Handkerchiefs: To blow or not to blow

Handkerchiefs: To blow or not to blow

The handkerchief is often dismissed as being unhygienic and socially unacceptable and has been happily replaced by the disposable tissue for the past 90 odd years. But we want to clear up the modern tissue vs. the humble handkerchief debate once and for all.

Benefits of the handkerchief

  • Environmentally friendly – When you pick up a tissue to combat a runny nose, you could be contributing to the destruction of virgin forests. Yes many tissue brands have committed to lightening their environmental footprint, but handkerchiefs still win the green war, especially if you buy organic cotton varieties, make your own out of old clothing or buy vintage.
  • Easy on the nose – If you have hayfever and need to blow your nose and/or cover a sneeze regularly, a hanky feels lovely and won’t leave your nose red and raw like some tissues do.
  • Economical – A $10 pack of handkerchiefs will last you a lot longer than $10 worth of tissues.
  • Strong and durable – The average hanky can handle over 50 washes to last you multiple hayfever seasons.
  • So handy – A hanky’s usefulness is not limited to blowing one’s nose but can be used to clean a spill, wipe the sweat off your brow, clean your glasses, clean a camera lens, as a barrier to public toilet doors and shopping trolley handle bars or even as a bib.
  • Convenient and lint-free – Hankies fold up into a neat little package that will fit nicely in your pocket or handbag. They will not leave a trail of lint, especially if you forget to take them out of your pocket before washing your pants.

Benefits of tissues

  • Very low maintenance – simply use and discard
  • Likely to be more hygienic (provided you discard them straight away!) – When we have a cold or flu our nasal secretions will be teeming with the cold or flu-causing virus, which can survive for long periods of time on our receptacle of choice. Handling a used handkerchief (or tissue for that matter) can spread germs onto your hands making it easier for you to spread your illness to everyone else so pick the battles your hanky can handle.
  • You can buy recycled tissues and/or compost after use – Which lightens their environmental impact.

Our verdict: If you have a nasty cold or flu, stick to tissues (ideally recycled). If you want something to combat your hayfever symptoms or for day to day use then we think an old-fashioned handkerchief is the way to go.