PRACTICALLY SPEAKING... STORING NAPKINS-An easy and practical way to store all those cloth napkins.

I love cloth napkins. They can make an ordinary table feel more special! I’ve been collecting cloth napkins for YEARS! A few month ago I organized all my napkins, getting rid of many that were tired or outdated or unused. I kept only the napkins I use and love.Where do you keep your cloth napkins? Can you easily find them?  Are they neat and in order? Today’s Practically Speaking is about storing napkins! 

PRACTICALLY SPEAKING... STORING NAPKINS-An easy and practical way to store all those cloth napkins.

I used to store all my cloth napkins in clear numbered bins in a guest bedroom. Six big clear numbered bins. What was I thinking? I came to my senses when I almost wore a path from my dining room to the bin in the guest bedroom closet! Too far away… too many bins… too many napkins that I did not use.

When I stopped and thought about it, I realized that I really only used about one third of the napkins I was storing. Keeping them was a waste of energy, time and space!

PRACTICALLY SPEAKING... STORING NAPKINS-An easy and practical way to store all those cloth napkins.

So, I laid every napkin on the bed and grouped them in colors and styles.

Out went any single napkins!

Out went napkin colors I could not conceive of using again like the mauve floral napkins I’ve had for 20 years! Out went any napkin that had a fray or a stain or lipstick shadow. And out went any napkin that I had not used in two years.

The napkins left went here…

PRACTICALLY SPEAKING... STORING NAPKINS-An easy and practical way to store all those cloth napkins.

The top drawer of the Curlacue chest in my living room (across from the dining room) became a perfect home for my napkins! And ONLY the top drawer.  I promised myself that I will ONLY keep as many napkins as can fit in this drawer!

I stood my napkins up “filing cabinet” style so I could see exactly what I have. And I packed them in according to color.

PRACTICALLY SPEAKING... STORING NAPKINS-An easy and practical way to store all those cloth napkins.

After I use  napkins and they come out of the washer and dryer they get folded and go into the top drawer unironed! I iron my napkins using a heavy spray starch before I use them. Did you notice I have ordered the napkins by color? I must like blue napkins!

PRACTICALLY SPEAKING... STORING NAPKINS-An easy and practical way to store all those cloth napkins.

This system works very well for me, much better than the bins! And I don’t have to go up and down the stairs every time I need cloth napkins!

How about you? Do you have a great, organized way to store you napkins? Please share!

You might also like to see how I organized my STORE AND ORGANIZE MY PILLOW COVERS.





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PRACTICALLY SPEAKING... STORING NAPKINS-An easy and practical way to store all those cloth napkins.


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  1. I share your love of cloth napkins. The ones I use regularly are stored in a tall narrow chest in a corner of the great room. I keep those that are clearly used only for special holidays in a drawer in the guest room near my tablecloths which are hanging in the guest room closet. I think great table linens can help elevate a simple meal to an elegant occasion. I too iron my napkins as I am setting them out, but I haven’t tried using starch. Great idea!

  2. Fayette Inman says:

    Wonderful ideal, easy to find.
    Now I need help with storing my table cloths and table scarfs, any clever ideas.
    I love your post

    1. I’ll talk about storing tablecloths and runners in a later Practically Speaking. As far as scarfs… I put then on a white plastic hanger with lots of clips on it (the kind you can buy separately… to hand up pants with). I fold my scarfs in half and then clip them along the plastic hanger. I have 3 hangers full. Hope this helps.

  3. I, too, love to use cloth napkins! I have way too many as well….some that were wedding gifts from 40 years ago! Even though my style has evolved since the mid 70’s, I have such a sentimental attachment to those napkins that I just cannot get rid of them. I store my stash in three different places….a beautiful black hutch in my breakfast room that has three drawers at the bottom (it holds part of my blue transfer ware dish collection in the top 🙂 ), the drawers of a console table in my walk-in pantry, which is across from my breakfast room, and finally, a couple of drawers in a highboy in my dining room. Whew! That’s a lot of napkins! I love your “filing system” idea! I’m definitely doing that! Love your blog and all of your decor ideas! It is the first thing I read in the mornings!

  4. Hi, what about napkins rings? How do you store them? When you see a napkin you like how many do you buy? During a dinner where you put your napking ring? Thanks for your help.

  5. Thank you for the organizational ideas. I love your site. We have the sane taste in decorating, but for me I don;t have the great imagination and organization of putting things together so I am so in awe and use your ideas to make my home look great and keep it in order.

