Handkerchiefs are gentler on runny noses than tissue

Amazon: Men's Cotton Handkerchiefs Grandpa was right! From Kelly:

When your child gets a cold, instead of using tissue after tissue all day (leaving piles of trash and a red nose), keep a soft rag around (cloth diaper, old washcloth, handkerchief, etc.) to use. Less waste, easier on the nose. I always thought men's handkerchiefs seemed a little gross to keep around all day long in a pocket! But with my child's extremely runny nose days, I'm glad to choose something besides tissues.

Cold weather happens to make my nose run all the time (TMI, I know). I bought a box of white cotton hankies in the "men's furnishings" section of our local department store and have loved them ever since. They wash beautifully, are easy to fold into a compact square, and somehow feel luxurious to my poor nose.

They're also great to hand to a kid who knows how to wipe her own nose, say, while driving in the car. (Who thought to call men's underwear "furnishings" anyway? My mind is coming up with all sorts of unsavory jokes right now, so I'll just stop right here.)

More: Best of Parent Hacks: Cold and flu season tips


  1. says

    We are just beginning week 3 of our daughter’s cold. We started using hankies after the first couple days when tissues rubbed raw spots on her poor tiny nose. Hankies have saved her nose and have been really great to use!

  2. Sandy says

    Once your little one does have a chapped little nose and lips, to heal it rub on some Aquaphor. It’s completely safe, unscented, and it does the trick.

    Aquaphor’s a great lip balm too!

  3. says

    we do this, too – my favorites to use are the old flannel burp cloths. you know, the ones that are more decorative than actually useful? :) so soft on sore noses!

  4. Sarah says

    We use cloth diapers that have been around and through the washing machine for a number of years, so they’re extra extra soft and can take care of numerous nose-wipes.

  5. K says

    Flannel diapers are great, but for babies, the best solution is the bib… they make it easier to sneak up on the sore noses of babies who’ve grown wary of your approach.

    I always wondered what those cute little soft, easily-stained bibs were good for, until I figured this out.

  6. cliff says

    Funny to see this come up. I just turned my son onto these as well. He prefers his sleeve (nasty), but the idea of having his very own hanky to carry around in a pocket or his backpack is awesome to him. Yep, grandpa WAS right!

  7. Anonymous says

    This is great, we just hit on this as well (we’re also on week 3 of a cold) when we realized that the cloth diapers provide so much more area for catching the noses of squirmy kids.

    I also had a tube of Lanisoh left over from our breastfeeding days and have found it’s been amazing for keeping our noses from getting chapped during the constant wiping and blowing.

  8. Nutmeg says

    I’m trying to get my husband to buy into the handkerchief idea. He loves our cloth diapers but the infectious disease physician in him sees handkerchiefs that are reused to wipe noses as a public health hazard.

    Oh well. You win some, you lose some.

  9. Parent Hacks Editor says

    Nutmeg’s husband: Folding! It’s all in the folding! You get a clean quadrant of the hanky every time!

  10. Whitney says

    When we were little and couldn’t get boxes of tissues (OK, well you probably could, but we were too poor!), my Mom would safety pin a hanky to the back of our shirt- that way it was always there. I don’t do that to my kids, but I love using handkerchiefs- I just cut a square of cute flannel and serge the edges. That way it is soft and it is so cute my daughter loves it.

  11. Karen says

    Handkerchiefs rule! Not only during illness. I used to buy so many boxes of tissues–now I have about two dozen handkerchiefs and buy a couple boxes of tissues a year. I also use bandanas and cloth diapers, and in a pinch, even cloth napkins (bonus points if the napkin has already been used as a napkin and was on its way to the hamper anyway!) I thought it would increase my laundry work, but handkerchiefs are so small and light that they hardly take up any room in the machines. And if you’re travelling, you can just wash them in the sink and dry them overnight–very handy!

  12. Molly says

    I always cut up my husband’s old t-shirts to use as dust rags, and last winter I cut up a couple just to use as hankies. There were enough of them that I never ran out, even using them just once (like Kleenex) and then throwing them in the laundry. They were so much soothier than paper tissues.

    I just use Vaseline under runny noses (and on cheeks and lips before going out on a cold, windy day), but I like the Lansinoh idea a LOT. That stuff is way too expensive to be a unitasker! :-)

  13. Brandi says

    Now I have a use for those old t-shirts my husband decided don’t fit anymore. He was going to just throw them out, as they’re probably not nice enough, anymore, to donate. Between holes and stains, they’d work just as well for the runny nose running around this month.

  14. jaya says

    you know, vicks vaporub on a tissue(just sniff it on and off, dont wipe your nose with it) can clear up a runny nose pretty fast. no more blowing , sniffling, wiping.. axe brand oil works too, but i dont know if its available in the US.