Your mother-in-law has been hosting Thanksgiving dinner for years, but now it’s your turn. Get out your fine china, make some DIY centerpieces, buy paper napkins, and while you’re at it, roll up your sleeves and clean your tablecloths!

It’s very easy to wash your tablecloths, linens, and covers. You can even wash some right in the washing machine! Who needs Martha Stewart?! Here’s everything you need to know about cleaning tablecloths.

Are Tablecloths Machine Washable?

Good news! Most tablecloths are machine-washable. Wash your linen separately and use cold water and a mild detergent.

*DISCLAIMER: Always check the care tag before washing your tablecloths in the washing machine. Quality Logo Products® is not responsible for any damage caused by washing your tablecloths, table linens, or table covers. Contact the manufacturer directly if you have questions.

What Are Tablecloths Made Of?

Cheap tablecloths are usually made from cotton, polyester, or a blend of these materials. You’ll also find elegant table covers and runners that are made from linen, burlap, organza, lace, silk, or satin.

The following materials are used to make tablecloths.

  • Linen
  • 100% cotton
  • Polyester
  • Cotton blend
  • PVC
  • Vinyl
  • Oilcloth
  • Burlap
  • Organza
  • Lace
  • Silk
  • Satin
  • Taffeta
  • Damask
  • Spandex
Linen Tablecloths

Linen Tablecloths

Are you planning a wedding, banquet, or anniversary party? Decorate every table with a linen tablecloth. Linen is often more expensive, but it’s also beautiful, rich, and looks elegant and refined for formal dinners.

Machine Washable?

Yes – use a delicate cycle and cold water.

100% Cotton Tablecloths

100% Cotton Tablecloths

Everybody should have at least one cotton table cover in their collection. 100% cotton tablecloths are extremely versatile and can look either fancy or casual, depending on the plates, glasses, or decorations you set on top. You can use these table covers for meals at home, or for formal occasions like weddings and holiday dinners.

Machine Washable?

Yes – use a regular cycle and cold water.

Polyester Tablecloths

Polyester Tablecloths

Polyester is a very fine material that can be either plain and simple, or weaved with a more elaborate pattern. You can use fitted polyester tablecloths, which are easy to stretch over the shape of the table.

Machine Washable?

Yes – use a regular cycle and cold water.

Cotton Blend Tablecloths

Cotton Blend Tablecloths

Think of cotton blend tablecloths as having a serious identity crisis. They’re not quite cotton, but they’re not quite polyester either! Both materials are mixed together, resulting in lightweight, airy table covers that can be easily stored at home.

Machine Washable?

Yes – use a regular cycle and cold water.

PVC Tablecloth

PVC Tablecloths

If you need to wipe down your table covers after a messy barbecue, then PVC is the material for you! PVC is a type of plastic that is extremely affordable and may even be disposable depending on how it’s made.

Machine Washable?

No – these tabelcloths need to be washed by hand.

Vinyl Tablecloth

Vinyl Tablecloths

Does your community have a picnic every summer? Use vinyl tablecloths, which aren’t easily damaged by sunlight, water, or air exposure. These table covers may not be as elegant as others, but they’re a good choice if you’re on a budget.

Machine Washable?

No – vinyl tablecloths need to be washed by hand.

Oilcloth Tablecloth

Oilcloth Tablecloths

While an “oilcloth” sounds like something used by mechanics, it’s actually a type of fabric! This material is made from 100% cotton, only it also has a PVC coating that makes it waterproof and easy to wipe down.

Machine Washable?

No – the cycle is too harsh for this material.

Burlap Tablecloth

Burlap Tablecloths

Go green and eat your next meal on top of a burlap table cover. This eco-friendly material is 100% biodegradable, which means it won’t clog up landfills when it’s no longer in use.

Machine Washable?

No – the cycle is too harsh for this material.

Organza Tablecloth

Organza Tablecloths

Organza tablecloths are used to decorate the tables at weddings, family reunions, and other exciting events. These sheer linens come in a variety of bright colors and are decorated with interesting patterns.

Machine Washable?

Yes – use a delicate cycle and cold water.