  6. Peggy Thal says:

    Looks perfect! I store some in a drawer but not as nicely organized as you. I also have a big bin of party napkins for large groups. ( I have had sit down dinners for about 40 people) They are napkins I ordered from Tablecloth Factory .I have 50 each of different colors. They are the best napkins and tablecloths I bought. They do not wrinkle so I use them just all the time. They also wash perfectly clean with pretreatment on spots. Just simple large napkins. Now I hardly use the wash and iron napkins in my drawer.

  7. Toni LeBlanc says:

    Thanks for the great idea. I keep mine in a sideboard drawer in my dining room but never thought of standing them in file order. And thanks for making me not feel guilty for putting them away un-ironed!!

    1. Hi Toni, If I put mine away unironed, they would have to be ironed again when I use them.

  8. Louise Stevens says:

    Great idea for the napkins–I’ll have to try that (I’ve been using bins as well–not ideal.)

    Someone asked about scarf organization. To keep my scarves organized, I use an over-the-door shoe holder with individual pockets. Each scarf goes in one pocket (although for some of my smaller scarves, I can tuck 2 in each pocket.) I roll the scarves so they don’t get too wrinkled. The pockets are clear so I can see everything in just a glance–has worked very well for me.

  9. I store mine in a drawer just like that. So easy to see what you have . I loe all of your pretty patterns. I think I need to add a few to my stash.

  10. Great post. I too love napkins, but only have 7 sets. I keep them in the hall linen closet in a plastic pull out box. I also store them “file cabinet style” unironed until I need them. Love your blog, look forward to getting your emails and clicking to see the rest of the post. It’s a great way to start my day.

  11. Great post, I don’t get to use cloth napkins very often. I have used them for placemats though .because of their size.
    Have a great day.

  12. Thanks for the tip Yvonne. When you purchase a color/style of a napkin how many do you typically buy? Also, do you typically buy/use napkin rings? Do you have certain ways that you typically place your napkins on the table? Thank you for everything you do to help us that are challenged.

    1. I like to buy 8 napkins if I can. However if the napkin pattern will mix well with something I already have I will on occasion get 4 or 6. I used to buy lots of napkin rings. But typically I like to fold a napkin between the dinner plate and the salad plate or soup bowl. I keep my napkin rings in clear plastic boxes in my dish closet next to the dining room.

      1. Thank you for answering my questions. If I remember correctly as far as dishes go did you say you like to have place settings for 12? If that’s so do you just mix and match the napkins on the table? My last question would be where do you like to purchase your napkins? The few I’ve bought before look nice when I bring them home but then they don’t look so good once they’re washed and seem to shrink a bit.

  13. I store mine, along with napkin rings in 3 drawers of my hutch in the dining room. I stand the bandanas up like you do but since I iron the others before storing I stack them largest on the bottom to smallest according to color so I can see them easily. After 44 years we can accumulate A LOT right? I spray the light colored ones with scotch guard and also after placing my tablecloth on the table I spray it with scotch guard. I often tuck a matching paper napkin inside the fabric ones if I’m serving chili or ribs type food. And it seems the ladies like to remove their lipstick with the paper ones. ? I usually buy 6-8 napkins unless it is for use with my china or the holidays then I always buy 12 since that is what I can seat at our table. The scarf idea is a good one I’ll put to use. Thanks, love these posts and all the comments

  14. I cut the pockets off old jeans with pinking shears for a church bar b q I set up for once and love using them filled with bandana napkins and flatware. We use jelly jars for glasses and paper plates.

    1. Carol Davis says:

      What a neat idea. It would be great for a picnic lunch on the back porch.

  15. Elaine Culbert says:

    Like you, I prefer cloth napkins and store mine the same way in a buffet in the living room but never unironed – your idea makes sense.

    May I ask something about napkin rings and maybe I’m just weird about this but here goes. I used to love napkin rings and had many designs for my various table settings BUT my big problem was …. what do you do with them when the napkin’s removed and everyone is seated? To me, they look kind of silly/messy sitting there just helter skelter on the dining room table. Do you discreetly pick up one or two as you’re removing/replenishing something at the table, or what?

    As I said, maybe it’s just me that’s bothered by empty napkin rings lying about! lol!

  16. Nancy Carr says:

    I wish I was there to get your cast off napkins. Your idea is excellent, however, I use the napkins I don’t use on the table in other ways. I keep a stack in a basket near the kitchen sink and when I want something to quickly dry my hands or wipe off the counter I get one of those. I also keep a basket under the counter near the microwave to use instead of pot holders to take out hot dishes. I have multiple uses for napkins and just throw them in the laundry and reuse them. This also saves on using paper towels for some things. Love your blog and keep up the great inspiration. Blessings

  17. Had not thought of storing them as a file!! That will free up so much space! In our previous homes we’ve had formal dining room furniture that had drawers for the napkins, holders, etc. We downsized this past year and now they reside in a guest room drawer until I find the perfect table and buffet for our smaller formal dining room 🙂 But I can go set up that drawer today! Thank you for sharing!! Love your blog, BTW!! Happy Autumn!

