Table Linen Care
Table Linen • Table Linen Care • Linen Napkins
First of all, when washing table linens it is important to follow the care instructions on the label. These instructions will vary, depending on the material. Remember that linen is a natural fiber and should be washed gently using cool to warm water. Colored linens should be washed in cool water. Ivory Snow powder, Woolite, and Orvus Quilt Soap are sometimes used as laundering agents for linen. Use special care when washing embroidered or fringed linens. Do not wring out your table linens after washing them, or you may break the linen fibers!
Outdoors, either on a line or pegged to the grass, is still the best place for drying linens, because dryers tend to wear out fabric and also make cloth dingy. If outside space is not available, tumble drying is the best alternative method. Whatever method is used to dry linens, they should not be dried excessively so that their fibers become brittle.
Real linen tablecloths, napkins, and placemats should be dampened and stored tightly in a plastic bag prior to ironing. If your linens are scorched during ironing, there are several things you can do. Try sponging the scorch mark with cotton soaked in peroxide, or lightly brush the scorch mark. Placing the linen item in the sun might also work. While some people choose to place the item in the sun dry, others apply a paste of baking soda and water, or a little lemon juice, to the mark before laying it out.
Correct starching and pressing is key to good table linen care. Especially if you are planning on folding your napkins, those with some starch will hold the best. One of the most traditional and fail-safe ways to add some stiffness to your table linens is to add starch to the rinsing water. For those of us that don't have time for traditional starching, similar results can be achieved by stretching damp napkins into shape, misting them with some spray starch, and following up with a non-steam iron on a hot setting. To avoid watermarks, linens should be ironed on the reverse side first, and then on the right side to bring out the linen's sheen.
To keep your linens looking good, be sure to rotate their use so some aren't used more often, and wear out more quickly, than others. If you find grime on fine linens that you would like to preserve, gently dab the spot with distilled water. It will take time and patience to get the dirt out from within the fibers, but the fabric will not be damaged in the process.
Be sure to store your table linens in a well-ventilated place such as a linen closet. If you wrap your linens, use bags made of linen, cotton, or muslin. Don't store linens in plastic bags, cardboard boxes, or cedar chests.
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Table Linen Care - Cleaning Linen Tablecloths and Napkins