Skip to Content

Best Fabric For Napkins

If you’re new to sewing or just want an easy project, napkins are one of the easiest projects to make. However, you’ll still need to choose the fabric carefully. Napkins should be absorbent, durable, and come clean easily. So what’s the best fabric for napkins?

The best fabrics for napkins are:

  1. Bamboo
  2. Cotton
  3. Cotton/Poly Blend
  4. Linen
  5. Polyester
  6. Rayon
  7. Satin
  8. Silk

These fabrics meet the qualities that you would want in a napkin, but there are certain instances in which some are better than others.

In this article, I’ll explain each of these fabrics in more detail. I’ll explain why each fabric is good for napkins, as well as the characteristics and pros and cons. Finally, I’ll explain what to consider when choosing fabric for napkins and which fabrics work better for certain types of napkins.

Best Fabric For Napkins

Best Fabric for Napkins

Here are the 8 best fabrics to use for napkins, as well as the characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages of each one.

1. Bamboo

No products found.Bamboo is a fairly new fabric and its uses aren’t as widespread as other fabrics. However, this fabric is perfect for napkins for many reasons. For starters, it’s eco-friendly and can be a great alternative to cotton due to its similar properties and uses. Bamboo is also highly absorbent, making it great for cleaning up spills.

Bamboo fabric is also very durable and can last long with proper care. While most stains are easy to remove from bamboo, it is prone to oil stains. You’ll have to carefully use these napkins with oily foods or have a degreasing stain remover on hand. There are also limitations in fabric variety, colors, and patterns regarding bamboo.

2. Cotton

CottonCotton is one of the oldest fabrics in use and one of the most common fabrics for napkins. It is affordable and comes in a wide variety of colors and styles. The reason why cotton makes such a great fabric for napkins is that it is soft, lightweight, and absorbent.

Cotton is also durable and easy to clean. However, it is prone to shrinking and your napkins can end up shrinking if you don’t wash them properly. You can use preshrunk cotton fabric to help alleviate shrinking. Depending on the color you purchase, cotton can also show stains easily, so go with a darker color if the napkins are going to be heavily used.

3. Cotton/Poly Blend

Valentina Textile inc, Broadcloth/Poly Cotton Blend Fabric, 58/60' Wide, Sells by The Yard (1 Yard, Dusty Rose)Another great fabric choice for napkins that will get used a lot is a cotton/polyester blend. This is a great choice because cotton/poly blends are affordable and come in various colors and fabrics. Cotton/Poly blends are also more durable than just using cotton alone. They’re also more resistant to staining and shouldn’t shrink the way that cotton napkins might.

One downside of using a cotton/poly blend fabric for napkins is that the fabric may not be as absorbent as cotton fabric alone. Polyester tends to repel moisture, so a blended fabric may not clean up spills as easily. Since polyester is a synthetic fabric, it’s also not as eco-friendly as other fabrics such as cotton and bamboo if that’s something that is important to you.

4. Linen

LinenLinen is another one of the most commonly used fabrics for napkins. It’s another lightweight fabric that can absorb up to 20% of its weight in moisture, making it great for cleaning up messes or spills at dinnertime. Another benefit of linen is that it does a great job of resisting bacteria growth, so it won’t hold in bacteria from food even before washing.

A downside of linen is that it is typically only available in solid colors, which is great for people who want a classic and clean look but not so much for people who want patterned napkins or napkins that don’t show stains easily. Linen is also prone to shrinking and wrinkling; it may have to be ironed before you can use the napkins.

5. Polyester

PolyesterPolyester is a great choice for everyday napkins if you want napkins that are durable, affordable, and easy to clean. You can also find polyester fabric in almost any color or design you can think of. It’s more resistant to staining than other fabrics and you don’t have to worry about it shrinking and the size of your napkins changing.

The downside of polyester is that it isn’t super absorbent and tends to repel moisture. It’s great for use to wipe up food spills and messes but may not be the best for cleaning up liquid messes. Polyester also isn’t the most elegant fabric if you’re looking for something more formal.

6. Rayon

RayonRayon is a great choice for more formal napkins. You should have a fair amount of fabric options to choose from. It’s lightweight and absorbent while also having an elegant appearance without the expense of more elegant fabrics. It’s very versatile as well.

The downside is that rayon isn’t very durable, so it’s not great for everyday use. It is also prone to staining if it becomes heavily soiled. Rayon can also wrinkle easily, so it may require ironing before use if the napkins have been put away for a while.

7. Satin

SatinSatin has an elegant and luxurious appearance and is better suited for formal or dinner napkins that don’t get as much use. You also have a wide range of choices as satin can be made from various fabrics, including polyester, cotton, and silk.

The downside of satin is that it isn’t very absorbent and can stain and show watermarks easily. It’s not the most durable fabric, but you can get more durability by choosing a fabric made from polyester or cotton instead of silk. It’s not a good fabric choice for everyday use or heavy meals.

