Make A DIY Handkerchief In 5 Easy Steps

The humble hanky is often dismissed as archaic and unhygienic. But we beg to differ – the DIY handkerchief is back!

Handkerchiefs are easy to make and they make a sweet gift, especially when bundled together and made out of favourite fabric scraps.

The hygiene factor

When used properly a handkerchief can be just as hygienic as your average tissue.

If there’s one thing that I feel we’ve learned through these Covid-19 lockdowns it is that hygienic behaviour is just as much (if not more) important than “hygiene” products.

The simple act of washing your hands properly with plain old soap and water trumps any fancy hand sanitiser used in haste.

cloth mask, worn and laundered properly, is an effective barrier against a range of airborne viruses. Staying home when you are sick stops the spread of germs.

None of this is rocket science, but it is science. It’s all easy to do, and it doesn’t cost the earth.

Handkerchiefs can be just as hygienic as tissues when used with hygienic behaviours. Conversely, tissues can be completely unsanitary when used with unhygienic behaviours. So, as the kids are saying these days… wash your hands!

The environmental factor

Hankies win hands down on the earth stakes. Tissues are made of trees. And whether or not they are virgin fibre or recycled they use up copious amounts of water and fuel in their manufacture and transportation.

Homemade handkerchiefs on the other hand can be made of upcycled fabric scraps and laundered using ecologically sound washing practices. Just note that you will need to launder hankies on a hot wash cycle to ensure germs are killed.

How to make a DIY handkerchief

How To make A DIY Handkerchief in five easy steps 3


  • Pre-washed cotton fabric scraps (old shirts make a great hanky material, or for a softer wipe old flannel sheets or pajamas are lovely).
  • Cotton thread
  • Sewing scissors, tailors’ chalk or marker


1. Cut a square of fabric – we recommend 32 x 32 cm but it can be whatever size floats your boat or fits your face.

DIY handkerchief

2. Fold over and press edges by 0.7cm twice. Unfold.

3. You will see a little square at each corner, created by the folds. Create a mitred edge by drawing a line diagonally across the centre of these squares and cutting along this line.

DIY handkerchief

4. Refold edges, tucking the tip of the outside corner under one side to create the mitred corner.

5. Pin or clip edges together. Stitch along the folded edge to secure.

And that’s it! These handmade handkerchiefs are so easy – yet a little fancy with their mitred corners. They make a great zero waste gift, and you can really go wild using up funky fabrics from your stash or scraps from the darning basket.

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