  18. You have inspired me to go through my cloth napkins! I love the way you have stored them. I have mine hanging in groups on hangers in my guest room closet which is next to the dining room. Mine are pressed before they are put away.
    I’m putting on my “To Do” list for the week…..go through cloth napkins!
    Love your blog!

  19. I also enjoy cloth napkins. I also put then in a large furniture piece in foyer which is across from my dining room. I do starch and iron them before I put them in the chest. They are ready to be use at any time.

  20. I love using cloth napkins; think they give the table setting a bit of elegant touch. Besides I’m not too fond of filling our land fills with unnecessary “stuff”. When napkins have passed the stage of being used in the dining room (perhaps a stain that is too stubborn to come out) we use them as every day napkins when we’re not entertaining. Easy to toss in the laundry and to be used again. Also, I make most of my own tablecloths and napkins and with the embroidery feature on my sewing machines a little initial or design makes them mine!!

  21. Bonnie G. Brown says:

    I store my napkins in my dish room in clear bins, separated into whites, cream/beige, holiday or seasonal, and all occasion. I store them “file style” but I store each set in a zip lock bag. On the bag, I write a description of the napkin and how many napkins are in the bag. That way I know exactly how many I have so I won’t waste time looking for “lost” ones, only to discover they don’t exist! (such as looking for two “lost” ones of a set of six, when I really only had four to begin with). I am sadly notorious for grabbing a couple of napkins to use here and there for applications other than the table and then not putting them back where they belong. Writing the number on the bag really does help me keep up with them. I have about 60 sets and probably need to purge my collection but find it hard to part with any of them! Love your blog and especially enjoy your Sunday devotional writings.

  22. Sherry Myers says:

    Yvonne, how do seem to always discuss things that are of interest to me or that I love? Thank you for these tips. So practical, very clever storage system! I always enjoy seeing which napkins you use with your tablescapes.

  23. Thank you so much for the great ideas, pretty lady! I am going to spend a rainy day organizing my stash just the way you’ve done. Can you tell us how you store placemats? Drives me crazy!!

    Jane x

  24. I store my linens in a tall chest…but I am always going through the doors searching for the napkins that are stack on top of each other….I love the way you organized these so that you can easily see and get to them!!

  25. I love your napkins! I only have 2 sets of cloth napkins, so they are easily stored next to my dish towels in a drawer, but I should go find some more cause they look so good in your table settings!

  26. Barbara Livingston says:

    We use cloth napkins all the time. Storing them is a problem because having 5 children means that family dinners always include at least 10 people. I have learned to coordinate plain white napkins with my other napkins to ensure I always have enough. I keep them in a dresser located in my living room. This eight drawer dresser also houses my table clothes and vinyl dinning room table protectors. I don’t have napkins rings. I use ribbon..usually burlap but also other ribbon that cordinates with other table decoation that I also store in the same dresser.

  27. Kim Gibson says:

    I really love these posts! I never thought to spray my napkins with spray starch! One of your commenters mentioned spraying both napkins and tablecloth with Scotch Guard. I never would have thought to do that either. I don’t know whether other people just always knew these things or their mothers taught them… but these tips are so helpful to me! Thank you.

    1. I would worry that Scotch Guard is toxic – perhaps the spray starch as well. This would be especially concerning for napkins that touch your eating utensils and/or face when dabbing the corners of your mouth – but even for a table cloth – I don’t use scotch guard on furniture if I have a choice in its treatment. Am I being overly concerned? It’s certainly possible. Yet I do try to avoid chemicals in laundry and cleaning, using some – but where possible, using vinegar, baking soda and just water with a microfiber cloth.

  28. Yvonne,
    Great tips on storing cloth napkins, dear friend!!!
    I keep those everyday, neutral hues of napkins
    in the drawers to the built~in china cabinet in the Dining Room.
    Seldom used and Seasonal napkins are stored within
    two separate drawers in the Guest Room Closet Organizer.
    Like you, once retired, I edited and omitted many unused napkins!!!
    Thanks for sharing!!!

  29. Carol Davis says:

    Store mine in a market basket in the pantry right off the kitchen. I place all matching napkins folded in quarters, then rolled up together. They go on edge so I can see them over the top of the basket. They are visible over the top of the basket about 2 inches. It is a nice addition to the pantry which is open to the steps going to the garage.

