How to Properly Clean Your Table Linens Before the Holidays (Part 2)

Last week, we started a discussion about how to properly clean your table linens before the holidays. While Thanksgiving may be behind us now, let's not forget that we're about to enter the "Super Bowl" of entertaining. That's right, Christmas. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa or some other holiday, December is packed full of opportunities to have dinner with family and friends. And, if you're like many of the people we know, you'll be reusing the same "fancy" table cloth you used last week. With that mind, today we'll continue our discussion on how to properly clean your table linens (including the table cloth, runners, and napkins) before the holidays as well as how to store them for their next use.

Properly Clean Your Table Linens by Treating Stains Immediately

Raise your hand if your 13-year-old spilled their entire Thanksgiving dinner all over your freshly cleaned table cloth last week. Just us. Okay, but chances are that at some point, even the cleanest guests will have a spill that needs to be cleaned up.

And like we said last week, if your table cloth is made of cotton, no biggie. But if your table cloth is made of linens, you may need to provide a little extra care to those stains.

While different types of stain call for different removal methods, the general rule of thumb for treating stains is to remove the stain as quickly as possible! Fresh stains are always easier to remove than stains that have been sitting in a laundry bin waiting for wash day. That said, here's how we would remove stains from your table linens.

  • For liquid spills and stains, blot up the excess liquid with a clean wet cloth or paper towel (this also goes for clothing). Do NOT rub the excess liquid into the table linen as doing so will just push that stain deeper into the fibers and may make it such that removing the stain is no longer an option.
  • Depending on the type of stain, you may actually need to let the stain dry a little bit. For example, if your family enjoys eating outside during the holidays and your dog jumps up onto the table with his muddy paws - let the mud dry, then brush it off before washing.
  • Most stains can be removed using cold water (with the exception of oily stains). As such if milk or anything with egg in it spills on the table, make sure to use cold water. You can even run cold water through the fabric immediately and the stain should come right out.
  • If you don't notice a stain until after you've washed your table linens, whatever you do, DON'T IRON OR TUMBLE DRY. Heat can make even minor stains permanent.

What About Candle Wax?

If you're like many people we know, you enjoy a candlelit meal during the holidays. Unfortunately, candles are known for dripping and can often cause a mess for your favorite table linens. Fortunately, removing wax is relatively easy.

Option 1 Freeze It

Your first option for removing wax from your table linens is to freeze it. Simply fold the entire table cloth, table runner or napkins up such that the wax is on top and put it into your freezer. OR place an ice pack on top of the linen while it is still on the table if you want to treat the stain during the meal. Then, once the wax is completely frozen, use a butter knife or your finger nail to scrape off the wax. Easy peasy.

Option 2: Heat It Up!

Another option for removing wax from your table linens is to use heat. To do this, place paper towels on either side of the wax-stained area. Then, with a warm iron, iron over the paper. The heat from the iron will max the wax melt from your table linens and transfer to the paper. Repeat until all the wax is removed and then wash.

How to Properly Iron Your Table Linens

First and foremost, it's worth saying that we highly recommend ironing your table linens long before the day of your event as it can be quite time consuming. We recommend taking on this assignment at least 2 days before your dinner.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, make sure that your table linens are damp, but not wet. We often keep a spray bottle full of water to gently dampen our linens before ironing. Then, using your ironing board, iron your linens in sections until the entire piece is ironed. Make sure to keep the pressure of the iron even and that you don't iron in one specific spot to avoid burns on the fabric.

How to Properly Store Your Table Linens

Once the holidays are behind us, it's time to store your table linens. While we know plenty of people who will fold it up and shove it in a drawer, we recommend hanging your table linens on padded hangers in the closet to avoid mildewing and wrinkling. Alternatively, you can wrap your freshly laundered linens around a large cardboard wrapping paper tube (note - make sure to save these are you're wrapping Christmas presents). Doing so not only prevent wrinkles, but may prevent you from needing to iron your table cloth at the start of next holiday season.

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