Last updated: 16/10/2022

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Cloth napkins have ensured the necessary degree of cleanliness and order at the dining table for ages. For a long time now, they have not only been used at the long table of the aristocracy. Today, you can also score points at family dinners, Sunday dinners or barbecues with friends by choosing the right cloth napkin.

So whether you’re dabbing expensive wine from your mouth with the right cloth napkin, or cleaning your fingers of the excess barbecue sauce from the ribs – there’s no longer any reason not to own cloth napkins. But which cloth napkin should I use for which occasion? How do I fold them? And aren’t patterns too kitschy?

We answer these and other important questions about cloth napkins in our cloth napkin guide. With our recommendations, we want to help you find the right cloth napkin for you. We give you all the information you need to make a well-informed choice about which cloth napkin best suits your individual preferences.

The most important facts

  • Not all napkins are the same. There is also a place for paper napkins, but we tell you why cloth napkins are the better choice and what you should look for when buying them so as not to be disappointed.
  • Different types of cloth napkins suit different occasions. But which is the right size for the coffee party? Are there any colour rules I should be aware of? And what is a napkin ring anyway? We’ll give you all the know-how you need to avoid faux pas.
  • Folding a napkin correctly is not rocket science, but there are a few things you should pay attention to. Here, too, we advise you to the best of our knowledge and belief in our fabric napkin guide.

The Best Cloth Napkins: Our Picks

Cloth napkins: buying and review criteria

Now you know our list of the top products, but maybe you would like to know more about what makes a good cloth napkin and how we came up with the products for our list. If this is the case, we would be happy to help you with this as well.

In the following section, we will list all the important points from which you can conclude whether your desired cloth napkin is of high quality and whether it suits you, your interior and your preferences.


First of all, we would like to present you with a list of the most common materials and their properties in the manufacture of cloth napkins. This way, you can find out which fabrics and properties you prefer and then choose a suitable cloth napkin from the wide range on offer.

  • Cotton: Cotton is known for being very soft and skin-friendly. It is also very light, easy to clean, resistant and very absorbent. With all these qualities, it is no wonder that many cloth napkins choose this as their primary fabric.
  • Jute: Jute is very robust and has a silky and golden sheen. It also has a very high water absorption capacity. Because it is considered the strongest and most durable natural fibre, it is ideal for long-lasting cloth napkins. Often sewn on as decoration.
  • Linen: Linen fabric feels pleasantly cool and is very robust. The fact that it is also very soft and extremely allergy-friendly makes it ideal for the production of cloth napkins.
  • Full-twisted yarn: Full-twisted yarn is very soft and smooth without losing any of its durability. It is often made of blended fabrics that combine the best qualities of different fabrics.

Cotton, jute and linen are biodegradable and therefore very environmentally friendly. Although in most cases these fabrics are safe to use, you should still check beforehand if you are allergic to them. Which fabric or combination of fabrics you choose for your favourite cloth napkin is, of course, entirely up to you. Now that you have some additional information about the properties of the fabrics, we hope you can make a good choice for yourself.


As already mentioned in the material section, the different materials used for cloth napkins have different properties that affect the cloth napkins. These have a direct influence on the strength of the cloth napkin and thus also on its foldability. The stronger the fabric, the more difficult it is to fold the napkin. If this is important to you, you should find out how easy or difficult the fabric is to fold before you buy it. In general, however, we can tell you that linen cloth napkins are the easiest to fold.

The quality of the cloth napkin also influences its longevity.

In general, you should make sure that the fabric napkin of your choice can withstand at least a 40 degree wash, but preferably a little more, as stubborn stains are usually very difficult to remove with a 40 degree wash. The quality of the product often determines how wash-resistant the colour is. This is especially important with black napkins, as they can not only fade, but could also stain the rest of the wash.

Colour & pattern

Meanwhile, coloured cloth napkins are no longer a rarity. Whether in black, white, pink, red, blue or even colourful, even coloured patterns, animal patterns or holiday patterns and seasonal colours. You can pick your favourite colours or patterns and choose them to match your décor, just as you like. You can even have names and initials printed on your cloth napkin.

The only thing to keep in mind when choosing your colours is that you may need to wash the cloth napkin of your choice separately from your coloureds and whites, as it can sometimes stain the rest of your laundry, especially with lower quality cloth napkins. This way you can also prevent them from fading.

Cloth napkins: Frequently asked questions and answers

Now you know quite a bit about cloth napkins and what’s involved. But questions can always remain unanswered. That’s why we have summarised and answered the most important and frequently asked questions about cloth napkins in the following section. Every important question about cloth napkins should be answered here!

What is a cloth napkin?

What was reserved for the nobility in the 16th century is now part of every household that values a stylish and orderly meal with family or friends. The cloth napkin appears as the saviour of manners and ensures that the washing machine does not have to be fired up after every meal with the children. In this way, it not only saves nerves, but also water and therefore money.


