Every Man Should Carry a Handkerchief

by Brett & Kate McKay on March 26, 2009 · 188 comments

in Accessories, Dress & Grooming

hankey

We already talked about one essential item that all men should carry in their pockets: the pocketknife. But there’s another manly item that we should be toting around, too. A good clean hanky can come in handy when you have to dab your forehead, you’ve got snot running out your nose, or when a gal starts tearing up.

Why Carry a Handkerchief?

Handkerchiefs are, well, pretty handy. While women carry a purse stocked with things like tissue packs (and enough supplies to survive on a desert island for several days), most men do not. And yet our noses run just as often as our female counterparts. When you carry a hankie, you don’t have to go scrounging around for a tissue to deal with your dripping shnoz or wipe your nose on your sleeve. And you can mop your brow with it when you’re sitting on the front porch drinking mint juleps. This what I mainly use handkerchiefs for. I started the habit when I lived in Mexico and walked the hot, dusty streets of Tijuana. It’s nice to have something to wipe off the sweat and dirt off your face.

But the best reason to carry a handkerchief has nothing to do with you. It’s the chance to lend it to others that’s commends this practice the most. Be sure to put one in your pocket when you go see a tear-jerker movie with your girlfriend or accompany your wife to a funeral. When women are feeling vulnerable, they’ll really appreciate your offer of a soft hankie. It’s a gallant and chivalrous gesture; there’s just something comforting about it.

And as a bonus, they’re less wasteful. Think of all the tissues you could keep from throwing away. The handkerchief is to the tissue as the reusable diaper is to Pampers.

Getting Over the Ick Factor

There is an inverse relationship between the handkerchief’s popularity and the rise of our germa-phobe culture. A society that sprays the air with disinfectant to rid it of those pesky bacterium and totes hand sanitizer on key chains looks eschew at the reusable tissue. I think hankie ignorance is partly to blame. Having not grown up around handkerchief-carrying men, it seems some people are under the impression that a hankie is used over and over again, all week long. But a man should take a clean handkerchief each day, and launder them weekly. It should go without saying that when offering a lady your handkerchief, it should always be an unused, clean one. You should probably tell her that when you hand it over, as to allay any fears she might have about what’s lurking in its folds.

Even so, there are probably still those who think the handkerchief is too dirty even for daily use. To those people I say, “If it’s your hankie, why are you afraid of your own germs?” Handkerchiefs are pretty big and provide ample space in which to blow one’s nose multiple times without the snot ever overlapping.

Finally, grow up. You’re a man, and there’s nothing wrong with a little sweat or snot.

How to Carry a Handkerchief

First of all, don’t confuse the pocket square with a handkerchief. Pocket squares are pieces of cloth that should be visibly sticking out of the breast pocket of your suit. They’re not appropriate for hankie use because they’re expensive; you don’t want to be soaking a nice piece of silk with your sweat. Of course they could do in a real pinch. But typically a hankie is carried in your pants pocket, out of sight.

Handkerchiefs don’t have to be fancy. Just a plain white one will do. But there’s nothing wrong with going for ones with a little style. I have my initial embroidered on mine to add a touch of class.  They generally come pretty cheap, so you won’t have to worry about giving them out to other people. And a gentleman never asks for his handkerchief back.

What do yout all think? Is the hankie due a comeback or should it be left as a relic in the past?

{ 182 comments… read them below or add one }

101 CaveAdsum August 22, 2009 at 9:06 pm

I’m sure it has been previously said, but I have always carried a handkerchief and a pocket knife. You never know when you may be obliged to perform emergency surgery to remove a splinter from your own or someone else’s finger; so a clean, sharp pocket knife is de rigueur. The same is true for the necessity of having on hand a hankie to wipe away any excess serosanguineous fluids.

102 James August 25, 2009 at 8:31 pm

With green energy and a healthy environment being in fashion, I think the handkerchief is ready for a big comeback. Like the reusable glass milk bottle, the cotton handkerchief is a superior alternative to those “landfilling” disposal products.

103 Hank Scorpio September 5, 2009 at 2:41 am

I’ve been carrying a handkerchief since I was old enough to have pants with adult-sized pockets. This included the entirety of high-school and a period briefly proceeding it. It was a habit I adopted from my father a lifelong forest-products worker. His primary use for handkerciefs on the job was the removal of wood glues from his hands (which yellows and stains work pants horribly).

The number of times carrying a handkerchief has come in handy is more than I can count. The only downside is that the cheapest and most readily-available handkerchiefs are the colored variety with a paisley pattern. Unfortunately these are of course a common insignia of gang affiliation and certain colors can get you into trouble in certain rough neighborhoods. Black with a white paisley pattern has served me the best so far (esp. with jeans and casual wear) but I’m considering moving to solid colors.

