Holiday Guide: How to Wash Linen Tablecloth, Napkins & More

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As detailed as your Thanksgiving planner may be, cleanup procedures are rarely included, specifically how to wash table linens. If your tablecloth, runner, or napkins are actually made of linen, proper washing and drying is essential to maintaining this beautiful fabric. We’ll review how to wash linen tablecloth and other linen dining pieces by hand with quick and simple techniques, supplies, and stain-removing tips.

How to Wash Linen Tablecloth Safely and Effectively

Can you machine wash a linen tablecloth? You can, as long as you use a gentle cycle with mild detergent, and wash colors and whites separately. For extra caution, we’ll break down how to wash linen tablecloth, napkins, and runners by hand in 6 simple steps. We’ll also provide some easy storage solutions so your table linens are ready and waiting for your next event.

Step 1: Pretreat Stains

Wondering how do you get stains out of a linen tablecloth? Pretreating before washing can lead to the greatest success. Here’s how to pretreat stains on linen tablecloths, napkins, and runners:

  • Scrape off any lingering food particles.
  • Gently blot the stain with a clean, dry paper towel.
  • Apply a laundry stain remover or a heavy-duty, enzyme-based detergent to the stain and rub it in with a clean toothbrush.
  • Allow the stain remover to sit for several hours or, ideally, overnight.

how to wash linen tablecloth

Step 2: Fill Sink or Tub

After pretreating, the next step in how to wash linen tablecloth by hand is to fill a sink or tub with lukewarm water. Using hot or cold water can actually shrink linen fabric, while hot water can also set stains.

wash a table runner

Step 3: Add Detergent

We recommend using a gentle detergent to wash linen napkins and tablecloths. Refer to the package instructions to measure the correct amount and add it directly to the warm water. If your tablecloth and linens are white, add a capful of bleach for extra brightness as well. Swish the water with your hands to mix the detergent and water together.

Step 4: Place Table Linens in Water

Always separate colors and whites when adding your linens to the sink or washtub and avoid overcrowding with too many items. To wash a table runner and other linens, swish the fabrics through the water, rubbing and squeezing stained areas until they’re clean.

Step 5: Drain and Rinse

Drain the soapy water from the washtub or sink, removing your table linens to spray down any soapy residue on the sides. Refill the tub or sink with fresh warm water and place the linens back in, swishing them around to remove any lingering soap. If the water becomes soapy again, remove the linens and refill with more fresh water so no soap remains in the linen fabric.

Step 6: Dry Table Linens

Linen tablecloths, napkins, and runners can be dried in a dryer on a low heat setting. Alternatively, they can be air dried flat or hung on an outside clothesline, out of direct sunlight.  Avoid wringing out linen before either drying method, as this can damage the fibers.

Proper Table Linen Storage

Proper storage of table linens can keep them clean and fresh until their next use. Always store linens in a cool, dry area that also allows for ventilation and airflow. These tips detail some of the best ways to store tablecloths:

  • Hanging: Hang tablecloths and runners on a padded hanger, one item per hanger. Leave room between hangers to allow for air circulation.
  • Stacking: Wrap each item in acid-free tissue paper. Place heavier pieces, like tablecloths and placemats, on the bottom, followed by lighter items like napkins. Twice a year, refold items to avoid heavy creasing.
  • Rolling: Roll tablecloths and runners around an acid-free cardboard tube. This can be the best method for avoiding wrinkles.

Whether it’s how to wash linen tablecloth or the best washer maintenance tips, our experts have the answers. Call Tiger Mechanical for all your laundry appliance needs!

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