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Tips for Cleaning Tablecloths

wine staining tablecloth

If you hosted summer events and have been holding football parties lately, it’s highly likely that your tablecloths have endured their share of use, abuse and stains. With big holidays coming up rather soon, it’s the perfect time to get those tablecloths cleaned. Having tablecloths spotless means they’re ready to go for every big meal and family celebration you have planned. Cleaning tablecloths you don’t use over the fall and winter months is also a good idea, as you should never store linens with stains because this can permanently damage the fabric.

Cleaning tablecloth stains

You should never risk damaging your special occasion tablecloths so if you have any doubt about the proper way to clean them, take them to a professional dry cleaner for stain removal and ironing. In between professional cleanings, it’s good to know how to clean common stains from your table linens to avoid damage.


The flicker of candles creates a great ambience for holiday meals, but it can also cause dripping wax stains on your tablecloth. To remove wax, place a bag of ice on it to freeze and harden it then gently chip away at the wax with a butter knife or spoon. If it’s a lace tablecloth, work extremely carefully to avoid snags. Another method to remove wax is to place a plain brown paper bag over it and run an iron on medium over the bag. The warmth of the iron softens the wax and the brown paper bag can then absorb it. Never iron wax directly because this can make the stain permanent. Take the tablecloth to a professional cleaner as soon as possible to remove the remaining stain.

Apple cider and other fall drinks

When the weather turns colder, everyone enjoys warm drinks including coffee, tea and mulled cider, but accidents happen, and these drinks can wind up soaked into your tablecloth. As soon as possible after the spill happens, flush the stain with cold water, blot with a mild dish detergent and then rinse. Use white household vinegar for any remaining stain and rinse thoroughly to avoid damage. Treating this type of stain promptly is essential for thorough removal so take it to your professional cleaner or arrange for pick up at your earliest convenience.

Red wine

Relaxing with a nice glass of red wine and great conversation around the table is the ideal way to spend an evening. However, that relaxation can get uncorked when someone spills on your favorite tablecloth. Instead of losing your cool, handle the stain promptly by blotting the area with paper towel until the excess liquid has been absorbed. Soak the stained section in cool water as soon as possible and pre-treat it with stain removal product or white vinegar. If the tablecloth is machine washable, wash it on the warmest temperature safe for the color and material. When the tablecloth is a family heirloom or an antique, don’t risk DIY cleaning and instead take it to a professional dry cleaner.

Gravy and other proteins

Fall and winter are the times when we all indulge in foods that are a bit richer like gravy during a big feast and eggnog around the holidays. Inevitably, such food and drink find their way onto your tablecloth, so it’s good to know how to remove them. First, use your fingertips to work cold water and mild detergent into the stain and then rinse with cold water. Presoak with an enzyme pre-treater or detergent to break up the stain and then wash the tablecloth if possible or enlist the help of a professional cleaner.

For tablecloths that are too delicate or large for your washing machine, trust their care and cleaning to Embassy Cleaners.

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