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There are a multitude of reasons to switch to cloth napkins from paper ones. You already know a couple of them—they look impressive and reduce waste—but you may not realize that over time, they’ll actually save you money. If you use one cloth napkin per day (instead of per meal), you’ll not only need way fewer paper towels in the house, but you won’t even have to do extra loads of laundry, meaning no extra water use—good for the environment and your wallet. Whether you buy white napkins so you can easily bleach them or dark napkins to conceal stains, they’re an instant upgrade from the paper variety.

Machine-Washable

These are carefully cut and sewn, and feature mitered (a.k.a. tailored 45-degree) edges and a generous hem for an extra professional look. Ruvanti

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If you’re particularly detail-oriented, get to know the different types of edges you can pick from when purchasing cloth napkins. The aforementioned mitered edge gives you a neat finish with zero bulk. A turned-under finish, the most common, is when ¼ inch of fabric is folded under and sewn; a nun-stitched edge appears frayed (on purpose), so it isn’t typically safe for machine-washing; and a hand-done pin stitch creates a delicate thread design at the border. No one style is better than another—it’s all about your particular taste.

Long-Lasting Material

This hotel-quality pick is 60 percent natural fabric and 40 percent polyester, which means it’s machine-washable and wrinkle-resistant. Utopia Kitchen

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It can be tricky to figure out how many sets of cloth napkins you should own. Use this rule of thumb: Every member of your family should have three napkins (so a family of three should have nine napkins total, meaning you’re more than covered with a standard 12-napkin set). If each family member uses one napkin a day, it’ll be days before you need to wash them. People who want clean cloth napkins for every meal would be wise to stock up on multiple sets. And it never hurts to have a few extra lying around for dinner parties and special occasions, or to use some as placemats.

Extra Colors Available

These poly-cotton serviettes will impress your guests with its quality material blend and sunny hue. Ooh la la! Benson Mills

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Size matters. All cloth napkins are perfect squares, but they come in different dimensions, most commonly 16-by-16, 18-by-18, 20-by-20, and 21-by-21 inches.The bigger the napkin, the more formal the affair. For everyday use, 16- and 18-square-inch options are roomy enough without being overwhelming (especially for little laps).

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