Turn Even Takeout Into an Occasion With the Best Cloth Napkins

We’d use these night after night.
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Domino editors agree on this: Save paper napkins for potlucks and toothpick appetizers—a dinner isn’t complete without the best cloth napkins. Stylish, sustainable, and the perfect accompaniment to menus that are carefully curated or dreamed up on the fly, we love how they can effortlessly pull together mix-and-match dishware or simply distract the eye from a table that’s seen better days. If you’re looking for a new set to elevate a gathering of any kind, these are a few of our favorite picks, just in time for the holidays.

Our Favorite Cloth Napkin Brands

Best Striped Cloth Napkins 

HTH x Domino Oat & Moss Napkins, Set of 4, Heather Taylor Home

$89

Herb Stripe Napkins, Set of 4, Dusen Dusen

$44

Dot and Army Seersucker Cloth Table Napkins, Set of 4, Food52

$32

Essential Striped Dinner Napkins, Set of 4, Hawkins New York

$38

Stripes don’t have to be nautical, and on a table, they read positively chic. Vertical or horizontal, varying widths, and color on color can lend different looks. Take Dusen Dusen’s candy-hued alternating lines, which mix and match like a rainbow of fun. We might be biased, but our collaboration with Heather Taylor Home combines naturally vibrant colors in both thick and thin styles. Georgia-made Dot and Army bring a coastal touch with the use of seersucker, and different monochrome shades cover Hawkins New York’s Essential set.

Best Gingham Cloth Napkins 

Linen Check Napkins, Set of 4, Schoolhouse

$39

Fruit Salad Set, Madre

$95

Gingham Napkins, Set of 4, Serena & Lily

$78 $58

Caravan Two-Tone Gingham Napkins, Set of 4, Food52

$110

Gingham isn’t just for covering up outdoor picnic tables. It works just as perfectly for everyday dinners as it does for special occasions. And really, who knows these checks and plaids better than designer Heather Taylor? Her gingham pieces are our favorites of the bunch, but it doesn’t mean they don’t have company. Madre’s napkins are known for being soft, weighty, and available in a lovely color range—hues so vivid that our chief creative office, Kate Berry, is tempted to take a bite (though with colorways named tomato, pomelo, and avocado, who wouldn’t be?). “​​I always love anything piped, and the material and edging color combos really make them sing,” she says. “All that aside, these really make a statement on my everyday table without all the fuss usually associated with linen napkins.” Other stalwarts: Schoolhouse’s linen check, Serena & Lily’s preppy set, and Caravan’s farmhouse-friendly quartets.

Best Solid Cloth Napkins 

Linen Table Napkins, Set of 4, Cultiver

$60

Coton Colors Color-Blocked French Blue and Red Napkins, Set of 4, Maisonette

$39.95

Scallop Trim Napkins, Set of 4, Schoolhouse

$29.99 $39.99

Mix-and-Match Chroma Napkins, Set of 6, Food52

$129

Festival Napkins, Set of 4, Sferra

$69

Caldo Linen Dinner Napkins, Set of 4, Amazon

$29.99

 “A quality linen napkin is truly the most luxurious part of a meal, and not only for the way it feels on your face,” Berry says. If you’re looking for a classic dinner napkin, here’s where to start. Cutliver’s set of four is made from 100% European flax, prewashed for softness, and Oeko-Tex certified. They’re extremely durable and come out of the dryer like new every time. Coton Colors’s fresh French blue and tomato red are inspired, and Atelier Saucier’s Chroma line is made in L.A. from deadstock fabric left over from the fashion industry. Schoolhouse and Sferra show up in this category as well with a scalloped cotton-linen blend for the former and 101 colors in linen for the latter. Caldo’s six colors clock in at $30, making them an excellent budget buy.

Best Block-Printed Cloth Napkins 

Mimi Napkins, Set of 4, Furbish Studio

$48

Lisa Corti Camelia Printed Cotton Napkins, Set of 4, Matches Fashion

$95

Holiday Napkin Set II, Zojora

$45 $34

Sara Block-Printed Napkins, Set of 4, Soil to Studio

$68

“Mixing and matching makes every table a little more fun,” notes style editor Julia Stevens. That’s easy to do with unique prints, contrasting and complementary combinations, and floral and paisley prints. We’re fans of Furbish Studio, whose block-printed table linens are made in India and come in several different patterns with a sweet scalloped edge. You can coordinate them with the brand’s tablecloths, placemats, and coasters if you’d like. Lisa Corti is one of our go-tos for block printing, as is Soil to Studio, a Brooklyn-based textile label committed to preserving local Indian craftsmanship.

Best Cloth Cocktail Napkins 

Americana Stripe Cocktail Napkins, Set of 4, Atelier Saucier

$32

Merri Cocktail Napkins, Set of 6, Furbish Studio

$36

HTH x Domino Lilac & Pomegranate Cocktail Napkins, Heather Taylor Home

$26

Simple Linen Cocktail Napkins, Set of 4, Hawkins New York

$24

A cocktail napkin must be both thick and stiff enough to serve as a coaster but light enough to pick up and take with you from the coffee table to other surfaces. That’s why we like Atelier Saucier’s offerings in this arena; they’re made in the U.S. with reclaimed fabric that isn’t too fussy (but always looks good). Furbish and Hawkins New York also make an appearance here, as does our collection with Heather Taylor Home—the lilac and pomegranate colorway is lovely around the holidays. 

