How to Wash Vinyl Tablecloths: Machine and Hand Methods
Refresh your best vinyl fabric in a few quick steps
Today's vinyl tablecloths come in every shape and style. They are designed for both indoor and outdoor use, as well as ease of care. Still, vinyl tablecloths require a bit of maintenance to assure they'll last for years, as long-term issues can include stains, wrinkles, and mold. Regular washing with basic dish soap and water will help keep your tablecloth free of stains and mold, and can be accomplished after each use to assure your cloth's longevity. However, a machine wash may be needed after every three uses.
What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Soft cloth or sponge
- Washing machine or bathtub
- Garden hose
- Mild laundry or dish detergent
- Isopropyl alcohol or hydrogen peroxide (for stains)
- White distilled vinegar
- Cardboard shipping tube
|Detergent||Mild laundry detergent or dish soap|
|Water Temperature||Cold or warm|
|Drying Cycle Type||Tumble dry on low|
|Special Treatments||Spot-treat stains with hydrogen peroxide or isopropyl alcohol|
|How Often to Wash||Machine wash after every third use|
How to Wash Vinyl Tablecloths in the Washer
There will come a time when your vinyl tablecloth needs a good overall cleaning. This can be done in your washing machine using cold water, a mild detergent, and the "gentle" cycle.
Place Your Tablecloth in the Washing Machine
Add the tablecloth to the washing machine by itself with no other garments of fabric.
Add a mild laundry detergent to your machine using the recommended amount on the bottle. Make sure it is bleach-free, and do not add straight bleach to the machine. Chlorine bleach, or bleach-based cleaners, can dry out the vinyl and cause it to crack.
Adjust the Cycle
Set the washing machine's cycle to "gentle" or "delicate" and start the machine.
Once the cycle is complete, remove the tablecloth from the washer and hang it on a line to dry. Hanging it in direct sun for several hours will kill any active mold.
If your vinyl tablecloth comes out wrinkled, place it in the dryer with a few heavy towels. Set the dryer on low heat for two to three minutes. Stay nearby, and do not allow the tablecloth to overheat or melt. If the wrinkles are still prominent, repeat the process.
How to Hand Wash Vinyl Fabric and Tablecloths
Wipe Spills Promptly
Always wipe up spills on a vinyl tablecloth promptly. Use warm water, a soft cloth or sponge, and mild dishwashing detergent to avoid scratching the surface.
Pre-Rinse Your Tablecloth
Hang your cloth and rinse it well (using a garden hose).
Wipe Down the Front and Back
Saturate a clean white cloth with white distilled vinegar and give the vinyl tablecloth a wipe-down on both the front and the back sides.
Hang to Dry
Hang your tablecloth on a clothesline and allow it to dry without rinsing off the vinegar. (Your cloth will not smell like a pickle. We promise!)
Treating Stains on Vinyl Tablecloths
Spot-treat food stains by mixing a solution of one part water with one part hydrogen peroxide. Saturate a clean, white cloth, and apply it to the stained area. Let the solution sit for several minutes, and then wipe the tablecloth clean with another damp, white cloth. For heavy stains, try using straight hydrogen peroxide. Work from the outside of the stain toward the center to prevent spreading, and always rinse with a clean, damp white cloth.
Clean grease stains right away with a clean, damp cloth dipped in isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. Work from the outside of the stain toward the center. This will prevent it from spreading. Once the stain is gone, rinse the area with a white cloth dipped in water, and then air dry.
Vinyl Tablecloth Care and Repairs
Vinyl tablecloths can develop mold or mildew when used outdoors. If this happens, wash down the moldy tablecloth with vinegar, getting it as clean as possible, leaving a final film of vinegar behind to continue to kill the spores. Then, place the cloth out to dry in the sun for several hours.
Rips in a tablecloth can be repaired using a vinyl repair kit, or by mending them with a special vinyl needle and thread. If you're using a repair kit, make sure to color-match your tablecloth to the patch or apply the patch to the back of the fabric (if possible).
Storing Vinyl Tablecloths
To store your vinyl tablecloth for use next summer, first, wash and dry it thoroughly. Next, roll it around a heavy cardboard tube to prevent creases and wrinkles. You can also fold your tablecloth neatly and store it in a plastic, sealable bin located in a cool, dry place.
How Often to Wash Vinyl Fabric and Tablecloths
Vinyl tablecloths should be wiped down with soap and water after every use, and spills should be mopped up immediately to avoid stains. Deep cleaning or laundering should be completed after every third use, when used regularly, and at the end of the season before storing.
Deep wrinkles in your vinyl tablecloth can be ironed out, only if you are very, very careful. Use low heat and always iron the back of the fabric by placing a pressing cloth or damp towel in between the tablecloth and the iron. Lift the iron away often to prevent the vinyl from scorching or melting.
Tips for Washing Vinyl Tablecloths
- Always avoid using harsh chemicals or solvents when cleaning vinyl tablecloths.
- A quick wipe-down of your tablecloth after every use will extend the time in between deep cleanings.
- Make sure to dry your tablecloth thoroughly before storing to prevent mold growth.
- Never use an abrasive sponge or steel wool to clean vinyl tablecloths. These items may permanently scratch the fabric.
Can you leave a vinyl table cloth outside?
Vinyl tablecloths can be left outside, but low-quality vinyl may fade with sunlight exposure. Vinyl tablecloths with flannel backing should not be left outside during periods of rain, as the underside could stay wet and grow mold.
Can you iron a flannel-backed vinyl tablecloth?
Flannel-backed tablecloths can be carefully ironed. Make sure to iron the tablecloth with the backside facing up, and place a cotton cloth or towel between the iron and the tablecloth. Use the lowest setting on your iron.
What's the best way to secure a vinyl tablecloth to an outdoor table?
Tablecloth clips work best for securing your vinyl tablecloth to a table. It will also cut down on laundering needs by keeping it from getting dirty. You can also use heavy tablecloth weights or rubber bands to secure the corners.