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The Magic of Centuries…still beats the competition

May 02, 2011


Getting stains out of your washable table linens –

I’ve found a simple method that works really well to get spots out of table linens and allows me to use all our beautiful and bright tablecloths without worry.

Group of Tablecloths

This is what you’ll need:

  • A bar of mild soap (I use Savon de Marseille, because it is pure and will not harm the fabric or your hands) *1
  • A thin plastic cutting board*2 to protect your table from water • A small bowl of room temperature water
  • A clean sponge
  • A soft toothbrush

First, make certain the linens are washable*3. Before removing the tablecloth from the table check for spots. The sooner you pre-treat the better, though it is still possible to remove stains a few days later.
Every spot needs to be pre-treated. Place the plastic cutting board between the tablecloth and the table this will protect the table.

Plastic mat protecting table
Place the protective board between the tablecloth and the table

Moisten the area with the damp sponge and rub the bar of soap into the spot.

Wetting the stain
The spot may turn blue when you add soap

Wet the area again with the sponge rubbing gently and checking to see how much of the spot you’ve been able to remove.

Adeline removing stains

If the spot is still there repeat the process, using the toothbrush and gently brush the soap into the spot and the surrounding area.

Gently rubbing with toothbrush

Coat all the spots with a layer of soap and let it dry. I find it works best if you wait 2 to 3 days before washing.
The heat of the dryer will set stains into the fabric making it difficult if not impossible to remove. Before you dry the linens check that all the stains are gone.


Wet tablecloth Clean Tablecloth
Check that stains are gone before drying

Any stubborn stains should be treated the same way adding a bit more strength when rubbing the soap into the area.

Floral stain Clean floral
Savon de Marseille is mild enough to use on bright prints too!

Occasionally, there are stubborn spots that remain, but to be honest, I don’t worry too much and play at covering them up when I set the table.

1. Savon de Marseille was what every household used when we were growing up. Known for it’s purity and moisturizing qualities this all-natural soap is used for everything, from bodies to laundry. It has been made in the Marseille area of France for 600 years. Rub a little to remove spots, odors or dirt on the collars and cuffs of shirts. I like it much better than all those chemical spot removers.

2. To protect your table from water damage use a flexible cutting board. You can find them in kitchen supply stores.

3. If you are in doubt, check that your fabric is colorfast and washable before starting. Wet an area that won’t be visible and gently rub it with a white cloth and a little savon. If any of the color comes off on the white cloth it is best to check with your dry cleaner.

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