To cover or not to cover?

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!


9 thoughts on “To cover or not to cover?

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  1. Rachel, I have to disagree on this hot topic! With young children at the table we are constantly running a risk of a total spill of anything (not a stain). Considering that you might have to clean everything up during a meal, and that there are 2 meals to think about, just the idea of no plastic gives me jitters. Did you also calculate the cost of washing them (electricity, water, soap, time) into the savings? The way i solved the problem in my house is that i use thick non-disposable tablecloth UNDER the disposable one, This way it is double protected (do your kids also pull them apart?) and doesn’t slide and gives you an option of changing it for the next meal or leaving it alone,
    Have a good Shabbos,

    1. Thanks for the input. There may be other people like you that have had that same problem. I know that my ideas will not work for everyone. I hope that there will be others that will work for you, though! My goal is to give people ideas that I have tried or found in my research and hope that more are helpful than not. I will have to do a part two for this one after we have tried going without covers for a little while longer than the past few weeks. Have a good Shabbos!

  2. Rachel I also disagree because some how out clothes get stained so then I would be buying new clothes every week not every 5 years.

    1. I am not sure I understand your post. How does not covering mean your clothes get dirty? Anyway, I hope maybe some of my other posts will be helpful! Have a good week!

      1. I hate the plastic ones, but then I’m constantly left with dirty fabric ones that need to be shaken off if it’s a snack mess or washed after a meal. I dont always have time To do this so im Walking by being grossed out by the tablecloth that i just cleand, but has been dirtied again by a kids snack. There’s no way to just whipe crumbs off fabric without leaving something behind. I only use the spill-proof ones now. And black ones are my favorite so there is no stain
        problem. But I haaaate the way the plastic covers look!

      2. Thanks for your tips! I talked to a friend today who said she has the stain resistant tablecloths from Bed Bath and that terrible stains come out great. She also said they have had them for years. Bed Bath has great coupons and they even will honor several in one shopping trip and they will even take expired coupons!

  3. I don’t usually cover my tablecloths but I wonder if you factor in the cost of laundry (water, gas, electricity, detergent, time, if it’s still worth not covering? Probably but it is an added expense I don’t think you took into account. Thank you again for your tips!

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