The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

February 18, 2011

HankyBook cleverly replaces disposable tissues like Kleenex

In my last blog post over a week ago (yeah, I’m still sick) I listed my favorite plastic-free cold remedies and pleaded for some cloth hankies to relieve my gushing nose. Thanks to all of you who chimed in. Reader Plastic-Free Citizen left a comment about HankyBooks, ingenious little organic cotton hankies bound together like books that are much neater (and cuter) than large handkerchiefs. So I contacted Leslie from HankyBooks to ask for a sample to review.  Of course, I requested no plastic packaging or tape, which she happily complied with.

A HankyBook fits in the palm of your hand.


Its pages are stitched together like a book, which makes it much neater and easier to carry than a single hankie that you unfold and refold, or wad up and stuff in your pocket, as is often the case. And the book system keeps the snot inside instead of all over your stuff.


To use it, you open to a clean page and pinch the middle together to fit around your nose, as you would a regular hanky. When all the pages are used up, you toss the whole thing in the wash. I’m guessing it would be best to pull apart any “stuck” pages before washing, so all the hankies get as clean as possible.


An improvement that I’d like to suggest to Leslie (although it would require more work) is an attached pocket you could pull over the open end of the HankyBook to keep it closed. You know, like plastic baggies used to have before Zip Lock was invented.

HankyBooks are sold in packs of three, and I think you would need quite a few to handle a major cold. In that situation, a big stack of t-shirt rags seems like a more practical solution. But for everyday sniffles, this seems like a great idea.

I realize that many of you crafty people could figure out how to make your own, or you may feel that a regular handkerchief suits you just fine. But I think HankyBooks are a cool option for people who are reluctant to use a regular hanky because of the ick factor. What do you think?

By the way, I’m still sick. What started as a cold has become major flu, which is just now winding down. I apologize to the many people who have uploaded their Show Your Plastic Trash Challenge tallies and have yet to see their hard work reflected on the site. Do keep sending them. I’ll keep putting them up as my health and energy level allow. Thanks for your patience and kindness, everyone.

And don’t forget… Plastic-Free February is still proceeding over at Check out their progress and do leave your suggestions.

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12 years ago

the cups might be plastic. I forget. :)

12 years ago

I use Leslie’s Hankybooks for my kids ever running noses! She is an amazing entrepreneur. You haven’t seen the last of her… I assure you of that! Her brother also has an invention for the “red cup” you see at frat parties. Ask her about them.

12 years ago

Cute idea. So if you’re only half done with the book, does it come with a bookmark? ;)

Kathryn Muffley
12 years ago

I developed allergies about 5 yrs. ago. Nose just runs constantly. I’m a fan of handkerchiefs. My favorite are SOFT cotton bandanas from India (India makes the softest cotton). Also have a few vintage hankies of my mothers and have bought vintage hankies from various sources.
Don’t have to iron them: After washing, I moisten them a bit more, then spread them out on a smooth countertop, glass tabletop, or smooth cooktop. I’m very gentle with the old ones, as they can develop tears. The extra water allows the hankie to adhere to the surface and dries as tho I’ve ironed it. Do the same thing with cloth napkins.
Present day bandanas are treated with a chemical so they don’t wrinkle so much. It also makes them feel rougher on the nose. Takes years of washing to wear off. Most cotton used to make hankies is just not soft enough. Wish I could get my hands on some Indian sari cotton…
I wonder if the hanky book would get clean enough being bound on one edge…

Leslie Uke
12 years ago

Thanks for all the feedback. After Cat C-B’s post supporting knit t-shirts, I wanted to share that the HankyBook is made out of fabric that was developed for soft baby knit shirts! With that said, hurray for re-purposing!

12 years ago


Sorry you are still sick! Hope you’re better soon.

These Hankybooks are terrific. I like using a handkerchief but I know a number of people who don’t like them–this might be just the thing to get them off disposable tissues. Thanks for posting!

Cat C-B
12 years ago

Better still: tee shirts.

I’m convinced that no one would ever have invented cotton or linen hankies–so hard on my tender nose!–had there been knit tee shirts in Ye Olden Days.

Seriously–when my tee shirts get worn to the stage of hole-y-ness, I take out a pair of scissors and cut the parts that are still whole into squares. Nope, I don’t hem them–the edges seem very happy to curl under and stay put. They are soft, absorbent, and they put both hankies and paper kleenex to shame.

