Whether it’s a decorative pillow cover, heirloom decoration, table runner or a Christmas tree skirt, if it’s made of burlap, there are a few things you need to know. This chic rustic material can be cleaned and remain intact for decades but only if you follow these five cleaning rules:
Rule #1: Don’t Put Burlap in the Washing Machine
Most burlap from garden centres and hardware stores is the untreated kind. It is a natural fibre that will shed. Even on the gentlest of washing machine cycles burlap will warp, stretch, and fray. The synthetic kind will perform even worse. Many home decor websites will try and convince you that a gentle cycle will do no harm. Don’t believe any of them.
Rule #2: Do Handwash Your Burlap Decor
Burlap is made of natural fibres and absorbs moisture quickly. To wash a medium-to-large sized burlap item like a pillow cover, table runner or Christmas tree skirt, simply soak it in a cold water bath adding a tiny squirt of gentle dish soap or baby shampoo. Be sure to run the cold water until it’s ice cold so your items won’t shrink. Soak for up to five minutes. When it’s time to rinse, lie the soaking heap of burlap in your sink, shower stall, or bathtub and rinse with cold water until all soap is gone. Do not wring out. Simply drip dry over a folding clothes line, or any other hanging rod or rack where items can air dry.
Rule #3: Don’t Vacuum Burlap
If anything crumbs up on your burlap table runner such as cheese, bread or cookies, gather up the corners of the runner and dump debris into the garbage, compost or kitchen sink. It would be tempting to simply vacuum up the dry spill with a handheld vacuum, but you’ll likely damage the gentle material.
Rule #4: Don’t Panic if Coffee or Worse Spills on Your Burlap
Whether coffee, tea, red wine or cola spill on your burlap napkins or other burlap table decor, you need to soak up the spill as quickly as possible. If you have microfibre cloths handy, place them over the spill to absorb as much liquid as you can. Next, run burlap item under cold-cold water. If stain is still present, soak burlap in a cold water and gentle dish soap bath (see above). Instead of fussing over the mess, it’s better to leave your burlap soaking in water for a few hours than letting the stain set in. You’re having a party after all, so you don’t want to leave your guests unattended for too long.
Rule #5: Do Iron Burlap (But Protect it)
As mentioned, burlap is a natural material and depending on humidity or other natural factors it can warp. To iron burlap place it on an ironing board or ironing pad. Place a towel over the entire surface of the burlap. Always place a protective layer between the burlap and the warm iron. Iron on medium low.
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