All About Tablecloths

The ancient Romans used tablecloths regularly, and since then they have been widely used all over the world to protect furniture and just for decoration.

What Is a Tablecloth?

A tablecloth is literally a cloth that is spread across the table. Most of us take them for granted, although in centuries past they often signified wealth or status, as not everyone could afford one. The cloth can help to protect your table form scratches and stains, as the very earliest tablecloths were designed to do, or it can be purely decorative. A cloth can save time too in case of spills; a wipe clean tablecloth can be wiped clean easily and quickly if you spill something. It prevents the spilled liquid or food from damaging the table and it also means you don't need to put the cloth in the washing machine.

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Why Use a Tablecloth?

Most of us use a tablecloth to protect the table from damage or from spills and stains. If you have a valuable table, an antique or one that has sentimental value, it's especially important to prevent damage to your table. A tablecloth also lets you put hot plates, dishes and pans on the table without damaging the surface. In some homes the tablecloth means it's a special meal, such as a family gathering or the Sunday roast. And a tablecloth can just be decorative or celebrate a special occasion, as Christmas, birthday and Halloween themed cloths verify. An ornate or decorative tablecloth suggests wealth and class, as it has done on the past; if you go to a fancy tea room or an expensive restaurant, you probably expect to see a decorative tablecloth on your table.

Types of Tablecloth

In Medieval times, linen cloths were widely used, and the whiteness of your cloth indicated how wealthy you were, although hessian sacks were often used by the very poor to cover their table. Things have changed a lot since then, although tablecloths can be made out of different materials and one of the most common materials is cotton. Cotton table coverings tend to cost less, are durable and can be safely washed in your washing machine. Polyester tablecloths are also relatively inexpensive, can be washed in the machine and come in a range of colours and styles. Plastic or vinyl wipe clean tablecloths are also popular, especially with families with young children or with those who don't want too much washing up. These more informal style cloths are also used at picnics, family reunions and other events where a lot of people are eating. A vinyl cloth is also ideal for using outdoors as the colours won't fade in sunlight and of course won't get damaged by the rain either.

You may not pay too much attention to your tablecloth, whether its one you eat off every night, or one that only appears at special occasions. But whenever you drape the tablecloth over your table, you're continuing an important task that's been practiced for 2,000 years.