Cleaning Tutorial - How I Wash My White Ikea Slipcovers

Thursday, February 7, 2013



Howdy, stranger.
 
It's been awhile (I hope you missed me because I missed you) but I'm back to share a little cleaning tutorial that I promised ages and ages ago in this post about white slipcovers.
 
As I've mentioned time and time again, I love my white slipcovers and the extra time it takes to keep them clean is totally worth it to me. (Except when we have unannounced visitors and there are Oreo cookie crumbs ground into the cushions and I don't have time to wash them.)(Embarrassing!)
 
I'm sure there are many different cleaning products and techniques that will also work when washing Ikea slipcovers, however I'm going to share the process that has always worked like a charm for me.
 
{WARNING: This cleaning tutorial is for white, Ikea slipcovers only!}
 
Step 1:
 
The first thing I do is strip the slipcovers off. Once you've been doing this for 5+ years you will learn some techniques on how to get them off quickly and easily!
 
Step 2:
 
 
 
I pre-treat all of the marks, stains, and heavily soiled areas with Resolve Spray N' Wash. I have tried several different stain-removal products and this one has worked the best for me, hands down. It may sound strange but I always bring my bottle of Spray N' Wash upstairs and pre-treat my covers in bright, natural light. If I bring them downstairs with artificial light, it becomes very hard to spot all of the marks and stains. I follow the package instructions and usually let the stain-remover sit for about 5 minutes before washing.
 
Step 3:
 
I divide the furniture and cushion covers into small, manageable loads. I find that my covers always come out cleaner and brighter when I don't overload the washing machine. We have a sofa, loveseat, armchair, and ottoman in our living room and so here is how I divide my loads:
 
Load 1: couch cover
Load 2: loveseat cover
Load 3: 4 loveseat cushions
Load 4: 4 couch cushions
Load 5: 2 couch cushions + 2 chair cushions
Load 6: armchair cover + ottoman covers
 
Keep in mind that I have a smaller, old-fashioned washing machine and not one of those large, fancy, front-loading ones!
 
Step 4:
 
 
 
I set my washing machine to a large or oversized load, regular cycle, and here is the key: HOT water. The hot water really gets the slipcovers clean. The covers will shrink a tad but will get back over the furniture and cushions with some good pulling and tugging. I just tell myself that I'm getting a good arm workout instead of cursing while I do it. 
 
Step 5:
 
 
 
I add laundry detergent to the washer and then load 'er up. We alternate between using Tide and Sunlight detergent, depending on what's on sale at the time.
 
Step 6:
 
 
 
Once the covers are in the machine, I dissolve one scoop of Oxyclean per load into the hot water as the machine is still filling up. 
 
Step 7:
 
Once the slipcovers are washed, I hang to them to dry - either outside on the line in the spring / summer or on the laundry line in the basement in the fall / winter. I've only ever air dried my covers. Just habit I guess!   
 
Step 8:
 
I squish the covers back over the cushions / furniture and then sit back and admire my brand new couches. 
 
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We have experienced every kind of spill / stain imaginable, from coffee spills, baby pukes, diaper leaks, muddy paw prints, splats of blood (from the dogs, don't worry it's not like a horror film over here), smooshed chocolate, you-name-it.
 
The only stain that hasn't come out of our white slipcovers has been a splotch where Cooper spit up after eating roasted red peppers. I did a quick spot clean and didn't wash the covers until the next morning which was a big mistake. I was too lazy to wash them the night it happened and now I have to live with a gross red pepper puke stain. (Thank goodness I can flip that cushion over!)
 
Lesson learned. For serious spills - always wash right away!!!!
 
:)
 
What about you..... do you have any tips or tricks for white slipcovers that I should know about?

40 comments:

  1. This is great advice! We just got our Ikea sofa at the end of Dec. and with my kids all grown and on their own, I don't have to worry about spit up and Oreo cookies too much:) But I know the day will come that I'll have to wash them! Hope it's okay if I pin this for quick future reference:)

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    Replies
    1. Absolutely, pin away.

      P.S. The cookies crumbs were from me. Hahaha!

      Delete
  2. What great tips! I have a Pottery Barn couch and chair with two sets of covers... a creamy twill which I wash and dry in the dryer but not until fully dry - very happy with these. The other set is velvet and says to dry clean and I only use these in the winter.

    Hands down, slip covered furniture is a must at my house... with my husband and pets!

    ~Chris

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  3. Thank you so much Sarah! I really need to wash my Ikea slipcover, but have been scared! Now I feel like I can do it!!

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  4. I love my Ektorp from IKEA I dont wash it as frequent as I should & with 3 kids they can get pretty bad nevertheless they are easy peasy to clean I don't even use Shout or stain remover just use cold water, Tide detergent & hang dry & no bleach ofourse. Every stain has come out so far and youre right theyre a pain to put back on but worth it:)

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  5. This is perfect timing! I am literally about to buy this couch within the next week or so when hubby finally has a day off! I have a 3 year old son so I will be washing a lot prob. I love the white and that the replacements are so cheap so I won't flip out if it it gets stained! Thanks :) Oh and this post needed some pics of Cooper :) LOL He's so adorable!!

