When decorating my kitchen table with place mats, I found out the hard way that if you use cloth mats they get dirt quickly and are almost impossible to clean, especially when you have little ones eating pasta and sauce. You might as well throw them out. I went over to my mother's house one day and saw that she had a clear plastic table cloth. I asked her where she had gotten it. She said the craft section at Walmart.
If you go into the material section, they sell it in large rolls. You can purchase it by the yard cheaply, whatever thickness you want. I bought enough for my kitchen table, cut it into the oval with extra 6 inches for an overhang. Now I place all my mats under the plastic. The table is protected and the mats always stay clean. I just wipe down the plastic and for the different holidays, either I put a cloth tablecloth or mats under the plastic and they never get ruined.
Tip: if you have difficulty getting the plastic to hang down around the edges, use a hair dryer and it will mold to whatever is under it when warmed a little. This stuff is also great as book covers.
By Lou-Ann Krause from Sturbridge, MA
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