Burlap – History & Care Instructions


        An Asian native, the jute plant has long been the workhorse of the textile industry. Ancient Indian and Chinese civilizations relied on cloth woven from jute fibers for clothing, household goods and farm chores.


Burlap Jute Plant

         In Europe, Jute was woven into Burlap, also called Hessian cloth, and was used for wrapping bales of cotton or hay and for stitching grain sacks for transporting wheat, barley and rye from farm to mill. In rural homes, Burlap did double duty as curtains and chair covers.

        Today, the quest for ecologically sustainable natural fibers has sparked a renewed interest in this humble cloth. The popularity of simple country style decorating has transformed burlap into a coveted choice for home furnishings. In addition, the trend for rustic themed special events has put burlap on the top of savvy wedding planners’ Must Have lists.

        Whether for your front hall, banquet hall, resort function or your local reception hall/barn dance, Burlap is ideal. It is a strong, durable, color and light fast. It’s biodegradable and carbon neutral (meaning it balances the carbon dioxide required for it’s production and transport with the carbon dioxide the Jute plant removes from the air we breathe.) Burlap is the ultimate eco friendly fabric and the most fashionable table linen fabric today.

(Photo courtesy of blog.sussexpromotions.co.uk )

How to care for burlap

How To Eliminate Burlap’s Odor

Being Eco-friendly, however, doesn’t mean that it’s absolutely perfect in every way. There’s no getting around it… fresh burlap — while a thing of unparalleled beauty — has a earthy scent. The odor’s strength depends on how the cloth was finished, how it was stored and a variety of other factors. Our Burlap is refined and contains no additive or Formaldehyde which is found in many other Burlap fabrics being sold that are inferior quality or imported.

Burlap Over Chair

        Unless I need to use my Burlap right away, I simply place my new Burlap tablecloths and table runners in my screened in porch (in fair weather) or the garage (during the rainy season.) It takes about a week to notice a big difference. Those with sensitive noses sometimes say that a trace of ‘eau de Burlap’ can still be detected, but I don’t find this bothersome.

        If you are in a hurry to recover that old chair frame or use your new Burlap table linens, simply take a slightly damp washcloth and rub it over the fabric’s surface. Flip the cloth to the other side and repeat. The Burlap will need to dry off, but this usually only takes the better part of an afternoon. Dissolving a bit of baking soda in warm water before dipping in your washcloth is also helpful. Just be sure not to add too much baking soda as this can leave a white residue.

Burlap cleaning with baking soda

How To Clean Burlap

Although nearly carefree, there are times when your burlap may need laundering. Whether a wedding guest drips chocolate sauce on your burlap tablecloth or your curtains seem a bit dusty, the first step in cleaning Burlap is to give it a good shake and let it air out on a sunny day.  Sometimes this

is all it takes.

Burlap cleaning and care

    Tougher stains can be removed by gently dabbing the surface with a washcloth dipped in a mixture of vinegar and warm water. Rinse with plain water.

        When all else fails, wash the Burlap in a sink or bathtub using a small amount of gentle liquid detergent. Feel free to swish around the water but resist active agitation. Agitation can cause the fabric to release fuzz (short fibers) or fray at the edges (which is why you WON’T want to put your Burlap into the washing machine in the first place!)

Creases and Curling

Burlap is an unfussy fabric and I personally think minor wrinkles add to its homespun appearance. If my Burlap linens need freshening up, I hang them on a clothesline and mist lightly with clean water. When dry, they look better than ever. Not only are the results beautifully crease-free, but line drying always makes me feel ecological virtuous.

        To prevent creasing, I usually roll my table runners around a paper towel tube before storing them. Since this isn’t practical for larger items, occasionally I find myself with an iron in hand. For best results, set the iron at the maximum steam setting but a medium heat, and iron both sides across the crease.

ironing and caring for burlap

        For stubborn creases, choose a low heat setting and cover the area with cheesecloth. Press along the crease line on both sides, using the iron’s mister. Be patient, this really works!

ironing burlap, caring for burlap linen

For those that need a Burlap that can be machine washed, Premier Table Linens also offer the Havana Faux Burlap which is 100% Polyester but yet looks like Jute Burlap.  For more information on the Havana Faux Burlap, click here.



