No matter the inviting flavors of Italian comfort food, its clean-up can put a homemaker’s skills and patience to the test. Spaghetti sauce can wreak havoc on tablecloths and napkins, leaving red or orange remnants of a meal on your favorite linens. The oil and tomato tannins absorb into fabric yet can be lifted with household products, responding best to laundering treatments that occur within 24 hours. Eliminate sauce stains with a series of simple techniques so you can forgo the paper napkins and plastic tablecloth and reuse your linens for the next feast.
Scrape clumps of dried spaghetti sauce off of your table linens by hand or with a dull knife. Pull up clumps of fresh spaghetti sauce from the linens with a paper towel. Blot up any excess sauce with a paper towel.
Read the care instructions on your linens. Take the linens to the dry cleaner within 24 hours if the care label reads “dry clean only” or "not machine-washable."
Rinse the sauce-stained areas for machine-washable linens under cold water to fade the stains. Cover the sauce stains in laundry detergent to pre-treat them. Allow the detergent to set into the linens for 20 minutes. Rinse off the detergent with cold water.
Spot-test a commercial stain remover on the backside or seam of your linen to make sure it does not leave a discoloration. Place the stain remover on the spaghetti sauce stains or dab white vinegar on the spots if the stain remover leaves a mark. Machine-wash the linens in laundry detergent and hot water. Hot water works best for oil and tannin-based stains, such as tomato sauce.
Remove the linens from the washing machine and look for any stain remnants. Pre-treat the linens with sodium borate (Borax) and rewash them if necessary. Do not put the linens in the dryer until the sauce stains have been removed; the dryer's heat can bind the stains to the fabric, making them permanent.
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