Lace Tablecloth

Lace Tablecloths

Whether it’s bought at a store or crocheted by hand, a lace tablecloth is very pretty and is perfect for tea parties. You’ll usually find these table linens in white, cream, pale pink, or beige, which means they are subject to stains if you’re not careful.

Machine Washable?

No – handwash lace tablecloths using cool water and a mild detergent.

Silk Tablecloth

Silk Tablecloths

Silk tablecloths are very classy, delicate, and soft. Some of them are even embroidered with flowers, holiday motifs, or another elaborate pattern. These table covers are recommended for indoor dining.

Machine Washable?

Yes – wash inside of a pillowcase or mesh laundry bag.

Satin Tablecloth

Satin Tablecloths

Do you have a date? Make the dinner insanely romantic by decorating with a few mood-setting candles on top of a satin tablecloth. Satin is a glossy, silky fabric that looks delicate, but is actually insanely durable.

Machine Washable?

Yes – use a delicate cycle and cold water.

Taffeta Tablecloth

Taffeta Tablecloths

Taffeta is very similar to satin only it’s a bit thicker, more rigid, and has a visible weaved pattern. This fabric has a crinkled look and is often used to make the table covers at restaurants, coffee shops, and high-end bars.

Machine Washable?

Yes – use a delicate cycle and cold water.

Damask Tablecloth

Damask Tablecloths

Vintage table linens are often made from damask, which is a weaved fabric with a visible pattern. These tablecloths are not as stretchy as fitted tablecloths, but they have an antique look that’s hard to resist.

Machine Washable?

Yes – use a delicate cycle and cold water.

Spandex Tablecloth

Spandex Tablecloths

Businesses that exhibit at trade shows often decorate their tables using spandex tablecloths. These table covers are extremely fitted and stretchy. Plus, they don’t easily slip off the tables.

Machine Washable?

Yes – use a regular cycle and lukewarm water.

*DISCLAIMER: Always check the care tag before washing your tablecloths in the washing machine. You can always wash them by hand if you’re unsure. Quality Logo Products® is not responsible for any damage caused by washing your tablecloths, table linens, or table covers.

How to Wash a Tablecloth By Hand

Hand wash your tablecloths if they’re vintage, handmade, or decorated with beading, sequins, or embellishments. You should also avoid the washing machine if your table covers are made from PVC, vinyl, oilcloth, burlap, or lace.

Follow this process to wash your tablecloths by hand:

What you’ll need:

  • Cold water
  • Mild detergent
  • White vinegar
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt

How to wash a tablecloth by hand:

  1. Pretreat stains using a stain remover, white vinegar, or a mixture of salt and lemon juice.
  2. Fill your bathtub with cold water.
  3. Pour a ½ cup of mild detergent into the cold water.
  4. Soak your tablecloth in the soapy tub.
  5. Drain the tub and gently rinse.
  6. Hang your tablecloth up to air dry.

Step One: Treat Any Stained Areas

Treat Any Stained Areas

After a messy meal, your tablecloths may be stained by wine, juice, coffee, soda, gravy, tomato sauce, salad dressing, butter, chocolate, or cooking oil. Treat stains by applying white vinegar to the area. You can also use a mixture of salt and lemon juice. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes.

Step Two: Fill Up Your Bathtub

Fill Up Your Bathtub

After the stain remover has worked its magic, it’s time to start washing! Fill your bathtub with cold water since hot water can cause the dye in the tablecloth to bleed.

Step Three: Add Mild Detergent

Add Mild Detergent

Pour a ½ cup of mild detergent into the cold water.

Step Four: Soak Your Tablecloth

Soak Your Tablecloth

Soak your tablecloth in the cold, soapy water.

Step Five: Rinse Your Tablecloth

Rinse Your Tablecloth

Use the showerhead to gently rinse the suds off your table linens. Make sure you get all the soap off before you remove from the water.

Step Six: Hang to Air Dry

Hang to Air Dry

Clip your tablecloth to a clothesline, or drape it over your shower curtain rod so it can air dry. It may take up to 2 hours. Be sure the tablecloth is totally dry before putting it in storage so it doesn’t attract mold or mildew.

