Can You Wash Oilcloth In The Washing Machine?

If you’ve ever wondered whether it’s safe to toss your oilcloth tablecloth or apron into the washing machine, you’re not alone. Many people are uncertain about the best way to clean these durable, yet stylish, fabrics.

In this article, we’ll settle the debate once and for all. We’ll explore the dos and don’ts of washing oilcloth in the washing machine, providing you with all the information you need to keep your oilcloth items looking fresh and vibrant for years to come.

So, let’s get started and put those doubts to rest!

Can You Wash Oilcloth In The Washing Machine

Can You Wash Oilcloth In The Washing Machine?

If you’ve got oilcloth in your home, you likely appreciate its practicality and durability. Oilcloth is a fabric that is treated with a coating of oil or vinyl, making it resistant to water and stains. It’s commonly used for tablecloths, placemats, and other household items.

However, when it comes to cleaning oilcloth, you might be wondering if it’s safe to toss it in the washing machine. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of oilcloth, different cleaning methods, and whether or not machine washing is a good option.

What is oilcloth?

Oilcloth is a type of fabric that has been treated with oil or vinyl to make it water-resistant and easy to clean. It originated in the 18th century as a way to mimic the appearance of more expensive materials like leather or parchment.

Today, oilcloth is commonly made from cotton or linen, and its high-gloss finish gives it a distinctive look. It’s often used for tablecloths, bags, and other items that need to be durable and resistant to spills.

Pros and cons of oilcloth

There are several advantages to using oilcloth in your home. Firstly, its water-resistance makes it ideal for protecting surfaces from spills and stains. It can easily be wiped clean with a damp cloth, saving you the hassle of machine washing or dry cleaning.

Additionally, oilcloth is incredibly durable, making it a long-lasting option for your tablecloths or placemats. It’s also available in a wide range of colors and patterns, allowing you to find the perfect design for your home.

However, there are a few drawbacks to consider as well. The shiny surface of oilcloth can be prone to scratches, so it’s important to use caution when handling sharp objects on its surface.

Additionally, oilcloth is not heat-resistant, so be careful when placing hot items directly on it. Another factor to consider is that oilcloth can fade over time with exposure to sunlight, so you may need to rotate your tablecloths periodically to avoid uneven fading.

Cleaning methods for oilcloth

When it comes to cleaning oilcloth, there are a few different methods you can use. For day-to-day maintenance, simply wiping it clean with a damp cloth should suffice. For more stubborn stains, a mild soap or detergent can be used with a soft brush or sponge.

Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive scrubbers, as these can damage the surface of the oilcloth.

If your oilcloth is in need of a deeper clean, you can try hand washing it. Fill a sink or basin with warm water and a small amount of mild detergent.

Gently agitate the oilcloth in the soapy water, being careful not to scrub too vigorously. Rinse it thoroughly with clean water and then hang or lay it flat to air dry.

Can oilcloth be washed in the washing machine?

While hand washing is a common and effective method for cleaning oilcloth, you may be wondering if it can be safely washed in the washing machine. The answer is both yes and no.

It is possible to machine wash oilcloth, but it’s important to take certain precautions to avoid damaging the fabric.

Preparation before washing

Before you toss your oilcloth into the washing machine, there are a few steps you should take to prepare it for the wash. Firstly, check the care instructions on the label of your specific oilcloth product.

This will give you important information on the recommended cleaning methods and whether or not machine washing is suitable.

Next, inspect your oilcloth for any loose threads, tears, or areas of damage. It’s important to address any repairs before machine washing, as the agitation of the wash cycle can worsen existing damage. If you find any issues, consider repairing them or opting for an alternative cleaning method.

Washing oilcloth in the machine

If your oilcloth is suitable for machine washing and in good condition, you can proceed with laundering it. Start by placing the oilcloth into a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase. This will help protect it from tangling or getting caught on other items in the wash.

It’s also recommended to wash the oilcloth on its own to avoid any potential color transfer to other fabrics.

Can You Wash Oilcloth In The Washing Machine?

Choosing the right washing settings

When it comes to selecting the appropriate settings for machine washing oilcloth, opt for a gentle or delicate cycle with cold water.

Avoid using bleach or fabric softener, as these can degrade the protective coating on the oilcloth. It’s also advisable to reduce the spin cycle speed to minimize wrinkling and creasing.

Drying oilcloth after washing

After the washing cycle is complete, remove the oilcloth from the laundry bag or pillowcase and gently shake out any excess water. Avoid wringing or twisting the fabric, as this can cause damage. Instead, lay the oilcloth flat on a clean towel and blot it to absorb the remaining moisture.

Then, hang or lay it flat to air dry completely before storing or using it again.

Can You Wash Oilcloth In The Washing Machine?

Alternatives to machine washing

If you’re hesitant about machine washing your oilcloth or if the care instructions advise against it, there are a few alternative methods you can try. As mentioned earlier, hand washing is a reliable option for removing dirt and stains.

You can also spot clean specific areas using a mild detergent and a soft brush or sponge. Additionally, if your oilcloth is small enough, you can even consider using your bathtub to soak and wash it.

You may also like Can You Wash Leather Shoes In The Washing Machine?/Can You Put Baking Trays In The Dishwasher?

Caring for oilcloth to prolong its lifespan

To keep your oilcloth looking its best and extend its lifespan, there are a few tips you can follow. Firstly, avoid placing hot items directly on the oilcloth, as this can cause damage or discoloration.

Use trivets or heat-resistant placemats to protect the surface. Secondly, avoid using abrasive cleaners or scrubbers, as these can scratch the oilcloth. Stick to mild soap and water for regular cleaning.

Lastly, when storing your oilcloth, roll it up instead of folding it to prevent creasing and wrinkling. If possible, store it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to minimize the risk of fading.

By following these simple care tips, you can ensure that your oilcloth maintains its beauty and functionality for years to come.

In conclusion, while oilcloth can be washed in the washing machine, it’s essential to read the care instructions and take precautions to avoid damaging the fabric.

If in doubt, hand washing or alternative cleaning methods are suitable options. With proper care and maintenance, your oilcloth can continue to enhance your home’s decor and provide practicality for many years.


  • Maria

    Maria Kennedy, the culinary genius behind "Grocer and Grind" blog, unites a love for cooking, local markets, and sustainability. Her practical recipes and grocery tips cater to all, while her passion for eco-conscious choices shines through. Join Jane on her flavorful journey, savoring life one bite at a time.

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