Since we moved into our home about seven years ago, we have always used plastic tablecovers to cover our tablecloths for Shabbat meals. We did try out the non-disposable kind that you can buy at fabric stores. I hated having one more thing to throw out each week. However, they never seemed to get clean. Even after wiping them down after every meal, they felt sticky.
Last week my husband bought us two more boxes of covers. Later he asked me if it really was worth it to cover the table since the boxes cost $10.99 each. Of course, I decided to find out. (Please keep in mind that I am using St. Louis prices and prices may vary where you live.)
A box of small (60” x 90”) tablecovers contains 20 covers for $10.99. The box of large (60” x 108”) tablecovers contains 16 for the same price. That means the small are $.55/cover and the large are $.69/cover. If we use one large and one small each Shabbat (estimating on the low side, not including Yom Tovim), it would cost $1.24/week (not including tax). One year = $64.48 (I’ll round this to $65).
Our current tablecloths have lasted us for about eight years with being covered. So without covering, let’s estimate that a tablecloth might last two years. According to average prices of a stain-resistant tablecloth at Bed, Bath and Beyond, we might spend $50 to get one large and one small tablecloth for our two tables (not including tax or any coupons). Subtract that cost from two years of covers ($130 – $50) and the savings is $80 over 2 years or $40/year. If we buy two sets of two tablecloths and stretch them into five years of use, our savings goes to $45/year.
It may sound silly, but in this case, covering and protecting our tablecloths is actually more expensive (unless, as my husband says, you like more expensive tablecloths) than using the tablecloth on its own. It also has the added bonus of not sticking to your arms, which my husband hates during the summer months!
I will be interested to see if the tablecloths really can last two years without being covered. Let me know what happens with yours!