Washable placemats have become a popular option for setting tables thanks to their durability and easy care compared to traditional cloth placemats. Available in endless colors and playful prints, colorful modern placemats in materials like vinyl and microfiber allow you to change up your table decor seasonally or for special occasions. But are they right for your home? Here's a detailed guide exploring the pros and cons to help you decide.
What Are Washable Placemats?
Washable placemats refer to placemats constructed from materials that can be cleaned by simply wiping down or throwing in the washing machine. The most common washable placemat materials include washable fabric placemats and machine washable placemats made from:
- Vinyl - Vinyl placemats have a plastic feel but provide great durability and easy cleaning. They come in a wide variety of colors and patterns.
- Silicone - With a naturally non-stick surface, silicone placemats easily wipe clean after meals. They are also heat resistant.
- Microfiber - Machine washable placemats made of microfiber offer softness plus the ability to handle repeated machine washing. Microfiber comes in both solids and prints and is known for its soft washable fabric placemat feel.
- PVC - Similar to vinyl, PVC plastic placemats clean up easily after heavy use. PVC placemats are extremely durable washable square placemats.
- Linen - Washable linen placemats provide a natural fiber option for those looking for sustainable placemat materials. As a washable fabric placemat choice, linen offers beauty and functionality.
The key advantage to all of these washable placemat materials over traditional cloth is their ability to stand up to messes, stains, and constant cleaning without falling apart over time. Machine washable placemats allow you to simply toss them in the laundry when they need freshening up.
Why Choose Washable Over Standard Placemats?
Washable placemats have several compelling benefits that make them a convenient choice for many households:
The top perk of washable placemats is the simplicity of keeping them looking like new after regular use. A quick pass with a sponge or dishcloth easily removes most messes. Or just toss vinyl, microfiber or silicone placemats right in the washing machine as needed. No more worrying about stains setting in.
Materials like vinyl and silicone are inherently more durable than woven cotton or linen when exposed to frequent use and cleaning. Washable placemats resist fading, fraying or breakdown over months and years of mealtimes. Less likely to rip or develop holes from silverware or hot plates.
Although vinyl and silicone placemats may cost slightly more upfront, their longevity equates to savings over time. No need to frequently replace stained or worn cloth placemats after just a season or two. Washable styles last through years of meal prep and cleanup.
Key Factors to Consider When Buying
While the washable aspect may be the priority, there are a few other factors to weigh when selecting the best placemats for your table.
As mentioned, vinyl, silicone, microfiber and PVC plastic are the most common washable placemat options. But which is best?
- Vinyl - Most affordable option, available in endless colors/patterns
- Silicone - Naturally non-stick and heat resistant surface
- Microfiber - Very soft with option to machine wash
- PVC - Most rigid plastic with bright color choices
Also consider grip strength, thickness, and border or no border based on your preferences.
Size & Shape
Placemat sizing is largely standard, but a few options exist.
- Standard sizes: generally range from 12 x 18 inches up to 14 x 20 inches
- Shapes: rectangles and squares most common, some round
- Custom sizes available from select specialty vendors
Be sure to measure your table dimensions before buying, especially for a full set.
Colors & Patterns
One of the best aspects of washable placemats is the wide spectrum of colors and fun patterns available. Go solid or add whimsy with colorful prints. Many brands also sell coordinating table runners and napkins to pull the full tablescape together.
Beyond the base material and aesthetics, also look for bonus functionality like:
- Non-slip backing to resist sliding
- Waterproof coatings for added protection
- Stain guard treatments to reduce absorption
- Kid-friendly designs - brighter colors, playful themes
Care and Maintenance Tips
To extend the life of washable placemats:
- Follow manufacturer instructions on allowable cleaning methods
- Use non-abrasive sponges and gentle dish soap
- Allow to fully air dry before folding or stacking to prevent mildew
- Some styles can go right in the washing machine and dryer
- Avoid excess heat when cleaning silicone or microfiber styles
Properly caring for your washable placemats ensures they stay looking fresh, new and sanitized for every place setting.
Popular Types of Washable Placemat Materials
Now that you know what to look for generally, here is an overview of the characteristics of some of the leading washable placemat materials to compare:
Durable Vinyl Placemats
- Benefits - budget friendly, huge pattern/color options, very durable
- Look & Feel - plastic-y, flexible not stiff
- Care - wipe clean, some machine washable
- Price Range - $2 - $8 per placemat
Vinyl is the most ubiquitous and affordable of the washable placemat varieties. With a soft flexible feel and nearly endless prints and colors, it brings functional performance at reasonable prices.
Non-Stick Silicone Placemats
- Benefits - naturally non-stick surface, heat safe to 480° degrees
- Look & Feel - glossy finish, comes in opaque or translucent
- Care - wipe clean, avoid abrasives
- Price Range - $8 - $30 per placemat
The slick surface of silicone placemats nearly eliminates the need for scrubbing even the stickiest, gooiest foods. Useful for prep tasks beyond the dining table as well. Higher price balances enhanced functionality.
Absorbent Microfiber Placemats
- Benefits - softer feel, absorbs spills for no slipping
- Look & Feel - variety of colors, feels like soft T-shirt material
- Care - machine wash and dry
- Price Range - $4 - $25 per placemat
Microfiber strikes an ideal balance of softness, stain resistance and safety. The tiny fibers absorb drips and condensation without allowing foods to penetrate the weave. Holds up well to repeated machine washing too.
Versatile PVC Plastic Placemats
- Benefits - very durable for frequent cleaning, kid friendly
- Look & Feel - more rigid plastic feel, bright colors
- Care - wipe clean with soap and water
- Price Range - $3 - $10 per placemat
PVC plastic placemats offer great bang for your buck. Super durable construction paired with lively color choices makes these a smart choice for families with young kids. The harder plastic also provides a smooth surface for easily gliding dishes into position at each place setting.
