During the first 50 to 60 years of the park, Handkerchief Pool was arguably one of the three most famous thermal features in Yellowstone. The other two being Old Faithful Geyser and Morning Glory Pool. Handkerchief Pool was a novelty for the visitors. Visitors were encouraged to place a handkerchief in the pool, watch the convection currents draw it down into the pool, whirl it around and then return it "cleaned". Fortunately, this type of destructive activity is no longer encouraged. Placing anything into one of Yellowstone's thermal features is now illegal.
The abuse of visitors that started "placing" other objects such as rocks, sparkplugs and logs, was possibly responsible for the demise of this novelty. Handkerchief Pool stopped "functioning" in 1928. Interestingly, a scientific test in 1988, found that the laundry action had returned.
In more recent years, Handkerchief Pool has at times behaved as a quiet pool, a geyser and a spouter. The maximum height seen in the geyser mode is about 8 feet.