We use a combination of handkerchiefs and tissues (well toilet rolls really) here at the humpy. When we have an outbreak of colds we tend to use disposable paper to blow our noses and burn the bacteria straight away. Handkerchiefs are used to wipe sweat and clean grease or other yucky stuff off your hands while out and about. In my quest to reduce single use everything, I was thinking about how we can replace paper tissues with cloth alternatives.
I remember my mother and my grandmother washing handkies in a big pot on the stove when I was a kid. They were washed outside first in cold water (I think, I didn’t pay much attention, I was a kid), then boiled on the stove to kill the bacteria. So now I’m wondering if I could make up a system where we could use cloth ’tissues’ and instead of throwing them into the fire or the bin, we throw them into a container until wash day. Vinegar would kill any virus or bacteria load they carry and begin the cleaning process, so I could pre soak them in diluted vinegar before washing them. The hankies would need to be washed in their own water and probably rinsed well too, which would be an investment of water and time, but we really only use them when we have colds or flu (not a common occurrence at all). I could possibly make a portable carrier to hold clean and dirty hankies separately while we are out and about (like these ones I found).
Time to give it a go…
I found a couple of beautiful old cot sheets in a second hand shop while I was out last week. They were made from 100% cotton and felt beautifully strong and smooth to the touch. I paid a grand total of $2 for the set and bought them home to make reusable tissues (“Hankies”, my Nanna mutters in the back of my mind). I cut one of the sheets into 32 equally sized squares, overlocked around them and called it finished.
I now have a pile of neat and beautiful hankies in two little boxes, and a sweet glass jar to collect the used ones in until washing day.
The hankies are washed in cold water with one cup of vinegar, two tablespoons of washing soda and a little bag of soap nuts added to the water. They are then rinsed in cold water and hung out to dry in the sunlight. That is probably enough to kill any bacteria and virus’ clinging to them (I hope).