How to Iron: Thanksgiving Linens
Even if you're not the ironing type, it's worth it to break out the iron for Thanksgiving linens.
The Thanksgiving menu is set, the silver is polished, the candles have been checked for breaks -- as you go over your last minute Thanksgiving to-do list, don't overlook the table linens. Tablecloths and cloth napkins should be freshly laundered and ironed. Here's a quick ironing refresher, to guarantee that your napkins and tablecloth are picture-perfect for the big day.
Start with a clean iron. Even if your iron is used regularly, it's a good idea to clean it before you use it on your fancy linens. Fill the reservoir about halfway with white vinegar and turn the iron on, then steam iron a clean kitchen towel until the vinegar has evaporated. Add water and repeat. Make sure the soleplate is completely clean; give the cooled plate a scrub with a sponge dipped in mild soap; for heavier buildup, use vinegar.
You don't need an ironing board, but it helps. If you don't have one, you can use a table with a white terrycloth towel laid across it. If you do use an ironing board, make sure it's the right height. Martha Stewart recommends setting it the height to where you don't have to bend over when laying your hand on the surface. To protect your linens, lay a terrycloth towel on the surface of the ironing board.
Wash your linens, but don't machine dry them. Instead, drape them on a drying rack. Ideally, the linens should be just barely damp when you iron them; if they're completely dry, spray them evenly with a little water.
Keep your freshly-ironed linens crease-free. For a perfectly crisp, crease-and-wrinkle-free tablecloth, Martha Stewart also recommends setting up your ironing board right next to the (cleared) table, on top of a sheet. The sheet will keep the tablecloth from touching the floor directly while you iron the edges. Iron the bottom first in a back-and-forth (not circular) motion, with a temperature appropriate to the fabric (more delicate fabrics require lower settings). Iron in sections, moving the tablecloth and ironing each section as it covers the surface of the ironing board. If the fabric is not delicate, flip it over and iron the top completely. Drape immediately over the table, and you're ready to go. Do this the day before Thanksgiving so you don't have to while cooking or entertaining.
Each cloth napkin should be ironed and folded individually. Iron one at a time in the same manner as the tablecloth, either folding as you go or stacking flat to fold as desired.
Ironing all the linens may seem like a lot of work, but you'll be glad you did it when you see how beautiful your table is. We promise.
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