handkerchiefs. I think my parents still have a huge collection of handkerchiefs that belonged to my grandfather. They’re kind of gross – I guess he got a lot of bloody noses! Sorry for TMI. But I think that kind of illustrates that you can’t worry about stains on your hnadkerchief. Kleenex and toilet paper are the last paper products I still buy (besides paper!) and there was this psychological hump to get over when I stopped paper towels and napkins – it’s okay if they get stained. Bright red berries all over the counter and I (gasp!) use a cloth towel to clean it. Same with the napkins – growing up cloth napkins were for special occasions and they had to be ironed. No way was that going to fly for daily use. I have a large stack of LINEN napkins that I NEVER iron and there are STAINS! Once I got over that, I never looked back. I wonder what it will take to get over the toilet paper hump. I think I will use the “it takes more hot water to wash them” argument for a while.

  3. I think handkerchiefs for children are a great idea. I’ve always carried a hanky and when my sister had a baby, I got him one too. Elegant Linens has this adorable baby bonnet, when the kid gets married you clip the ribbon and it becomes a hanky! Then he can give it to his bride for something “borrowed.” They’ve also got a great selections of quality hankies….http://www.elegantlinenspc.com/Handkerchiefs.htm – hankies are not only green but they’re also sentimental!

  4. Hello all,

    I came across this wonderful blog and just read (in 2009) comments about children’s handkerchiefs. After I had my son, I realized the need for organic children’s handkerchiefs, and finding very few, launched my own product line in April 2009 called Snottykins organic cotton handkerchiefs. If the owner of htis blog would be interested in reviewing my product, please send me an email! Any other eco-moms who are interested in seeing one mom’s solution, please see my website at http://www.limegreenmonkey.com

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