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Woman spreading a floral fringed tablecloth over the table.

Dirty Secrets: How to Remove Stains from an Embroidered Tablecloth

Sometimes a delicate item has to do a tough job. Take for example, an embroidered tablecloth. Surely there are few items that experience such a range of spillages and stains as the cloth that covers the family table at meal times? It’s sometimes hard to figure out how to wash embroidery.

On the one hand, those stains are crying out to be scrubbed or loaded into a hot wash; on the other, all that intricate hand stitching could be ruined if not handled with the utmost care.


How to Wash a Tablecloth with Embroidery: Submerge – Don’t Scrub

We know your embroidered tablecloth is probably a treasured household item. Maybe it was lovingly stitched by a member of the family, given to you as a wedding present or bought at a local market when you were on holiday. So we know you’ll want to treat it accordingly. The watchword for cleaning embroidery is ‘gently’, so start by submerging the tablecloth in water. Don’t rub or scrub.  


How to Remove Stains from a Tablecloth

If it’s a particularly stubborn stain – coffee, red wine, a family member’s famous chicken curry – you may need to treat it with a spot of Persil small & mighty, either dabbing it with a cloth soaked in detergent or pouring a drop on to cover the stain and leaving it to work for about 15-30 minutes. Afterwards, rinse out the detergent thoroughly.

You can see a great tip for removing curry stains here. With all embroidered items, we’d recommend hand washing with Persil Handwash or Persil Silk & Wool rather than using a machine. If your tablecloth features colourful embroidery, it may be safer to stick to cold water as hot water can cause some dyes to run. Just read the label and the care label for advice.  


Act Fast When Cleaning Embroidery

The sooner you can get to a spillage the better. Obviously you can’t rip the tablecloth from under the plates of your family (or, worse, guests) while they are still eating, but you can minimise the damage. Carefully scoop any spilled food off the table to prevent too much seeping into the cloth, and for coloured stains, squeeze on a bit of lemon juice, which acts as a natural bleach.  



A useful laundry tip for drying delicate items is to spread them out on a large towel, then roll the towel up with the item inside. This will give them a gentle squeeze, removing and absorbing excess water. If possible, dry the tablecloth flat, and avoid wringing it out – this isn’t good for any delicate item but in the case of embroidery it could tear the threads.  



If this is an embroidered tablecloth you save for special occasions, or even if you just like every mealtime to feel special for your family, you’ll want the cloth to look its best. If you are going to iron the tablecloth, don’t let the iron touch the embroidery directly. To get these areas beautifully flat, either iron on the reverse or place a thin cloth over the threads and iron on top of that.

We recommend a dry rather than steam setting, as the moisture could cause some of the threads to pucker or even run. After the meal, you’ll probably have 101 other things to do, but try to clean and remove stains from your tablecloth as soon as possible after a meal and before putting it away.

This will keep bacteria at bay and avoid any marks setting into the fabric.Do you have a delicate item you save for special occasions? Do you have some advice on how to remove stains from a tablecloth? Share your tips with us below.  

For more expert advice on how to remove specific stains, including notorious laundry challenges such as curry, bolognese, egg, tea, and red wine, visit our stain removal section.

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