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What is the Best Material for Dinner Napkins?

What is the Best Material for Dinner Napkins?

Posted by The Ichcha Team on 21st Jun 2024

Are you hosting a dinner but unsure of the best napkin material to use? It could be just a small house party or for your everyday family use, but that you're asking shows you understand the tremendous impact of dinner napkins on any tablescape. So we'll answer you straight up. It's not paper.

Cloth is the best material for dinner napkins. Depending on your budget and style, you'll have to choose from various fabrics, such as cotton and linen. While linen is best for formal dinners, cotton napkins can be more suitable if you're cost and eco-conscious.

We'll dive into all of the different types. But before that, why cloth napkins?

Why Cloth Napkins are Best for Your Table Setting vs. Paper Towels

A Touch of Elegance

Cloth napkins add a touch of elegance to table settings, something that cannot be said of paper towels. Ever seen photos of wedding dinners with colorful napkins folded into creative patterns? You can't do that with paper napkins.

But it's not just the visual appeal; it's also the texture that makes cloth napkins superior to paper ones. Graceful, elegant, sophisticated. That's why cloth napkins are best for weddings, not paper towels.

It's more graceful for your guests to place cloth dinner napkins on their laps than paper.

Cloth Napkins are More Eco-Friendly than Paper Towels

If you're conscious of the environment, consider choosing cloth over paper napkins.

Paper napkins are made from wood pulp. Aside from the fact trees have to be cut down, converting wood pulp into paper consumes a lot of water and releases greenhouse gases into the environment. The worst part is, paper napkins are not reusable, so imagine how many trees must go down so you'll have enough paper napkins whenever your friends are coming over for dinner. Not to mention the waste.

This can do a number on your carbon footprint..

While not all cloth napkins are environmentally friendly, linen and cotton are sustainable choices.

Can be Reused Multiple Times

Cloth napkins are durable; you can wash and reuse them multiple times, reducing waste. This quality also makes cloth napkins more cost-effective than paper towels in the long run.

Even though each roll of paper napkins is cheap, the cost can quickly add up within a year, whereas you can use the same cloth napkin for years.

Types of Cloth Napkins

Now that we've kicked paper napkins out of the equation, let's take a closer look at cloth napkins.

Linen Napkins

Linen is the most common napkin used for special occasions, such as weddings and official dinners. Linen is a great napkin fabric as it is highly absorbent, durable, and elegant. It also leaves no lint.

These qualities make linen the most expensive napkin fabric in the market.

Photo by Francisco De Legarreta C.

Linen napkins are processed from the flax plant, which doesn't need irrigation to grow, making it one of the most environmentally friendly napkins you can find. It would have been the most, but well, there's organic cotton.

Cotton Napkins

There’s just something about the soft, gentle feel of cotton that makes it a perfect fabric for dinner napkins. For some people, its superior hand feel and absorbency make it preferred over linen. Like linen, cotton dinner napkins have no shimmer, but their texture, sustainability, and affordability make them suitable for any occasion.

Whether cotton or linen napkins, you can get creative as both materials can hold intricate napkin folds pretty well.

Organic Cotton Napkins

When it comes to sustainability, the conventional cotton you get from most stores isn't all that great, though. They're usually a cotton blend with a considerable percentage of synthetic materials so they can be sold at a low price point.

If you worry about your carbon footprint, go for 100% organic cotton napkins. This is the most eco-friendly napkin type, even more sustainable than linen.

Organic cotton production releases 94% less greenhouse gas emissions than conventional cotton, and 46% less than linen.

Read up paper vs linen vs cotton napkins to learn more.

Organic cotton napkins are highly durable and can last 2-3 years.

If all of that appeals to you, check out our colorful, block-printed organic cotton napkins.

Blue napkins - crystal

Block-Printed Blue Napkins - Crystal

Polyester Napkins

Polyester napkins are a more affordable option, and the matte finish can add a brilliant texture to your table setting. But that doesn't equate to the luxury of linen.

If you're having dignified guests coming to your party, polyester might not be the best type of dinner napkin, as most people consider it cheap. That said, it can work well for casual events.

But if you're mindful of the environment or have many eco-conscious guests (always expect some these days), polyester should be the last thing on your list as it's made of plastic.

Imagine the enormous amount of greenhouse gases polyester napkins release during production and in landfills.

Satin Napkins

Satin has a soft, semi-glossy sheen, making it one of the best materials for dinner napkins. When light hits it at an angle, the silky sheen can add a bit of elegance to your table decor.

But the same texture can make it a pain for guests. Satin isn't very absorbent. Plus, the smooth surface of satin napkins makes them roll off the thigh during dinner. No one wants to battle with a napkin while munching some delicacy.

Other Popular Cloth Napkin Fabrics

Pintuck napkins: Their slight shimmer and texture can add to the material's decorative appeal, making them ideal when aesthetic value is the top priority. However, pintuck napkins can be difficult to maintain due to their textured design. It's also pretty expensive and not as common as other dinner napkins, so you may need to place a custom order.

Glitz sequin napkins: The rigidity of this fabric exudes glamour and can be great for formal events. But the same rigidity can make it a pain to use. It's also expensive due to the cost of production, and it's less durable than cotton and linen.

Choosing the Right Cloth Napkin

The best napkin is one that aligns with your style aesthetics and the overall theme of your dinner party.

Consider the following factors:

  • Functionality: For a cloth napkin to be practical, it has to be absorbent, flexible, and foldable. While linen and cotton crush these goals, satin and glitz sequin napkins don't perform so well.
  • Occasion: For a glamorous or formal dinner, you might want to go with linen. Brightly-colored cotton napkins are more suitable for casual parties and everyday family meals.
  • Aesthetics: Consider the theme and overall aesthetics you want to achieve with your table setting. You'll want to choose a dinner napkin that complements the tablecloth. For instance, if your tablecloth or runner is a solid color, patterned cloth napkins can add visual interest to the dinner table.
  • Maintenance: Cotton and linen are machine-washable and dryer-friendly, making them easier to maintain than other napkin fabrics. You’ll want to look at the care instructions before purchasing any type of dinner napkin.
  • Environmental impact: If you're looking for the best cloth napkins with the least environmental impact, choose 100% organic cotton napkins from Ichcha. It's a chance to not only beautify your tablespace with colorful prints but also contribute to saving the planet—one meal at a time.


What's the Best Cloth Napkins for Everyday Use?

Due to their durability, affordability, ease of maintenance, casual elegance, and supreme texture, cotton napkins are the best for everyday use.

What is the Ideal Size of Dinner Napkins?

Dinner napkins are of the largest napkin size, measuring 18-26 inches across. With this size, you can place them on your lap to prevent food stains. Because of the size, they can handle a few meals before a wash is required.

Can I Use Cloth Napkins for Everyday Meals?

Cloth napkins, especially cotton ones, are perfect as everyday napkins. Simply wash, dry, and reuse. You can use these 8 inch napkins - they are small and easy to handle for everyday use.

What Fabric is Best for Cloth Napkins?

Linen is considered the best fabric for special occasions like formal weddings as this material exudes elegance and luxury. Cotton napkins are better suited for casual dinners, house parties, everyday meals, and eco friendly weddings and events.

How Do I Fold Cloth Napkins?

The square and rectangular napkin folds are classic options to try for any dinner. If you have the time to get more creative, try out the Pocket Fold, or Tie the Knot. These napkin folds are sure to elevate your dining table decor and wow your guests.

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