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How to Wash Linen and Care for Your Tablecloth

How to Wash Linen and Care for Your Tablecloth

When you invite guests over for a meal, your priority is ensuring the food and drink is perfect - but it’s also equally important to get the setting just right. Our article about setting a casual table makes it simple for you to set your table in just a few minutes, but before you get to that stage, you need to ensure that your table linen is ready to be used at a moment’s notice.

Here at Couleur Nature we believe that table linen should be used every day and not just saved for special occasions, so here are our top tips to make sure your table linen is always ready for use: covering how to wash your linen tablecloths, runners and napkins, plus how to iron and store them properly for their next use.

How to wash linen

When it comes to cleaning linen tablecloths, the best way to approach this is dependent on the material the individual items are crafted from.

Can I wash linen in the washing machine?

All of Couleur Nature’s tablecloths and napkins are handmade from cotton, which makes them very straightforward to clean as they’re machine washable. It couldn’t be easier. If you want to achieve an extra stiffness to your table linen, starch them after the wash. 

Use a gentle cycle and use mild laundry soap. As with all machine washing, don’t forget to keep colors and white table linens separately. This is all you need to do to keep your Couleur Nature linen in beautiful condition - if you have stubborn stains, we do have tips for resolving those later in the article.

How to hand-wash white linen

If you have items that are not cotton-based but don’t have labels providing washing instructions, follow these steps.

Fill a sink with cool to lukewarm water (you minimise the risk of damage if you wash your items in cool water).

  • Add gentle laundry soap - and a capful of bleach (only for white linen).
  • Clean the linen by gently rubbing and and squeezing it in the water - one item at a time.
  • Ensure that you rinse the linen thoroughly to ensure any detergent you’ve used is washed away. Do this by refilling the sink, and repeat this process until the water stops becoming soapy. 
  • Once you’re confident the items are clean, hang them carefully to dry. Do not wring them.

It’s worth remembering not to use fabric softener as this can cause discoloration. Also remember to be careful during the washing process, if any of your items have beads or lace adornments.

Does linen shrink?

Linen can undergo some shrinkage. If you wash them as we advise and let them dry naturally this will be between 4% and 5%, and we’d suggest avoiding tumble drying as this can increase the shrinkage to upwards of 10%.

Tablecloth stain removal

If you have some particularly stubborn stains on your table linen, you may need to treat them directly. So how do you remove stains from linen?

How to remove stains from linen

Different types of stain can call for different methods of removal, and there are correspondingly tailored approaches to removing specific substances from your table linen. However, there are some stain removal basics that are worth bearing in mind for when disaster strikes!
  • Remove the stain as soon as possible - fresh stains are easier to remove.
  • For liquid, blot up any excess with a clean with cloth or paper towel. Never rub blobs into the table linen as it pushes the stain deeper into the fibers.
  • Some substances are easier to remove after the stain has dried - for example, mud. Brush off the excess before washing. 
  • Start with cold water - hot water can actually cook protein stains (such as milk or egg) into the linen. Hot water is useful, however, on oily stains.
  • If you’ve washed your linen and then notice a stain, don’t iron it or put it in the tumble dryer. The heat can make the stain permanent. Try to remove the stain at this point.
  • Check on a hidden area of the table linen before applying any product to make sure it doesn’t affect the color or finish.
  • Avoid vigorous rubbing - as well as potentially damaging your table linen, it can also establish the stain.

How to remove wax from a tablecloth

A common problem after candlelit meals is when the wax has dripped from the candle onto your tablecloth or runner and made a mess. While it seems like a difficult problem, removing the wax is actually relatively easy using either cold or heat.

Option 1: Freeze the wax

  • Fold the entire tablecloth or runner with the wax on the top, and put it in the freezer. Alternatively, place an ice pack on top of the linen while it is still on the table.
  • Once the wax is frozen, use a dull knife (such as a butter knife) or your fingernail to scrape the wax off with care.

Option 2: Remove the wax using heat

  • Place paper towels on both sides of the stained area.
  • With a warm clothes iron (not too hot) iron over the paper. The heat will make the wax melt and soak into the paper.
  • Repeat the process with fresh paper towels until all the wax is removed, then wash the linen as normal. 

How to iron linen

To make things easier, we recommend that you undertake this process in advance of the day that you want to use the tablecloth and other linen! This helps you concentrate on preparing the food in advance of your guests arriving.

How to iron your tablecloth

Firstly, prepare your tablecloth. It works best if it is damp (but not wet). 

How to iron your napkins

The best place to iron napkins is the ironing board. Simply apply the same method to napkins as to your clothes - keep an even pressure and make sure the iron keeps moving to prevent scorching. 

Tablecloth storage

We recommend hanging your table linen on padded hangers in a closet. Leave plenty of space between them to allow air to circulate to prevent mildew growing

Alternatively, here is a great tip on how to store tablecloths without wrinkling, instead of hanging your tablecloth on a hanger.

Simply wrap your freshly laundered linens around a large cardboard wrapping paper tube. This will prevent wrinkles and keeps the fabric looking freshly pressed, ready for the table.

Table runner

If you follow our tips, your table linen will remain clean and fresh for many years to come! Happy hosting.