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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Your Questions: Stains on Tablecloths

By Dr. Laundry May 6, 2008

Q: I have a number of old tablecloths that have yellowed and also have coffee stains. What’s your best suggestion?

A: I assume the tablecloth is white and bleachable. I suggest you at least wash it in the hottest wash recommended for the item. Prior to the hot water wash with detergent and liquid Clorox bleach, do the quick Bleachability Test (2 tspn liquid bleach in 1/4 cup water; apply a drop on a hidden area like inside seam, hemline or cuff; wait 1 minute and then blot with towel); no color change means it is safe to use bleach on the item. You may also consider a quick bleach soak if appropriate for the item/color. (1/4 cup Clorox Regular-Bleach in gallon of cool water for 5-10 minutes). A couple of other bleach options:


  • Try the Clorox BleachPen Gel on the yellow or coffee spots. Apply using the scrubber tip; then wash in hot water with detergent and 3/4 cup Clorox Bleach

  • Try the Clorox UltimateCare bleach which is safe enough to pour directly onto the yellowed or coffee stain; rub in and then wash in hot water with detergent and 3/4 cup Clorox Bleach


Always check for success before drying as you may need to retreat the item.