How to Properly Clean Your Table Linens Before the Holidays (Part 1)

Are you expecting company for dinner this holiday season? If so, then chances are that you'll be breaking out the "fine china" and that table cloth that has been stored since last holiday season. While any good host or hostess' goal when they invite guests over for a meal is to make sure that there is plenty of food and beverages to go around, it's equally important that your home (including the table) looks just right. With that mind, today we'll discuss 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

How to Properly Clean Your Table Linens

Cleaning table linens is no more complicated than washing your bedspread, but as with anything you wash, it's important to pay attention to the wash instructions. For example, if your table cloth is made of cotton, you can confidently throw it in the washing machine without issue. However, if you prefer your table lines to have a little bit of stiffness, you may want to add starch after you wash.

Cleaning Non-Cotton Fabrics

On the other hand, if your table linens are not cotton-based and don't come with a care tag, you may need to hand wash. While many washing machines come with a "hand wash" cycle, we find that it's best to genuinely hand wash any pieces that you care about. To do this,

  • Fill a large wash basin or sink with cool to lukewarm water (not hot!).
  • Add gentle laundry soap and agitate just a little bit. NO FABRIC SOFTENER.
  • If washing white linen, you can also add a cap full of bleach to the water.
  • Place your table linens in the water one piece at a time and gently rub the fabric together to clean.
  • Be sure to squeeze the fabric in the water and then rinse the pieces thoroughly to ensure that any detergent you've used is washed away. To do this, make sure that after you've washed everything, you drain the sink and refill with water. There shouldn't be any soap left in the water (it may take a few cycles).
  • Once you've washed and rinsed to your liking, hang items to dry. Do not wring them out.

How to Avoid Your Table Linens Shrinking

We find that many people are actually scared to wash their favorite table linens because they fear that they'll either ruin it or that it'll shrink; and we understand the dilemma. However, while linen can be prone to shrinkage, you can generally avoid much of any shrinkage by hanging your pieces out to dry. Tumble drying can certainly increase the chances of your favorite table linens shrinking so we advise against that.

If you absolutely insist on tumble drying for any length of time, we would suggest that you hang dry your items first and only use the dryer to fluff your linens. You can also place a few dry towels in the dryer along with your wet table cloth and dry on low for 20-25 minutes and your table linens should dry quickly with minimal shrinkage.

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