24 Responses so far.

  1. Jessica Temple says:

    Really good information. I will add that I love Burlap, have purchased Burlap different stores in the past and the Burlap that Premier Burlap Boutique sells is far superior to any other Burlap and the odor is very minimal and does go away in no time.

  2. Sandy Quinn says:

    Very good information for the best Burlap manufacturer. Thank you guys!!!!

  3. John Harrington says:

    Great and useful information. As far as Burlap “smell”, like the article says, do not fret about it. Burlap is a natural fabric and this company has excellent quality Burlap so the “smell” is minimal to begin with and goes away in a very short time. I personally love the scent of Burlap, wish it did not go away.

  4. Julie and Ray Ortega says:

    We followed all the tips in this blog and they all worked like a charm. I love Burlap even more now.

  5. Ashley Toates says:

    Thank you for some very good information.

  6. Jonathan says:

    Very Informative. Thanks!

  7. Alison says:

    Did not know that they had a ‘smell’ to them if you will. But I have to say that baking soda is a great cleaning agent and great for helping with the smell. Thanks for the post and I am interested in this!

  8. Chris Poter says:

    Thank you for such a candid, honest and informative blog. I had read on other sites that Burlap could be machine washed and found out the hard way and very disappointed at another company that sold me Burlap they claimed could be tumble washed when in reality no Jute Burlap can be machine washed. Glad I found this article and this company. They have a sister company that specializes in Burlap http://www.burlap-tablecloth.com Only place to buy good Burlap from good honest people.

  9. Margie says:

    Thank you!

  10. Joyce Pavich says:

    Can anyone tell me if burlap can be steam pressed

    • Ryan says:

      Joyce, Although I have not done this personally I would suggest trying a small piece first. Liquid will breakdown the Burlap so steaming has the potential to harm the burlap but a quick steam press should be fine. I would be interested to hear your findings. Best wishes Ryan

  11. Marianne says:

    Can I heat press a vinyl transfer on the burlap.
    I would use a teflon sheet to protect the fabric.
    Would probably need to heat for 10 seconds at 302 degrees.

    • Ryan says:

      This is Ryan our printed division director. I can certainly let you know that heat transferring on to the Burlap is a go !!!We do it all the time and you should have no problem at all. We heat at 375 deg for 4 seconds. Hope that helps. Or you can always email me at digitalart@premiertablelinens.com and I shall be pleased to help.

  12. sherry butcher says:

    This is a very good post. I have also had burlap table covers and was disappointed after washing and ironing. TFS.

  13. Linda Haslow says:

    I use glass on top of my table that has a Burlap tablecloth and after two years, it still looks as new and charming as it did when I purchased it.

  14. […] For Burlap Cleaning instructions and ideas, please see our blog on Burlap Care. […]

  15. Ginger says:

    Thanks for all the info. I have a question. I’m wanting to use burlap to cover the underside of my screened-in porch. A friend says it molds easily. Please tell me he’s wrong (or that there’s something I can treat it with like scotch guard to keep that from happening!

    • Ryan says:

      Hi Ginger, I am glad you asked. I would not recommend Jute Burlap for permanent outdoor use. Your friend is correct. Wet Burlap will mold very quickly. Also, permanent exposure to sun will discolor the Burlap.

  16. Cathy says:

    Wish we’d read this BEFORE purchase at Joanne’s! Our burlap, hoping to be used as table runners STINKS TO HIGH HEAVEN! And its NOT an earthy smell! It is totally petro-chemical, maybe formaldehyde. Soaked in a kiddie pool with DAWN dish soap, sun/air dried, spritzed with Nature’s Miracle (per another post), sprayed with light water and baking now on my cement patio in the sun! NO USE! Can’t use it anywhere near food! Wasted time and money!! Buy the good stuff! Like I knew there was a difference!

  17. Leah says:

    I have a new dryer with a dream wrinkle release setting. Could I put my new table clothes in this to get the wrinkles/creases out?

  18. Pam says:

    I spilled white wine on my burlap tablecloth. It has discolored the burlap. What can I do? Can you dry clean burlap?

    • Ryan says:

      Thanks so much fro your question, burlap can be dry cleaned however it can be problematic as it depends on the dry cleaner, some cleaners use chemicals that will bleach and destroy the burlap. Spot clean with water and mild soap would be your best approach. lay flat when drying and just attack the stain not the entire tablecloth.

      Hope that helps.
      Ryan C

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