Put an end to the dining table battlefield! If a cloth napkin is handy, the little ones’ clothes stay clean too.
(Image source: Cottonbro / pexels)

The days of wiping your fingers on your clothes or tablecloth after a meal are long gone, for the sake of hygiene and those in charge of laundry.

Today, napkins don’t just belong at well-laid tables.

They have their place at every family table and dinner table, but can also be found in bars and at afternoon coffee breaks. Primarily, they are used to wipe one’s mouth and fingers, but they are now also considered an integral part of a table’s décor, as they can be folded into various shapes. Because there is one thing a good host should never forget if he or she values a successful meal: The eye eats with you.

What types of cloth napkins are there?

The material as well as the size of the cloth napkin has a direct influence on the type of cloth napkin. Below we list the most common types of cloth napkins, as well as their use and properties.

Type Use Properties
Cocktail napkins Used at standing and champagne receptions Measures from about 20x20cm to 30x30cm, is placed unfolded on the bar tables
Deck napkin Often used as a kind of small tablecloth at dinner Measures are about. 80x80cm to 90x90cm and is often placed diagonally to the direction of the table
Coffee napkin Used when drinking coffee Measures approx. 22x22cm to 25x25cm and is placed under the cake fork
Mouth napkin Often used at dinner Measures approx. 50x50cm and is placed festively on the table

These are the classic types and uses of cloth napkins, but you have a lot of freedom. If you want to add a little extra flair to a coffee table or cocktail evening, you can of course also fold these cloth napkins for your guests.

How much do cloth napkins cost?

Of course, as is often the case, the price plays a role here too. We will now list the most common prices for cloth napkins so that you know roughly what you should expect to pay.

Type Cost
Cotton cloth napkins 12€ – 25€
Linen cloth napkins 20€ – 40€
Full-twist cloth napkins 12€ – 25€

An exact price is of course difficult to determine, as not only the quality and the manufacturer determine the price, but also the size of the cloth napkins, as well as the number of cloth napkins in the sets. Our price information is intended to give you an overview of the most common price ranges for cloth napkins. You can then decide for yourself what the quality and size of your cloth napkins or set should be.

What are the alternatives to a cloth napkin?

As with almost everything in life, there are alternatives. In the following section, we list the most common alternatives for cloth napkins, should you ever need them.

Alternative Description
Paper napkins The cheaper napkin option. However, you only save money in the short term, as they are not reusable
Cellulose napkin Very similar to simple paper napkins, but of a slightly higher quality
Refreshment wipes Moist disposable paper wipes, they are good for cleaning the fingers and mouth

However, these alternatives can never fully replace a cloth napkin in terms of function, as they are intended for single use only. So although you save money at the time of purchase, you pay more in the long run. And this for products that are not nearly as stylish as cloth napkins.

How do I fold a cloth napkin?

A correctly folded cloth napkin looks good. It quickly upgrades a simple meal to a high-quality dinner and makes an impression on the guests. Now, you can fold a cloth napkin into many different shapes, depending on what you prefer, there are a variety of videos that explain it through the visual element much more vividly than the written word could.


A fancy folded cloth napkin like this makes quite a statement. Add some value to your dinner with them!
(Image source: Rene Asmussen / pexels)

On online platforms like YouTube, you can watch a lot of videos until you find the folding technique that excites you the most. You don’t have to worry about getting it right either, because from beginner to professional folders, there’s something for everyone.

How do you starch a cloth napkin?

If you want to make your cloth napkins stronger, there are a few household tips on how best to do this. In the following steps we will explain how to do this by hand:

  1. First you take a bucket in which you mix starch, for example potato starch. To do this, take about 4 tablespoons and stir it into cold water.
  2. Now fill the bucket with boiling water and stir it all together.
  3. Then add cold water until the bucket is full.
  4. Now take your cloth napkins and move them back and forth in the bucket, do this for about 3 – 5 minutes.
  5. Then put your cloth napkins in the washing machine and set it to “spin”.
  6. Finally, hang them up to dry. It is important not to put them in the dryer as they will become soft.

If you don’t have your own washing machine, you can also spin dry the napkins by hand. However, be careful not to wear them out.


We hope that we have been able to tell you everything you need to know about cloth napkins in our guide. Now you know our favourites of the best cloth napkins, you know what to look for when buying a cloth napkin and you have the necessary know-how on how to best care for your cloth napkin so that you can enjoy it for a long time.

Give your next dinner or celebration, whether it’s a wedding or a birthday, a little more class and get the cloth napkin set that suits you. Now you know what effect a good cloth napkin can have and you even know the first folding techniques to create an eye-catcher on the dining table.

Photo source: Sergii Moskaliuk / 123rf