Best Napkin Rings

Monique Lhuillier Antibes Handwoven Wicker Napkin Rings, Set of 4, Pottery Barn

$39.50

Juliska Woven Napkin Rings, Set of 4, Food52

$72

Black Wood Napkin Rings, Set of 4, Williams Sonoma

$29.95

Georg Jensen Cobra 2-Piece Napkin Rings Set, Saks Fifth Avenue

$59

We love to source vintage napkin rings, but sometimes you need them ASAP (or just want a new-new set). Pottery Barn has its fair share of kitschy options, but buried under that are several chic picks in wood, rattan, horn, and even metal. Woven rings by Charleston-based Juliska are among the tabletop options at Food52, a contrast from the modern black wood at Williams Sonoma. Speaking of modern, there’s also the playful and curvy Cobra set by Georg Jensen.

How We Chose These Products

We see piles upon piles of cloth napkins, both new to the market and classics that continue to stick around. These of-the-moment favorites for daily dinner repertoires and special occasions were chosen for a variety of reasons including compelling color, easy care, price, and—perhaps most important—durability. Many of these picks have made it through kids’ meals, wine spills, and red tomato sauce and are still just as vibrant and soft many, many washes later.

Our Shopping Checklist

Size 

Napkins aren’t all the same shape or size, and you might use different ones depending on the type of gathering you’re attending (or hosting). For example, a napkin more or less gets bigger depending on whether it’s lunch (typically 14 to 16 inches) or dinner (18 to 21 inches). Dimensions-wise, most will unfold into a square, but you might notice when dining at a restaurant that your napkin looks more rectangular when draped across your lap. Here’s the thing: We doubt family and friends will be offended if you don’t follow what etiquette dictates, so don’t feel like you’re glued to this rule—we’re here to tell you it’s fun to break out your cloth napkins, no matter the size, at any time of day.  

Fabric Types  

Domino editors prefer linen and cotton when it comes to cloth napkins, but they aren’t the only fiber sources for this tabletop accessory. There are plenty of polyester options on the market, though stylist Naomi deMañana’s advice is to stay away. “They aren’t as absorbent and don’t feel as nice to the touch,” she notes. But you don’t have to say “no” outright to a blend. Of course, 100% cotton or linen is the cream of the crop for this category, but they will require a bit more upkeep; just a hair of polyester added in can mean the difference of not having to iron with every use. Color-, pattern-, or texture-wise—have fun! Just keep a few things in mind: how your napkin choice works with your tablecloth (or bare table), and how everything will pair with your chosen glasses and flatware. 

Maintenance

Most picks on this list can be tossed in a washing machine without worry (just stick to cold water and delicate cycles). If yours has trim or you’re looking for napkins to lay flat, Joanna Buchanan, creative director of her own home and lifestyle brand, offers a trick: Grab your set while it’s still damp and iron on reverse. “You can also use a spray starch when ironing if you want that stiff, crisp look,” she shares. 

Ask Domino

Q: There’s a stubborn stain on one of my napkins that just won’t go away—any advice on how to get rid of it? 

First things first: What caused the stain? “If it’s an oil stain, put baking soda on it right away, then apply Dawn dishwashing liquid,” suggests deMañana. “For sauces, wine, or berry juice, soak and then work at the stain by scrubbing the fibers over a mesh sponge or with a brush.” She stresses to act fast—don’t wait for your laundry to pile up to clean them. By then, a stain has likely already set. After messy dinners, the best thing you can do, adds deMañana, is let them soak. 

Q: It’s so hard to get my cloth napkins to look just right! How should I style them?

A trifold rectangle is deMañana’s go-to, but sometimes getting that crisp crease can be challenging. If your napkins are refusing to lay neat, try a different method. For special occasions, she will do a simple knot, and Buchanan loves to reach for a napkin ring for no-fuss styling. “They always add a touch of elegance and sparkle,” she says. “For the holidays, I also like to tie an ornament around the napkin and include a cute tag as a place setting.” But if you’re determined to keep things simple, don’t overthink it. “When it comes to folding, you won’t find origami swans or rosettes from this hostess,” adds Buchanan. “I definitely favor a simple fold or fluff.”  

Q: Why are cloth napkins more sustainable than paper alternatives? 

Cloth napkins can be used time and time again, and nearly all of the choices on our list have been sustainably produced with natural fabrics, some even boasting low-impact manufacturing and dye practices. Even stained napkins can still be put to good use, says deMañana—she’ll dye her overused pieces a darker color to make marks less noticeable so they’re table-ready once again. 

The Last Word

When you’ve spent the day braising beef for ragu tagliatelle or rolling crust for apple hand pies (even if you’ve just thrown together your go-to chili), why take away from the final presentation of all your hard work? The best cloth napkins—Domino editors are suckers for punchy palettes and piping—will complete your table for years to come. Just prioritize a durable, natural material like cotton and linen, and take extra care when washing and laying them out to dry.