Out, Darned Spot! Removing Stains from Table Linens

Out, Darned Spot! Removing Stains from Table Linens

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Jason Loper
Nov 16, 2010

I have a set of off white napkins that I only use on holidays and special occasions. Even with this limited use I always end up with one or two stained napkins. Some stains are harder to remove than others – I'm looking at you lipstick, red wine, and pasta sauce! But with proper treatment and a little elbow grease, many stains can be removed.

  • First and foremost, heat sets stains. If you have a stained napkin, do your darndest to remove the stain before placing it in the dryer or ironing it. Always use cold water when trying to remove a stain. You may also want to drop the stained napkins into a bowl or sink of cold water until you can get around to properly contending with the stain.
  • For greasy stains – like butter, lipstick, or aunt Betty's greasy Swedish meatballs – consider using Goop. Originally intended for greasy mechanic hands, Goop is a wonder on stains. If you're reading this on the morning after Thanksgiving because you were hoping there'd be a solution to the stains your table linens endured the day before and there is just NO WAY you are going to brave the store to pick up a bottle of Goop, you could also try using a little dish soap on the stain. Dish detergent is made to be tough on grease. Squirt a little detergent directly on the stain, gently rub it in, and then let it sit for a little while before rinsing with cold water.
  • Preventing stains before they happen is probably the best way to keep your table linens looking new. Consider ironing your linens with a little starch before you use them. The starch will not only give your linens a crisp look, it will also protect the fabric.
  • Hydrogen peroxide can act as a great stain lifter. Pour a little peroxide directly onto a stain and let it "bubble" for about ten minutes. Then rinse and let dry to see if the stain was vanquished.
  • Word around the Internet, including from Martha Stewart, is that pouring salt onto a spill soon after it happens will help keep the stain from setting in.
  • It's not always food stains that threaten to ruin our table linens. Dripping candle wax can also be a burden. To remove, put a brown paper bag over the wax and iron over the spot. The bag will soak up the wax.

Do you have a surefire way of removing stains from table linens? Add your suggestions in the comments section.

Image: Kissy Cocktail Napkins by etsy seller avrilloreti

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