Washing slipcovers

I have a confession. I used to have a $x,xxx sofa. The first time I wrote the price, there were numbers there, but the number embarrassed me and I removed it. It was custom made and it was a horrible purchase. Granted, it had an extremely comfortable bed inside it, but it was such a big purchase for me that I was constantly worrying about it. I sometimes joke that I was "possessed by my possessions" when I had that sofa. It owned me.

What was I thinking with this decor scheme?

At some point, I decided to shed almost everything that I was tiptoeing around in my house. I sold the sofa on Craigslist to a sweet couple who seemed to understand and appreciate the deal they were getting. That's when I moved to slipcovers.

I did a pretty good job of talking about how liberating slipcovers were, but I have to admit that I was even more anxious about the white slipcover on my Mitchel Gold & Bob Williams sofa (from Quince :) ). Despite having washed the covers on my Ikea Jennylund chairs dozens of times, I was convinced that washing my MG&BW slipcover was a project to be approached with the utmost care, after exhaustive research. Oh, I had the official instructions and had washed the sofa cushion covers before, but the larger sofa slipcover was somehow different.

Off to the Sunshine Laundry I went. The sweet ladies directed me to the back, where the triple load machines were. I contemplated standing in front of the washer for the entire cycle, but I forced myself to do some email instead. I wound up checking on the machine about half a dozen times.

I was going to use cold water, just to be safe, but the laundress insisted that warm was the way to go.

Next up came the drying...even more nerve wracking because I knew that if the slipcover was going to shrink, this is where it would happen. After I put the dryer on the lowest heat setting, one of the laundry ladies scolded me in Mandarin and turned the heat up. I wish I knew what she was saying, but I seemed to appease her when I put more quarters in the machine.

So there you go. Warm water, medium heat in the dryer, and I used totally "free" detergent. It all worked out just fine. In fact, I think the slipcover was a little loose when I put it back on the sofa!

Are there any other slipcover fans out there? How have you cleaned yours? I'm also curious if those of you with front loaders or with top loaders that don't have agitators are able to wash your sofa slipcovers at home. That might influence a future appliance purchase.


  1. I have slip covers on my Room & Board couch and I was very nervous to wash them the first time. I still only use cold water and hang dry them when I do.

    I love having slip covers. It's so liberating knowing if the couch gets dirty I can always throw my slip cover in the wash. Best purchase ever!

  2. I have a cheap Ikea sofa with white slipcovers. I have washed them tons of times in my regular top loading washer. I just do one load with the cushion covers, then one load with the sofa slipcover. To get them really clean I soak them in Oxyclean overnight and that does the trick. I learned quickly that the best way to do that is to fill the washer about 1/4 of the way with hot water, add the Oxyclean, start the washer (to mix the cleaner up), then add the covers and fill the washer the rest of the way with cold water. I let the washer mix again for a few minutes, then let it sit overnight. The next day I just add a little detergent and let the cycle finish. Finally, I put them in the dryer on the regular heat cycle and put them back on the couch while still hot to cut down on wrinkles. The covers look great, but I have had problems with my zippers breaking, which I think is due to the cheap quality of the covers as opposed to the washing method. Or at least that's what I tell myself!

  3. I have the PB Basic from Pottery Barn and two sets of covers. I recently washed both sets, one at a cleaners and the other in a front loader. Both methods worked well, but the front loader (my neighbors)actually left them just damp. I didn't even run them through the dryer.

  4. Huge slipcover fan here! I make my own so I'm not really nervous about washing them because I wash the fabric before I cut into it! Instead of bleach, I've been using a little borax in my machine! It is wonderful! And I dry them in my dryer with no problems. Yeah for slips!

  5. My previous sofa and loveseat had slip covers, I Loved being able to wash them, however white was hard to keep clean no matter how often I washed it w/my dog getting up on it yikes! I have to admit, even though you knock your previous style I still love how you had your living room before (it's gorgeous now) I think you have done an outstanding job on both styles!

  6. I just washed my white slip covers from Pottery Barn on my sleeper sofa I got a few years back (Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams) They were filthy!!! I washed them in warm and dryed on medium with regular detergent and they came out perfectly!!!! They are still a little oversized and did not shrink. Just make sure to zip the covers closed before washing and drying so the threads on the inside don't get all tangled. Soaking all night would probably be the best, but this worked just fine!!!

  7. What about if the back cushion covers have buttons? How do you get them off and back on?

  8. I'm on my third set of white canvas slipcovers! and thety wash beautifully. I don't dry them totally, but this is the way to go. In Az I had a cleaners that would handle the large sofa, so here I'm at a loss... thanks for the reference!

  9. Just washed my Pottery Barn "Twill" slipcover for the first time and it is fine.
    Washed on cold, dry medium.  Easy to put back on the chair & Ottoman.


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