For a few years now, I have been using washcloths in our kitchen to wipe up spills, clean faces, wash dishes, and clean the counters every evening. We go through quite a few each day and I have noticed that it has helped us to keep our use of paper towels down to a minimum (we haven't eliminated them completely). Typically, I throw dirty washcloths into the laundry room throughout the day so that they can go into the next load of wash that I do.
Despite my positive experience with reusable cloths in the kitchen, I have been resistant to using cloth napkins. I think that it has something to do with thinking deep down that they are for fancy meals and shouldn't be used everyday lest they be ruined. Isn't that silly?
We have begun to use a set of chocolate brown hemstitch napkins that I bought years ago for Thanksgiving dinner fairly regularly and despite being rather messy eaters, we have not ruined a napkin yet. Feeling brave, I recently purchased five (I'd like to buy more as the budget allows... I haven't decided if it is better to have 8 or 12) red and white gingham napkins with dear little red picot trim. We broke them in last night with a dinner of ravioli, meatballs, and lots of spaghetti sauce. I simply tossed them into the washer before bath-time and voila! They were ready for breakfast with nary a mark on them! I am not very fussy about how they look, so I simply smooth them a bit as I fold them and don't worry about the creases in the least! In fact, I think they look better if they are a little rumpled.
Do you use cloth napkins? How do you care for them? How many do you find you need for your family?