At Thanksgiving, There Will Be Stains


Thanksgiving is full of traditions. Families will gather to enjoy a delicious meal, traffic will be miserable, NFL games will be played, and there will definitely be food stains on your beautiful tablecloth!

It’s inevitable. When family and friends are eating messy foods like turkey with gravy, cranberry sauce, and mashed potatoes, they are certainly going to drip some of it onto your table linens. If there are kids involved, the stains are doubled!

You can’t stop it from happening, so stop worrying! All you can do is know what to do, and what not to do when stains occur!

Here is what not to do:

Do not rely on home-remedies and old wives tales! Aunt Ruby may insist that a little club soda will do the trick, but resist the urge! Put away the lemon juice, cola, peroxide and vinegar. Most of these will just spread the stain, bleed the dyes or pull the color.

Ignore the miracle cures as seen on TV! If OxyClean were really a miracle, we’d hear about it on the news. Plus, applying products will make it more difficult, or impossible, for your dry cleaner to eventually remove the stain.

Stay away from the bleach! This strong chemical can break down the fibers, and burn a hole in the fabric.

Keep it out of the washer! You will be tempted to throw it in the washing machine on the heavy stain cycle. Don’t do it! Many stains, particularly oil-based stains like gravy, grease and butter must be dissolved in dry cleaning solution before they are washed. Otherwise, the heat from the water and dryer will leave yellow spots on the fabric.

Here is what to do:

Gently blot the stain, or spill, with a white towel or cloth. This will simply absorb the spill. Resist the urge to rub or wipe or scrub.

Leave it alone. Sit down and enjoy a piece of pie. There’s nothing more you can do today!

The next day, or as soon as you can, take your linens to a professional drycleaner. Point out the stains and when you can, identify what they are. Coffee, gravy and mashed potatoes can all look the same. Different stains require different treatment, so it’s very helpful for the cleaner to know what he’s dealing with.

After a few days, your soiled, stained table linens should be clean and freshly pressed. Now you’re all set for the next holiday meal…and you didn’t even have to iron!

Happy Thanksgiving!


Have a question or comment? E-mail me at

My name is Andra Gelpi Gillum. I’ll be your blogger. I’ve been around the clothing care business most of my life. That’s because Swan Cleaners president and owner, Paul Gelpi is my step-father. While you may have talked politics or sports around the dinner table, we discussed dry cleaning and clothing care. I also worked in the business for many years from counter person as a teenager, up to Communications Director and Vice President after college. I now stay home with my kids, and work as a free-lance writer. I am thrilled to be back writing for Swan Cleaners. I look forward to learning and sharing all sorts of facts and insider information about fashion and clothing. What woman doesn’t love clothes? Of course, we won’t leave the men out. Our topics will apply to men and women. We all want to look our best! At the start of each month, we’ll feature a fashion or fabric hot topic. Please check back soon to stay in the know on what to wear and how to care for all of your beautiful clothes!