A fresh, crisp tablecloth creates the ideal backdrop for your dishware, centerpiece, and serving items. Make it easy to iron tablecloths by following these simple steps.
dining room

Whether for everyday use or special occasions, a freshly ironed tablecloth sets a pleasing tone for your table. The smooth expanse of a tablecloth grounds your table settings and can add a splash of color or background simplicity to tabletop displays. Start with the right pressing technique for your type of tablecloth. The approach to ironing tablecloths varies depending on the size and shape of the tablecloth. Check out these basic tips for success, then review our easy step-by-step techniques for round or oval tablecloths and for rectangular versions. Plus, follow our easy steps for folding tablecloths to make storing between uses a snap.

Basic tablecloth pressing tips:

  • Iron tablecloths when they are slightly damp.
  • Place a clean sheet on the floor under your ironing board to prevent the dangling ends of the tablecloth from picking up dust or dirt.
  • Make sure the heat setting is appropriate for your tablecloth's fabric.
  • If you use spray starch, work in small sections from the back side.
  • Iron back and forth in line with the weave of the cloth; circular motions can stretch the fabric.

Ironing Round or Oval Tablecloths

Oval Tablecloths

Step 1

Visualize the round or oval tablecloth as a pizza.

Step 2

Carefully lay the tablecloth across the ironing board and press the center of the tablecloth.

Step 3

Working outward from the center, iron one "slice of pizza" at a time, working from the center to the edge.

Step 4

Rotate the cloth and press the next section. Repeat until the entire cloth is pressed.

Folding Round or Oval Tablecloths

Step 1

To fold a round or oval tablecloth for storage, fold it in half with the undersides together to make a half circle.

Step 2

Fold the cloth in half again.

Step 3

Lay the tablecloth across the ironing board and bring the edges together to fold crosswise two more times. You should end up with a small wedge shape.

Step 4

Store the tablecloth flat in a drawer or linen closet.

Editor's Tip: Creases form in warm fabric. Allow your tablecloth to cool before folding to avoid creases. When you're ready to use the tablecloth, it should require minimal touch-up ironing.

Ironing Rectangular Tablecloths

ironing board and cabinet

Step 1

When ironing rectangular tablecloths, iron the underside first. Using a low heat setting can avoid the sheen that sometimes develops as you iron.

Step 2

Work in sections from the center to the edges until you've pressed the entire cloth and it's dry.

Step 3

For a very large tablecloth, fold it in half, right sides together. Iron the underside of the cloth. Do not iron the folded edge to avoid creating a crease. Reopen the cloth and fold again with the undersides together to iron the right side. Iron the tablecloth until dry. Fold the cloth loosely into thirds and iron down the center to remove any crease marks.

Editor's Tip: Cloth napkins can be a practical everyday choice. Inexpensive and colorful cotton napkins can be laundered with your regular wash. Don't bother with ironing them for everyday use.

Folding Rectangular Tablecloths

Rectangular Tablecloths

Step 1

Start by folding a rectangular tablecloth in half lengthwise, undersides together.

Step 2

Fold the top and bottom ends together and fold in half crosswise.

Step 3

Fold up the bottom end of the tablecloth, meeting in the center.

Step 4

Fold one more time and store flat in a drawer or linen closet.

More Ironing and Laundry Tips

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