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How to remove tricky stains from tablecloths

Our tablecloths come into constant contact with a multitude of potential stain causing hazards. Everything from candle wax to coffee and everything in-between can ruin our precious table coverings but never fear help is at hand. The purpose of this guide is to offer some helpful tips to remove or lessen those tricky stains.

So, after a special occasion or a family meal, you may find that your tablecloth has been splattered by various foodstuffs and drinks. Rather than leaving it looking tatty or throwing it away, let’s look at some of the common stains, and how to deal with them.

Red wine

Spilling red wine on a tablecloth can seem like a major deal, especially if you don’t deal with it immediately. Of course, in the real world it is unlikely that you will have the time or inclination to grab the tablecloth and scuttle off to remedy the problem there and then. Instead, boil some water and stretch the stained area over a bowl. Pour the boiling water (get help if needed) over the stain and you should see the red wine stain disappear. Once finished your tablecloth should be back to its normal colour.

Coffee and Tea

Like red wine, coffee and tea can leave a nasty stain on a tablecloth but there are some things you can try to help remove them. For starters, simply wipe the area with some water to lessen the effect (be careful not to rub the coffee or tea further into the weave of the fabric).

You can then use either vinegar, or baking soda to attack the stain. If using vinegar, fill a spray bottle with equal parts of white vinegar and water. Spray the affected area and then gently rub into the stain. If using baking soda, sprinkle it on to a damp sponge and rub gently. Once this is finished, rinse gently with cold water and the stain should have lifted. This can be repeated several times to remove stubborn stains.


If you happen to inadvertently, drip butter onto your tablecloth, your first port of call should be the saltshaker. Salt is great for soaking up the grease if used straight away and help prevent further soaking into your tablecloth. Another handy thing to try is artificial sweeteners, which have the same grease busting properties. Once the stain has dried, massage a small amount of liquid detergent into the stain and then wash it using whichever hottest setting the fabric allows.


If gravy has been spilled on your tablecloth then the first thing you should do is mop up any excess gravy in an attempt to minimise the stain. Once the stain has dried, soak it overnight in warm water with the addition of enzyme detergent. The following day, wash or clean your tablecloth in the usual manner and the stain should have lifted.


If candle wax drips on to a tablecloth then it is important to wait until it has hardened before trying to tackle it. Attempting to deal with the stain while candle wax is still warm may result in the stain becoming worse.

Scrape the dry wax off the tablecloth using either your fingernail or a flat edge such as a butter knife. This should be done gently so as not to damage the fabric. Always try to work from the outside of the stain, inwards so not to make the stain worse.

Place a towel on to an ironing board and then put your tablecloth over the towel. Then take a paper bag or a sheet of brown paper (non-wax coated) and lay the paper over the wax stain. Using a hot iron to run over the area should result in the wax being transferred from the tablecloth to the paper. Repeat the process as necessary until the wax has been completely removed.

Of course, these are just a small selection of the possible stains that can affect our tablecloths. Rather than risking the chance of ruining your tablecloths, why not protect your table with an oilcloth tablecloth or a vinyl tablecloth. Both of these have a protective coating that makes them easy to keep clean should a spillage occur.

We hope that you have found this guide useful but we must stress that it is always imperative that you take into consideration the care instructions for your tablecloth.