104 Joel September 13, 2009 at 2:06 am

I started carrying handkerchiefs back in 2004 when I bought a pack to take with me to a field training event at Fort Lewis, Washington. The Army sells standard brown cotton hankies that I affectionately call “tactical hankies”. I originally bought a single pack of four to accompany me during my four weeks in the field, but soon realized that they were an indispensable part of my everyday life, useful for all kinds of things! Now, I feel naked if I forget to stick one in my pocket before leaving the house for the day. And to further reinforce my belief in the handkerchief, upon graduating from college the following year, my octogenarian grandmother gave me a pack of white cotton hankies as a graduation gift, telling me that “A gentleman should always carry a handkerchief.”

105 Rafael September 16, 2009 at 12:11 pm

My father used a hanky and I’ve always used a one. I agree all men should carry one, I’ve been in more than several situations in whish a female has needed one and I’ve been prepared, the usual reaction from the female is surprise, mostly because they have never known a man to carry one, because of this I have been asked out on dates because the female was impressed by my maniless. This has happened 3 times so far :-)

106 Jim September 16, 2009 at 5:27 pm

Just found this website and am please to see that I must be a manly man. I always carry a pocket knife, I shave with a vintage safety razor, and I’ve been carrying a monogrammed hankerchief for years. The hanky is definitely back.

107 Disneyland Coupons September 29, 2009 at 5:29 am

Recently I started carrying Handkerchief, its also useful to clean your hands after a hand wash!

108 Dylan October 15, 2009 at 7:07 am

I’ve been using hankies for almost as long as I can remember, because when I was a little kid I would suffer nose bleeds all the time. But I didn’t get into carrying then until just before Highschool. Everybody thought it was gross, but none of the other students seemed to realize how useful they are! On top of that, I’m only just turning 20 soon!
Mom swears I started by imitating my grandpa, but who can blame me?! Grampas are just so darn manly.

109 JJunek October 19, 2009 at 12:42 pm

Miss Manners says: “Use a hankie when sneezing, not your sleeve.” Clever article in Sunday’s Houston Chronicle affirms your “manly” post.

110 Rajesh October 25, 2009 at 1:47 am

I started carrying a handkerchief last week after reading this article. I kept it in my back pocket and only used it a couple of times, to wipe my nose. I like the idea of carrying two of them, one for personal use and the other to offer people. Right now I only have a couple of handkerchiefs that I found, but I will buy more.

111 Phil October 28, 2009 at 2:39 am

Like Rajesh, I’ve carried two handkerchiefs for about the last twenty years.

The one in my left pocket is for my own nose, hands, and so forth. The one in my right pocket is for polishing my glasses, or for the use of others.

Each evening the the left one goes in the laundry basket. If I’ve only cleaned my glasses on the right-hand one, or not used it at all, I’ll move that to the left the next day and put a fresh one on the right. But if they’ve both been used for other things, they both get replaced the next morning.

The more often you carry one (or two!) the more uses you’ll find for it… Wet hands because the dryer in the men’s room is useless? Don’t wipe your hands on your pants and walk around with a wet rump – use your hanky. Feel like you’re going to cough in public? Grab that hanky and save everyone from your germs! Never be stuck for something considerate (and comforting) to do the next time you encounter a distressed member of the fairer sex.

Manly, useful, elegant – never leave home without it.

112 Debra October 28, 2009 at 2:36 pm

Nice to see you gentlemen using handkerchiefs! I grew up in a family where everyone used them. If you’re looking for colorful alternatives, check out my website — hankies are my #1 seller. http://Colorchiefs.com

113 Stephen November 30, 2009 at 10:52 am

Modern society eschews (verb) the reusable tissue, but it looks [i]askew[/i] (adjective) at the handkerchief.

114 Isaiah December 3, 2009 at 9:33 pm

I’ve got a few handkerchiefs in my whiteys drawer, but I haven’t been carrying them as of late. I never really got in the habit, but was carrying them with me during a brief period of daily shirt-and-tie routine. Perhaps it’s time to renew the practice.

I do shave with my great grandaddy’s safety razor, and I used to carry a pocketknife until a jealous club owner neglected to ‘keep track of it’ while he was supposed to be holding it for me… Haven’t had the funds to replace it.

Rafael; you really got asked out three times for having a hankie?! That’s great!

115 Difficile December 10, 2009 at 7:42 pm

True story:

Cop (as he’s searching my pant’s pockets for weapons after he’s (falsely) arrested me): “who carries hankies?”

