How to Store Table Linens: Avoid Wrinkles & Extend Lifespan
A stunningly set dining table is the epitome of elegance, and fine linens are the key foundational element for curated, luxurious tablescapes. Fine table linens are often reserved for special occasions, so it’s important to store them properly when not in use to avoid wrinkles and extend their lifespan.
Without the right storage techniques, table linens can become damaged by excess moisture or mildew, bugs and pests, sunlight, heat, or chemicals found in improper storage materials. To retain longevity without compromising the quality of the linen, luxury table linens should be kept in a cool, dry place and stored with care.
Read on for expert table linen storage recommendations from renowned fine linen stylist, Liz Barbatelli.
How to Store Table Linens in the Right Way for Long-Term Storage
Keeping your linens in pristine condition goes beyond laundry – it’s also about packaging and storing them the right way to preserve the integrity of the tablecloth, placemat, and napkins, especially because table linens are often stored for extended periods of time between uses.
Use these general tips to ensure proper storage for the best results long-term:
Find a Dark, Dry Space
A dark, dry space like a linen closet is ideal, but not necessary if you don’t have one in your home. Other options that would work well include a closet, storage trunk or large container, chest of drawers, or appropriate under-the-bed storage containers.
Keep the Linens Contained
To avoid dust and keep table linens feeling and looking fresh, use containers that can be lined with white cotton or linen fabric or acid free tissue paper and that close securely. Ideally, each item or group of items should be wrapped separately. It should go without saying, do not store clean linens in a dirty bag. Additionally, you should avoid direct exposure to unwrapped cardboard and cedar shelving, which can cause yellowing of the fabric.
If you send your table linens to a professional launderer, like The Laundry at Linens Limited, they will be returned in pristine condition, professional wrapped with acid free tissue paper and plastic wrap ready for storage until the next use.
There is a lot of old and mis-information out there about not using plastic wrap. However, this is simply not accurate. Air circulation is good but your treasured items need protection from the elements, odd drips, and bugs that can damage your items. Even then, they are not hermetically sealed. But an ounce of prevention is worth its weight in gold.
Stay organized with whatever storage method you choose and avoid overcrowding an area with too many textiles at once. If you have the space, you want to store your table linens separately from your bed and bath linens. For ease of use, you may opt to hang tablecloths and runners, place napkins wrapped in acid free tissue or other protective wrap, fold and stack towels on clean shelves, and place bed linens in cleaned and lined drawers.
You can also organize your linens based on how often you use and switch them out. Keep all of your long-term storage (like fine table linens) in one place/location and more frequently rotated items (like bed sheets and towels) in another closet to minimize your long-term storage exposure to pesty elements, moisture, and light.
Keep Them Smelling Fresh
Keeping your table linens smelling fresh is just as important. Avoid mustiness by using sachets or scented drawer liners to subtly enhance the scent of your linens.
Best Ways to Store Table Linens and Avoid Wrinkles
Some of the commonly handed down advice for storing linens is incorrect and can lead to unsightly, deep-set wrinkles that can be hard to remove. When the goal is to avoid wrinkles despite storing the linens potentially for months or years at a time, certain storage methods will produce the best results.
Hanging Up Table Linens
If you have the space, hanging your table linens on padded or roller hangers in a linen closet is the best way to store them and avoid wrinkles. Padded or roller hangers reduce strong creases in the fabric. Don’t use wire hangers, which can leave both sharp creases and rust marks. If you don’t have padded hangers, consider placing a towel over the two hangers first before draping the tablecloth on top to soften the edges.
When preparing to place a tablecloth on a hanger, fold it into thirds or fourths, and then fold it over the hanger once. Hang one tablecloth on each hanger, cover with a plastic cleaner bag, and leave room in between hangers to allow air to circulate.
Table runners can also be hung similarly.
Rolling Up Table Linens
If hanging is not an option, you can also roll them around acid free tissue wrapped or acid free cardboard tubes to store them in a drawer, chest, or storage container. You can find acid-free tissue and cardboard tubes at a craft supply store that are made to roll fabric without leaching any chemicals or causing any discoloration. After rolling the tablecloth on the prepared roller with acid free tissue in between the layers of the tablecloth roll, cover the roller with plastic. Rollers must be stored flat so the best place is on a long shelf, on the floor in a closet, under a bed, or under a sofa. But it must be a clean, dry environment.
Again, you should maintain space between each roll of fabric to allow them to breathe and avoid direct contact with wood.
Fabric storage bags are designed to hold and protect fabrics when not in use. They can be stacked or hung for easy access and can be a great option if you don’t have closet space or storage space within a closet or furniture like an armoire, chest, or trunk. Try to choose white fabric bags only so no dye could potentially bleed into the linens.
Storing in a Drawer with Dividers
If you opt to store your fine linens in a drawer, using acid free tissue and protective wrap is the most effective, practical, and efficient way to ensure the fabrics don’t touch. You should also create a barrier between the linens and the base and sides of the drawer to avoid staining. Using drawer liners, dividers and the proper folding techniques will minimize damage and keep your table linens in pristine condition.
Fold the linens as long as possible for the fewest possible folds and creases. Use acid-free tissue paper between folds to soften them and reduce the need to iron when you’re ready to bring them out again.
Keep napkin sets together in drawers by wrapping properly in acid free tissue and covering in cloth or plastic wrap to store them within the drawer for an extra layer of protection.
How to Store Table Linens in Your Closet
If you have the space of a linen closet to store your table linens, there are a few things you should keep in mind for immaculately fresh results long-term.
First, remember there should ideally be no windows or sunlight let in – clean, and bug and pest free. Keep the closet doors closed unless you’re actively accessing something inside. You also want the area to be temperature controlled. For many of the reasons stated above, an outdoor storage closet is not a safe choice for preserving your fine linens.
Ideally, you’ll have ample space in an indoor linen closet that you can dedicate to your table linens.
Inside the closet, follow these guidelines:
Maintain ample space in between each item that is hung up so air can circulate freely.
Always use a padded roller hanger, whether it’s a specialty fabric hanger or simply padded with an old towel or acid-free tissue paper.
Consider placing a clean cotton sheet or hanger bag on top of fine linens that are hanging up for an added layer of protection from dust.
If rolling items, only use acid-free tissue or cardboard.
Avoid direct contact with wood – use drawer liners or acid-free tissue paper.
When storing in a drawer, start with the heavier linens at the bottom and stack lighter linens on top with liners in-between each item.
Storing Fine Table Linens for a Long, Lovely Life
Fine table linens are an investment or a family heirloom. Make the most of these home textiles and give your table linens a long, lovely life with proper storage.
Remember the three most important elements to proper table linen storage: softness, space, and protection. Keep creases soft, leave ample space for air circulation, and protect linens from staining and dust with proper materials. If you can prioritize these elements, you’ll enjoy the elegant touch of your fine table linens for years to come.
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“A love of linens is innate in my being. There's no greater comfort than beautiful Supima cotton bedding, 100% Giza cotton towels, and gathering family and friends around the dining room table dressed to perfection with linen napkins and festive settings.”
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