8. Silk

SilkSilk is another fabric that is not great for napkins that are going to be used every day. However, it’s a good choice for napkins that are more formal. It’s a delicate fabric that is highly absorbent, so in some cases, it’s a better fabric to use for napkins than satin, especially if you’re just cleaning up liquids.

However, silk is a delicate fabric that isn’t very durable. It is also prone to staining and stains can be difficult to remove. You must be very careful when you wash it; it can also wrinkle easily. Silk is a better choice for napkins you will use occasionally or for more formal events.

Things to Consider When Choosing Fabric for Napkins

Now that you know what the best fabrics to use for napkins are, there are a few things that you should consider before making your final choice. I mentioned some of these things under each fabric. But let’s break them down in more detail and explain which fabrics are best for certain characteristics.

Stain Resistant/Easy to Clean

First, you want to consider how stain-resistant or easy to clean certain fabrics are. This is probably one of the most important things you should consider since the whole purpose of napkins is to clean up food messes.

If you’re planning on using the napkins daily, you want to ensure that they stay clean and in the best condition possible. You probably want any stains to come out easily in the wash. Fabrics such as cotton, polyester, a cotton/poly blend, bamboo, and linen are all good choices. If you want something that is stain-resistant and easy to clean, then satin and silk are not the best choices.


Another thing to consider is how absorbent a certain fabric is. You want absorbency in a napkin so that it can easily clean up spills and messes. Some fabrics, such as polyester and satin, aren’t that absorbent. Other fabrics such as linen, cotton, bamboo, and rayon have high absorbency. A cotton/poly blend fabric may not be absorbent depending on the percent of polyester in the fabric.


If the napkins are going to be used every day, you want them to be durable. Durability is important so the napkins will hold up over time even after frequent washing. You also don’t want napkins to shrink. Polyester is the best fabric in terms of durability. Cotton, linen, and bamboo can be durable with proper care, but these fabrics are also prone to shrinking if you don’t wash them correctly. Satin and silk are the least durable napkin fabrics.


You may also wish to choose napkins that are darker in color or have a pattern so they don’t show stains as easily, or if you need a certain color or pattern to go with your decor. Some fabrics, such as cotton and polyester, come in various colors and patterns. Other fabrics such as linen, bamboo, and rayon aren’t as widely available in different colors and patterns.

What Is the Best Fabric for Everyday Napkins?

Best Fabric for Everyday Napkins

Everyday napkins are those that are going to get the most use. The best fabric for everyday napkins will be durable and easy to clean but also stain-resistant and absorbent. Bamboo, cotton, linen, polyester, and blended fabrics make great choices for everyday napkins.

When it comes to everyday napkins, you may wish to choose a fabric that is darker in color or has a busy pattern. Darker colors and busy patterns won’t show stains as easily if they become heavily stained.

What Is the Best Fabric for Dinner Napkins?

Dinner napkins aren’t going to get as much use or are going to be for more formal occasions. You can still use cotton, linen, polyester, and bamboo fabrics, but these fabrics may not always give you a formal appearance.

If you want something more formal, then rayon, satin, and silk are good fabric choices. They have a shiny and elegant appearance. However, these fabrics aren’t going to be as durable and will be harder to take care of to keep them looking clean and stain-free. Make sure you know how to best care for these fabrics before using them.

How Much Fabric for Napkins?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer for how much fabric you need for napkins. How much fabric you need for napkins depends on the size of each napkin and how many napkins you want to make. The chart below will give you an idea of how many napkins one yard of fabric will make, according to Joann.

Lunch Napkins

Lunch napkins are generally 12-14 in.2 in size. Here’s how many napkins you can make with different fabric widths.

Fabric Width 45 inches 54 inches
Number of Napkins 6 12

Dinner Napkins

Dinner napkins are usually 16-18 in.2 in size. Here’s how many dinner napkins you can make with 45-inch width fabric and 54-inch width fabric.

Fabric Width 45 inches 54 inches
Number of Napkins 4 6

Napkin Fabric By the Yard

You can purchase fabric for napkins at pretty much any store where fabric is sold, although the patterns and colors will vary by store and depending on the fabric you choose. You’ll need to decide what type of fabric you want and how many napkins you want to make. Use the size chart above to determine how many yards of fabric you need and in what widths to make the number of napkins you want.

Fabrics come in different widths, usually between 45 and 60 inches. The price you pay for fabric per yard depends on the type of fabric that you want to purchase. Some stores offer discounts per yard if you purchase multiple yards as well. You can find cotton and polyester fabrics for less than $5 per yard. Fabrics such as linen, bamboo, rayon, and satin usually cost between $5 and $15 per yard. Silk fabric can cost $15 to $20 per yard or more.


Napkins are one of the easiest projects to make, but you also want them to serve their purpose well. That’s why choosing the right fabric is important. Fabrics such as cotton, linen, bamboo, and cotton/polyester blends are good all-around choices for napkins. But if you want something fancier, opt for satin or silk, although these fabrics won’t be as functional. If you found this article helpful, share it with others, and feel free to leave a comment. Thanks for reading!