Me: “Men.”

116 Mike December 11, 2009 at 4:48 pm

I too have a set of handkerchiefs that sit in my drawer, waiting to be used. Tomorrow, I will be sure to renew the tradition.

117 BuckSix December 12, 2009 at 4:20 pm

Yep, a hankie or bandana, a pocketknife (swiss army type), and some kind of fire (matches, Zippo lighter, butane lighter, flint and steel) are the items in my pockets everyday. You never know when you will have a MacGyver moment.

118 Jody December 18, 2009 at 9:34 pm

I realize this comment is a good deal late in relation to when the original post was made, but does anyone know of any handkerchiefs that are made here in America? I carry handkerchiefs and its coming on time to get some more and I would like to avoid the “made in China” labels if at all possible and all I can find now are these cheapies and the nearly $200 dollars for 12 of Irish Linen. Any suggestions of where to look?

119 Miguel Gonza'lez December 23, 2009 at 11:51 pm

For years I carried a handkerchief. Mainly two use in place of a hat or to wipe my brow on days when I would work a shovel outdoors for 14-16 hours a day. But it was not until after my son turned one and I had a lil girl on the way that learned the true usefulness of a handkerchief. Little children make one hell of a mess even when they got nothing to make a mess with. And that is when it truly comes to use, mopping up spit, spit up, milk, juice, boo-boos, a little poop that slipped out of the diaper, all kinds of messes. God bless the baby wipes but a wet kerchief can do just as well w/out the trash factor. Carry them proudly Men.

120 Edward January 7, 2010 at 12:55 pm

I’m a newbie and this is my first comment. Must say that I was surprised and glad to see a site dedicated to manliness. Very interesting. On to the subject. When I was in high school, we took a course in etiquette. One of the things we were told was to always carry two handkerchiefs: one for our use and one to offer “the lady” if she needs it. In recent years I’ve been remiss in this but plan to return to the practice. There were many occasions over the years (high school was decades ago) that it came in handy and it always impressed “the lady.” I never realized that this was a lost art, as I always carry one for personal use. Otherwise, where does one blow one’s nose? Anyway, I’ll start packing two again.

121 Adrian January 12, 2010 at 4:04 am

I have been using handkerchiefs since I was a teenager. I hated having crumpled tissues in my pocket, which then had to be quickly unravelled when I felt a sneeze coming. At least with a handkerchief you can whip it out of your pocket with a flick of the wrist, and be ready for the sneeze in seconds. I still use tissues in the home, but for outdoor use I have a clean handkerchief everyday. I also carry a smaller handkerchief for cleaning my glasses.

122 Michael Faulkner January 25, 2010 at 2:04 am

I read this article about 4 months ago, and have since them been rocking a handkerchief in my back pocket. But I have never used it.

Until today that is. It was pretty emotional at church today, and a girl I like began to cry. I reached down and handed her a clean fresh cotton handkerchief, and she looked rather surprised that I had one. But here’s the most gentlemanly part, I told her to keep it, and now she has a physical reminder of me. She has concrete evidence that I am a gentlemen. And I do believe she was rather impressed by it.

Thanks for this tip Brett and Kate!

123 Aaron March 11, 2010 at 4:14 pm

I recently decided to start carrying a handkerchief again. I used to carry them on and off years ago, but I don’t know why I stopped.
In the last few years I found my self constantly asking for tissues wherever I went, and I finally got tired of it.
I recall back in high school giving my handkerchief out to a few teary eyes girls. I did not think of it at the time, but that was a fairly gallant thing to do at that age.

Carry on Gentleman!

124 DJW March 15, 2010 at 8:34 pm

Does anyone know where to get a polyester blend handkerchiefs. My dad use to get them but we cannot find them any more. Or a break-in procedure for a 100% cotton handkerchief. Cottons too tough. Especially that first use, like sandpaper! Much appreciated. DW

125 River Siren March 18, 2010 at 9:39 pm

From a lady who carries her own hand-embroidered handkerchiefs:
1) It’s good for the environment, gentlemen! All that paper processing and bleaching and how many trees go into making tissues and filling the landfills?
2) I do my own auto repairs but I *swoon* when a gentleman offers a fresh hanky — guys, seriously! It *does* impress.
3) Don’t say “you don’t have to give it back”. A lady will either keep the lovely memento or launder it (with hers in bleach and hot water as one should to keep things in order) and if she tries to return it to you, it’s her excuse for seeing you again! “You don’t have to give it back” is too gruff. If the woman tries to hand it back just smile and shake your head “no”.

126 Joe April 12, 2010 at 5:56 am

My dad always carried a handkerchief, so I have always carried one. I recently heard from my wife that when we first met, she thought it was such an “old man” thing to have. Never the less, it’s always handy when you need one.

127 Abby April 18, 2010 at 4:39 pm

I saw my dad carry one. The I started carrieng one for my nose, I’m the only girl at my school who carries it and I get picked at but It servs a perpose so I still carry it. (my mom hates it she’s a germaphobe). I’m proudly a tomboy and think its due for a comeback.

128 Joseph April 25, 2010 at 2:39 am

I had not given thought to handkerchiefs before one evening when I needed one desperately. Luckily a good friend of mine loaned me his. I will always carry one with me just in case. You never know when you or someone else may be needing one.

129 John May 2, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Absolutely due for a comeback. I am 34 and have carried one for 8 years now. Have to wear a suit at work and nothing looks worse than breaking a sweat and not having a handerchief to take care of it.

130 Rico May 19, 2010 at 5:04 pm

I am almost 50 years old and I have been carrying a hanky every day since my Dad gave me my first hankerchiefs when I was 20. I remember asking for a tissue and he replied, “You don’t carry a hankerchief? All men should carry a hankerchief.” It was one of those small manly lessons taught by a father that I never forgot and passed on to my two sons. My hankerchiefs have come in handy in alot of situations over the years!

131 desabraw May 19, 2010 at 11:14 pm

Concerning an earlier comment about signaling that you’re “playing for the other team”. As a member of the other team I can assure you that as most women know (The good ones are either married or gay) the vast majority of gay men are gentlemen and will accept a gentlemanly refusal of an advance (i.e. no, thank you. I’m not interested) as a no. No means no in any community. As far as the hankie code goes, you are always safe in public. If you are in a gay environment (i.e. bar or parade) as a gentleman confident in your own sexuality and don’t want any advances, it is recommended that if you wear your hankie in your back pocket, either tuck it in so that it is not visible or wear it in your left pocket. This signals that your are in charge and have the final say. On another tack, I was pleased to see in the manly cook book the inclusion of quiche. This follows my belief that a real man eats whatever he wants to eat without regard to what some one else believes real men don’t eat.

132 Forrest May 20, 2010 at 3:50 pm

I’ve carried them since I was a kid 50 years ago. Learned the habit from my dad. Came in handy on many college dates. Also came in handy, for different reasons, when raising my children. Still handy today. Tissues are unreliable. Give me a sturdy hankie any day!

133 Mander May 23, 2010 at 7:58 am

I ran across your site looking for info on handkerchiefs. I definitely think it’s due for a comeback! I’m trying to convince my husband to stop buying those yucky, rough paper tissues and try a nice soft cotton hanky instead.

I’d forgotten about their superior softness until I recently got a terrible cold and was facing a 10-hour plane trip with a horrible dripping nose. My grandmother gave me a package of embroidered hankies and one of my grandfather’s well-washed ones to take with me. I emerged on the other side of the Atlantic still snotty but without a raw, sore nose like I get with paper tissues. All the balsam and aloe vera additives in the world can’t beat a piece of actual cloth.

I used to carry a bandana as a hanky every day in the field. I’m an archaeologist, often working in remote, dry, dusty environments–carrying a packet of tissues to clean your hands before lunch or get the gnats out of your nose gets old fast. A square of cotton is easy to hand wash and will dry in no time, even on an airplane!

I imagine most new hankies have been starched and ironed to make them look crisp in the package. Wash them first, with fabric softener if you like, and iron them without starch once dry. They should be a lot softer after that. And if you have a *really* snotty nose while sick, try using one of those microfiber cleaning cloths as a hanky. I did that when I had swine flu and it worked very well at keeping my nose and upper lip from getting chapped and sore.

As for germs, well, the more the merrier. An overly antiseptic environment only weakens your immune system. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!

134 Eric June 2, 2010 at 1:42 pm

I say keep them. They’re a classic. I just got a pack of plain white dockers and they’re actually pretty nice.

135 John June 24, 2010 at 11:21 pm

There should be no question: every man should carry a handkerchief. Wallet, Keys, Handkerchief, Pocketknife, and Cell Phone. My 5-point self-slapping ritual of making sure everything is “on me” before walking out of the house.

I always carry the red bandana except those very rare occasions where I am wearing a sport coat and/or tie, then it’s a slightly more refined white one.

Blowing your nose (and having the wherewithal at hand to do so) is FAR less disrupting than constant sniffling. When I hear someone sniffing every three seconds, I instantly deduct at least 100 IQ points. What’s funniest to me is the wannabe tough guy gangster types who are sniffling like 3 year olds.

