Easy guide to cleaning furniture slipcovers

July 28, 2015

How often you clean slipcovers will depend on how often you use the furniture with slipcovers on, how many children you have and whether you have pets. On average, slipcovers should be cleaned three or four times a year — more often if they get grubby sooner.

Easy guide to cleaning furniture slipcovers

1. To remove dust and debris

  • Give the slipcovers a going-over with your vacuum cleaner while they're still on the furniture, using the upholstery attachment.
  • On cushion covers, use the vacuum nozzle without any attachments.

2. To clean slipcovers

  • Remove them and give them a good shake outside.
  • You'll either be able to wash them (follow the fabric care instructions), or you'll need to take them to the dry cleaner.
  • Most slipcovers can be washed, with the exception of rayon, which often requires dry-cleaning.
  • Either way, clean all matching slipcovers at the same time so that the colour stays even, since they may fade with washing. For example, on a couch, wash the slipcover and cushion covers at the same time, using exactly the same amount of detergent and the same water temperature.
  • Wash the curtains, too, if they're made of the same fabric.

3. Pre-treat stains

  • Remove slipcovers and before washing.
  • Use a method appropriate to the stain.
  • Place slipcovers in the washing machine on a soak cycle to remove extra soil before the wash cycle begins.
  • Don't leave them in the wash cycle for long, as this could loosen their stitching.
  • Wash in warm water with any laundry detergent and use a cold rinse.
  • Slipcovers will sometimes shrink the first time they're washed, but it shouldn't be much.
  • While your slipcovers are washing, vacuum the upholstery of the furniture when it's uncovered.

4. Before drying slipcovers

  • Check to see whether the stains have been removed. If the stains are still there, drying will set them.
  • You'll need to treat the stains once more and rinse or wash again.
  • And if you do that, you should wash every other item a second time, too, to keep the colour even.

5. To dry slipcovers

  • Check the care label and either hang the covers over a drying rack or put them in a tumble dryer. Some people feel that tumble drying is too harsh and recommend laying slipcovers flat.
  • If you use a tumble dryer, dry on low and avoid over drying.
  • If you air-dry, don't dry on a clothes line, because the weight of the cover might pull the fabric out of shape.
  • Once the loose covers are dry, put them back on the furniture, smooth them and pull all the seams and piping into place.
  • Pinch any pleats into sharp creases and smooth any ruffles. If you like, iron the pleats before refitting to the furniture.
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