  30. I grew up using cloth napkins at every meal. As an adult I still enjoy cloth napkins.. just not at every meal. For years I traveled the world in my career and purchased ‘table’ things to bring home. I used an extra coat closet (who has those) for storing tablecloths and napkins. I first removed the main rod and divided the vertical space into three levels with three horizontal rods. I love lightly starched cloths and napkins, so I send them to the laundry. They come back hung over hangers and I just open the closet door and hang the napkins and tablecloths right next to each other. For placemats .. if they are light weight I Han them over pant hangers with the napkins right next as a set. If the placemats are heavy texture, I use skirt hangers with clips and napkins hang next. Everything’s organized and ready for fast table setting.

  31. I’ve always enjoyed using cloth napkins and think that from now on, I’ll skip the “ironing before storing” step because I find that no matter how carefully I put them back in my buffet drawer in the living room, some of the edges become curled up or get crinkled looking so need a second ironing. Also, if I see napkins I like that I can buy individually, I’ll buy say, instead of 6 or 8, I’ll always buy an extra as I use that extra one to line a wicker backet for the dinner rolls. If I can only buy sets, I’ll keep in mind what color I want and look for patterned cloths that I can buy singly that will blend with the colors I have. I also use (dollar store) red or dark blue bandanas as napkins for more casual dinners and bbq’s.

  32. Pamela Brown says:

    I use old square ice cream containers to store my napkins. I keep them nicely stacked up in the pantry with a label showing the colour.

  33. I love cloth napkins. I have quite a few but not as many as you do. They all look very pretty

  34. Sherry S Cohen says:

    I love your tips, but I would like to point out a few things in favor of single napkins. I like to use them in a basket to serve bread or store flatware (at a buffet). I also wrap one around of a bottle of wine. Speaking of wrapping, a decorator friend of mine wraps old silk scarves around terra cotta plants. This is a great idea to adapt if you’re doing a really casual country theme outdoors.

    1. Thanks so much for the great tips Sherry! Yes, let’s hear it for the single napkin!

  35. Barbara Harilaou says:

    I started collecting and making fabric napkins since I found your blog. My drawers are not that deep for me to store them the way you do. But I have an idea I like to share with you. When I use them I like to fold them differently according to what ever the occasion . unfortunately their are so many different ways to fold them so I use paper to make the different style foldings and I keep them in a box this way If I forget how to do it I just look at the paper folding to remember .

  36. Norma Rolader says:

    Now I love this idea for storing napkins and thank you

  37. I sell linens on ebay because I really love fabrics, great design and excellent workmanship. I love napkins, especially hand monogrammed ones. Linen and cotton napkins are wonderful. Besides some of the other ideas on napkins I like to use old and worn napkins as dusting clothes or cleaning and polishing cloths. Linen is just lovely and so useful that I like to use it till it cannot be used. This applies to linen and cotton towels also. Any old or beautiful fabric may have areas that are still good and can be used for sewing projects and crafts.
    As far as storage, I just put them in my kitchen drawer so they are at hand. There is nothing like the feel of a soft floppy linen napkin to use when you eat.

  38. Anne Jaques says:

    How do you choose the fabric that washes easily and does not stain badly. Linen? WHere do you find the best stores for napkins? THANK YOU

  39. Oh, Oh….I have no idea how many napkins I have but they are in the upstairs laundry, in the dining room buffet, sideboard and butler pantry…..just remembered …they are also in the front entry chest… I think I better get busy! Cloth napkins make the meal feel special. They remind me of my Grandmother, a poor farmers wife ,who always had cloth napkins. In fact, I inherited her old linen napkins. They make for many memories. I also “prep” the napkins right before use. A beautiful table tells everyone who is luck enough to sit around it and share a meal that the are loved.
    Enjoyed this post. It hit close to home.

  40. We ONLY use cloth napkins, even when camping. Our napkins are stored “file” wise in two drawers of a vintage kitchen cabinet beside our table. I line dry and do not iron them…my husband likes them soft, not starchy!

  41. Cecilia from Georgia says:

    Hi Yvonne, I was searching on Pinterest for napkin and napkin ring organization ideas. I found your blog about the napkins and it is very helpful. I am curious though, how do you store and organization napkin rings? I have to have at least 12 place settings for most family occasions and that is a lot of bulky rings. So, I asked myself…”WWYD?” Got any ideas? I’m sure you had to organize all your linens and accessories when you moved to Tanglewood! Thanks!

  42. I use the 4 tier swining arm pant hanger. Each arm holds approximately 9 big rings. You can clearly store more if the rings are narrower. I try to organize the hangers by season or ocassion and place the corresponding tablecloths next to the hangers. Still trying to find the perfect napkin organizer that isn’t in a drawer – I don’t have a cabinet as this article suggests, sadly.