How to Clean Oilcloth


Evelyn asked: How can I clean an oil tablecloth? It is sticky from having it covered by a clear plastic.

Over time, vinyl, plastic and other synthetics can develop a sticky residue. This residue can be easily removed by washing it away. If the oilcloth has a pattern or design printed on it, it may be necessary to test a small, hidden area first to ensure there are no unwanted effects to the color. Once the test area is successfully cleaned, you are set to complete the rest of the tablecloth.

You Will Need:

  • Mild soap or detergent
  • Ammonia
  • Warm water
  • Soft cloths or sponges
  • Bucket

Steps to Clean the Oilcloth:

  1. Fill a bucket with warm water.
  2. Add a small amount of soap or detergent and ammonia.
  3. Agitate the water until suds form.
  4. Moisten a soft cloth or sponge with the soapy water.
  5. Wipe the oilcloth clean.
  6. Rinse with clean, plain water and a clean soft cloth or sponge.
  7. Dry with a soft towel and allow the cloth to air dry completely.

Additional Tips and Ideas

  • If there is no ammonia available, white vinegar or rubbing alcohol can also be used.
  • Mr. Clean Magic Erasers are useful for removing residues from all kinds of surfaces. Simply moisten the sponge and wipe the area down.
  • It is not recommended that oilcloth be machine washed.
  • For general cleanings, follow the guidelines above, but omit the ammonia.


  1. How can I remove tomato stains from my oilcloth tablecloth?

  2. Mrs. P.,
    This is the article that you need: How to Remove Tomato Stains.
    There are two methods in the Tomato Stains article that are also mentioned in the How to Clean Oilcloth article as safe and effective cleaners; dish liquid and diluted white vinegar.

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