Every man should have a handkerchief on his person, every moment of every day, no exceptions. PERIOD.

136 ryan June 25, 2010 at 8:26 pm

I have always carried a handkerchief every day. I grew up around it seeing my dad and granddad using them. I was always perplexed that not many men seem to carry one.

137 Dan June 28, 2010 at 2:59 pm

I’m 28 years old, closing in on 29. I’ve carried a handkerchief for as long as I can remember being able to blow my own nose. Both my mother and father carried and continue to carry their own to this day. I guess it just rubbed off onto me by exposure…and I never have to waste money on kleenex.

You are also absolutely right on wooing ladies when you offer them a clean handkerchief.

Great article!

138 Marty June 30, 2010 at 2:19 am

I’ve carried a small handkerchief for over 50 years. I’d feel naked without one in my back pocket.

I don’t think I’ve ever blown my nose in it. I regularly use it for cleaning eyeglasses, wiping sweat and wrapping up small objects.

Like a pocketknife, I never like to be without it.

139 Craig July 7, 2010 at 10:31 pm

My grandfathers both carried one. I specifically remember that and my mom has been advocating me bringing them with me to college and they ARE useful! Never had a crying gal to offer it to yet but when I do, I’ll be ready! Will you be ready?

140 Sir Nutso July 13, 2010 at 10:24 am

Currently working in Iraq people look at me strange when i wipe my brow with a handkerchief. I smile when thy use their bare hand.

141 DrJon July 22, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Didnt see this mentioned as I glanced through the comments

Handkerchiefs can multitask as a hand wrap if you find yourself in a scuffle. Works like a charm, no qualms about hitting full strength.

142 Darrin October 2, 2012 at 6:40 pm

I think carrying them is fine, but I don’t see much utility over tissues. I think it’s fine for cleaning glasses or other tasks but I wouldn’t blow my nose with it, I do find that gross and wouldn’t want a wet snot-rag in my jacket pocket. Using it once myself disqualifies it from letting other use it. Tissues can be offered freely. There is no real eco–advantage either, as I see it. The detergent and laundry machine use far more resources than small thin pieces of paper. It’s at least not much of a difference.

“sniffling” as derided by another reader is very culturally bound. It’s ruder to blow your nose in Japan or China than it is to sniffle(even though this doesn’t agree with my preferences).

Ideas of cleanliness are also culturally bound. Americans are impressively filthy when compared especially with east asia. We’re lazy but we pretend we’re too rough and can “deal” with it. Or in the rationalization of this article “manning up”.

143 Patrick October 5, 2012 at 8:22 am

I have a week’s worth of handkerchief squares, folded up in a stack in my dresser. I make sure to carry one with me to work or even out and about. You’d be surprised how often you end up reaching for it.

144 Colin October 28, 2012 at 1:33 am

Darrin – My dear granddad, whose hankies I still have and use, died in 2009. He was born 94 years earlier. Had he used tissues all his life, instead of hankies, at just two tissues per week, he’d have used 10,000 tissues in his lifetime. Multiply that by the 7 billion people who currently inhabit our planet and you begin to see the ecological advantage of the hankie.

P.S. 300 million tons of tree fiber from virgin US forests are used each year to make Kleenex paper products. I’m no tree hugger, but those numbers are hard to ignore.

145 Mike November 2, 2012 at 5:35 pm

I’ve always carried a pocketknife since my teens, but I started carrying a handkerchief when my daughter was born. Reason? Snot, drool, puke, blood, sweat, dirt, errant bodily functions, the list goes on.

I use them so much I occasionally get them for presents. My collection has grown to a few dozen. Some of mine are 20 years old and getting thread bare, but they still work – and are softer than a baby’s butt. My daughter is grown now and pregnant. I found this site searching for “cool’ handkerchiefs to pass the torch to my new son-in-law… he’s going to need them. :)

Also, a square of cloth is a lot better than a square of tissue for first aid. You can’t tie a tourniquet with a tissue. And what’s cooler than saving a life?

146 Brad November 4, 2012 at 3:21 am

I have carried a hankie for over 25 years as i was tought to do so by my grandfather and father alike……..i have kept one in my left hand back pocket since the age of 5 and have come in handie at weddings, funerals, graduations the heat,the rain and the woods alike……i have givin away hundreds over the years……the hankie is not due for a comback it never left

147 Dinnae November 12, 2012 at 12:50 pm

My hubby has always carried a hankie (it’s fairly standard in Aus), and my grandfather always did too (Portuguese-Canadian)… It is always comforting to know I can ask him for a hankie for me or one of our boys. And it’s WAY greener. The only time we use tissues is when one of our kids is actually sick.

