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Apr 16, 2009 08:36 AM

Removing Food & Wine Stains from Tablecloths

Maybe this is SO "not about food" that it doesn't even belong on this website, but I'll give it a shot anyway. What's the best way to clean a tablecloth that can't be bleached, or even washed in hot water? I usually stay away from tablecloths that aren't indestructable, but I have one that's been sitting in the closet, never used, because I just know it'll be ruined after the first time I put it on the table. It's a very pretty April Cornell 100% cotton print. The cleaning instructions say to wash in cold water and line dry. So my question is, what can I use to treat the inevitable spills, spots and stains, prior to laundering, that won't ruin the cloth?

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  1. As a former April Cornell employee and chowhound, you can wash that tablecloth in warm water and pretreat spots with a gentle detergent like woolite or shout and not do too much damage. Also, line drying isn't entirely necessary, tumble drying on low will be fine. For removing wine stains, dousing the spot in several liters of cold club soda works the best.

    1. I put salt on spilled wine. It pulls the wine to the top of the fiber. I use Zout to pretreat stains. It takes out red wine, just about everything. Mustard is about the only thing that is iffy to remove.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Janet

        Since you mentioned salt, is there any truth to the "club soda and salt" fix from Curb Your Enthusiasm? I've been thinking about it since I first saw this thread.

        If it doesn't work, it's a funny clip just the same.

        1. re: kattyeyes

          That's a funny one, can't believe I never saw it. Didn't they do the same trick on Seinfeld? Can't remember the particulars....

          1. re: coll

            I don't remember it from Seinfeld, but it wouldn't surprise me. Every time I see something spill now, I think of this!

            1. re: kattyeyes

              Overdue response: never never never put salt on a red wine stain, salt is a dye fixative. Ask my brand-new custom-made white linen pants that matched my wedding suit that I wore to our first married dinner out and got Bordeaux spilled on. Waiter put a lot of salt on the stain, took to the hotel dry cleaner, never came out. Sigh.

      2. Just do what Sue Ann Nivens "The Happy Homemaker" suggests. "Stretch the stained part over a bowl and pour in boiling water from a height of two feet..those stains will come out in a jiffy!!" LOVE the old MTM show... adam

        1. There's a product called Folex - which I've bought in the cleaning section of Linens and Things or one of those places. It's fantastic on wine and works well on other food stains. It's not a bleach so it won't take the colour out of the fabric. I have NO idea how it works I just know it does. You spray the stuff on - even the next day if you've forgotten - and something magical happens. The stain begins to disappear immediately. Throw it in the wash - owever you're allowed to wash it - and the stain is gone altogether. I swear I do not own the company and I do not make any money selling it. A similar product - Wine Out - works as well but is more expensive.

          9 Replies
          1. re: Nyleve

            I use Folex on carpet and upholstery spots, and you're right, it's a great product. There's another cleaner I get at BB&B called "Incredible!" that I use for fabrics -- clothing, etc. and it works miracles, too. I used it last week on the tablecloth in question, washed the cloth in warm water, dried it on an air setting and it came out great.

            1. re: Nyleve

              I spilled a glass of red wine on our multi-colored, very expensive, oriental carpet about a month ago. My wife was almost apoplectic! After talking to lots of people, including the store we bought the carpet from, I was getting resigned to the fact that we were going to have to replace the carpet. I "googled" the internet and found some things that sounded OK and some that sounded crazy. Then, I thought "I ought to try the CHs"! I searched this board and found Nyleve's Folex recommendation. Sounded exactly like what I was looking for. I found a bottle of Folex at Lowe's. I took an old towel and splashed some red wine on it, let it sit for a week and then tried the Folex on it - it was gone in two applications! I tried Folex on a tiny red area of our carpet where you could just barely see a purple stain. Gone! I got a little more daring and tried it on a medium green area. Gone! I got really daring and tried it on a white area. Gone! You would never know that there was an area about 4X2 on the carpet that had endured a red wine spill! Needless to say, there will always be a bottle of Folex in our laundry room. Thank you Nyleve!

              1. re: bucksguy14

                You're welcome. I love that stuff. It's magic.

                1. re: Nyleve

                  Thank you so much -- I just came from a dinner where the waiter spilled a glass of wine down my back. How cool to find the solution within ten minutes!

                  1. re: KTFoley

                    Ooo - chilly. Hope you got a free dessert, at least.

                    1. re: Nyleve

                      The waiter was mortified but managed to do all the right things -- apologized immediately, brought towels etc. to help wipe up, offered to pay for dry-cleaning, comped my meal. Did NOT expect that last one. But they were terrific and I have no complaints

                      1. re: KTFoley

                        Excellent. And if you actually got the entire stain out, even better.

                2. re: bucksguy14

                  There's another product, similar to Folex, that I've been using to remove wine and other food stains from fabric lately. It's called "Incredible!" and I buy it at BB&B. I treat the fabric just before I launder it, and it's amazing. I use Folex on rugs and carpets and Incredible! on fabric, and in my house, I go through a lot of both!

                  1. re: CindyJ

                    Guess I've got another line on my shopping list!

              2. I have a tablecloth like that, I spray it with Scotchgard a few hours before company comes, and then treat any stains with Zout before washing. Never a problem.