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    Replies
    1. I'm so behind on taking fun Cooper pictures. I'm on it though. Stat! Thanks for the reminder. :)

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  6. I don't have a white slipcover, but I do have a slipcover that I wash. If you dry it in the dryer, it's best to not do it all the way. Leave it damp and then stretch it over the couch. Otherwise, it'll shrink way too much. I don't have a place to air dry anything around here. The basement is dank and the back yard isn't set up for it.

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  7. I have the tan ones with white piping from about 7 years ago. I wash mine on warm and hang dry. But on occasion, when rushed, I've put them in the dryer on low and they're fine. That being said, The liner for the couch cover ripped under the cushions, so that it sags weirdly in the front middle. Anyone else with this problem? We tried stapling it to the frame, but it ripped out....

    I have a white one that we used on the Jenny Lund in the nursery and after two babies, those spit-up stains are there forever. But you can only see them if you're well rested and looking closely in bright daylight. Which never happens for obvious reasons:)

    All in all, I'm soooo glad they are washable. I would highly recommend to anyone who moves, breathes, eats or lives with any other living thing.

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  8. I'll be using this! I just got white Ikea slipcovers for a chair and I've been wondering how to clean them...problem solved.

    Thanks!

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  9. Great information - thanks. I've stored my white covers because they're a bit grungy - will try this and see if I can't revive them. Thanks! By the way, I adore your blog (and your home!)

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  10. Getting white slipcovers has been on my to do list for a LONG time. I have researched and researched the pros and cons to them, which is how I found your blog many moons ago. Thanks for this cleaning post. It makes me more ready to get those things in my house!! As for the red Cooper puker stain....try a Fels-Naptha Soap Bar. They are very inexpensive, last for a long time and work great on stains that seem to be set forever. You just rub it on the spot 5 minutes before washing, wash like normal and hope for the best!! If it doesn't work on the red stain, it is a good stain treatment to have hanging around.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for the tip Rebecca! I'm going to take a look at the store the next time I'm out and about. There are no shortage of stain-producing animals/children at our place. :)

      Delete
  11. Um. You're making me want a white couch, like now. Awesome tutorial :)

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  12. I want to get a white Ikea Ektorp lounge and have been debating the colour for months. I get that there is a lot of washing. But do you iron your covers before you put them back on? Stains I could live with, ironing I'm not sure. :)

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    Replies
    1. Hey Julie!

      Actually, I don't iron mine at all because I don't mind a few wrinkles (they kind of belong on casual slipcovered furniture). I also find that they settle down after awhile.

      I've heard that if you put the cushions back on a little bit damp then the covers will be less wrinkled!

      Delete
  13. We are living room-twins. I also have an Ektorp couch, a loveseat, an ottoman, and an armchair (all white) in my living room. I follow a very similar cleaning process.

    To extend time between washings I use the all important "flip-the-cushion-over" technique. :) Also I tend to wash the cushion covers more often and the big couch covers every other time or so since they get less dirty. Oh, and I've read some frightful stories about shrinkage disasters from the dryer so I've always hung them to dry.

    As far as ironing goes, I've never done it, but I'm not very fussy.

    Love your cute blog!!

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    Replies
    1. Oh yes, that flip-the-cushion technique is a life-saver especially when it's like, the third week and they're due for washing and someone pops over!

      :)

      Delete
  14. I followed your cleaning advice - amazing! My white covers were pretty ratty and stored for a few years, yet most of the covers perked right up. When I invest in new covers, I'll use your tips from the get-go and am pretty sure they'll look like new for years to come. Thanks for a great (and helpful) post!

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  15. I follow almost an identical cleaning process as well! When I was on bed rest then injured right after I wasn't able to wash them on a regular basis... well... at all for WAY longer than I'd like to admit (8 months at least) and with two indoor, litter box using cats, and a big dog who ventures out in to our Alaska weather and comes back in and tramples all over the dang couches, the slipcovers cleaned RIGHT up using this same cleaning process. I mean brand spankin new after AT LEAST 5 months of this abuse. I know this sounds disgusting but I'm taking one for the team and sharing my horrendous stint with these couches to let you know that they are just fantastic. Imagine having a couch without slipcovers... who actually gets around to thinking about cleaning those dirty suckers? With slipcovers (WHITE) you see what you otherwise wouldn't and are encouraged to clean them. Now I have a 3 month old, and although the pukes haven't been too nasty yet, I haven't had a problem in that department. Spot cleaning with oxy-clean spray has been okay. I'm here in search of a better spot cleaner. I'm sure that Resolve or I have even heard hydrogen peroxide works great.

    I live in cold, rainy, southeast Alaska so my options to hang dry are.... never. My Mother-in-Law and I decided one night to just wash them all in a few separate loads, dry them for 15-20 minutes and put them back on the couches damp, (way easy to put on that way and they didn't wrinkle when dried) covered them with sheets in case of pet traffic and by mid-morning to noon the next day they were dry. I don't even think my house was warm :/ So Don't be afraid to just slap them on and wait a bit because it's not long at all. I've always washed on cold, I will try hot next time. I have a feeling they will be blindingly white after that :) Thanks for all your tips! I love these couches!

