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So, You’ve Gone And Stained Grandmummy’s Good Tablecloth

Photo: Jamie Coupaud (Unsplash)
5 Neat Things5 Neat ThingsJolie Kerr is a cleaning expert, advice columnist and the host of the podcast “Ask a Clean Person.” Each week, she’ll round up five essential cleaning products, tools and organizational systems to help you live your tidiest lives.

Okay look, no one plans to be the guy on Thanksgiving who upends an entire glass of red wine on Grandmummy’s good tablecloth. But at some point in our lives, there’s a good chance every single one of us will be the guy who upends an entire glass of red wine on Grandmummy’s good tablecloth. When it happens, at least you can be the hero who has the knowledge to help Grandmummy save her precious tablecloth. Here’s what you need to know about removing the most common holiday stains.

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Wine Away, $7
Graphic: Ana Luisa Suarez

Wine Away is incredible at removing spills and splatters from this year’s Beaujolais nouveau, or whatever other red wines may grace your holiday table. It’s also INCREDIBLE at eliminating stains from cranberry sauce, as well as other similarly stain-y things like pomegranates, blueberries, and even tea and coffee.

Corn Starch, $9
Graphic: Ana Luisa Suarez

Dropped a big blurb of gravy or spoonful of buttery mashed potatoes on granny’s good tablecloth, don’t fret: There’s an easy, hands off way to handle it that works just as well a day (or two, or three) after the spill happens. Heap an anthill-style mound of cornstarch on the grease stain and allow it to sit, undisturbed, for 12-48 hours. Then, brush the cornstarch into the trash; if there’s still a lingering stain, repeat the process then launder the tablecloth as usual.

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An Iron, $22
Brown Paper Bag, $9
Graphic: Ana Luisa Suarez
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The idea here is to gently reheat wax that’s dripped onto fabric and hardened, and letting the brown paper absorb the wax. So: Lay a sheet of brown paper (like a cut-up Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods grocery bag) over the wax. Heat the iron to the lowest setting, and put it on top of the paper. Check under the paper as the wax begins to soften and absorb into the paper, adjusting it a bit hotter if the wax isn’t melting. When the wax has been absorbed into the paper, throw it away and launder the tablecloth as usual.

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Cascade, $18
Graphic: Ana Luisa Suarez

This is weird but it really, really works: Use Cascade dishwasher detergent — it must be the powdered stuff! — to clean white table linens. Dissolve a half cup or so of the Cascade in very hot water and then soak the linens in that solution for several hours up to overnight, then launder as usual. It works as a pre-soaking agent for whites because it has a bit of bleaching effect; for that reason, avoid using it on anything other than whites to avoid the risk of color loss.

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Engleside Restoration, $21
Graphic: Ana Luisa Suarez

It’s really common, because of age and improper storage, for vintage and heirloom linens to become yellowed over time. And, if linens are stored with stains that you didn’t catch last Thanksgiving, they can become set-in and very difficult to remove. Skip Cascade on very fine or delicate linens to avoid damage, and instead use Engleside Restoration; it will reverse yellowing, and remove set-in stains from vintage and delicate fabrics like lace and linen.

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About the author

Jolie Kerr

Jolie Kerr is a cleaning expert, advice columnist and the host of the podcast Ask a Clean Person