Why We All Should Always Carry A Set of Handkerchiefs

I don’t like to use other people’s towels, a hot air blower, or a tissue paper

Abhishek Sainani
4 min readDec 25, 2022


Photo credit: Amazon.in (Antonia brand)

A gentleman carries a hankerchief, not for himself, but in case a lady needs one.

When I read the above statement in my early 20s, it didn’t make sense to me. That is perhaps because I had no experience with any lady till then. And I always carried a handkerchief since my high school days, only for myself. Based on my experiences with handkerchiefs, I can confidently say that every person needs a set of handkerchiefs on them at all times. This is perhaps more important than any other accessory they wear or carry.

I emulated my father

My father always carries a handkerchief in his trousers or jeans back pocket. I emulated him and did the same since my school days. He always carried white colored handkerchiefs with minimal designs, and I do the same even today. When I saw others use dark-colored handkerchiefs covered with checkered patterns, I considered myself superior for using white ones. By the time I started living on my own in a college hostel, and had to wash my own handkerchiefs, I realized that white ones are the most impractical ones, especially after eating an Indian meal with my hands due to turmeric stains. It was only years later, after I graduated, that my mother informed me that she takes extra care to ensure our handkerchiefs and vests look shiny white, and not dull bluish or yellowish. Even today I use white handkerchiefs because my father always buys a set of handkerchiefs for me when he buys one for himself. Maybe someday I will buy my own set of different colors, that may hide the turmeric stains within its multi-colored design.

My need for handkerchiefs only increased

My father only carries one handkerchief. I carry a minimum of five.
In my school days, I carried only one. But one day I was not able to wipe my hands after washing them because my handkerchief was already covered with my snot. From the next day onwards, both the front pockets in my pants had one handkerchief each.

Once in a while, a friend might borrow my handkerchief to wipe something, such as their nose, and then I asked them to never return it. This left me with only two handkerchiefs, and hence vulnerable to staying with wet hands and face, especially during winters, because I didn’t like to wipe my face against my sleeves and my hands against my pants. By the time I reached high school, I had both front pockets and one back pocket of my trouser filled with one handkerchief each.

By the time I joined college, I had become quite reckless in handling my pair of spectacles so I lost the cloth given by the spectacles shop to wipe my spectacles. So I carried four handkerchiefs, one for wiping my hands after washing them, the second as a backup to wipe my own running nose, the third as a backup for giving it to someone in need, and the fourth one to wipe my spectacles in case it got dirty. This is a smaller one and I keep it in the front pocket of my shirt or t-shirt.

By the time I graduated, I had borrowed my friend’s bike a few times. I am very strict about wearing a helmet while driving a two-wheeler. Not wearing a helmet is not only a safety risk but can also incur a fine by the traffic police in case they decide to stop you for not wearing one. I prefer to wear a handkerchief on my head before wearing a helmet to ensure my head is touching a clean piece of cloth and also that the other person’s helmet doesn’t get spoilt because of my hair (in case I have dandruff in my hair). If everyone wears a handkerchief inside the helmet, the insides of the helmet shall always remain clean. This added a fifth handkerchief in my collection, into the second back pocket of my trouser.

How to carry and use a handkerchief

It is always important to keep a handkerchief neatly folded inside your pocket. Your chest area or butt area shouldn’t be bulging out because you didn’t fold your handkerchief properly.

I strongly believe in using every square inch of a handkerchief before putting it in the washing machine. I use one side of the handkerchief to wipe my hands, then fold it in the other direction so that the other side can be used the next time to wipe my hands. That way I can use every side of it before putting it for washing.

Why everyone should carry a handkerchief

My wife has, from time to time, borrowed my handkerchief, either to wipe off some of her makeup to redo the makeup, or to wipe her hands after washing them. I discourage her to use tissue paper to wipe her hands and I also never use tissue paper. I believe this can be our small step towards reducing paper waste, along with some other efforts.

In case you don’t carry a handkerchief with you when you step out of the house and rely on the towel beside the wash basin, the warm air blower, or the tissue paper to wipe or dry your hands, then I can assure you that neither of these is always present everywhere. Someday you may have to wipe your hands inside your empty pockets. That would be embarrassing. Carrying a handkerchief will certainly make you feel more confident and self-assured as a person and not rely on anything or anyone else to wipe your own wet hands.



Abhishek Sainani

An aspiring writer who often juggles between his inner world, his dream world, and the real world. Writes poetry, humorous observations and opinion pieces.