Tips + FAQ

Tablecloths and Napkins

The holidays can produce some very nasty tablecloths, napkins and placemats! Like furniture covers, table linens require fast decisions — and proper decisions — to remove most stains and to keep these lovely cloths in rotation.

If you or your guests spill drinks and gravies on linens, what can be done to safely improve or remove the stain, and what should not be done?

First, recognize that many stains — both water-based and oil-based — do not come out in your washer at home. Stains with color or oil require extra care and specific processes and should not be taken lightly.


  • Discern if the stain is water-based or oil-based.
  • Blot the stain with a dry white cloth until you’ve absorbed all that you can.
  • Stop at this point if the stain is oily. If it’s wine, coffee, soda, or some other water-based stain, you can use a moist sponge or club soda, if need be. But do not rub the fabric.


  • Use water or club soda on oily stains, as they may ”set“ them.
  • Leave the linens soiled or uncleaned for weeks following the event.
  • If you do wash the linens, do NOT dry them, as the heat may set the stains.

In most cases, the water in your washer is not hot enough to breakdown oils and to remove them. The oil or gravy may look like its come out because the oily part is often clear in color, but the stain will probably turn yellow over time and you will then have a bigger problem.

If you care about this tablecloth, and it’s real linen (versus polyester), then consult your drycleaner, as they can usually remove the oily stains in the drycleaning machine or in very hot water.

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