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  16. AnonymousJuly 11, 2013

    Thank you I'm in ektorp heaven your advice worked as for wrinkles I let dry for 15minutes put back on sofa slighty damp no wrinkles Yea you rock

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  17. Our white IKEA EKTORP slipcovers were in storage for 2 months. I just unpacked them and discovered there are black roach dropping marks on them. YUK!!! I am going to use your method to try and clean them. Thanks for the info. I sure hope these stains come out!!

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  18. I just acquired the white IKEA Ektorp sofa from a coworker. She had it for a couple of years but I don't think she ever really maintained the covers. Do you know if this method will help with discoloration? The cover for the couch is still white but the covers on the cushions have gone slightly off white. I'm hoping this method will help restore the color at least somewhat!

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    Replies
    1. I find that even after a few weeks my cushions start looking yellow-ish. The more oxiclean I use, the whiter and brighter they get.

      I would definitely try some Oxiclean. Use as much as the box recommends! :)

      Delete
  19. I have two Ektorp love seats, two Ektorp sectionals, and a total of six sets of slipcovers that I wash and rotate. It's a lot of work, but I love how I can change the whole look of my rooms from season to season. If the cover is too wrinkled I take a spray bottle of hot water, spray the wrinkles and smooth them out. Works really well!

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  20. I love my two seater Ektorp sofa & although I like the white slipcovers IKEA must do better! I have an LG front load washer & use the gentle cycle to wash. Even so, zippers have broken and the flimsy j-cloth like fabric the use to cover the out-of-view places has split, etc. this is a shame & it seems that IKEA is either blind to our suggestions or just don't care. At the moment I'm trying to receive some satisfaction with the red covers I have, major issues with the flimsy liners too!

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  21. I found this post as I'm preparing to wash our covers. One of our couch potato Greyhounds managed to cut his foot and get on the couch before anyone realized he did.

    as far as ironing, I couldn't imagine trying to wrangle the frame cover for our Ektorp sectional on the ironing board but there were some serious creases when we unpacked it. We put the whole thing together and in a "can't hurt to try" moment, I used my clothes steamer on the cover (in place). It worked great! Only took a few minutes, easy as pie.

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  22. I think it should also be said, its a WORKOUT getting them back on :)
    We have the couch in grey and struggggggled to get it back on today after washing it.

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  23. We also have the red Ektorp slipcovers which we adore BUT the fabric that IKEA uses which is 'out of site' is a strange mix. It's a grey j-cloth type over something else. Anyway, it's all disintegrated & at this time I'm not sure we can even put it into the washer. I'm now in contact with IKEA to see how to resolve this. They'll replace the covers but with the same inferior quality? The specifications for these slipcovers indicate 100% cotton but these surely aren't and neither are white ones that I have. The white ones have a similar problem but a little different. The j-cloth fabric has split .. the white covers don't also include the grey fabric. I'd rather pay a little more & leave out the flimsy fabric. IKEA you need to learn to IMPROVE.

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  24. Has anyone tried to use a stain protector before? Scotch Guard or something?

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    Replies
    1. I haven't tried Scotch Guard, but I would love to hear how it works out if you give it a try!

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  25. The covers say "dry clean only" I am assuming you all ignored that and it turned out Ok? I have dark grey covers

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    Replies
    1. Some of the Ikea covers slipcovers for the Extorp sofa series are machine washable while others are dry clean only.

      My covers, the Blekinge white ones, are definitely machine washable.

      Delete
  26. Hi, Sarah -

    Can I ask you how often you try to schedule your washings?

    We just got our Ektorp couches with this plan in mind. I was so happy to find your blog eight away when I googled "Wash Ikea Slipcovers". That's huge!

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    Replies
    1. I think that your washings will reflect how you use your couches. Right now we use our living room as our main living space - so our couches get a lot of regular use. We are not overly careful with them either - our toddler sometimes drinks his sippy cup while sitting on the couch, we eat snacks while watching movies, etc. We usually wash them about once a month but they are pretty dirty by then! I do vacuum them regularly as dust tends to accumulate on them in between washings. I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any more questions. :)

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  27. Has anyone tried bleach?? I am about to wash my white covers for the first time.

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    Replies
    1. I haven't tried bleach yet. I find the above cleaning regime does the trick!

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  28. My friend gave me 2 of her white couches ,I wanted to wash them but I used bleach thinking they would be white n clean .now they are a yellowish color and stained with odds n ends... Ruined :( is there any way to get them white again now??? Please help

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  29. AnonymousMay 09, 2014

    I have had great success washing the slipcovers, but today, my grandson was sick to his stomach and now I also have to wash the cushion cover that has the water fowl feathers. Any suggestions on how to do this without damage?

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  30. hi! silly question maybe but do you flip the seat cushions? when i was looking at this couch in store seemed like the bottom seat cushions had a"right side up" ??

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