How to Wash Table Linens

Table linens are a beautiful and essential part of any dining experience, whether for a formal dinner party or a casual family dinner. They protect your table from spills and scratches and add elegance and charm to the overall ambiance. However, frequently used table linens can easily get stained, wrinkled, or discolored.

How to Wash Table Linens

That’s why knowing how to wash table linens and care for them is essential to maintain their quality and prolong their lifespan. If you’re new to washing table linens or want to refresh your knowledge, this guide is for you! We’ll review the basics of washing different table linens and provide tips on keeping them looking their best.

Understanding Table Linen Materials: Cotton, Linen, and Polyester

Regarding table linens, there are three main materials to consider: cotton, linen, and polyester. Each has its own unique characteristics and requires different care methods.

1. Cotton – Most commonly used for tablecloths and napkins, cotton is a durable and absorbent material that is easy to clean. It can withstand high temperatures, making it ideal for removing tough stains. However, cotton is prone to shrinkage and wrinkles, so proper care is essential.

2. Linen – Linen is a premium material that has been used for table linens for centuries. It’s known for its strength, durability, and luxurious feel. However, linen can be quite delicate and requires special care to maintain its quality. It’s also prone to wrinkling and needs to be ironed before use.

3. Polyester – A synthetic material, polyester is a popular choice for tablecloths due to its affordability and wrinkle-resistant properties. It’s also easy to clean and dries quickly, making it convenient for everyday use.

Supplies You Will Need to Wash Table Linens

1. Laundry detergent

2. Stain removers (if necessary)

3. White vinegar or lemon juice (for whites and light-colored linens)

4. Fabric softener (optional)

5. Iron and ironing board (for linen and cotton)

6. Gentle laundry detergent (for delicate materials like lace or embroidered linens)

Step-by-step Guidelines on How to Wash Table Linens

Step 1: Read the Care Label

Read the Care Label

The first and most crucial step in washing table linens is to read the care label. It will provide you with specific instructions on how to clean your linens and help avoid any damage or shrinkage. If the care label is missing, refer to our general guidelines below. This step is especially important for delicate fabrics like linen and lace. If you need clarification on a particular material, it’s always best to err on caution and wash it by hand.

Step 2: Pre-treat Stains

If your table linens have any stains, it’s best to pre-treat them before washing. You can use a commercial stain remover or make your own by mixing equal parts water and white vinegar or lemon juice. Gently rub the solution onto the stained area and let it sit for 10-15 minutes before washing. This step will help ensure the stains are fully removed during the wash.

Step 3: Separate Colors and Fabrics

For best results, separating your linens by color and fabric type is essential. Dark and bold colors should be washed separately from whites and light-colored linens to avoid any color bleeding. Similarly, delicate fabrics like linen, lace, or embroidered linens should be washed separately from sturdier materials like cotton or polyester. Make sure to also separate heavily soiled linens from lightly soiled ones.

Step 4: Choose the Right Wash Cycle

Warm Water is Suitable

A regular or gentle wash cycle with cold or warm water is suitable for most table linens. However, it’s best to use a hot water wash cycle if your linens are heavily soiled or have tough stains. Always refer to the care label for specific instructions on water temperature. Choosing the right wash cycle will ensure that your linens are cleaned thoroughly without causing any damage.

Step 5: Use a Gentle Detergent

When washing delicate fabrics like linen or lace, it’s essential to use a gentle detergent. Harsh chemicals can weaken the fibers and cause damage over time. You can add a small amount of oxygen bleach to the wash cycle for stubborn stains, but be sure to test it on a small area first. For everyday table linens, a regular detergent is usually sufficient.

Step 6: Avoid Overloading the Washing Machine

Avoid overloading the washing machine to prevent wrinkling, and ensure your linens are cleaned properly. It’s best to fill it only halfway with linens and leave enough space for them to move freely during the wash cycle. If you have a large load to wash, splitting it into two smaller loads is better. Balancing the load by evenly distributing the linens around the agitator.

Step 7: Choose the Right Drying Method

Air Dry Your Table Linens

It’s best to air dry your table linens whenever possible when it comes to drying. This method is especially suitable for delicate fabrics like linen and lace, as it prevents shrinkage and wrinkles. If you need to use a dryer, use a low or medium heat setting and remove the linens while they’re still slightly damp. Overdrying can cause shrinkage and make ironing more difficult.

