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Offering functionality and aesthetic appeal, a good set of napkins can help you cut down on your use of paper towels while enhancing the decor of your kitchen and dining room. We caught up with a couple of interior designers for insight into tablescapes, then researched and test 14 different options to find the best sets for every home and budget. Our top pick is the Williams Sonoma Pantry Napkins, which boast a durable, versatile design and an excellent bang for your buck.
Scroll down for the best cloth napkins you can buy today.
Best Overall: Williams Sonoma Pantry Napkins
Minimal wrinkles after washing
After trying out over a dozen sets, Williams Sonoma's Pantry Napkins were a clear winner. Available in sets of six and measuring 20 x 20 inches each, they're an excellent value for the high-end quality and all-around versatility.
These mid-weight napkins are made of yarn-died, sustainably sourced cotton and have a nice subtle texture. Like other 100 percent cotton products, the material is prone to wrinkling. However, the texture of these napkins helps mask this effect.
The fabric feels durable but not stiff, and it held up well in the laundry. Unlike most other cloth napkins, washing them in warm water is recommended (as opposed to a cold cycle), which helps dissolve food residues and remove stains. When our tester pulled them out of the dryer, they had hardly any wrinkles and didn't curl up on the corners. What's more, they smoothed back out quite beautifully when refolded.
We wish these cloth napkins were available in more colors, but that's really our only complaint. They're reasonably priced, low-maintenance, long-lasting, and suitable for daily use, special occasions, and everything in between.
Best Budget: Ruvanti Premium Quality Cloth Napkins Set of 12
Soft yet sturdy
Not 100 percent cotton
For households on a budget, we highly recommend Ruvanti Cloth Napkins. Available in sets of 12, these wallet-friendly napkins are loomed from a poly-cotton blend that has a strong but relatively thin feel.
While we usually prefer all-natural weaves, our tester liked that the soft, sturdy, canvas-like fabric doesn't wrinkle like 100 percent earth-sourced materials. These cloth napkins are low-maintenance, too: they were good-as-new coming out of the dryer and folded up really nicely.
Best Everyday: Food52 Five Two Everyday Soft Cotton Napkins
No special care instructions
Shopping for an everyday set? You can't go wrong with Five Two Cloth Napkins. Available in quantities of four or six, they earned perfect scores across the board. Our tester gave them a 4.5 for overall value, knocking only half a point for the steep price.
These exceptionally soft yet sturdy napkins are made of 100 percent cotton. They don't require any special care and have a subtle crinkled texture that helps conceal any potential wrinkling—though they came out of the dryer with very few creases and smoothed out nicely. We also appreciate that the color options include several versatile neutrals. As Koschitzky says, "Like a well-built wardrobe, basics never go out of style."
Best for Special Occasions: Crate & Barrel Aspen Cloth Napkins
Smooth to the touch
Great color selection
Hems aren't reinforced
Prone to wrinkling
With their versatile yet somewhat formal aesthetic, the Aspen Napkins from Crate & Barrel are the perfect option for special occasions. They're made of 100 percent cotton and are smooth to the touch with almost no texture, like fine-dining table linens at a fancy restaurant.
The Aspen Napkins are sold individually or in sets of eight, so you can easily stock up on however many you need. During testing, we were particularly impressed by how soft these napkins were. We deducted a point for durability, however, noting that the material is relatively thin and the hems aren't reinforced. The fabric wrinkles slightly in the wash but smooths out pretty well by hand and folds up nicely.
Best Splurge: Parachute Linen Waffle Napkins
Drapey yet durable
Wavy edges after washing
While one of the more expensive options that we tried, our home tester was thoroughly impressed with Parachute's Linen Waffle Napkins. Woven from 100 percent European flax fibers, they have a unique honeycomb texture that effectively masks any potential wrinkling.
Though the edges were a little wavy after being laundered, the napkins held up really well in the wash. We wish they were more affordable—the price is pretty steep, and the largest quantity you can get is two—but if you can swing it, they're worth the splurge.