You can always bring your tablecloths in for dry cleaning, but washing them by hand saves you time and money. The whole process will only take about 30 to 45 minutes, so find some time on the weekend to get it done!

How Do You Clean a White Tablecloth?

How Do You Clean a White Tablecloth?

How Do You Clean a White Tablecloth?

Can you imagine spilling red wine on a white tablecloth? What a nightmare! Luckily, you can clean white table linens using cold water, a mild detergent, and a quarter cup of bleach.

Lemon juice, salt, white vinegar, or baking soda can help remove stubborn stains from white tablecloths. Let the cleaning solution sit for 15 to 20 minutes, and rinse with cold water.

How to Remove Wax From a Tablecloth

How to Remove Wax From a Tablecloth

How to Remove Wax From a Tablecloth

Oh no! Did wax drip from your candle centerpieces onto your beautiful tablecloths? Let’s get it cleaned!

How to clean candle wax off a tablecloth:

  1. Make sure the wax is dry and scrape it off the tablecloth using a dull butter knife.
  2. Place wax paper on an ironing board or stable surface.
  3. Flip the tablecloth over and start ironing so the wax melts onto the paper underneath. You can also use a hair dryer if you don’t have an iron.
  4. Treat any remaining oil with baking soda, white vinegar, or liquid laundry detergent.

A little candle wax won’t hurt your table linens. You just have to scrape it away and use heat to get rid of any residue. Avoid this issue in the future by placing your candles in glass jars or on ceramic plates that catch the wax before it drips.

How Often Should You Wash a Tablecloth?

How Often Should You Wash a Tablecloth?

How Often Should You Wash a Tablecloth?

To avoid stains or food contamination, wash the tablecloth you use at home at least once a week. Do the same if you use table covers at your restaurant. Fancy tablecloths that are used for special occasions and holidays should be washed every time they’re used.

Can You Put a Tablecloth in the Dryer?

You should never put your tablecloths in the dryer. Linen can shrink up to 10% from the heat, so it’s much better to hang up your table covers to air dry instead.

What is the Best Way to Store Tablecloths?

Store your table linens in a cool, dry area. You should also keep them away from the sun to avoid color-fading.

Here are some storage ideas for tablecloths, cloth napkins, and linens.

Hang in the closet

Hang in the Closet

Drape your table linens over a padded hanger and leave them in the closet. There should be only one tablecloth on each hanger with plenty of room in between for air circulation.

Stack on a shelf

Stack on a Shelf

If you don’t have enough hangers, you can fold your table covers and place them inside linen bags or old pillowcases. Lay them one on top of the other in the linen closet.

Roll your tablecloths

Roll Your Tablecloths

You can roll your tablecloths up like posters and keep them wrinkle-free inside of cardboard tubes. Put them in a wicker basket on the floor.

Fold your tablecloths

Fold Your Tablecloths

Fold your table covers the same way you do your t-shirts. You can then put them safely inside of a drawer. Separate each tablecloth with tissue paper to protect the fibers, and use dryer sheets to keep them from smelling musty.

Tie cloth napkins

Tie Cloth Napkins

After you roll up your cloth napkins, secure them in the middle with a ribbon or rubber band. This extra step makes it easier for you to grab them later. Store them in a basket, storage bin, or drawer.

How to Fold a Tablecloth

It’s time to go to your family reunion, and you need to bring tablecloths along for the ride. You need an easy way to fold them up so they don’t get destroyed in route. What do you do?

How to Fold a Tablecloth
How to Fold a Tablecloth

How to fold a round tablecloth:

  1. Place the tablecloth on a flat surface.
  2. Fold the tablecloth so it looks like a half moon.
  3. Bring the rounded edge toward the straight fold.
  4. Meet the left and the right side of the tablecloth together.
  5. Fold one more time so the tablecloth is a nice square shape.

How to fold a rectangular tablecloth:

  1. Hold at the corners so the shorter sides hang down.
  2. Bring one corner to the other to fold the tablecloth in half lengthwise.
  3. Fold in half again either hamburger or hot dog style.
  4. Keep folding until your tablecloth is at the desired size.

