Polyester and linen aren’t our only fabric choices anymore. Many tablecloths and overlays are made of organza, satin, lace and taffeta. Don’t get me started on the prints and designs, you’d be reading here forever so I’ll save that for another time. The one thing I really want you to consider is how you care for your linens. Treat them like you treat your clothes. You don’t dress your body with stained or dirty clothes, or wear them wrinkled; treat your linens with the same care and respect. Your linens are the foundation you build on to create a beautiful table and if they aren’t on point the rest of the tableware and décor won’t create the look and feel that you’re after.
One of the most important things when laundering linens is to read the label and follow the instructions. This is crucial because different fabrics have different requirements. Polyester tends to be the most durable and can be machine washed in cold water and dried with low heat. I’ve put my lace cloths in the washer using the delicate cycle and low heat in the dryer and they were OK. However, hand washing and air drying is actually the best way to launder them. Other delicate fabrics like organza and satin should be hand washed. Yes it takes a little more time but if you’ve taken the time to set a pretty with a special fabric take a little extra time to make sure it’s cared for properly. Satin can be washed on the delicate cycle and dried on low heat also. What I’ve found with most fabrics that are tossed in the dryer, is that removing them right helps to avoid lots of wrinkles.
If your linen is stained with chocolate let it dry and brush away as much as you can with a nail brush or dull knife. For any remaining residue soak the stain in soda water and then a cup of detergent with a stain fighter. Cover red wine stains with sugar or salt to absorb as much of the stain as possible. Then follow with a stain fighting detergent. Coffee and tea stains can be removed with vinegar or lemon juice and then laundered per the label instructions.
Whatever the stain is remember to apply a gentle hand when scrubbing prior to washing. Vigorous scrubbing will break down the fibers and eventually destroy your beautiful linens. Be sure and check the label on any stain remover and do not use bleach. Bleach tends to weaken the fibers.
Then there is storage, ay yi yi! I have used every bit of closet space I can and am still hunting for more. To maximize storage space use a pants hanger. That way you can store at least four cloths to one hanger. A great space saver for napkins is a hanging shoe bag. You can get one that fits over the closet door or one that attaches to the rod. Just imagine how many napkins you can neatly tucked away. Speaking of napkins, a lipstick stain is the most frustrating ever. Some hostesses recommend using a cloth napkin for the lap and a paper one for the lips. That is a fantastic idea! Not just any old paper napkin, a pretty one that coordinates with your décor and one that is soft, thank you very much. Napkins fold better and hold their shape when ironed and preferably starched. Luckily we don’t have to resort to the old Argo starch method that our grandmother’s used. Either spray starch or sizing works well.
No matter the fabric take a little extra time when caring for your linens. You want them to last and you want them to be in their best shape to enhance the beautiful tabletops you create.