5 Problems with Burlap Tablecloths (and How to Solve Them)

Burlap Tablecloth and Linen Problems and How to Solve Them

Burlap tablecloths are a versatile decor item perfect for dressing up your party tables. Made out of fibers woven from the jute plant, these burlap fabric party linens are perfect to get a natural garden party feel, a rustic vintage wedding, or a bohemian chic vibe.

Whether your bridal shower or wedding is set in spring, summer, autumn, or winter, burlap is a timeless material for all seasons. 

Problem: Conquering Burlap’s Natural Odor

Since it is derived from plants, the natural musty odor often associated with burlap is primarily due to the natural composition of the fibers and the way it is processed. Burlap linen has fibers that contain oils and resins carrying certain odors that may not suit some noses. 

Burlap’s odor is one of the problems that decorators and hobbyists often encounter. Don’t worry, we’ve got some simple solutions for you to get rid of burlap’s natural smell


1. Air Out to Dry - The easiest way to get rid of burlap odor is to lay it out in fresh air. A lot of the odor is concentrated when the fabric is sealed in plastic packaging.

Allow your burlap fabric to air dry for 48 hours to about a week. Protect your tablecloth from rain and moisture to prevent mold while it’s air drying. It's best to dry your tablecloth under sunlight to eliminate other bacteria. 

2. Wipe with Detergent and Water - The quickest way to clean your burlap tablecloth is to take a towel or rag and dampen it with some water and a little detergent. It doesn’t have to be too damp as burlap products are already clean. 

Take your damp towel, wipe it across your tablecloth and allow it to dry. The detergent will lift off the odor and give off a clean smell. This is a quick fix to your burlap odor problem.

3. Baking Soda - Another quick way to get rid of the natural burlap smell is to sprinkle some baking soda over your burlap fabric. Baking soda is well-known as a cleaning agent and is usually used in the kitchen to get rid of smells. It neutralizes smells and easily gets rid of unwanted odors, even on linens. Let the baking soda sit on your burlap tablecloth for 2-4 days and shake off any excess baking soda that clings to the fabric.

Problem: How to Tame a Wrinkled Burlap Tablecloth

Burlap tends to wrinkle easily due to its coarse and loosely woven texture. The natural fibers in burlap lack the elasticity and smoothness of more refined fabrics, causing them to crease and wrinkle readily when folded or manipulated. Ironing burlap can be challenging due to its tendency to resist smoothing. Fret not, there’s a secret to wrinkle-free tablecloths.


Because of burlap’s rough, woven texture, taking an iron to smooth out creases simply will not do. To reduce the amount of ironing needed before your event, opt for layers instead.

To achieve this effect, skip a full burlap tablecloth and choose a burlap table runner with a polyester tablecloth underneath. If your heart is set on a full tablecloth and you find yours wrinkled and creased, smooth your tablecloth flat and place weights at each corner for a 24 to 48-hour period.

Problem: The Horrible, No Good Case of Shedding Burlap

Shedding is a common concern with burlap and burlap-like fabrics although you may get less shedding with faux burlap napkins and faux burlap tablecloths. While these imitations offer the rustic charm of traditional burlap without its natural fiber coarseness, they can still exhibit a propensity to shed loose fibers. This shedding can be particularly noticeable during initial use or after washing, potentially leaving behind small fibers on surfaces and clothing.


The easiest way to prevent shedding in your burlap fabric is to carefully follow care and maintenance instructions for burlap material. 

1. Make sure to wash your tablecloth gently and hang it straight for air drying. For burlap with already frayed edges, cut the edges of your burlap cloth to get rid of withered and frayed fibers. 

2. Another quick way to prevent your burlap cloth from shedding is to spray some hairspray over the length of your burlap tablecloth. You can also use a water and glue mixture to spray on your fabric. This will strengthen the woven material for extra protection from shedding.

3. Put some masking tape or binding tape on the backside of your fabric. This will keep the fabric of your burlap intact and prevent shedding. 

Problem: The Alternative to Burlap’s Rough & Itchy Feeling

The rough and often itchy sensation associated with burlap fabric stems from its coarse and unrefined texture. The rugged nature of burlap makes it better suited for applications where its durability and sturdiness are valued, such as in heavy-duty sacks or gardening products, rather than for items requiring a gentler touch.


Worried your guests might remember the sensation of itchy, scratchy burlap linens over every other aspect of your wedding? If so, you might want to consider faux burlap instead. Our Faux Burlap Table Overlay Topper/Tablecloth 90″ Round – Natural Tan offers a fantastic solution!