Best Patterned: Anthropologie Nifty Napkins
Soft and silky
No special care instructions
Slightly misshapen after washing
Want something a little less plain? Anthropologie's Nifty Napkins are a great option, offering a soft, somewhat silky feel and a playful but not unsophisticated pattern. They earned high scores for durability—they seem sturdy but aren't the thickest option—and ease of cleaning, requiring no special care.
The boho-inspired motif is pretty and unique (though not the most versatile) and each napkin in the set features a slightly different design. These napkins become slightly misshapen in the wash, which is often expected with 100 percent cotton. However, they smooth out really well by hand if you fold them when they're still slightly warm from the dryer.
Best Organic: Coyuchi Sonoma Textured Organic Napkins
Texture masks wrinkles
Corners roll after washing
Coyuchi's Sonoma Napkins were also a hit with our home tester. She awarded them 5s for design and fabric, noting how the soft material has a subtle crinkled texture, which helps conceal any potential wrinkling from the 100 percent cotton fabric. They scored 4.5s for ease of cleaning, durability, and overall value. Made from sturdy organic cotton certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), the quality is immediately apparent with these table linens. Still, they're one of the costlier options.
They come rolled up with twine—a down-to-earth touch and a design-forward alternative to traditional folding. We wish there were a few more colors to choose from, but the available shades are chic and sophisticated. We tried out the "deep ocean" option, a dark teal hue that's rich but not too vivid. Though the corners rolled up slightly after washing, the napkins held up well and refolded smoothly.
Best Linen: Quince European Linen Napkins
Sourced from European flax
Prone to wrinkling
Doesn't fold very flat
Linen napkins are a great way to add casual elegance to your dining setup, and these beauties from Quince are undoubtedly one of the best options you can find. Sold in a set of four, they're woven from a premium, flax-sourced linen that will only get softer with time. Plus, they come in at a far lower price point than you'd expect—offering great quality for the price.
Another benefit of this type of linen is its durability: flax-sourced linen is among the strongest, longest-lasting textiles you can buy. While prone to wrinkling, we'd argue that this effect looks more intentional with linen than traditional cotton. And while they don't fold very flat, they look great rolled up and tied in the middle.
Best Fringed: World Market Cotton Slub Napkins With Fringe, Set of 4
No special care instructions
Great color selection
Fringe messes up in wash
"Napkins can change the mood of your tablescapes," says interior designer Cindy Rinfret. If you want to add some character but aren't keen on prints and patterns, consider these fringed ones from World Market. We gave this set a 4 for fabric, design, and durability, as it has a cool aesthetic, though the material is relatively thin and somewhat transparent. Considering the low price point, it scored a 4.5 for overall value.
Since the material doesn't call for any special care, we gave it a 5 for ease of cleaning. The Cotton Slub Napkins held up well in the wash. They didn't really wrinkle and folded up nicely, though the fringe went a bit haywire. These table linens are imperfect, but they're very reasonably priced and come in a wide array of colors to complement any decor scheme or dinner party theme.
The Williams Sonoma Pantry Napkins were our overall favorites, offering a versatile look and high quality for the mid-level price. If you're looking for something a little more affordable or want to buy in bulk, the Ruvanti Premium Quality Cloth Napkins are an excellent choice. Made of a wrinkle-resistant poly-cotton blend, this budget-friendly 12-pack scored high for design, fabric, ease of cleaning, and overall value.
How We Tested
For this roundup, we researched today's best-selling cloth napkins and sent our tester home with 14 standout sets, asking her to try them out with real-life table settings. She put them to use and inspected the weight, texture, feel, softness, foldability, and versatility, then washed them in a washing machine and dried them in a dryer. To help you find the best option for your taste and budget, we selected the napkins that earned the highest scores.
