9.08.2010

how to wash a slipcover



I have been washing Pottery Barn, Ikea and custom slipcovers for many years and this is how I do it...

Step 1 - While the slipcover is still on the sofa, do any spot treating with a little detergent and a toothbrush if you need to.

Step 2 - Remove the slipcover and wash the part that covers the body of the sofa first.  Wash it on cold water for about 20 minutes on the "normal" setting.  Longer if the slipcover is really dirty.

Step 3 - Hang the slipcover outside on a clothesline or 2 chairs with the slipcover draped over them.

Step 4 - Repeat above with the cushion covers.

Step 5 - While the slipcover is still a little damp, put it back on and smooth out any wrinkles.  You can probably iron it if you feel like it but I never do. 

Step 6 - Do the same with the cushion covers.

The whole process is pretty quick, especially if the weather is warm.   So now you know.

ps - A couple of more hints.  I vacuum the sofa a couple of times a year.  It's pretty amazing how dusty they get. 
Also, I put a couple of throws on the sofa if we are going to be watching football and eating, as we are slobs.

41 comments:

  1. I doubt very much that you are 'slobs'.

    Thanks for the tips!

    S
    xo

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  2. You are a very good slipcover owner. I just chuck it all in the washer. You know how I feel about my sofa.

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  3. Ahhhhhh the mother of all slipcover cleaning posts. I see all slipcovers in America shaking in fear or is that joy?

    I can now die happy. ;)


    Desert Rat

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  4. I'm trying to persuade my hubby to buy a slip covered sofa... with two toddlers, a dog and a cat, i definitely need one I can wash! This was re-affirmed yesterday when I returned home from shopping, only to find a bird sat on the back of the couch... a present from the cat... still alive, but scared poopless! Yuck! Lx

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    1. I had white slipcovers with three cats, and they were a nightmare! They look amazing in photos;not so great in "real" life. I bought leather, and never regretted it.It wipes clean and bird poop would come right off.(it was great until hubby brought me home a new kitten,LOL She thinks the leather couches make a great scratching post)

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  5. ohhhh, put it on damp?!! I usually dry mine, then iron and curse, curse and iron... like your way much better!
    You have a white sofa and you only vacuum "a couple of times a year"??? Dang, y'all must be some kind of neat and tidy;)

    thanks for the tut!

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  6. sue - we are Slobs.

    amy - thank you!

    anon - glad you can die now?

    laura - slipcovers are the way to go with kids and pets. we had lots of both.

    joan - not tidy, lazy.

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  7. It is truly tragic how excited I was to see your post title on my dashboard! All I need now is a US sized washer to take my sofa cover. That and a promise to myself to get out more! As they seem to say on so many blog comment boxes, Thanks for sharing!

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  8. belinda - thanks for the comment and i agree that it is tragic. think how i feel, i wrote it.

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  9. Makes sense. I vacuum mine whenever I need a little spare change. It's amazing how much money ends up in the sofa.

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  10. I put throws over our sofa all the time! It's my own, slightly less crazy version of having it covered in squeaky, protective plastic;)

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  11. Dear Janet, These carefully worded and totally clear instructions should, in my view, be transcribed into every edition of Mrs. Beeton's Household Management or whoever her modern day equivalent is. And, were I Minister of Education [and you may be somewhat surprised to learn that I am not], then I should make this a compulsory component of the National Curriculum.

    As it is, I am copying it all into my housebook for my daily, Mrs. N.

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  12. steve - i love it when i actually make sense.

    marygrace - love your slightly less crazy version. perfect.

    edith - you kill me. i wish i had a housebook and especially a mrs. n.

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  13. Hi Janet,

    I will definitely file this info in my "housekeeping" folder. Thanks!

    And you are right, you are SUCH a big slob...shame on you! :) Actually, I am a slob in the kitchen, crap flies everywhere.

    Linda

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  14. Dear Jan, I was excited also to see your post today. Thank you for you for being so generous on this and so many other things. It makes the world a prettier place. Hugs, CW

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  15. Sounds like a good method! Mine take a beating from kids/boyfriends/dogs/husband.

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  16. If I stopped buying kitchen cabinets every week I would probably have enough money to get the IKEA slipcovered couch I want...without having to listen to the we don't "need" new couches speech. The word need to me is up for interpretation!
    So, when I do get mine, this is how I'm going to clean it! :)

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  17. linda - thank you for recognizing that fact. also, you should see me in the kitchen, i cook like i have hired help. and i don't.

    cw - aww, so sweet.

    kim - ok, i can't resist. boyfriends and husbands. you must do a "how to" on that. please.

    sarah - just say no. you know how well that works.

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  18. Yep, that's a good way to do it! I've had white slipcovers for years, and just wash 'em in the washing machine. White covers can be bleached when there are bad stains--colored ones can't. It's just so cheerful that the great big thing in the living room is white, y'know?