148 a November 14, 2012 at 10:49 pm

my dad grew up in a remote rural place in mexico and as a kid always had to work in an agricultural field same as my mom. i started carrying one after seeing his and then my parents told me about all the uses such as a bandage, a tissue, a small pouch, a gas mask, applying pressure to a snake bite, ect. plus if you tie two together you can make a shirt

149 Dave November 22, 2012 at 4:30 am

I always carry two handkerchiefs, one in my right pocket for general use and one clean in my left pocket. The clean one is for cleaning my glasses ever since at the age of 11 I started wearing them. It is also therefore clean if I need to lend it to anyone. Every night my right hand hankerchief goes into the laundry and my left handkerchief is transferred to the right and replaced with another clean one.

150 Bill December 22, 2012 at 4:49 pm

I agree with most of AOM’s fashion recommendations, and their topics, articles, and instructions are outstanding.

I disagree with this article, however. Much as no one commutes via horse in the modern era, the tissue has understandably trumped the handkerchief.

While there is still no reputable research on the topic, parting with one’s sweat or snot via a disposable tissue, rather than carrying it along, seems appropriate.

And offering a handkerchief to a woman in this day in age? That’s sure to mark you as a disgusting creep. Tying a tourniquet? Outside of a warzone, has anyone been in this situation? As for wiping sweat or using them in other, more “blue collar” situations, if we are pushing manliness, let’s suggest using a sleeve.

Finally, can someone please factually support the notion of a handkerchief being “greener”? According to the AF&PA, USDA, and even some “green” organizations, nearly all U.S. lumber and fiber products come from tree farms. Furthermore, there are more U.S. forests today than in the ’50s.

With the exception of use as a decorative pocket square, The handkerchief is a tool of the past. Pushing for a nostalgic resurgence would lead to lost jobs, awkward social situations, and likely even an increase sickness. Manly? Hardly.

151 Matunos December 26, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Just make sure you don’t offer your handkerchief to a weeping lass after earlier blowing your nose in it.

152 doc holiday January 1, 2013 at 10:09 am

I met the love of my life in bacteriology class when her allergies got the best of her and i was able to lend that clean handkercheif….it came back washed clean and ironed! The rest is history the last 37 years….that great piece of cloth!

153 Bandana Guy January 1, 2013 at 11:11 am

I prefer to carry a bandana for several reasons. First, it’s more absorbent than a hanky. Second, when rolled up on the diagonal, it can make for a sweat band if you’re engaged in heavy labor. Third, it makes a fine blindfold or wrist-tie if you want a bit of spontaneous bondage with your lady…

154 Thorvald January 1, 2013 at 12:32 pm

PS: The Japanese handkerchiefs (at least the large double sided one I have) are thick enough and large enough to use as napkins when at a restaurant that does not have good linen napkins. These days its not uncommon to find yourself having lunch in a chinese or other small restaurant and all they give you is litle paper napkins that won’t sit on your lap and are just too small. I just take out my japanese handkerchief and use it as a napkin, like they do in Japan.

155 J.T. January 1, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Back when I didn’t carry handkerchiefs, I once saw a guy in a parking lot slip in the rain. Would’ve been nice to have had something on hand to staunch the buckets of blood streaming down his head. Something more substantial than a couple of kleenexes, that is…

I like the idea a few of the commenters mentioned — carrying one for yourself (changed daily), and one for emergencies.

156 RonF January 2, 2013 at 4:38 pm

Bill, a cotton handkerchief by definition is made from cotton, not from anything grown on a tree farm. The “greener” appellation would be due to it’s reuseability, not it’s origin.

I would disagree that there’s no call for a handkerchief. I’ve had occasion to use one multiple times for each of the 5 of the 6 listed uses. When doing manual labor or at the ball game I use a bandana, but in social occasions I pack a handkerchief and have no shortage of uses.

157 i.t. February 12, 2013 at 12:21 pm

i can get behind a lot of things The Art of Manliness recommends: bay rum, pull-ups, straight razors, boutonnieres, etc.

the cloth handkerchief (esp. re. nose-blowing) is something i might have to disagree with. might as well carry around a few disposable tissues.

that said, in the summer, i do like the idea of having actual cloth to wipe the face and or neck of sweat. otherwise, like i said, stick w/ tissues.

158 Carroll February 15, 2013 at 10:24 am

@Bill:
Take a pill.
You’re never ill?
You don’t spill and never will?
You don’t chill? (neck and face protection)
Never cleaned a grill, fallen downhill, dressed to kill?
I’m sure you don’t swill but if you will please be less shrill.