What to Look for in Cloth Napkins
Cloth napkins can be made from many different materials, but you'll usually see them made from cotton, polyester, or linen. All three materials are great, but they tend to feel a little different. (Cotton may feel soft, whereas polyester may feel smooth.) So keep an eye out for materials that feel the way you want them to.
"Look for a fabric with natural fibers or high-quality man-made fibers, like a poly-cotton blend," says Shira Koschitzky, brand designer at Loom & Table. "Make sure they are soft and absorbent—nothing too stiff, but nothing too precious either."
Cloth napkins can be a great way to add some visual flair to your tablescape, so keep an eye out for options that suit your decor scheme. "Choose colors that work well with your tablecloths and dishes so that you have multiple options for mixing and matching," says Koschitzky. "I would recommend investing in solid, quality basics—a white or neutral that always matches. You can build your collection over time as your tablescape creativity blossoms."
Cloth napkins come in sets of four, six, eight—and sometimes, even more. Since quantity can vary so much from set to set, it's important to double-check how many napkins you're actually getting. This is key when comparing prices. And it's also generally helpful to know how many napkins to expect.
"I would recommend owning two cloth napkins per the number of guests you typically host around your table," says Koschitzky. "That way, you always have a spare set while the other is being washed."
Cloth napkins can come in a couple different sizes—usually 18 inches by 18 inches and 20 inches by 20 inches. This is particularly important to remember when mixing and matching different napkin sets. If one set is full of 18-inch napkins and the other is full of 20-inch napkins, your napkins may not go together quite the way you thought they would.
Cloth napkins can be surprisingly easy to care for. Most are machine-washable, and many are also dryer-friendly. That said, it's always worth it to double-check the care instructions before buying.
According to Rinfret, one of the most critical considerations is whether the fabric needs ironing. You don't want to end up with a high-maintenance set of napkins when you think you're buying a low-maintenance one.
How do you get stains out of cloth napkins?
There are a few different ways to get stains out of cloth napkins. You can spot-clean them with dish soap or a stain removal spray, or you can throw them in the washing machine with a couple of teaspoons of baking soda. If your napkins are white, you may also be able to freshen them up with OxiClean. “Starch is your friend if you like a fresh and crisp linen appearance,” says Betsy Moyer of the experiential design firm Retreat. “Otherwise, we rely on OxiClean to keep our white fields white.”
Before taking any of these steps, though, double-check the care instructions for your specific cloth napkins. Some materials can handle harsh chemicals, while others can’t. The last thing you want is to ruin your cloth napkins while trying to clean them!
How often should you wash cloth napkins?
There’s no hard-and-fast rule for how often you should wash your cloth napkins. You can toss them in the wash after every meal, or you can wait a few meals before throwing them in the laundry. Find a schedule that works for you, and make sure you have enough cloth napkins to sustain that schedule. For example, if you only have four napkins in a 4-person household—and you don’t want to do laundry multiple times a day—you may not want to wash your napkins after every meal.
How do you fold cloth napkins?
There are many different ways to fold cloth napkins. A couple of Moyer’s favorites: Fold them into sixths and tie them up with hemp string, or slide them inside napkin rings. Options abound, though, so play with different styles until you find something that suits your tablescape—and your preferred level of effort.
Are cloth napkins hygienic?
Cloth napkins can be perfectly hygienic if properly laundered. Restaurants and healthcare facilities must follow strict laundry requirements set by the CDC. However, for domestic use, regularly washing your cloth napkins will keep germs at bay.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Theresa Holland, a copywriter specializing in textiles, home decor, and lifestyle within the commerce space. Our editors researched the top cloth napkins on the market, which she carefully inspected and tested at home before landing on the final picks.
For additional insight, Theresa also spoke with two interior designers: Shira Koschitzky of Loom & Table and Betsy Moyer, co-founder of the experiential design firm Retreat. Theresa covers home goods, household linens, and cleaning products at The Spruce. You can find more of her bylines on MyDomaine and Verywell Family.