When you invest in a tablecloth, you’re probably thinking of keeping and using it for a long while, maybe even as long as possible. 

But to do this, you’ll not only need to find high-quality linens to purchase in the first place, but also learn how to properly care for your materials and protect them from damage.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll discuss all you need to know in terms of washing, drying, ironing, and even storing your table linens and napkins so that you can keep your beautiful products free from harm.

How to Clean Table Linens

The best, safest way to clean your tablecloths, napkins, and accessories is by taking them to a professional dry cleaning service, where your materials can be properly washed, dried, and folded without risk of damage.

Realistically, though, a dry cleaning service isn’t always an option, whether it be due to price, the number of table linens you’re working with, access to professionals, or something else entirely.

Thankfully, it is possible to clean your table linens in-house, but it’s important to remember that doing so may come with some level of risk. Home washing machines and products can be too rough or stretch, shrink, or otherwise alter the look of your table linens. 

To avoid these risks as best you can, it’s key to clean your table linens with care. In many cases, simply following some of the tips we’ll discuss below can help you ensure that your materials come out not just clean, but perfectly intact and ready to be used.

How to Wash Napkins in Washing Machines

Washing machines and dryers tend to be the main culprits when damage to a tablecloths, napkins, etc. occurs, so if you do choose to machine wash your supplies, take things slow.

What Temperature to Wash Table Linens

Always use the lowest heat setting possible when washing your table linens; choose a gentle cycle with fewer rinses and keep other materials out of the machine while your table linens are washing. 

Avoid overstuffing your machines to ensure that your table linens don’t get tangled up or caught in one another. A washable laundry bag is a great way to keep your materials safe and tucked away, especially if you’re working with smaller pieces like napkins.

How to Hand Wash Your Tablecloths and Napkins

Washing your tablecloths, napkins, etc. by hand is perhaps an even safer choice than washing them in machines, but there are still things to keep in mind; the products and methods you choose do matter.

In that vein, it’s key to remember to stay away from cleaning products with harsh chemicals that may damage, stain, or weaken your table linens. 

Even if you’re dealing with tough stains, steer clear of products that aren’t gentle, non-abrasive detergents. Use your cleaner only as is necessary to fully cleanse your table linens. 

You can hand wash your table linens in just about any setting – you may use a large sink, a bucket or bin, or whatever works for you. Just be sure your water bath is clean and the temperature isn’t too hot; if the water feels hot to the touch, you probably want to allow it to cool down a bit.

Once clean, be sure to fully rinse all of the soap off of your table linens so there’s no residue. 

How to Remove Stains from Table Linens

As you progress through the cleaning process, you might stumble upon a dreaded stain or two. The type of stain you’re trying to get rid of may impact the way you handle the situation, particularly if it doesn’t easily come out with a bit of light scrubbing. 

Again, it’s often best to turn to a professional dry cleaner to handle anything more than very basic care, so don’t be afraid to reach out for help. The last thing you want to do is damage your table linens as you’re trying to preserve them.

If you can’t make it to a dry cleaner, though, there are still some things you can do to make your life easier and, hopefully, banish any stain you encounter.

How to Remove Old Stains from White Table Linens

Old, stubborn stains can be the hardest to remove on your own, especially if the table linens you’re dealing with are light in color. In this case, it’s probably necessary to turn to specifically formulated spot treatment products that can help you break down the stain and wash it away.

If you’re not able or don’t want to buy something new, you can create an at-home spot treatment that can likely help you get the job done. 

Simply mix one part vinegar and one part water together and apply to the stain. Use a small brush or washcloth to scrub and some safe laundry detergent to finish up and remove the vinegar from your fabric.

How to Get Yellow Stains Out of White Table Linens

Yellow or other lighter stains may not require as much force or effort to remove, so opt for gentler cleansing options and work your way up if they are unsuccessful.

Stubborn yellow stains that don’t respond to at-home care may warrant a trip to the dry cleaner. 

How to Dry Table Linens

For the best results, opt for a traditional hang-dry method to dry your tablecloths, napkins, etc. If hanging your table linens to dry isn’t an option for you, you can use a low-heat tumble cycle on a dryer to achieve similar results. 

Always remember to use the lowest heat setting possible when working with any sort of machinery. 

If you hang your table linens to dry, keep them away from things that they can get tangled up in or blow into.

Can You Put Table Linens in the Dryer?

Yes, you may put table linens in the dryer. The best way to be positive that you won’t damage the tablecloth is to use a low heat setting, keep other items out of the dryer, and use a tumble cycle.

How to Store Napkins and Tablecloths

Now that your table linens are fresh and clean, you’ll want to finish things up by storing them properly. 

A good rule of thumb is to keep your table linens in a dry environment that isn’t exposed to changes in humidity or temperature. Exposure to moisture is likely the biggest obstacle you’ll potentially encounter and should strive to avoid.

Fold your napkins and tablecloths carefully to prevent wrinkles and make it easier to tuck them away.

How to Iron Napkins and Tablecloths

Depending on the type of material you have, it may or may not be necessary to iron your table linens. But, if you do iron them, keep the heat as low as you can while still successfully ironing out wrinkles and folds.

Avoiding fabrics that tend to wrinkle or are hard to work with can save you lots of time and effort. Here at Urquid, we offer over 300 fabric collections for our table linens to give you all the options you need to find what works for you.

Tips for Certain Fabric Types

Fabric with Sequins

Make sure to fold your table linens and place them in individual mesh laundry bags before placing them in the washer and dryer.

This will help prevent the sequins from clinging onto each other and damaging the table linens.

Crush Texture

Important tip: If your table linen has a unique crushed appearance, be sure not to iron or steam your them as it could ruin the texture.

Metallic Print Fabrics

When treating this type of fabric, you must avoid high heat or harsh chemicals as it could damage the digitally printed design.

Velvet Style Fabrics

With many fabrics you will want to avoid an iron, but this is especially true with velvet. An iron could easily damage the lush velvet texture.

Embroidery Fabrics

We recommend only cleaning embroidered fabrics via dry cleaning due to the delicate nature of the embroidery on the base fabric. 

Normally embroidery is done on a solid or mesh base, so the embroidery ribbon and sequin can tear off the base. Dry cleaning or spot cleaning should prevent any damage. Don't put embroidery in the drying machine, and instead opt for air drying.

How to Clean Table Linens: FAQs

Still have more doubts about keeping your table linens in tip-top shape? Check out these frequently asked questions and answers to learn more.

Do table linens stain easily?

Table linens don’t really stain easily (that is, it doesn’t stain any faster or more frequently than other materials would), but they are often exposed to more things that can potentially cause stains like foods, beverages, oils, etc. 

This is especially true if you’re using napkins. At Urquid, we offer an abundance of napkins with patterns, bold colors, and other features that may help you naturally avoid stains.

Are table linens stain-resistant?

Table linens are not stain-resistant in most cases, though some fabrics or patterns may lend themselves well to easily removing stains or hiding them. 

How do you get brown stains out of white table linens? 

Mild brown and dark stains may come out relatively easily with some careful washing or a spot treatment, but stains that don’t respond to your attempts to clean them may need professional intervention to remove.

How do you get oil stain out of table linens?

Oil and similar stains can be very tough to get out on your own. It’s usually best to visit a professional who has access to high-quality cleaning products and machinery that can truly press out a stubborn stain.