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How to Remove Food Stains from Tablecloth

Submit an Entry: Your Laundry Questions and Answers

By Charles Edwards

My Laundry Question

Food stains on white table cloths used for church banquet. 12-14 to wash. Bag of cup towels dish towels from same banquet. Have been constantly under laundered and are dingy and dirty looking.

Share a Little Background Info

Church banquet, sloppy people, food available that leaves stains, and again sloppy people. People that have laundered them in the past evidently were in a hurry with no pretreat of any kind. So we have old food stains with the new food stains and stains that I am not brave enough to ask where they came from.

Lessons Learned

  • Make them wear bibs next time...Do not know how they were laundered in the past, but does not look like they wasted a lot of effort. And my wife steps up and brags to them that 'My husband can clean anything and get the stains out. He knows so much about what to use and how to get it done that nobody can do better.' So guess who got nominated to handle clean up and they expect them to look brand new when I bring them back. Have to take them to a laundromat or I would just take a few at a time and soak them in a vinegar bath. What can I do in a laundromat?

Fabric Content of Item (if appropriate)


Mary Marlowe Leverette, About.com Laundry & Laundry Rooms, says:

I love your wife! She has great confidence in your abilities and is proud to share it with everyone! Before you head to the laundromat, it will be worth spending a bit of preparation time at home.

For the cup towels/dish towels, which I'm sure are 100 percent cotton, you should allow them to soak in a solution of hot water and chlorine bleach. Fill your washer with hot water and add 1/2 cup chlorine bleach and allow to washer to agitate for a few seconds to mix thoroughly. Add the towels and allow them to soak for 30 minutes and wash as usual. This will help to remove stains, disinfect the towels and whiten them.

For the tablecloths, which may have some synthetic fibers (polyester) use oxygen-based bleach (OxiClean, Clorox 2, Country Save Bleach, Purex 2 Color Safe Bleach ) . Since you have so many cloths, you will need to use the bathtub or clean 3 or 4 at a time in the washer. Fill the tub with warm water and add 1 cup of oxygen bleach. Submerge the cloths and allow to soak for 24 hours. Check for stains and if they are still there, repeat the process. Then wash as usual, adding 1 cup of white distilled vinegar to the rinse cycle to help brighten and whiten. If they are really dingy and yellowed, you may need to use a color remover to restore the whiteness.

Good luck!

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