How to Wash Furniture Slipcovers
A huge advantage of using chair and sofa slipcovers is that they can easily be removed for washing, so you can keep them looking clean and smelling fresh. With upholstery you don’t have this option, so extra care must be taken to avoid getting your furniture dirty. How to clean your slipcovers depends on what fabric they are made from and whether they are heavily stained, but here are some general guidelines.
1. Machine Washing
Nowadays most modern slipcovers on sale are made from machine-washable fabrics, such as cotton or polyester, as people like the convenience of being able to throw their slipcovers in with the laundry.
However, before washing your slipcover, be sure to check the care instructions on the manufacturer’s label. This should tell you not just whether the slipcover is suitable for machine washing, or whether it must be dry cleaned instead, but also what temperature it should be cleaned at. This is important, as many slipcovers should be washed on a cold water cycle.
After being laundered, slipcovers can be hung outside to dry naturally, if the weather allows, which can help get rid of any creases and leave them with a freshly laundered smell. You may be able to tumble-dry your slipcover, but again you should read the tag to check this and find out the manufacturer’s recommendations. Many ready made slipcovers should be tumble-dried only on a low heat setting.
2. Spot Cleaning
Washing furniture slipcovers is a good way of giving them a general clean and freshen up, but if there is just a small dirty mark or spill on the fabric, you may be able to remove it by spot cleaning just the affected area.
Dirty marks, such as mud from pets, food or drink spills, are best tackled as soon as possible. However, in case you don’t notice a stain straightway – it may be hidden by a cushion for example – you should check your slipcovers for stains before washing. This is good practice as washing, particularly in hot water, can set stains into fabric and make them harder to remove. It is best to pre-treat any stubborn stains before laundering.
Soak up a wet spill using paper towels or a clean cloth. If mud or other solids have dried, try gently scraping or brushing off the worst of it. As a rule, you should avoid rubbing the affected area, however tempting this may be, because this may damage the fabric or make the stain spread. Don’t use soap, as this can set stains. Hot water should not be used either, as this sets stains, particularly those containing protein, such as egg, milk or blood.
You could use a commercial product for removing stains from slipcovers, providing you adhere to the directions on the label and check it is suitable for use on your particular type of fabric, and store any chemical-based products out of reach of children.
Oil-based stains, such as butter, mayonnaise or salad dressing can be pre-treated with a heavy duty liquid detergent or a petroleum-based solvent spray, or similar, providing you follow the instructions for use. Chewing gum stuck on a slipcover can be hardened with an ice cube and then cracked and scraped off.
Alternatively, some stains, such as blood, mud, red wine and icecream, can be effectively removed by gently dabbing the affected area with a clean cloth dampened with cold water. Or you could try soaking a heavily stained slipcover in cold water before laundering.
To remove dust mites, try to regularly vacuum your slipcovers whilst they are on your furniture, say every 3-5 weeks.