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Miss Manners by Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

Reusing Cloth Napkins for a Week

DEAR MISS MANNERS: During our weeklong visit, our dear hosts subjected us to one of their quirks I can’t abide by. They issued each of us a cloth napkin to be used for the week. Granted, we were not eating ribs, but it still just seemed unsanitary.

GENTLE READER: Why? What else were they being used for?

Miss Manners is sorry to tell you, but saving a cloth napkin for up to a week is not only acceptable, it comes with accessories. That is the purpose of those round silver things that are too small to be bracelets. They are napkin rings. For frequent guests, Miss Manners even gets them monogrammed -- an honor, she assures you.

However, if you feel that yours is being overused to the point of being ineffective, graciously blame it on yourself. “I am afraid I over-enjoyed my dinner last night and sorely abused my napkin. I wonder if I might have a fresh one tonight. And I will try to take better care of it.”

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics