Social Question

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Who still uses a handkerchief?

Asked by Pied_Pfeffer (26608points) October 10th, 2010

My SO and his parents use cotton handkerchiefs. I haven’t seen a person carrying one in years for the sole purpose of blowing their nose, thanks to disposable tissues. Sure, bandannas are still used, although it seems more for decoration, code or as a headscarf. Is it a cultural or age preference?

Should they make a comeback in an effort to be ‘green’?

And if anyone is interested, here is an article on how disposable tissues came about.

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40 Answers

john65pennington's avatar

The thought of blowing my nose into a handkerchief is chilling. then, to carry it around all day in your pocket, is really disturbing. i have never been a handkerchief person. it just seems as thought you are carrying around a pocket full of germs.

I will find a WalMart and let er rip. its much more sanitary.

nailpolishfanatic's avatar

My grandfather and me.

GeorgeGee's avatar

I’ve used them since college for several reasons. First, yes it’s presumed greener to use a reusable handkerchief than disposable tissues. Second, if it hasn’t been used, it makes a great emergency bandage. Yes, I’ve had to use one as such several times. Third, if you come to the rescue of a “damsel in distress,” crying her eyes out, would you rather offer her a clean handkerchief, or a crumpled tissue from your pocket?

wilma's avatar

My SO uses one, there is a clean one in his pocket everyday.

partyparty's avatar

My aunt uses a handkerchief for decoration purposes only. She always has a beautiful lace handkerchief placed on the underside of her watch.
She must have lots of them, because each and every time I see her, the colour and lace is different.
I really don’t know why she does this, but I suppose they do look quite nice.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I carry one always (folded bandanna). I also keep one at my desk, one at the bedside and one in my backpack. After use, they get tossed in the wash with the rest of my laundry and come out just as clean and fresh.

Like @GeorgeGee said, they serve other purposes from time to time. Starting next weekend, when I resume sailboat racing, I’ll be carrying a red one so that I can use it as an impromptu protest flag if needed.

Frenchfry's avatar

I don’t know anyone. I think of the movies where the gentleman offers the hankie out his pocket to dry her tears. Think of where that has been LOL. I do however have handy wipes in my purse. It is a good thing to do(trial size) for emergencies.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@john65pennington The germ aspect of it is understandable. The 1st question that pops out when my SO hands me his is, “Is it used?”
@sakura The 1st thing Mom used in teaching me to iron were Dad’s hankies. Good memories.
@Thesexier It’s refreshing to hear of a teen that uses hankies. It’s cheaper, greener and has an air of classiness about it.
@GeorgeGee Excellent points! I’ve pulled out a tissue that was never used but looked like it had been.
@wilma Good idea.
@partyparty That’s quirky with a touch of elegance.
@CyanoticWasp Strategically placing them around is a good idea. I’m so used to having a box handy and would like to do away with them. Is that possible, or do you keep disposable ones on hand for other people or needs?
@Frenchfry Agreed on the use of travel-sized handy wipes. You don’t use them to blow your nose though, do you?

muppetish's avatar

Both of my Shakespeare professors use handkerchiefs. I thought it was adorable, but my classmates found it gross. I use disposable tissues, but I keep them in my pockets for such an extended time that I may as well use cotton kerchiefs. It’s not as though I don’t keep hand sanitizer with me as well… no germs to pass along.

I do keep a towel with me though :) Bit bigger than a handkerchief, but it’s necessary.

Frenchfry's avatar

I have both trial size handy wipes, and tissues. I carry a big purse with everything but the kitchen sink. LOL It’s a mom thing.

AstroChuck's avatar

My dad still does. If I ask somebody for a Kleenex® and he’s around he’ll whip that handkerchief out. No thanks, Dad! That’s just gross.

perg's avatar

I started carrying a bandanna because it seems criminal to wipe my snot on dead trees. I have a bunch and wash them if they get icky. If that happens in the middle of the day, I can rinse it out in the sink – they dry pretty fast. I would never use someone else’s used handkerchief or offer one to someone else unless the circumstances were dire. And on a practical note, like @muppetish, I used to keep tissues in my purse so long that I might as well have tried to wipe my nose with a ball of lint.

Seaofclouds's avatar

My grandmother still uses one and always carries one with her. My grandfather did until he passed away. I actually like the idea of it, but have never done it.

deni's avatar

My boyfriend does. Sometimes I accidentally touch it…very accidentally…sends shivers up my spine. Ugh.

TexasDude's avatar

I know a guy who carries two. One for himself, and one for a lady in case she starts crying or something. He also carries a pocketwatch, wears a newsboy cap, and rides a tandem bicycle.

tranquilsea's avatar

I have used handkerchiefs. I like them more than tissues. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to blow my nose with a kleenex and I haven’t had a garbage can nearby and I’ve had to keep the used tissue with me to be thrown out later.