Step 8: Iron if Needed

Cotton and linen tablecloths should always be ironed before use to remove any wrinkles. It’s best to iron them while they’re still slightly damp to prevent damage. Use a hot iron and make sure to use a pressing cloth or iron on the reverse side for delicate materials. If your linens have embroidery or lace, iron them on the reverse side to avoid damaging these delicate details. Make sure to iron in the direction of the fabric’s grain for best results.

Following these guidelines will help keep your table linens looking clean and fresh for years to come. Always read the care label and handle delicate fabrics with extra care. With the right cleaning methods, you can enjoy your beautiful table linens for many special occasions to come. Happy washing!

Additional Tips and Tricks to Wash Table Linens

1. If your table linens have stains, presoak them in a mixture of water and oxygen-based bleach before washing. This will help to remove stubborn stains without damaging the fabric.

Presoak Them in a Mixture of Water

2. To remove wrinkles from table linens, use a steam iron on the lowest setting or hang them in a steamy bathroom for a few minutes before ironing. This will help smooth out any creases without using high heat, which can damage delicate fabrics.

3. If your table linens are made of linen or cotton, machine-wash them gently with cold water. Use a mild detergent and avoid using fabric softener, as it can leave a residue on the fabric.

4. Avoid using high heat settings When drying your table linens and opt for low or medium heat instead. High heat can cause shrinkage and damage to delicate fabrics.

5. Once your table linens are dry, iron them on the appropriate heat setting for the fabric. Use a pressing cloth to avoid direct contact between the iron and the fabric, which can cause scorching.

6. Hand washing is recommended to prevent any damage if you have embroidered or lace table linens. Gently wash them in cold water with a mild detergent and avoid wringing or twisting them.

7. add a cup of lemon juice or distilled white vinegar to the wash cycle to brighten and whiten white table linens. This will help remove any lingering stains and make your linens look new.

8. Store your clean table linens in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Avoid storing them in plastic bags, which can cause yellowing and discoloration over time.

9. If your table linens have a delicate lace or trim, use a mesh laundry bag when washing to prevent snagging and damage.

10. Lastly, avoid using bleach on colored table linens, which can cause fading. Instead, choose color-safe bleach or natural alternatives like baking soda or hydrogen peroxide.

Following these tips and tricks will help to keep your table linens looking clean, crisp, and beautiful for years to come. Remember to always read the care instructions on your linens before washing them and follow any specific guidelines recommended by the manufacturer. With proper care, your table linens will be ready to impress at all of your future gatherings and special occasions. Happy laundering!

Things You Should Consider to Wash Table Linens

The Type of Fabric They Are Made of

1. The first thing you should consider when washing table linens is the type of fabric they are made of. Some fabrics require special care, such as hand-washing or dry cleaning, while others can be washed in a regular machine cycle.

2. Another important factor to consider is whether your table linens have any stains or spills on them. If so, it’s best to pre-treat the stains before washing to ensure they are fully removed.

3. It’s also important to read the care instructions on the label of your table linens. This will give you specific guidance on how to wash and dry them properly.

4. Regarding temperature, always use cold water when washing table linens. Hot water can cause shrinkage or fading, especially for delicate fabrics.

5. Use a gentle detergent when washing table linens to avoid any harsh chemicals or bleach that can damage the fabric.

6. If you are using a washing machine, make sure to only fill it about halfway to allow enough room for the table linens to move freely during the cycle.

7. For heavily soiled or stained table linens, consider soaking them in cold water and detergent for a few hours before washing.

8. To prevent wrinkles, it’s best to remove table linens from the washing machine immediately and shake them out before placing them in the dryer.

9. When drying table linens, opt for a low or medium-heat setting to avoid any shrinkage or damage to the fabric.

10. Lastly, air-dry your table linens instead of using a dryer. This will not only save energy but also help to maintain the quality and color of the fabric.

Following these considerations will ensure that your table linens are properly washed and maintain their quality for years to come. Additionally, always store your clean table linens in a cool, dry place to prevent mold or mildew growth. With proper care and maintenance, your table linens will continue to add elegance and style to your dining experience. Happy washing!  

Maintenance Tips for Table Linens

1. Store Linens Properly:

When unused, table linens should be carefully folded and stored in a cool, dry place. Avoid storing linens in direct sunlight or areas with high humidity, which can cause discoloration and mold growth. This is especially important for delicate linens of natural fibers such as linen or cotton.

Add a sachet of dried lavender or cedar chips to the storage container to keep linens fresh and prevent musty odors. This will also discourage pests from infesting your linens.

