Proper Way to Wash a Catholic Purificator

Updated April 17, 2017

During the celebration of the Catholic Mass, several distinct types of linen cloths are used, according to the precepts of the Code of Canon Law. The purificator is a cloth about one foot square which is draped over the Eucharist chalice and is used after Holy Communion to clean the precious blood. Because of the reverence that is given to the divine presence of the Eucharist, the purificator should be laundered carefully.

Soak the purificator in cold water immediately after it is used. If there is visible consecrated wine on the cloth, then salt, vinegar or stain treatments can be added to release the stain. If possible, the water should be poured onto the ground near the church out of reverence for the Divine Presence.

Wash the purificator in hot water with detergent. Machine washing is acceptable, but hand washing is recommended because the cloths are usually fine linen. Do not bleach because this will discolour the linen.

Rinse the purificator thoroughly until all detergent is removed. Hang the purificator to air dry, or press it with a clean linen towel. While the purificator is still damp, lay it face down and iron it with a light application of starch to raise the embroidery. Iron in straight lines, not swirls, to avoid deforming the weave.

Fold the ironed purificator into thirds toward the middle along both the length and the width. The folded purificator should be a square about 4 inches to a side with the embroidered cross in the middle. Do not iron the folded purificator as this will cause severe creasing.


The church sacristy should be equipped with a sink and bowls to presoak the purificator. Once the consecrated wine has been removed, it is OK to launder altar cloths at home. A purificator that has been stained should no longer be used. Purificators should be retired by being burnt in a controlled manner with the ashes buried on church grounds.

Things You'll Need

  • Salt or vinegar
  • Stain detergent
  • Starch
  • Iron
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About the Author

Tom Pace has been writing since 2000. His work has been featured by websites such as I-Mockery and his first book was published by Virtual Bookworm in 2005. Pace has been trained to coach students preparing for the GRE. He is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in religious studies at the University of Chicago.