Pretty much all spring and summer, I have mild hayfever. As a small step towards being less wasteful, I have started using real handkerchiefs for wiping my nose. If I were really sick, I would use disposable tissues to cut down on the germ spreading, but this is just low grade allergic snot.

I had a few cotton and linen handkerchiefs stashed away, I'm not sure why. Maybe I got them at the Meeting rummage sale a few years ago, maybe they were in something I got from my grandmother, I don't know.

It's not that hard to take care of them. I just throw them in the washing machine with the rest of our laundry. But last weekend, I had the ironing board out for some shirts. I realized that I could iron my handkerchiefs too, which I seem to remember adds to their sanitation.

What I didn't realize was how satisfying it would be to iron them. When I was a young girl and my mother taught me how to use the iron, she started me on ironing my father's handkerchiefs. It brought back the memories of working with my mother, of getting to use a grown-up, dangerous tool, of learning to do something useful. Well, I don't actually think my father used his handkerchiefs much, even back then, and I'm sure my mother doesn't iron them regularly any more. But it was a mark of growing up, and it is still fun to do.

Does the electricity I used cancel out the environmental savings of not using disposable tissues?

Can you compost used tissues?

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Blogger David Andrew said...

When I gave up smoking some years ago and needed a marker or anchor for the change - one of the things I did was iron my handerchiefs - it worked on many different levels.

5/17/2007 4:20 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

That's another good reason to start.

5/17/2007 5:34 PM  
Blogger Plain Foolish said...

I like to make simple lace edgings for my handkerchiefs. (They're sturdy, actually, and help the handkerchiefs last longer - I get good crochet cotton.) It reminds me of learning to crochet with my granny and my mom.

And I was able to make one recently for a coworker who's getting married. I hope she'll use it after the wedding, as well.

It's almost magical to watch the change in the handkerchief and the lace when they're ironed.

5/18/2007 10:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm not ready for hankies yet... but i want to say that nettle tea has done absolute wonders for my hayfever this year.

5/18/2007 3:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, you can compost used tissues. They are mostly carbon, so you need to balance them with nitrogen (such as grass clippings). Tissues made from recycled, unbleached materials exist. They are better for the compost. They also cost more.

Since you use them for allergies, pathogens are not a big concern. If you are concerned about germs, a well managed compost pile, that gets up to 150 degrees F for three days is pretty effective.

(Compost school has come in very handy.)

I'll have to look into the CO2 balance between using paper tissues and energy for ironing. There are programs in some parts of the country that provide your electricity from solar, wind or hydro sources.

5/19/2007 6:51 PM  
Blogger Nancy A said...

Hankies save on chapped noses. That's what I keep them around for. A simple wipe and sniffle here and there won't give you a dishpan nose, but a Niagara Falls cold or even a drip-drip cold will wear off a layer of skin within a day.

Hankies are so soft on sad noses.

To avoid ironing, hang them on the clothelines, pinned across the middle. That's one fold. Then just fold them again.

FYI you can protect and heal chapped noses with Chapstick/Lipsyl (what my kids call "lip goo") applied to the nostrils. It works really well, and you can get nice flavours to smell all day.

5/20/2007 10:49 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Most of the handkerchiefs I have came with some embroidery. My favorite, the blue linen one, has the kind of simple crocheted edge I think Plain Foolish is talking about.

In my early married years, meaning before children, I used to enjoy embroidering a monogram on pillowcases as a wedding gift for friends. I don't know how much any of them really appreciated it, but it felt like a combination of practical and pretty to me.

cubbie, you'll have to tell me where you get your nettle tea.

Raye, thanks for the confirmation. Since we lack an outside garden, we contribute our compostables to the city compost program. They take pretty much all organic matter, meat, bones, waxed paper milk cartons, etc. And I'm pretty sure that their composters are hot, hot, hot.

For the same reason we lack a garden, we don't have a clothesline. I keep thinking about stringing one across the kitchen, but I haven't done it yet.

I too have used lip balm on my chapped nose (and my kids') but I don't like to smell the flavored ones so directly. They love it though.

5/21/2007 1:59 PM  
Blogger Laurie Chase Kruczek said...

Robin, I've always been a fan of the hankie. A co-worker used to get on me about them saying I was just "re-infecting" myself by using them. Strange thought. Never made me switch to tissues.

Best place for nice hankies are the little country antique stores. When I lived in Texas, you could find them 5 for a $1.00 and they were always linen, or with lace, or with colorful 1940's and 50's patterns. I just loved that.

Iron on, my Friend :)


6/03/2007 2:00 AM  
Blogger Bonnemaman said...

I was about to start ironing my handkerchiefs when I wondered if there is a 'proper way' to iron them, and searching google found me on your site. I too, have been ironing hankies since childhood, for my dad, who never was without one in his hind pocket, a red or blue polka dotted during the week, a white cotton on Sunday. My mother provided him with a clean hanky every day of the week, one of the very few niceties he allowed himself to enjoy...one other was drinking his tea from a china cup and saucer. And so I have carried on these traditions and passed them on to my daughter,cotton hankies with crocheted and tatted lace borders and embroidered apple blossoms in the corner, cause they're my favorite flower I still have hankies that old ladies in our parish gave me when I was a little girl...embroidered with violets and monograms...

9/21/2007 12:18 PM  

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