When oilcloth first became popular some 150 – 200 years ago, it was made by coating a fabric (usually cotton) in an oil such as linseed.  Its durability and water repellant properties made it popular for all sorts of uses, from flooring to tents and even clothing for fishermen. 

Nowadays, thanks to the development of plastics, oilcloth is usually a cotton fabric which has been coated with a PVC resin, giving it the same qualities as an oilcloth made the old-fashioned way, but at a fraction of the cost.

Some wipe clean tablecloths are also made from PVC and Teflon-coating. While Teflon-coated tablecloths will drape like an oilcloth, a PVC tablecloth has a stiffer feel, which is why Teflon-coated and oilcloth tablecloths are usually a little more expensive. 

Care guidelines

When it comes to care and maintenance, an oilcloth tablecloth is very easy.  It’s a practical choice in a busy home or business such as a nursery or café because a majority of everyday spills can simply be wiped away with a clean damp cloth. 

Of course, an oilcloth tablecloth could be permanently marked if it comes into contact with some pen inks or strong sauces such as curry, so we always advise customers to wipe away spills and mess as quickly as possible – don’t give them a chance to rest on the material for any length of time. 

You can use oilcloth tablecloths outside so they’re perfect for summer dining, though you may find the colour fades if the tablecloth is exposed to bright sunlight over a prolonged period.  For more information, please see our Help page.

What to do next

If you need a tablecloth which is both practical and stylish, we known an oilcloth tablecloth won’t disappoint.  Browse all oilcloth designs or sign up to our newsletter (from the homepage) to keep up-to-date with news and special offers.

Please get in touch

We hope this article has helped to provide some clarity but if you have any further queries or questions, please do get in touch by telephone or email, we’re always glad to help.