For a really ghastly cold, you might want to take a small cloth or crocheted stuff sack or two along to keep a backup supply. But I find that it’s rare for me to need more than two or three of them to get through a day, and of course they are so cheap that I can have as many of them as I want.

At the end of the week, I put them into a dishpan with hot water and a little ammonia for a 5–10 minute soak, since I do my laundry in cold water, but I do want to get these guys really clean. Since it’s such a small amount of laundry, the soak takes very little ammonia and very little hot water.

Worn out tee shirts! Try them–you’ll like them!

12 years ago

Hi Leslie! I like the bookmark idea, too. Plus, I think it would just look cool and a bit fancy in a good way :D

12 years ago

thats really neat!
uhhh … self-conscious moment: do people still say ‘neat’?
I think I will try making one for my daughter when she’s sniffly out of diaper flannel or something, since all she winds up doing now is pulling a great long piece of tp off the roll, wiping with a tiny corner and chucking the whole thing in the toilet. And I can’t see myself spending a few bucks for one just to test it out. I see there’s no stitches around the edges of the wiper pages so I presume its a knit fabric.
But my big question is: How well does it hold up in the wash?? Is there fraying? How much, how long/how many washes will it last before the fraying makes it not practical anymore?
The flip-over “lid”/pocket idea sounds ok too, might make it feel less bulky than folding it in half.

12 years ago

gee, no fair having one illness tag on the other! get well soon!

12 years ago

Sorry you’re still feeling poorly Beth . . . you’re a trooper for continuing to blog. . .

I LOVE the HankyBooks and your idea of the fold-over cover is supreme! What a great gift for mom’s, well, anyone with a nose really . . . I will be ordering some and trying them out. My husband is skeptical but he’s a guy and maybe if the HankyBooks had a more guy-oriented print or solid black he’d show interest. At least I got him off the tissue and onto hankies . . . it’s a process!

Thanks for another great post!

Wishing you vibrant health . . .

Leslie Uke
12 years ago

Andi, You can still make them yourself! Of course I’d be happy to sell you one :)

12 years ago

Oh! Doh! Just noticed it was a product, not a project! May have to make a purchase. Thanks!

12 years ago

I love this idea! I see a project coming on…. Thanks for posting it. It would be perfect for my girls at school.

Get better soon….

Leslie Uke
12 years ago

Hello Everyone! I’m Leslie (inventor and creator of the HankyBook). Beth, I think you have a great suggestion and I’m going to look into doing that. I had previously thought of a button or velcro but both of them I wasn’t thrilled with because it would bring the cost up too high. Thank you thank you thank you! It’s great to hear Meg that there are fans out there for that idea. If anyone else has comments about that idea please let me know. Another idea I’ve heard from about 5 enthusiastic people is to put a ribbon book-mark sewn into the bind so that you can place the ribbon wherever you leave off. Any people have comments about that? I use the same page multiple times throughout the life of one use before wash so I wouldn’t personally use it but a lot of people are more particular about wanting as little interface with there past blows as possible :) Thanks Beth for the review and the great suggestions and to anyone with comments!

12 years ago

I hope you start to feel better :( That is a super cute idea. I LOVE it. I would have never in a million year have thought of something like that. I want to get one for my husband he has terrible allergies.

12 years ago

I hope you get well soon!

The hankybook looks really neat. I might have to get a set for my husband. He currently uses paper towels.

I like your suggestion about a built-in pocket. I’d love that, too. Maybe I’ll wait and see if Leslie will consider adding it as an option as I’d pay extra for it.

Fonda LaShay
12 years ago

cool product!


12 years ago

This is a GREAT idea! Added to my list of things to replace tissues, as I use up the last of my boxes…Thanks, and feel better soon.

Kay Pere
12 years ago

Beth: I hope you’re feeling better soon. What a cute little solution for reducing waste!

I’ve inherited all my grandmothers’ soft cotton handkerchiefs, which I use all the time. I machine wash them on delicate then hang them up to dry in the hope that they’ll last a very long time. Though the grandmothers would have ironed them, I don’t iron anything unless I absolutely have to.

Have been intending to take pictures of the pretties hankies and post on my blog about using them. They have a lot of sentimental meaning for me. Maybe this is the time.

Sending you virtual chicken soup and good wishes for quick return to health.