I can neatly fold and throw a handkerchief into the laundry. Plus there is no fear that the hanky is going to blow apart or be inadequate.

OpryLeigh's avatar

My boyfriend and my dad both use hankies!

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@muppetish And there is nothing worse than finding those tissues in the washing machine after it’s gone through a cycle.
@AstroChuck Either it’s a fresh one or your dad knows it will get a reaction from you. And from what I’ve seen on Fluther, that’s not easy to do.
@perg I admire you and your hairy pits more with every post.
@Seaofclouds Let’s both give it a try.
@deni If you think that is gross, you clearly haven’t sat down on a toilet with the seat up after he didn’t flush.
@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard Is your friend’s tandem bike at full occupancy? If not, I have a lovely 20 year old niece who is single…
@tranquilsea Yeah, the durability, as well as the diversity of uses, is worth merit.
@Leanne1986 You are in England, right? So is my SO. I was wondering if it is more common there than here in the US.

TexasDude's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer, it’s usually occupied by professors, but I think he could pencil her in.

Does your niece have any single friends? :P

trailsillustrated's avatar

anybody in small town australia like my family

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I carry a handkerchief all the time, and change it frequently through out the week. If I blow my nose in it during the day, it goes into the dirty laundry that night.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I keep an unopened packet of tissues in my backpack for travel emergencies… by which I’m thinking “worse than not having a handkerchief”, such as when I travel in Asia. But it’s available for the intended purpose, too, if anyone needs it.

Now I’m just wondering how much trouble it would be to get, keep and use a tandem bike for riding around town…

Mikewlf337's avatar

I don’t see many people using them. I’m not going to start using them either. No way am I going to carry a slimy booger ridden snot rag around with me.

AmWiser's avatar

My mom still carries hankerchiefs, but she also has a pack of tissues in her purse at all times.

YARNLADY's avatar

I carry several that I have made from cut up t-shirts. They are single use, and go in the wash after each use. I carry the used ones in a baggy in my fanny pack.

Jeruba's avatar

My husband does. I don’t believe my sons do. Is it a dying custom? That’s too bad. There are so may ways that a gentleman can come to the rescue with a good old (clean) cloth handkerchief.

Nullo's avatar

When I worked out-of-doors, I’d keep one or two to wipe sweat with.

El_Cadejo's avatar

BLAHHH handkerchiefs are fuckin narsty. Yessss let me carry around a snot rag in my back pocket all day. Brilliant!

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@trailsillustrated So, would you account it to be a custom in your neck of the woods?
@hawaii_jake Thank you for your additional insight on how hankies are used in another country (via PM). That was fascinating.
@CyanoticWasp Fiddle is the source for the tandem bike. Another niece has one, and she and her SO are out riding on it fairly regularly. They have decent storage space though.
@Mikewlf337 To each his own, and isn’t it a wonderful privilege?. You can go shopping at Wal-Mart with John. We are lucky to have the choice. Be thankful for that.
@AmWiser Your mum is wise. It is probably the best of both worlds, hygienically speaking.
@YARNLADY That is probably the greenest way to go. Do you hem the pieces or leave them as is?
@Jeruba I feel the same way. Fortunately, some of these posts show that it hasn’t died out completely.
@Nullo Thank you for another practical use of carrying one. Now, what do you use when you need to blow your nose?
@uberbatman That is an excellent idea. Keep the one you use personally in your back pocket and a clean one in the front in case of emergency. All problems solved. :)

jca's avatar

my parents use them. to me they’re somewhat gross, but reading all these answers makes me rethink my opinion.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer I do not hem them, they simply turn into threads after awhile anyway, and are discarded.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer Yes, I’m in England. I still see a lot of the older generation using them here.

Mikewlf337's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer I rarely go to walmart. Too big for its britches if you ask me, especially now that they are all “superwalmarts”. I for the most part see only elderly people use them here in the states. I don’t know if I would get many dates if a woman knew I had a pocket full of boogers :D

Nullo's avatar

I’ll use them now and again for those days when I’ve got a bit of a runny nose. I won’t actually clear the halls with it, just a dab now and then.

Nullo's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer I’ll carry packets of tissue on bad days. The tissue packet is also part of my standard winter attire; I keep one in the inside pocket of my coat.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Thanks @Nullo . When I have a cold, I go through a lot of tissues relatively quickly when it’s at its worse. Like John, I wouldn’t want to keep pulling out a handkerchief that is damp with germs in this case.

flo's avatar

I notice a lot of older senior citizens use handkerchief. Once I think I saw Dr.Phill offering a guest one out of his pocket. Nowadays it looks like tissues are coming out of his pocket. It used to be a tissue box sitting on the table, which is hygenic
It makes sense, green-wise, but I wish people would have the sensibility of not blowing their nose with tissue or handkerchief, and promptly putting it in their pocket, purse among all their books etc, which they probably hand to someone else. A used handkercheif or tissue belongs in a separate place, or the garbage.

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