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Susan Martin: Should you hang, fold or roll?

As the holiday season unfolds each year so, too, do the tablecloths. How did it work out for you this Thanksgiving? Was your tablecloth clean and pressed and ready to go? Or was it wadded up in a drawer with a cranberry stain from last year?

Storing tablecloths in a way that keeps them wrinkle-free and at the ready can be tricky. Last weekend, as I wrestled with the fresh-from-the-dryer, extra long tablecloth I had pulled out days earlier for Thanksgiving, I thought about the various ways people store their tablecloths.

Of course, several factors come into play such as the tablecloth’s size, fabric content, frequency of use and whether or not you wash it yourself or send it out to be professionally laundered. (Of course, it’s wise to consult the care label for recommended laundering instructions.)

Go online and you’ll find tips, videos and discussions on how to fold and store tablecloths (including acid-free product options). A responder in one discussion wrote that rather than storing her pressed tablecloths, she stacks them on her table. When one gets dirty or she’s ready for a change, she simply removes the top layer. I’m not kidding.

I guessed that I would not hear that solution when I quizzed two local interior designers and an organizing professional about how they store their tablecloths. I was correct.

Here’s what they did share:

• Susan Cherry Redino, Cherry Tree Design - Lost & Found: “I have the big cardboard rolls used for 54-inch home dec fabrics – and I roll the tablecloths on them. You can stack the rolls on a pegboard with long hooks on it. Or you can put them in a barrel, bin or basket,” she said. (Other rolling tubes might work as well.)

• Pamela Witte, White Orchard Home Furnishings: “I tend to buy the washable tablecloths that I fold and stack in the linen cupboard. I do have one tablecloth I bring out for special occasions. It’s a beautiful bronze-gold; it’s quite a heavy one. I fold it several times and drape it evenly over a padded hanger and hang it in the closet,” she said.

The sturdy padded hanger is quite old but Witte had a suggestion for those who want to try this technique but don’t have the right hanger: “You could probably roll a thin piece of foam around a hanger and tie it. The foam should keep the cloth from creasing,” Witte said.

As for the wash-and-dry ones that she folds: “Occasionally I have to touch one up with an iron,” she said.

• Linda A. Birkinbine, Keep It Organized: “I just put a tablecloth on one of those big hangers from the dry cleaner. They are really sturdy – heavy-gauge metal with the big roller on the bottom. I saved them from when I had tablecloths dry-cleaned. I had just laundered the one from Thanksgiving, and I hung it. It worked beautifully,” she said.

By the way you can also search online to find retailers and companies that offer hangers designed specifically for tablecloths – as well as for blankets, quilts and draperies.

Or you can try that unique “layering” technique mentioned earlier. Frankly, I think I’d rather deal with a few wrinkles.

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