Faux Burlap Tablecloth 90"x132" Rectangular - Natural Tan

This tablecloth assures the same appearance of natural jute burlap, but it doesn’t shed and it’s soft to the touch. This burlap alternative is also machine washable, iron-friendly, and odorless, thus solving any of the above issues for a truly low-maintenance burlap tablecloth.

You can also opt for soft burlap fabric variations, designed to provide a smoother touch, traditional burlap's coarse fibers can be uncomfortable against the skin. 

Problem: Worried A Burlap Tablecloth or Table Runner Might Exceed Your Wedding Budget?

Using burlap tablecloths for wedding decor may put a strain on your budget. While burlap is a sought-after choice for creating charming atmospheres, its unique appeal and quality can cost more.

Couples planning to use burlap tablecloths in their wedding design should be prepared to allocate a portion of their budget for the expenses associated with these specialty linens. 


Rustic and country themes have been increasing in popularity, quickly taking over the wedding world. Regardless of the season, burlap’s versatility brings a little rustic charm to any wedding. If this cozy style is one you’ve been dreaming about, don’t be discouraged by the price.

You can opt for budget-friendly burlap linen tablecloth options. Choose round burlap tablecloths as overlays to a longer basic white tablecloth. You can choose between the 108-round burlap tablecloth or 120-round burlap tablecloth options.

Burlap 120" Round Tablecloth - Natural Tan
Burlap Round 90" Table Overlay Topper - Natural Tan

Another top tip is to buy burlap fabric rolls and faux burlap tablecloths wholesale. You can get major discounts when you buy in bulk. Ask for wholesale prices and free shipping options when buying your table linens in bulk.

Burlap Tablecloth and Linen Problems and How to Solve Them

Bonus Tip: How to Clean Burlap Linen

Cleaning a burlap tablecloth requires some careful attention to preserve its integrity. While burlap is not the easiest fabric to clean due to its coarse nature, here is an easy way to effectively clean burlap linens.

Start by shaking off any loose dirt or debris outdoors. Gently spot clean stains using a mild detergent and cold water, being cautious not to saturate the fabric. Avoid scrubbing vigorously as this could damage the fibers. After spot cleaning, let the tablecloth air dry in a well-ventilated area, avoiding direct sunlight to prevent fading.

You can wash your burlap using handwashing. Make sure to wash it in cold water with a small dash of delicate soap. It's important to note that machine washing, drying, and using hot water can lead to shrinkage and deformation. This will make your burlap prone to further wear and tear.

Overall, while burlap tablecloths require more delicate care compared to traditional linens, a thoughtful and patient approach can help maintain their rustic charm.

CV Linens For Your Burlap Needs

Once you’ve ironed out the 5 most common problems you’ll encounter with burlap, you’ll find that this charming material will give your party that warm and classy vibe.

Get your burlap table runner for sale at super affordable and wholesale prices. If you want a more minimal approach, order some burlap table skirts to go with your tablecloths. Top off your boho chic look with some rustic charger plates wholesale. Get some big savings when you buy in bulk with our wholesale prices. Avail of our free shipping when you order above $99. 

Burlap Table Runner 13"x108" - Natural Tan
Three Tier Ruffled Burlap Table Skirt 17 ft - Natural
Plain Round 13" Charger Plates - Rustic

Here at CV Linens, our wholesale pricing is friendly for any budget while still guaranteeing quality linens. For notifications at any time when there is a site-wide sale event, you can sign up for our CV Linens newsletter. This is your special day and you deserve nothing but the best. You will look back on your wedding for ages, and the photos captured are ones you will treasure in frames and albums for a lifetime.

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5 Problems Everyone Has With a Burlap Tablecloth (and How to Solve Them)

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My burlap linen table runner feels like plastic. How can I soften it?

Diane Lee

Very good article!
I have recently changed the focus of my business from Event Planning to Event Rentals. About 6 years ago, I planned and decorated an outdoor wedding using burlap for the first time. I did not think that I would have an opportunity to use the items again but am happy that the Burlap trends. The Faux Burlap, not to sure how I feel about it so far. Easier to manage then natural burlap however since the material is a polyester weave, it presents its own unique challenges! Steaming/Roller_Ironing, Folding, snags in the weave, are just a few. We are working thru them quickly because one of my Event Planners LOVES them and sells them as THE option for all of her Brides!

Cheryl D D Meredith

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