How to Wash and Remove Holiday Stains from Linen

How to remove stains

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to entertain and host a party, and the table is where it all happens! Today I’m sharing how to wash and remove holiday stains from linen!

I love the feeling of reuniting with friends and family around the Thanksgiving table, sampling a variety of delicious foods {desserts}, and seeing a pretty fall tablescape with stunning colors.

I’m always happy reaching into my hall closet to pull out a freshly ironed tablecloth … I love the feel of linen.

I wonder how many of us follow the tradition that our mothers passed down? Always keep the tablecloths pressed and ready? Iron them as you need them? Or possibly never using linen for holiday celebrations, creating a more casual feel.

How to remove stains

Whether casual or formal, my hall closet is full of pressed tablecloths on hangers, and I love the smell when I open the door (and napkins in the drawers) = STARCH! :)

There’s something about the fresh smell of starch, the beautiful colors lined in perfect order, and the nostalgic feeling that comes over my soul. (Some are hand-me-downs from my Mama.)

I’d really love to sit down this Thanksgiving and have a chat with my mom. Even though it’s been years, the desire, memories, and love are still there. I can almost taste Mom’s delicious cooking, hear her soothing, sweet voice, and feel her warm embrace.

Back to the table …

Inevitably, every year, something gets spilled on the table. And it’s usually something dark in color, hard to remove, and I always have a sense of dread. I’m not mad, but I’m just wondering if I can fight that stain and totally remove it, preserving my beautiful tablecloth. I’ve had to toss too many, or reuse them for something else, so my mind starts figuring out what kind of stain it is, and how can I remove it?

Having cleaning supplies ready and close by helps, but here are some tips I’ve learned over the years, to get out those pesky stains.

3 simple tips for removing stains:

1. Determine if the fabric is washable (if dry clean only, you will skip #3 and send to the cleaners).
2. Spot-treat the stain.
3. Wash as usual.

Red or dark colors, such as wine or coffee: Place a towel under the stain. Counter the dark stain by pouring white wine on top of the stain and let it soak/sit for about 10 minutes. Tamp with another dry cloth. If the stain persists, try white vinegar, and then diluted liquid laundry detergent.

Oily ingredients such as butters or gravy: Scrape away the food with a butter knife. Place a towel under the stain, add diluted laundry detergent and rub with another soft towel to remove the stain. Let sit for 10 minutes and repeat the process again.

Chocolate or berries: Scrape away the food with a butter knife. Place a towel under the stain, add diluted dishwasher detergent and gently rub with another soft towel, letting sit for 10 minutes. Repeat the process if needed.

Tomato or citrusy sauces: Rinse with cold water, and apply diluted dishwasher detergent and rub with another cloth. Rinse with cold water; repeat the process. Hydrogen peroxide works for last resort.

How to remove stains

Another tip from Mom: The Heloise book she gave me years ago, with tips and tricks from way back then, that still work on linen today!,

And one last trick I learned from my mom: She ironed the red candle wax out the the white linen with a brown paper sack. Lay the bag on top of the soiled linen, iron on top of the bag, and the wax comes right out. I’ve tried it – it works!

What’s your go-to stain remover trick, and did your mom or grandma use linen tablecloths for the holidays?

10 comments on “How to Wash and Remove Holiday Stains from Linen”

  1. Pingback: Best 17 Laundry Hacks That Will Change Your Life Forever - All Viral Posts

  2. Sandy, I use Dawn dish soap and work it into the fabric. It works on most of our oops at the table. Love a table with fresh linens and green plants or flowers. Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone!

  3. Sandy these are such handy tricks for stains! I’m hopeless at this stuff!

  4. I’ve read great reviews of some simple white dinner plates from Wal.Mart (Strawberry Street?) that are about $2 each- they were purchased for large family gatherings so they’d match and be a little more substantial without a huge investment.

  5. Sandy,

    What great tips! {I hate stains as my kids will attest- stain stick was a staple in my diaper bag!}

    While we were overseas, another military spouse was hosting an event and had red wine spilled on a white tablecloth. Another diplomat’s wife said to add a little more red wine and then blot because it was drawn to itself…my friend said it worked amazingly. I’ve never tried it myself, but it might be fun to experiment on a scrap piece.

    I keep some sort of grease fighting liquid dish detergent in the house which works well for greasy stains if you can rub it in fairly quickly.

  6. I love using my mother’s china and linens for holiday dinners, even when hosting my husband’s huge family. The family is growing, and this year we’ll have 27 for Thanksgiving dinner ! Although I don’t really want to do it, I’m using paper plates, napkins and plastic utensils for the first time. I’m not sure I can set the tables ahead of time because people come early for appetizers and things get messed up. I do plan on using real tablecloths, though. Any ideas, Sandy, for making my tables look pretty even without my china? Your blog and book are awesome !

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