159 George F Matheis Jr February 15, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Since the Bank Of America shootout in CA I have made a habit out of carrying a 100 % cotton bandana behind my wallet. The reasoning was so that I would have something to apply direct pressure with if I was shot, or to use with my pen as an improvised tourniquet. I was a policeman and the time and now I am retired and teach personal protection and preparedness. Bandanas are great for use as a dust mask as well of dozens of other uses. In the wood I use mine to gather my natural tinder so I can put it against my body to dry it out.

160 MJ February 18, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Every time I pull out a hanky at work, some clown feels the need to make a snarky little comment about it. When I’m in the men’s room, and the paper hand towels are all gone, I am having the last laugh.

161 jaydub February 19, 2013 at 11:05 am

The key to hankies is 1) having several, so you always have a clean one, and 2) proper folding, so it fits neatly in your pocket and opens easily for ready use. Besides my day-to-day use, I’ve used my hankies to aid my wife in Feminine Emergencies, lash my son’s leg to his snowboard binding when he lost a strap at the top of the mountain, carried Precious Things from a trip afield, cleaned glasses, staunched bleeding, wiped sweat, dried tears, cooled foreheads, and I keep an extra to cover a rarely-used computer monitor. A Man carries a pocketknife and a handkerchief.

162 Luis February 20, 2013 at 12:52 pm

As Dave before, my dad told me to carry two handkerchief, one for your personal use and the other one for all the “manly” things you can do with it. Good point, not very gallant to offer a dirty and used handkie to a woman…that is why you offer her the second one, lol. And in extreme cases both (even the dirty one) can accomplish important things together, such as an emergency bandage or such. And by the way, funny word, handkerchief, wonder where it came from.

163 Rollins March 4, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Yep! I carry 2 with me all time one for me and one for whatever,whomever or whenever. I think it’s cool,on time, hot, in style it’s “BAD”.

164 Nicholas March 24, 2013 at 5:29 pm

Can someone please say (year or decade) when did the people stopped using hankies?

165 Gail April 11, 2013 at 3:43 am

As a woman, I always appreciate any gentlemanly act. My father used handkerchiefs, and I remember him using the thin, white ones with the textured stripes running across the length. He would fold them into squares, and have them at the ready in his pants pocket. Aside from the obvious tradition aspect, carries “hankies” is a classic example of men being prepared. A well-planned day of personal hygiene is always in fashion, and any lady will take note of a man who is capable of wiping his brow of sweat, his mouth of food, or his hands of filth. Nothing says, “I’m a gentleman,” like the proffering of a useful item — whether to a woman or a man. The gesture speaks of decency and civility, which are seemingly lost arts in the American culture now. It just makes sense in all aspects to carry an item which will render untold and uncalculated usefulness. Thank you, gentlemen, for being gentlemen.

166 Mat April 24, 2013 at 11:26 pm

I have carried a bandana as a handkerchief for a few years and get teased about it at work because I use it often due to my allergies. But I always have it, change it out every day for a fresh one, and it holds up a lot better than a soggy tissue in my pocket

167 Michelle April 25, 2013 at 1:40 am

I’m not a man, but I discovered how useful handkerchiefs were when I went to Japan, where they were used by virtually everyone and were an absolute necessity because of the summer heat. Since then, I try to make a habit of carrying them, particularly when it’s hot. I should point out that Japanese people are obsessive about cleanliness, so that kind of helped me get over the worry about germs.

168 Will May 1, 2013 at 2:04 am

After reading these posts, I like the idea of carrying a hanky, but I still have 2 reservations:
1) I don’t want to become a slave to it (ie: turn it into another item/task I have to think about taking with me all the time, like cell phone)
2) I’m not sure if I would like re-using it after using it with nose-blowing. Even washing it afterwards doesn’t help.

169 Roberto_G May 15, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Always carried two handkerchiefs; one in the back pocket of my trousers and another one in my shirt pocket. I have also carried a pocket knife for as long as I can remember. There’s a reason why certain types of pocket knives [ye olde switchblades] have been known as “Mexican Express Cards.” We never leave home without ‘em.

170 J.P. June 28, 2013 at 7:48 am

Okay, this might seem like a stupid question, but how does one store a handkerchief? I know in the pocket, but how is it folded, traditionally?

171 Anisa July 7, 2013 at 1:51 am

As a girl, I use a bandana as a handkerchief. I can wear it, but I also find it very useful to wipe my face while performing all day on the boardwalk or just during the summer in general. My only complaint is not necessarily about the bandana, but moreso that girl pockets are just too darn small to accommodate it – or anything for that matter… :)

172 Mirawyn July 11, 2013 at 6:10 am

I love my cloth handkerchiefs! I have some that are nice as well as some cheap cotton ones I bought in the men’s department at a local discount department store. I keep a stained one on hand (usually coffee-stained); I take public transportation, and can’t count the number of times I’ve used it to wipe something grungy off the seat, keeping my clothes clean. It’s also far more effective at dealing with spills or drips!

