Textiles for your table: How to choose and look after them

Hey guys, we hope you’re all well! I guess the reason why we wanted to write a blog post about textiles was to try and help you getting your head around table products when it comes to choosing the right ones for your tablescapes.

We don’t want to preach the right or wrong here, just to tell you what quality to expect, how long you should be able to keep it and how to take care of it.

When it comes to choosing the right textiles for your table we often get lost on how to select good quality items, especially if you are buying online. Here are the key elements you should consider when shopping a tablecloth for your dinner table. 

The fact that the picture looks nice does not mean that the product is good quality and most importantly will last!

Then, how should we choose the right textile?

It doesn't really matter what table style you decide to go for, in any table setting you will probably find at least one of the following items: tablecloth, table runner and napkins. The thing is, we do not want our table textiles to become a headache after the first use. That is why we must choose the type of fabric considering that they are machine washable, and being able to resist a large number of washes without causing the colours to fade. Let's dig a bit into the trendy fabrics that are available on the market these days.

Too lazy to read? Go straight to our table summary at the end of the post ;)

1) Cotton: Probably the most common one. Soft fabric, very pleasant to the touch and suitable for frequent use as it resists a large number of washes. For everyday use in a kitchen or casual dining room, cotton tablecloths are a great option. Cotton is easy to produce and process: Good value for money!  

  • Washing, Drying and Caring: Don’t go too hot on the washing temperature (40 degrees max) and avoid mixing colours, use liquid detergent (better for delicate and coloured), avoid tumble dryers and can iron at high temperatures (not the highest!).

2) Polyester: Like cotton, polyester is long-lasting fabric, machine washable and relatively inexpensive with a silkier and shinier appearance than cotton, which makes it best for formal events such as weddings or birthday parties. Unlike cotton, polyester is a synthetic fabric that generally won't wrinkle, fade or shrink with proper care. 

  • Washing, Drying and Caring: Polyester supports higher washing temperatures (don’t go beyond 50 degrees), any cleaning products will do the job (add some softener, that’ll help remove the static electricity). Avoid tumble dryer ideally. Dry it at low temperature (that’s not cotton guys!)

3) Linen: This type of fabric is highly resistant to fabric breakage, which is why it is usually associated with elegance and good quality. Due to its high resistance, we can say that they are among the items that last for many years in excellent condition but it has a small inconvenience: its low elasticity, i.e. tough to iron. Although linen textiles are not super delicate, given its characteristics, it requires some special care for good conservation.

  • Washing, Drying and Caring: Linen is washed by hand ideally or at a cold temperature in the machine (quality comes at a price) otherwise the fibre will suffer and deform. If washed by hand, use pure soap, otherwise mild detergent. Tumble dryer is a no go! Use fresh air, it’s free on top. Technically, linen bears a high temperature for ironing but I’d just play it conservative in case given the price you’ll pay for it. To store them, I’d recommend a cotton or tissue paper cover.

Have you heard about pre-washed or unwashed process? Here is the difference.

Let’s clarify: Linen always shrinks the first time it is washed and, as the washes go by, it becomes softer. There are therefore two options: wash it before using it or buy linen that has already been washed.

a) Vintage linen or “washed linen”: Means that a fabric or product has been washed before. The pre-washed linen has been repeatedly washed at high temperatures and with special products to prevent subsequent shrinkage, enhance its softness and give it a special touch. Since linen improves its qualities with each wash and becomes incredibly soft after three years, choosing a pre-wash means speeding up that process.

b) Stonewashed linenMeans that it has been washed in large machines with pumice or volcanic stones that hit the fiber. This looses the fabric, makes it more flexible and achieves a vivid fabric effect as well as wonderful shades of color. All, of course, without damaging the quality and durability of the linen, although it is always advisable to trust specialized manufacturers to avoid surprises.

c) Unwashed or non-softened linen: Means that the fabric has not undergone any washing process after being woven and will therefore be stiffer to the touch. However, it will become softer once the washes happen. In other words, the more the linen fabric is washed, the softer it will be. For the linen fabric that has not been laundered yet, will still need to take into consideration a little shrinkage. We recommend this last option for people who know a little bit about linen fabrics and want this textile to last a really long time.



Cleaning Tº






Cold and lukewarm water

Liquid detergent preferred

Naturally preferred

Resist higher temperatures (Never the maximum)

Dry place, away from dust and moisture


Lukewarm water

Most common cleaning products will work + Fabric softener

Naturally / Tumble dryer with low heat mode

Medium (Never use the the iron cotton fabrics mode)

Dry place, away from dust and moisture


Cold water

Pure soap or a mild detergent

Never use the dryer

Medium. Help of steam and when the textile still retains humidity

Dry place, away from dust and moisture


So the question is what is the best fabric for your table? Is linen a must for your Tablescapes and table decoration? 

You should select your fabric depending on your budget, the type of occasion for which you want to use it, the time that you can dedicate to its correct care and the durability that you expect.

If you find this information helpful, feel free to share it and to subscribe to our newsletter to get access to our latest posts as well as offers for the What a Host catalogue.

Our next post in 2 weeks will be on the various types of placemats used for your Tablescapes.

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