Baby washcloths as “green” mealtime napkins

Susan's come up with yet another use for baby washcloths (they're surprisingly versatile):

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to reduce our household waste, including paper products. We’ve started using our old baby washcloths as napkins for the kids. They can be used wet or dry at mealtimes, and afterwards, I rinse them (assuming they’re not too messy) and use them for the whole day.

Each kiddo has his own hook to hang his cloth on. At the next meal time, each kid goes and gets his own “napkin” to put beside his plate at the table.

Related: Baby washcloths cut paper towel use


  1. meggiemoo says

    My DH and I gave up paper towels and paper napkins 10 years ago in favor or cloth napkins. I prefer the feel of a cloth napkin, and wanted to do it for environmental reasons, too. It’s a lot easier than you think! Now I feel really strange using a paper napkin or towel at someone else’s house. We have about 30 napkins of various colors now, so we even have enough for parties. It’s great!

  2. Julie says

    We take the Trader Joe’s kitchen towels (they feel almost like felt and are super absorbent) and cut them in half. You are supposed to air dry them but, besides a little shrinkage, drying hasn’t really affected them. We keep a bin on top of the refrigerator with bibs and towels so they are handy at meal time. They also make quick hankies when you need to wipe a nose.

  3. SJ says

    We do that using regular washcloths (purchased at Target) in a variety of colors. It has saved many trees worth of paper towels and napkins already and really doesn’t increase my laundry by anything noticeable.
    They also do a better job at cleaning up my son!

  4. Sarah C says

    We’ve been using the really thin washcloths for our 10-month old at mealtimes. They are much softer on her hands and face, especially when moistened with warm water. I use one washcloth all day, too.

  5. Nicole J. says

    I didn’t realize this was unusual. We have been using washcloths and cloth napkins for over a year now. But my mom has always used washcloths to keep kids and grandkids clean at mealtimes. Paper towels don’t work as well and can make lots of trash. A this point we use paper towels for kitty hairballs only. :)
    We use cloth wipes too. That’s a super saver.

  6. kim says

    This is a great hack. I especially like giving each kid their own hook. I look forward to the day when my two are that self-sufficient!

    I show dogs and these washcloths are great for wiping a dog’s mouth in the ring. Big enough to do the job and small enough to hide more easily than a regular washcloth. When my kids outgrow them, I’ll still get a lot of use out of them

  7. Dren says

    I use our baby washcloths as handkerchiefs. My son’s nose gets irritated after so many wipes, plus the kleenex box depletes so quickly. They’re great at getting all the goopies, and no more paper blowout! We have so many that we can toss them in the wash after a few blows.

  8. Rossana says

    I use the washcloths for cleaning up the children after and during meals as well. They’re great – you just through them in the wash when your done. And they come in packages of 16 for around $5 at Walmart.

  9. David Syzdek says

    We use (never used) cloth diapers for all our wiping needs. Boogers, spit up, self-feeding, you name it.

  10. Barb says

    We’ve been using “bar cloths” for napkins for years, though dh still has a hard time using them himself and will buy and use papertowels for everything. I recently came across a wonderful product for people like him (er, I can’t even come up with an explanation for that behavior, but I can’t fight it any more) – the Skoy Cloth! It feels wonderfully cloth-like, is thick and absorbent, is reusable for weeks, and can go in your compost bin when you’re finally done with it! It’s also the perfect size for using on little hands and faces. :D

  11. Brandie says

    What a great idea! I want to switch to cloth napkins and was going to whip some up on the sewing machine, but I just might steal this idea instead!

  12. Chief Family Officer says

    Our old baby washcloths are now kitchen cloths – I use them instead of paper towels to wipe off counters and the dining table. It’s better for the environment than paper towels!

  13. Jen says

    My kids are 7 and 9, yet I still have a stack of baby washclothes around. I keep a stack of them under the sink in the bathroom and use them to wash my face in the morning. When I’m done, I rinse the washcloth and use it to wipe down the sink.

  14. rowena says

    I went one better here and found a use for all those many, many baby blankets that I only used for the first few months.

    I cut them up into smaller squares, and use them to wipe faces, hands, high chairs, nose. And the best of the best blankets to use are the ones we got from the hospital, with the blue and pink edges. Very absorbant and soft.

  15. kirsten says

    i just bought a few sets of regular washcloths from IKEA and we’re using those for napkins now – thanks for the idea!

  16. ML Chan says

    I’ve been using washclothes since the first day my LO started eating solids at 6 months. I used cloth napkins occassionally but feel motivated to start the year out right by buying a bunch and not using paper anymore even for parties. Thanks for all the tips everyone!

  17. KYouell says

    These are great ideas. When we switched over to cloth diapers my mom kindly sent us a package of really cheap washcloths to use as baby wipes. She had missed the part of my email where I said that really cheap *baby* washcloths make good wipes. So we have a ton of washcloths that are to scratchy for my delicate daughters bum (per her complaints) that I was going to freecycle, but now I think I’ll keep them for napkins.