How to Wash Polyester Tablecloths and Linen Tablecloths
Tablecloths are elegant and transformative. Whether you use them for daily meals, special occasions, dinner parties, events or for the holidays, knowing how to lauder them properly will keep your linens looking new and prevent wrinkles as much as possible.
Most tablecloths today are either polyester tablecloths or polyester/cotton table linens.
(We refer to “tablecloths” as a general term and “table linens” or “linen tablecloths” when it is a polyester/cotton or cotton fabric).
Linen tablecloths can present more of a challenge due to cotton being absorbent, and therefore it is recommended to pretreat stains.
Spot clean tablecloth stains as soon as possible. The sooner you treat a stain, the easier it will be to remove. Use stain remover, liquid laundry detergent or even a degreasing dish soap such as Dawn on the stained area. Scrub the stain and then wash, rinse the area. For old stains and grease stains, add 2 full tablespoons of baking soda in addition to your laundry detergent into the wash. Baking soda is effective in cleaning settled stains.
Another tried and true method, especially for dried grease stains, is WD-40. Put a rag under the stained area of the tablecloth to protect the surface of the area you are working in. Saturate the stain with WD-40 and allow it to sit for 30 minutes before washing.
Washing and Drying
You can use any laundry detergent to wash unless the fabric has a care tag with other instructions. Do not use bleach unless your tablecloths and napkins are completely white.
To help protect your tablecloth and napkins, add fabric softener to the final rinse cycle. This provides a protective coating to the fiber that will help prevent spills from penetrating into the fibers as quickly.
If the cloth had food stains, when the wash cycle is complete, check to see that the stains washed out. If they remain, do not place in the dryer. The heat of the dryer will make the stain even more difficult to remove. Instead, treat and wash again before drying.
Tumble dry low heat, permanent press setting. This cool-down feature helps reduce wrinkles. Remove promptly. Drying temperatures in excess of 180°F can shock the fabric and create permanent wrinkles.
I have found that removing the tablecloth from the dyer when still slightly damp and placing it back on the table overnight helps any wrinkles to fall out and then the following morning I fold and store.
If ironing, iron on low setting. Iron in a backward, forward motion with the weave of the fabric. Never iron in a circular motion.
To avoid mildew, make sure your table linens are completely dry before storing.
Store in cool, dry ventilated area. Rolling or hanging on a rod, rack or dowls or will prevent wrinkles and creases.
With the above proper care, your tablecloths will look beautiful for many years!