Ease of Cleaning
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As shown in the comparison chart, all washable placemat varieties deliver on the core priorities of durability and simple care. Beyond that, factors like style preferences, budget and added functionality will steer your decision making.
Now that you’re familiar with the most popular materials, let’s explore where to find the best washable placemat selection.
Where to Buy Washable Placemats
Washable placemats have become ubiquitous enough that you can find a range of options both in-store and online across these major home goods retailers.
Big Box Store Placemat Offerings
For sheer convenience and hands-on shopping, you can’t beat warehouse giants like:
- Walmart - Great value sets in vinyl, microfiber and some silicone
- Target - Affordable patterns and prints, plus threshold brand sets
- Bed Bath & Beyond - Large in-store selection across various materials
Check aisles with other table linens as well as kitchen gadgets and dining sections. Remember to take proper measurements with you when buying full place settings.
Online Retailers Offer Convenience
To save time and hassle, buying washable placemats through online giants opens up more possibilities without leaving your home.
- Fia weavers - Filter offerings by color, pattern, shape, material and more
- Amazon - Browse thousands of choices across every material, style and price point
- Overstock - Frequent sales and promos, plus discounted shipping specials
Be sure to check dimensions and read detailed descriptions if not seeing items in person before purchase.
Specialty Retailers Focus on Tableware
For those seeking upscale designs or unique offerings, specialty retailers like these have options beyond basic vinyl placemat offerings:
- Crate & Barrel - Elevated solid colors and exclusive prints
- Williams Sonoma - Luxury selections in custom sizes as well
- Pier 1 Imports - Bohemian and modern patterns reflecting current trends
Expect to pay a bit more, but the quality and longer lifespan justify the added costs for pricier placemat selections.
Helpful Tips for Using Washable Placemats
Investing in high quality washable placemats is the first step. Next, employ these tips for effectively integrating them into your tablescape decor.
Position Placemats Properly
Regardless of shape and size, each placemat should have approx 2-3 inches of overhang on either side once dishes and utensils are set. Make sure glasses, plates and flatware sit fully on top of placemats and are centered appropriately.
Placemats vs Tablecloths?
While vinyl, silicone and other washable placemat materials naturally repel messes, some prefer the added protection of layering woven or plastic tablecloths underneath for finer surfaces vulnerable to scratches.
Coordinate Colors & Patterns
When buying complete place settings, opt for color coordination or complementary patterns styles between placemats and other linens. Contrasting hues can also make for striking yet cohesive arrangements.
Stand Up to Kids & Pets
Thicker vinyls and silicone placemat materials make excellent choices for households with younger kids or messy pets. Clean stress-free between meals knowing staining is unlikely.
Show Personality When Entertaining
Switch out placemats seasonally or for dinner parties to make the table more festive. Showcase favorite colors or motifs. Many washable vinyl placemats feature holiday themes on one side for versatility.
Follow these tips when putting washable placemats to use to amplify both form and function at mealtimes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still debating whether washable placemats deserve a spot on your table? These common questions provide added insight.
Are washable placemats really better?
The convenience of tossing vinyl and other plastic placemats in the dishwasher or washing machine without worry makes them an easy win over fussier cloth in many households. Kids, pets and frequent entertainers benefit most from their durability and stain resistance as well.
What’s the best way to clean washable placemats?
Most styles only require a quick wipe down with a soapy sponge or dishcloth. For more thorough cleansing, pop vinyl, microfiber or silicone placemats in the dishwasher on gentle/low heat settings. Avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive scrubbing.
Can all washable placemats go in the dishwasher?
Some vinyl placemats and many microfiber options specifically state “dishwasher safe” for periodic deeper cleaning. Avoid extreme heat. Air dry rather than machine drying to prevent damage over time. Refer to manufacturer guidelines for each set.
How long should washable placemats realistically last?
With proper care as described above, quality vinyl and silicone placemats easily last upwards of 5+ years with frequent use. Microfiber and some vinyl varieties tend to show more visible aging at 3-4 years. Still much longer than many standard woven placemat lifespans.
Are microfiber placemats really machine washable?
Thanks to the tightly woven synthetic fibers, microfiber placemats stand up well to machine washing without fraying, shrinking or falling apart after only 1-3 trips through the rinse and spin cycle like some cotton and linen placemats. Tumble dry low.
Is vinyl or fabric better for everyday placemats?
For those wanting maximum convenience, vinyl is hard to beat for everyday meal wipe downs. Fabric still beats vinyl in appearance, with more refined drape and feel. But requires much more babying with immediate stain treatment and delicate laundering.
The Last Word on Washable Placemat Possibilities
On the whole, investing in vinyl, silicone, microfiber or plastic PVC placemats that can be easily wiped clean or thrown in the wash provides durable, carefree performance for everyday dining. Choosing options in fun colors and prints adds personalized panache. While specialty stores offer elevated selections, even big box and online retailers provide quality, budget-friendly offerings to suit most needs.
When buying complete place settings, refer to a table runner size guide to ensure your placemats, table runner and place settings all align properly on your table dimensions. Just be sure to properly position placemats with about 2-3 inches of overhang on all sides once dishes are set.
Washable placemats deliver on the promise of convenience and versatility. An easy choice suitable for everything from routine family meals to holiday gatherings with guests. No more worrying about permanent stains or rushing to launder after every use with machine washable placemat options.
after every use. Simply wipe and go on enjoying fuss-free, affordable and long-lasting place settings.