    Hey Kim, boyfriends AND husbands??? I'm with Janet--do tell!!!

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  19. That was really helpful. I now have two slipcovered chairs, and I don't know when I'll feel comfortable taking them off and washing them.

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  20. Well Kim, come back a.s.a.p! JT

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  21. Hi Janet,
    Thank you so much for the tips! I'll feel much more at ease washing ours. ; )
    Trina

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  22. I have white cotton slipcovers and two children. What was I thinking?

    Every year I launder it and am amazed at all the "mulch" under the cushions. And we are pretty tidy people. They have been a lifesaver for the couches though, which are still in new condition.

    Christine in Alaska

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  23. My sofa is from ikea and it is a NIGHTMARE to get the covers back on once washed it's like they shrink! I second the vacuuming-essential.

    Re my roast beets, I peel them 1st J, then roast in olive oil, salt pepper and cumin and cinnamon quills. I love them in salads.

    Nephew's name is Tom. After my 93 year old Grandfather. xxxx

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  24. The vase of flowers placed on the ottoman would be far too precarious a position in my house Janet.
    Thanks for the washing instructions as I'm contemplating buying a IKEA sofa with removable covers but now I'm worried after reading FF's comment.
    xx

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  25. Ha! I was referring to my daughter's boyfriend, a semi-permanent fixture at our place, especially at meal-time. Naughty girls....

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  26. Great tips on washing the slips...your living room is beautiful :o)
    Kristen

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  27. Thanks Janet - we have just bought a sofa with a white slip cover so this is a VUP for me (Very Useful Post!) xx

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  28. O.K... I will do it exactly as you said... but never would have thought not to ironing, such a great idea to put them on back when they are damp... no wrinkles after all... great!!!
    Thank you my dear Janet... I have for the first time some white slipcovers for my sofas, the very coloured ones!!!
    hugs,
    ,maria cecilia

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  29. Janet I laughed upon reading your response to Linda.
    A friend has an ex who is a ex-chef.
    He would prepare the evening meal using every pot and pan and utensil as if he had a team of kitchen hands ready to swoop down and clean up.
    Only problemo was...my friend was deemed to be the hired help.
    I believe he was banned from the home kitchen.
    xx

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  30. ...while still wet..well what do you know...maybe this will end the wrestling match that the slip cover usually wins!

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  31. Thank you so much for the great directions! I am in the process of deciding if i want the pottery barn slip cover couch...and i think i have decided to go for it!! thank you!!

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  32. Thanks Janet, This is very informative. I guess the trick is putting it back on while still slightly damp. Now I will shop for white slipcovers!
    xs

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  33. christine - welcome from alaska!

    maria cecilia - you bought white!!!

    ff - i can't wait to try those beets.

    kim - glad you came back to read. we are a naughty bunch.

    anne marie - funny story but if i was banned from the kitchen, we'd starve.

    midwest - you will be happy w/the pb slipcovers.

    kristen w. - thank you so much.

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  34. I am in the process of redoing my family room and intend to get a slipcovered sofa, so your post was very timely. I just happened on your blog, it is lovely. The header picture is great...I love bunnies! Come by and see me sometime. (-:

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  35. I have a white slipcovered couch which is in great condition after years but is starting to yellow along the ribbons/ seams. Has anyone had this problem? I'm afraid to use bleach, but they are truly white. Any suggestions?

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  36. anon - hmmm, that's tricky but if it is getting to the point of ruin, i think i'd try to use one of those oxyclean products first and if that doesn't do the trick then i'd probably try bleach. yes, i think that's what i'd do. please let me know what you do and what your results are. thanks.

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  37. Hi Janet, loved your article and see that others do to. I have an off-white denim (I think) slipcover for a giant sofa. It was almost certainly NOT pre-shrunk as it was made cheaply in Mexico. Should I take the chance on washing it in cold water as you suggest? I am currently living in Geneva and there is not much chance of getting another one made if somehow it shrinks and cannot be used any longer.

    Thanks in advance for your reply...

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    1. that's a tough call. i think the only way i'd chance it is if the condition of the slipcover is so bad that there isn't any other option. i've had curtains shrink on me that i washed in cold water and so that scares me a little re your slipcover. maybe you can try one of the back cushion covers and see if it shrinks before you do the whole sofa? or is there a service that cleans upholstered furniture in your area? that would be a last resort. good luck and let me know what happens.

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    2. I suppose it is good to be cautious (even though I was pretty excited about your easy instructions above). there are services in the area that will steam clean upholstery, but they are quite expensive and perhaps it is worth trying to use an off-the-shelf steam cleaner first, which may cost less in the long run. thanks again for the advice!

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  38. Putting the slipcovers back on damp makes good sense to me. I always dry them fully and probably that's why I struggle to get them back on. Thanks for the tip. Can't wait to try it.

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kindness is never out of style.