Caring for Tablecloths and Cloth Napkins

Thanksgiving Table

Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner.  If you are a planner, you’re soon going to think about table linens, which china you’d like to use, and seating arrangements.

If you have ironed and stored your tablecloths well, it will take minimal effort to get them ready.  However, if they are loosely folded on your linen shelf, you can use Mama’s Tablecloth Guidelines to help you get them ready for the festivities.

So you’ve had a wonderful family dinner and now comes the time to wash, dry, and iron your tablecloth and napkins so they are ready for their next use. However, you notice there are multiple stains on them.

Bad stains.  Like tomato sauce and gravy and smears of greasy butter.  So now what do you do?

Tablecloths and cloth napkins are not cheap, and while it may take some effort to get out multiple stains, it is well worth it to keep your linens looking as new as possible.

Here is how to get started.


Treat Your Table Linens Gently

Tablecloths and cloth napkins tend to be of a more delicate fabric.  Their fabric certainly does not have the durability of say, a cotton bath towel.  So they need to be treated gently in order to look nice and new for a long time.

If at all possible, identify the types of stains that are on your linens.  If you are certain you know the type of stain you are dealing with, you can get started on the type of stain removal it needs.  Brush or pick off all food particles, being careful not to smear them further into the fabric.


Start the Stain Removal Process

  • Tomato-based stains almost always require The Soak.  As do stains like mustard.  Do not soak your linens with any other clothing items.  They always need to be soaked separately.
  • Greasy or oily stains such as gravy, butter, ham (and if you’re in the South, green beans) require the Blue Dawn method of stain removal.
  • Tea stains are hard to remove, but can be removed effectively if you move quickly.

For an item as large as a tablecloth, it is very likely that you’ll have multiple stains.  If that is the case, you’ll need to treat the stains individually in order to remove them completely. First, do The Soak if it is needed.  Wash the tablecloth on the delicate cycle, but do not dry it in the dryer. Then move onto the Blue Dawn Method for grease removal.  You might have to let the linen air dry first in order to see the grease stain easily.  Then use the Blue Dawn Method as you would any other garment or linen.

After your stains are successfully removed, you can wash, dry and iron your linens using Mama’s Tablecloth GuideWhen it comes time for you to use your tablecloth again, you’ll be so thrilled that you’ve taken the time now to make them easy to use at your next event!


  1. Great post! Love the directions for dealing with multiple stains. You’re right about the cost of nice table linens meaning that it’s important to take care of those stains!


  1. Thanksgiving Dinner and Children says:

    […] Comes Clean.  And when it is all said and done, Lauren at Mama’s Laundry Talk will help you get your tablecloths clean! Share This Post! 13 Comments – Leave a comment! « Previous Post […]

  2. […] Lauren at Mama’s Laundry Talk (THE place to go for anything you need to know about laundry) is sharing about Caring for Tablecloths and Cloth Napkins – stain removal and general care. […]

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