2. Wash with Care:

Avoid Using Bleach

Before washing table linens, make sure to remove any excess food or stains. Use cold water and a gentle detergent specifically designed for delicate fabrics. Avoid using bleach as it can weaken the fibers and cause discoloration. If your linens are heavily soiled, pre-soak them in a mixture of cold water and mild detergent for 15-30 minutes before washing. This will help loosen any tough stains without causing damage to the fabric.

After washing, hang the linens to dry or lay them flat on a clean surface. Avoid using a dryer, as the heat can shrink and damage delicate fabrics. If you must use a dryer, choose a low heat setting and remove the linens while they are still slightly damp.

3. Iron with Caution:

Ironing table linens is important to achieve a crisp, polished look. However, doing so cautiously is important to prevent damaging the fabric. Always iron linens on a medium to low heat setting and use a pressing cloth between the iron and the fabric. This will help protect delicate fibers from direct heat and prevent scorch marks.

Iron linens while they are slightly damp for best results. If the linens have dried completely, lightly mist them with water before ironing. This will help prevent creases and make it easier to achieve a smooth finish.

4. Handle Stains Immediately:

Accidents can happen during meals, and it’s important to address stains on table linens immediately. Blot the stain with a clean cloth or paper towel to remove any excess liquid. Avoid rubbing the stain, as this can cause it to spread and become more difficult to remove.

Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water for tougher stains and soak the stained area for 15-30 minutes before washing. This natural solution is gentle on fabrics and effective in removing most stains.

5. Rotate Linens Regularly:

Rotate Them Regularly

To ensure even wear and prevent any linens from being used more frequently than others, it’s important to rotate them regularly. This is especially important for tablecloths and placemats, which may get stained or damaged more easily. By rotating your linens, you can extend their lifespan and ensure a consistent look for your table setting.

6. Use Liners:

To protect your tablecloth from spills and stains, use a liner underneath when setting the table. This can be a plastic or fabric liner that acts as a barrier between the table and the fabric. Not only does this protect your linens, but it also makes clean-up easier and prevents any damage to your table. This is particularly useful for outdoor dining, where spills and stains are more likely to occur.

By following these maintenance tips, you can keep your table linens looking fresh and beautiful for years to come. With proper care and attention, your linens will continue to enhance your dining experience and impress guests with their elegance and quality. Remember to store, wash, iron, handle stains, rotate, and use liners for the best results.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Often Should I Wash My Table Linens?

The frequency of washing your table linens will depend on how often you use them. If you only use them occasionally, washing them every 2-3 months should suffice. However, if you use them daily or weekly, washing them after each use is recommended.

What Is the Best Way to Store Table Linens?

When storing table linens, make sure they are clean and completely dry. It’s best to fold them neatly and place them in a cool, dry area away from direct sunlight. Avoid storing them in plastic bags as this can cause moisture buildup and result in mildew.

Can I Wash My Table Linens with Other Laundry?

It’s generally recommended to wash your table linens separately from other laundry. This is because other laundry, such as clothing, may contain dirt or oils that can transfer onto your table linens and potentially ruin them. However, if you choose to wash them together, use a gentle detergent and separate any items that may bleed or stain.

What temperature should I wash my table linens at?

It’s best to follow the care instructions on the label of your table linens for washing temperature recommendations. Most table linens can be washed in warm water (around 40-60 degrees Celsius) with a gentle detergent. However, if your linens are heavily stained or soiled, you may need to wash them in hot water.

How Do I Remove Stains from Table Linens?

For light stains, pretreating with a stain remover and washing as usual should do the trick. For tougher stains, such as red wine or tomato sauce, you may need to soak your linens in a solution of warm water and oxygen bleach before washing. Treating stains as soon as possible is important for best results.


Now you know how to wash table linens and properly care for them! Remember to follow the care instructions on the label and handle stains promptly. With proper maintenance, your table linens will last for many meals and gatherings to come.

Additionally, regular laundering of table linens helps keep them clean and looking their best and helps remove any bacteria or germs that may have accumulated from use. So keep those table linens clean and enjoy your next meal with peace of mind. Happy washing! 

Photo of author

Adrian Green

Adrian is a woodworking hobbyist and has loved Woodworking since he was 10 years old. Back then in childhood, his father used to have a furniture shop. He used to help his dad and learned a lot from him about how to fix woodworking furniture, basic carpentry knowledge and also about how to work hard and take care of business. He enjoys woodworking as a hobby. He loves the feeling of creating something with his own hands, and the satisfaction that comes from seeing his finished products used by others.

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