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A Guide to Removing Stains from Restaurant Table Linen

A Guide to Removing Stains from Restaurant Table Linen - Blog - Petersfield Linen Services

Running a restaurant involves a constant battle against the inevitable – stains on your beautiful table linen. It could be a drop of red wine during a romantic dinner or a splash of olive oil during a hearty meal. Stains can detract from the aesthetic appeal of your dining environment and reputation. Here are some ways to tackle these stubborn marks, ensuring your table settings remain immaculate. Moreover, we’ll discuss how linen hire services can alleviate much of this hassle, keeping your focus squarely on delivering unforgettable dining experiences.

The Culprits: Common Stains in Restaurants

Restaurants see all sorts of stains, each with its unique challenges to remove. Here are some of the most common culprits:

  • Red Wine: The bane of white tablecloths, red wine can leave a lasting impression if not treated promptly.
  • Oils and Sauces: From salad dressings to rich pasta sauces, these can seep into fibres, leaving greasy marks.
  • Coffee and Tea: These beverages can leave dark, noticeable stains, particularly on lighter fabrics.
  • Ink and Crayons: Common with kids, pens and crayons can both result in stubborn marks. It usually involves alcohol-based treatments or heat application for effective removal.
  • Blood: Whether from a rare steak or an accidental cut, it requires prompt cold water treatment to prevent setting.
  • Lipstick: Lipstick stains, with their oil-based composition, necessitate alcohol-based solvents for effective removal.

Tackling Stains: Strategies and Solutions

Red Wine Stains

Act quickly! Blot (do not rub) the stain with a clean, dry cloth to absorb as much wine as possible. Then, sprinkle a generous amount of salt on the area, which will help to draw out the moisture. For immediate treatment, boiling water can be poured from a height onto the stain before laundering. If the stain persists, consider a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and dish soap applied directly to the stain before washing.

Oils and Sauces

These require a pre-treatment with a liquid dish soap designed to cut through grease. Apply the soap directly to the stain, gently rub it in, and let it sit for a few minutes before laundering. For tougher stains, baking soda and water can be applied to absorb the grease before the soap treatment.

Coffee and Tea Stains

Rinse the stain with cold water as soon as possible. Applying a small amount of glycerine to the stain can help loosen it. After letting it sit, wash the linen in warm water. For older stains, soaking the linen in water and vinegar before washing can be effective.


For ink stains, begin by blotting away any excess with a clean cloth, then apply rubbing alcohol to a cotton ball or pad and gently dab the stain. The alcohol helps to dissolve the ink, making it easier to lift from the linen. Then launder as usual.

Crayon Stains

Crayon marks can be scraped off any excess wax with a blunt knife. Then, place the stained area between two pieces of clean white paper towels and gently iron over the top paper towel on a low setting. The heat will melt the crayon wax, which the paper towels absorb. After treating it, launder the linen as usual, checking the stain before drying to ensure it has been fully removed.

Blood Stains

Blood can be one of the more daunting stains. The key here is to treat the stain as soon as possible with cold water, as hot water can cause the blood to set into the fabric. Soak the linen in cold water for at least 30 minutes to loosen the stain. After soaking, apply a small amount of laundry detergent directly to the stain and gently rub it in. If the stain remains stubborn, a solution of ammonia diluted in water can be applied before laundering. Remember, always use cold water for blood stains to prevent them from setting.

Lipstick Stains

Lipstick stains, though small, can be vivid and difficult to remove due to their oil-based formulas. To tackle lipstick stains, gently scrape off any excess lipstick with a blunt knife, taking care not to spread the stain. Then, apply an alcohol-based solvent (rubbing alcohol or hand sanitiser works well) to a cloth and dab the stain, carefully not to rub it in further. The alcohol helps break down the oils in the lipstick, making it easier to lift from the fabric. After treating it with alcohol, wash the linen in the hottest water, safe for the fabric, with a heavy-duty detergent.

The Role of Linen Hire Services

While these tips are helpful for immediate stain treatment, regularly dealing with stained linen can be time-consuming and detract from other operational priorities in your restaurant. This is where linen hire services can come in handy. Not only do they provide high-quality table linen, but they also take on the responsibility of ensuring these linens are cleaned, stain-free, and maintained to the highest standards. Here are a few ways linen hire services can benefit your restaurant:

  • Professional Cleaning: Linen hire services can access industrial-strength cleaning agents and equipment, removing even the most stubborn stains without damaging the fabric.
  • Cost-Effective: Reducing the need for in-house laundering facilities, linen hire services can be a cost-effective solution. Especially when considering the expense of replacing permanently stained linen.
  • Convenience: With regular pickups and deliveries, you’ll always have a supply of fresh, clean linen, allowing you to focus on providing an exceptional dining experience for your guests.
  • Sustainability: Many linen hire services prioritise eco-friendly cleaning practices, aligning with the growing trend towards sustainability in the hospitality industry.

Stains on restaurant table linen are an inevitable part of the dining experience, but dealing with them doesn’t have to be a headache. By understanding the nature of different stains and how to treat them, you can keep your table settings looking pristine. However, consider the advantages of a linen hire service to alleviate the burden of maintaining spotless linen. It will ensure a consistent supply of clean, high-quality linen and allow you to focus on what matters – creating unforgettable dining experiences for your guests.

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