How to Remove Stains from Embellished Table Cloths

Lynda asked: How do I clean a polyester table cloth covered with red sequins?I bought a festive table cloth. It is red, 100% polyester, and covered in red sequins. It states to spot clean only, no dry cleaning. There were several stains. One is rose wine, one a little tea light wax, and another is a small food stain. What are your suggestions (other than check for cleaning instructions before buying)? Thanks.

After a special occasion, dress up your festive tablecloth with this easy method. These steps will allow you to spot clean food stains from polyester or delicate fabric without damaging embellishments or decorative accents.  To keep your tablecloth looking its best, here’s what you need to do.

You Will Need:

  • Butter knife
  • Mild detergent
  • Water
  • Clean, soft, white cloths
  • Toothbrush

Steps to Remove the Stains:

  1. If there is any food stuck to the fabric, use the blunt tip of the butter knife to gently scrape off as much as possible.
  2. Mix a solution of mild detergent and water. Warm water will clean more effectively, but if the material hasn’t been spot tested for color fastness, you should use cold water.
  3. Use the cloth to blot the detergent solution directly onto the stain. Do not apply detergent directly to the tablecloth. It will be difficult to remove the soap.
  4. Allow any clumps of solid food to soak in the water for a few moments, then try again to scrape bits free of the fabric with the butter knife. Repeat this step as necessary until solid foods are removed. For stubborn spots, use a clean toothbrush.
  5. Once stains are removed, rinse with clean water by blotting with a clean damp cloth. If excess detergent remains, place a clean towel under the table cloth and squirt or dribble water directly onto the spot so the towel underneath soaks up the water.
  6. Allow the piece to air dry completely.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • For stain-specific cleaners, see our stain removal guides:
  • Treat stains as soon as possible. This gives you the best chance of removing them and helps to prevent odors.
  • Use only the amount of detergent you need to achieve results. Excess soap will be hard to remove and may attract dirt, leading to more stains in the future.
  • If you use a lot of water or need to rinse excess detergent, use a wet/dry vacuum to most effectively remove the moisture.
  • If the fabric is covered with multiple stains, you are likely to have a better overall result by “spot cleaning” the entire surface.
  • It’s always best to spot test a hidden area before cleaning a fabric. Even plain water can cause colors to run, so you need to be especially carefully around embellishments.
  • Always air dry to prevent damage to the decorative accents.  Remember, any label indications may refer to the cloth itself and not the embellishments.
  • To prevent mold and mildew, never store the tablecloth until it is completely dry.

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