Nothing says “elegant” more than a beautifully set dining table. Your best china and stemware, as well as the freshly polished silver, set the stage. But it all starts with the table linen.

It’s something you don’t use on a regular basis, and it needs to be stored properly so it’ll be ready for service when the time comes for your next fancy feast. Here’s what you should know.

Before You Put It Away

Always check each piece for food stains and take it to your local laundry or dry-cleaner to be professionally cleaned. It’s a good idea to have it professionally cleaned on a regular basis – even if you don’t see any visible food stains.

Some food residue may not even be seen, but it provides an environment for mildew to grow. It also offers snacks for insects like silverfish. They’re partial to dark areas, and they usually stay close to their food sources. Silverfish prefer natural fibers like cotton and silk, so table linen is high on their menu – and yes, they’ll eat the fibers along with the food residual. As they eat, they cut irregular holes that follow the outline of what was spilled on the table linen.


Store your cleaned linens in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area. Wrap them in acid-free tissue paper. Don’t use regular tissue paper because the acids used in manufacturing it can yellow white linen. The tissue acts as a way to soften edges caused by folding linen. Any strong creases will weaken fibers.

Skip the plastic bag treatment. Fumes from petroleum-based polyurethane plastic of any kind can yellow and weaken fine linen fabrics. Do you have a china cabinet or piece of furniture where you store linens? Be sure that the linen fabric does not come into direct contact with the wood. It’s likely been treated, and those chemicals can discolor or damage the fabric.

Hanging or Rolling

The best way to store your table linens and prevent wrinkles is to hang them on padded hangers in a closet. Hang only one table cloth on each padded hanger, making sure to leave sufficient room between the hangers so you’ll have air circulation.

You can also store linens and help to prevent wrinkles by rolling them around a cardboard tube. Make this a short-term solution of about a week or so, unless you invest in acid-free cardboard tubes. You don’t want the linen to be stained by the chemicals commonly used in the manufacture of cardboard.

Where can you find acid-free tissue and cardboard tubes? Head to an art supply store.

We specialize in caring for table linens. Bring them to us and we’ll make sure they’re professionally cleaned. Learn more about all our services here.