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Head colds and old fashioned handkerchiefs

I've been thinking about the good ol' days when I used to use a handkerchief to blow my nose.

Right now I have a head cold. It's awful. It's a good thing I am typing now, because if we were speaking to each other it would be all "I hab a head cod" with multiple sniffles between words. And you shouldn't come anywhere near me because I have germs pouring out my nose like someone turned a tap on.

Kimono Daisy's Japanese cotton squares (available here), are often called "Japanese handkerchiefs" , but the way a Japanese person uses a handkerchief and the way I used to (a method handed down from my English father) are completely different.

I used to blow my nose into a hanky, then fold (or screw) it up and put it back in my pocket. When I needed another blow I would take it out again, find a dry corner and blow again. At the end of a full day of nose blowing I would throw it in the wash with my other clothes.

The first time I traveled to Japan on student exchange, a Japanese friend spotted me doing this and was horrified and asked for an explanation of my curious habit. I explained and she was totally gobsmacked. "You mean to tell me you blow your nose, then keep all the snot in your pocket all day, taking it out to do it again on top of the old snot? That is disgusting!"

And when she put it that way I agreed. OMG! I am disgusting! I should be using tissues and throwing that germy snot straight into a bin. What was I thinking?

I was thinking that I'd never done it any other way. It was the way my father, and his father before him had always done it. I thought that was the way you were supposed to blow your nose, and it never occurred to me that keeping a pocketful of germy snot was in any way a bad idea. Even when it dried out and made my hanky all crusty and stuck together.

Now that I sell Japanese handkerchiefs, and I know that they use them for all kinds of things, none if which are blowing your nose, I have been converted to the way of the tissue.
Handing out free pocket tissues with advertising in Japan
Handing out pocket tissue packs with advertising in Japan.
If you don't use hankies you need more tissues!

In some ways it is against my usual predilection to reuse and recycle and not to use disposable products where possible. But on the other hand - snot in my pocket! What was I thinking? This is one situation where I feel public health wins over using reusable fabric in place of paper products. At least my tissues are made from Forest Stewardship Council approved "paper from responsible sources" and I can recycle the box.

Do you still use a handkerchief the old fashioned way to blow your nose? Or are you for tissues all the way?


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