So much easier on the nose, too, especially during allergy season. If you blow your nose in a corner, you can fold it over, leaving the mucus encased. You can blow your nose this way quite a few times without ever touching the gunk. It also keeps it off the inside of your pocket. (Admittedly, at the height of allergy season I may carry tissues, too.)

173 Zeke July 17, 2013 at 5:17 pm

Here’s a question: can anyone tell me why British soldiers used to carry handkerchiefs in their sleeves? The Internet isn’t providing any answers for me just yet.
Oh, and for the “things to always have on you” discussion, mine goes wallet, phone, knife, keys, zippo, bandana and depending on where I’m going, possibly also gun and/or pipe and tobacco pouch.

174 Dennise July 25, 2013 at 7:59 am

I know it was an old post but someone asked about handkerchiefs made in the USA. Some Hav-A-Hank® handkerchiefs are. Check the label.

175 moses August 1, 2013 at 12:21 am

Hey, i carry handkerchiefs.
I’m 30.. I am the only guy in office who uses handkerchiefs. Nothing compare to the feel of wiping my face after a walk in the sun with soft cloth.. tissues just don’t work haha

176 Frank August 2, 2013 at 10:35 pm

As always, excellent, manly advice. Much appreciated. I started carrying hankies years ago-monogrammed. Through the years I’ve “lost” over 2 dozen. I always have taken it as a small honor when a lady has noticed the monogram and informed me how much they appreciate it-and they wish to keep the “souvenir”. Of course your right, a gentleman would never ask for its return. Years later I’ve run into past recipients who remind of their prize.

177 Bill Ussery August 25, 2013 at 10:24 am

I have always carried a handkerchief and could not understand how any man got along without one. I thought it was common practice untile I tried to buy them and was told they only stock them at Christmas time.

178 Miss October 21, 2013 at 4:53 pm

My first experience with a Gentleman and his handkerchief was 20 years ago. I was a young mother with 6 month old twins. I strolled my babies through the mall, attracting much attention from women. Young women, as well as older women, ohh’ed and ahh’ed over the identical twin babies……..until one began projectile vomiting. All the women scattered. On my knees, I tried to shush one crying baby while attempting to comfort and clean the other. One lone older gentleman came to my rescue, leaving me with a handkerchief as a reminder of his kindness.

179 Patty November 9, 2013 at 6:01 pm

I was on line looking to buy hankies for my dad, I found this site and stopped and read all the comments. They put a smile on my face picturing my dad with his red paisley print hankies. He worked out side and always had one in his pocket. Its nice to see the hankie still has a place in so many lives, because of the influence of their dads and granddads. As a girl I do have a few special handkerchiefs from my grandmothers that I carry with me on special occasions. I don’t always use them but, they bring nice memories when I see them in the dresser drawer.

180 lemate45 December 26, 2013 at 9:24 am

My Mother taught us boys to always carry a Handkerchief .just in case a girl might needed it.. I always had just a subtle amount ( light smell) of Old Spice on it. I can’t remember not having or carrying a hankie. I still carry a Hankie and sometimes even an extra 2 hankies if i wear my cowboy hat. One to hold and take off the hat and one to wipe the sweatband. Reason One to keep oil from my hands from soiling my hat. one to wipe my sweat band. My Hat looks just like new,and i have had it for 45 years. When i don’t wear ,i store it in the hat box it came in. A tip of the hat to the ladies.

181 Luke Baily February 28, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Im 15 and I carry a good old handkerchief with me!

182 Buzz Climis March 1, 2014 at 6:34 pm

My fifth-grade maths teacher told us we should always carry a handkerchief. He told the story of being a Little League umpire in front of whom a batter’s swing knocked two teeth out of the catcher’s mouth. He stuffed his handkerchief into the catcher’s bleeding mouth, and stanched the blood flow.
Later, when I was in college and working in the dining hall kitchen, during a briefing for a meal we were serving, the “boss” asked if anyone had a “towel or rag”. I offered my handkerchief, and he scolded me, saying, “You blow your nose on that thing!” I assured him that it was clean and I’d not used it that day, and he snapped, “If you think that’s funny, you can go home right now!” Turns out he wished to wipe off a knife blade, but I didn’t know that. He’d simply asked for a “towel or rag”. To this day, I think his behaviour was both unkind and rude.

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