The Handkerchief Guide: What Are Handkerchiefs Used For?

Handkerchiefs are beloved by their users. They bring with them a new way of life  – an increase in freedom, resourcefulness, and eco-consciousness. Handkerchiefs provide a peaceful assurance that whatever you do, wherever you go, you’ll be covered.

The beauty of handkerchiefs lies in their endless utility


In truth, there is no “right way” to use a handkerchief – part of what makes them special is that handkerchiefs adapt to the changing needs of your daily life.


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What are handkerchiefs used for?

Handkerchiefs have been around for centuries and over that time have evolved from a fashion accessory to a multipurpose tool that can be used for all of life’s messes such as blowing your nose, cleaning up spills, wiping off sweat to name a few, but there is really no limit to how you can use them. 

Handkerchiefs can be made from a variety of soft and absorbent fabrics (we prefer Irish linen) so they can be used on delicate nostrils, however it is also important that they are durable and rapid drying so you can get the most out of them throughout a full day. 

We have put together a list of the most popular uses for handkerchiefs. In this article we'll go over these practical uses and show you how they help make life easier.


Handkerchief Uses:

  • Blowing your nose
  • Absorbing the elements of the outdoors
  • Sweat protection
  • Skin care
  • Ever-present napkin
  • Parenting
  • Style


Blowing your nose

The most obvious use of handkerchiefs, but also the most important: handkerchiefs can be used to blow your nose. Since they are thicker than tissues, you can blow with confidence that they will absorb anything you blow at them and won’t rip or leave you with a sore nose at the end of it  ideal for when you have a cold or allergies.

Handkerchiefs are small enough to fit in any pocket or purse, so they will always be there when you need them most. In this way, they keep your face clean and prevent the spread of germs in public settings. Far more sanitary than a hand, an arm, or… nothing, handkerchiefs offer a more graceful means of covering coughs and sneezes and all that comes with them. Wipe your face with a handkerchief that was made specifically for this purpose!

And the best part is, they are reusable, so they can be washed and used again and again for years! 


Absorbing the elements of the outdoors

The utility of handkerchiefs really begins to shine when it comes to travel and the outdoors.

Handkerchiefs are a great way to keep your hands clean and dry, especially when you're far away from your normal amenities.

Whether you're hiking, camping, or spending time in nature, you can use a handkerchief to absorb all the elements you come into contact with. They keep you cool and clean by making it easy to wipe sweat, water and the like from your face. This is especially helpful if you're trying to keep cool while hiking or walking through hot weather. Keeping one on hand, in a pocket or in your pack, is a must for day trips and required for extended treks. As they say: "Leave No Trace."

You can also use a handkerchief when gardening or working in the yard when you can't get inside and wash up right away after touching dirt or plants. They are also good for removing sunblock, makeup or other dirt that might get on your face throughout the day as well as for first aid uses such as covering cuts and scrapes or even as a makeshift CPR mask.


Sweat protection

If you're someone who sweats a lot, or just doesn't want to ruin your clothes with sweat stains, a handkerchief can be very useful. A handkerchief is perfect for absorbing sweat without rubbing it into your skin and quickly wicking away that moisture to be ready for the next use. And if you go with one made from Irish linen it will dry at up to four times the speed of a typical cotton handkerchief.

No matter what, handkerchiefs are a great way to keep sweat away whether you're out for a run or in an important meeting. If you feel yourself starting to perspire, use your handkerchief as an absorbent: wipe away the moisture and dab it into the fabric.


Skin Care

Whether we notice it or not, we touch our face a lot.

In 2015, the University of New South Wales performed a study on the frequency of face touching, concluding that students touched their face an average of 23 times per hour.

“On average, each of the 26 observed students touched their face 23 times per hour. Of all face touches, 44% (1,024/2,346) involved contact with a mucous membrane, whereas 56% (1,322/2,346) of contacts involved nonmucosal areas. Of mucous membrane touches observed, 36% (372) involved the mouth, 31% (318) involved the nose, 27% (273) involved the eyes, and 6% (61) were a combination of these regions.”

Using a handkerchief as a hands-free way of touching your face will keep your pores clean and prevent breakouts.


Ever-present napkin

Handkerchiefs are a must to keep you, your clothes, and your gear clean.

They can be used to clean up small messes like wiping off your hands or face. If there’s no handkerchief nearby, you probably use your own clothes. Don’t be a slob by wiping your hands on your sleeves or pants every time something touches them. It would be best if you had access to a proper hanky!

Handkerchiefs can also be used for protecting yourself from germs when touching public surfaces like door handles or railings. Additionally, they are ideal for cleaning off your phone, camera lens or other gear that might have gotten dirty during the day.



Kids are messy.

Handkerchiefs are perfect for cleaning up their small messes, like wiping away a drop of milk or juice that spills, cleaning their face after eating, wiping away their tears, or tending to babies who don't yet know how to blow their nose.

And when they get older, you can give them some of their own to bring to school so they aren’t wiping their nose or hands all over their clothes.



When it comes to expressing your personality and style, handkerchiefs are a great way to show off your unique taste. You can carry them with any outfit no matter the setting; if you want to keep it classy, you can go with a plain white handkerchief that will never go out of style or if you’re feeling adventurous you can go for some bold colors that pop. We even let you build your own bundles from or variety of limited edition colors if you can't decide. 

They also make the perfect gift for anyone who likes to be prepared or carry around something that’s both fashionable and functional.



From covering your basic hygienic needs to absorbing the elements of the outdoors, the practicality of handkerchiefs is unparalleled. A true everyday carry, whether you find yourself across the world or relaxing at home – they are a remarkably simple way of enhancing your life.