Folding is also useful if you need to store the tablecloths at home, but try to avoid folding them too tightly. This will ultimately cause the linens to wrinkle!

How Do You Stop Tablecloths From Wrinkling?

If you can, drape your tablecloths on hangers instead of folding them and putting them in the closet. This helps prevent your linens from wrinkling when they’re in storage.

Are you fresh out of hangers? Try any of the following strategies to remove wrinkles from tablecloths and linens.

Steam Your Tablecloths

Steam Your Tablecloths

Fold your tablecloth over the shower rod in your bathroom, and then start steaming each side*. Try to keep the steamer at least 4 inches from the fabric so the cloth doesn’t get wet or burnt.

Iron Your Tablecloths

Iron Your Tablecloths

Smooth out wrinkles by ironing your tablecloths*. It’s best to do this a section at a time, spraying cool water on each area before you iron so it’s slightly damp. Set your iron on the coolest setting possible to avoid scorching your table linens.

Spray & Smooth

Spray & Smooth

Are you pressed for time? Spritz a mixture of warm water and white vinegar onto your table linens, and use your hands to smooth out the creases. Give the cloth enough time to dry before you put it back on the table or in storage.

Take a Shower

Take a Shower

You can also get rid of wrinkles by hanging your tablecloth in the bathroom while you’re taking a hot shower. This is a great option if you don’t have a steamer or iron. Make sure you close the doors, windows, and air vents to stop the steam from escaping.

Bring Your Tablecloth Outside

Bring Your Tablecloth Outside

On a hot summer’s day, you can use the heat from the sun to remove wrinkles from your tablecloth. Hang your linen on a clothesline if one is available, or use the railings on your porch.

*DISCLAIMER: Be careful if you choose to iron or steam your table covers. Heat can be damaging to fabrics like lace, organza, oilcloth, or silk, so always check the care tag first!

Why Are Tablecloths Useful?

Why Are Tablecloths Useful?

Why Are Tablecloths Useful?

Table linens are a great way to dress up boring tables, but they also offer protection against scratches and stains. Restaurants, banquet halls, wedding venues, cafeterias, and many others can use tablecloths to make every meal feel a bit more special!

The Bottom Line

You probably don’t want more chores, but just imagine how Grandma would feel if her vintage table linens were destroyed! The right care helps prevent tablecloths from getting stained, wrinkled, torn, or faded. Do the hard work now, and you can enjoy your dinner in style later!

References

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Wahlig, H. The Best Fabric for Tablecloths. Retrieved from,
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At Home Mum. Different Types of Tablecloths. Retrieved from,
https://athomemum.com/different-types-tablecloths.html

Mattia, N. marthastewart.com. (2020, October 14). How to Clean All of Your Table Linens Ahead of the Holidays. Retrieved from,
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Linen Beauty. Washing Linen Tablecloths and Napkins. Retrieved from,
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Couleur Nature. How to Wash Linen and Care for Your Tablecloth. Retrieved from,
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Mulvey, K. (2019, March 20). Here’s How to Care for Grandma’s Vintage Linens. Retrieved from,
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Tiger Mechanical. (2020, November 1). Holiday Guide: How to Wash Linen Tablecloth, Napkins, & More. Retrieved from,
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Cleanipedia. (2021, January 6). Can You Wash Linen in a Washing Machine? Retrieved from,
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The Laundress. (2020, November 10). How-To | Clean Table Linen Stains. Retrieved from,
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COIT. (2014, November 24). How to Get Thanksgiving Stains Out of Tablecloths. Retrieved from,
https://www.coit.com/blog/general-home-cleaning/how-get-thanksgiving-stains-out-tablecloths

Real Simple. (2013, October 4). How to Remove Melted Wax Out From Linens. Retrieved from,
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Hochwald, L. (2020, March 16). How to Remove Pesky Candle Wax From Fabric. Retrieved from,
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Real Simple. (2014, August 29). How to Fold a Round Tablecloth. Retrieved from,
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