“You can bleach it back to like new!” they’d exclaim on blogs. “So easy!” “Crisp and clean!”
However, I have found owning white slipcovers a mixed blessing with it being about 70/30 of mix. The great thing about Ikea slipcovers in the Blekinge White is that they are cheap. So cheap, when they seem beyond cleaning, you can just get another set. That’s the good part (30%).
The bad part (the 70% part) is that it has been agony to clean them. The instructions say to wash, cold, and air dry. So you end up with so-so clean slipcovers that have to sit somewhere for practically a day in order to dry, and then it’s incredibly hard to get them back on without scraping your skin off your hands and splitting a fingernail or two which then gets your hair stuck in it when you shampoo. It ends up being an unpleasant 48-hour process and I have been loath to do it, not to mention not wanting to wash my hair because of said fingernail breakage.
I’ve tried all kinds of schemes that mostly include covering the slipcovers, which is ludicrously redundant: White sheets over top that are easier to wash, covering it with a hippie tapestry, dying them, and spot cleaning. With a dog, a toddler, and a coffee spilling habit, I am always eyeballing them, wishing I could keep them clean.
And then, I found the secret.
I was Googling alternative slipcover options that could go in the dryer – I was ready to pay hundreds just to have a slipcover that I could wash, dry, and slide back on easily. Luckily, none exist and I, instead, came across a blog about a lady’s technique for her Pottery Barn slipcovers. I’m not linking to it because I didn’t follow all her steps. It did give me the idea to try a version of it, though, and it worked. It’s magic.
Everyone should immediately run out and buy slipcovered furniture. It really IS better!
This technique lets you hot wash for super white cleanliness and put them in the dryer, they don’t shrink, they come out spotless (except for the few places that had been stained months ago and I let it go out of loathing the process), it is super easy to put them back on, and they aren’t wrinkled!
Here it is. (Seriously, magic.)
1. Washer that can handle at most the sofa slipcover in a single load,
2. OxyClean or Biz powder (either laundry booster will do – I used OxyClean because that’s what they had at the store. I think the powders are more effective than liquid versions, just sayin’),
3. Detergent – I used liquid as I think THIS is more effective (for the record I used Purex for most of the loads but ran out and switched to some Arm and Hammer stuff. I don’t think it made a difference), and
4. Dryer with low heat/no heat delicate setting
So, you toss in your pieces. For the chair, I did the cushion covers as one load and the base cover as a second. With the sofa, the three back cushion covers as one load, the three seat cushions as one load, and the base cover as one load. This is a lot of loads of laundry. I understand. It is totally worth it as it goes incredibly fast … well, compared to the old Two-Day Method from Hell.
How to do it:
1. Put in a scoop of laundry booster and a cap to half-cap of your detergent
2. Select the hot wash, whites option on your machine
3. As the basin fills, put in your covers evenly around the basin – use a water level setting that will allow them to swish freely
4. Go do something else while they wash. The machine need not be monitored.
Once the wash cycle is complete, you’ll then put them in the dryer. I used a dryer sheet because I loathe static and also it seems to help pull the dog hair off.
I chose the low heat/delicates option, put it on “more dry,” and then when it is just about to hit cool down, I pulled them out. They feel damp to the touch – like when you wash too big of a load of towels and rather then them baking to a crisp in the ultra hot setting forever, they still need another half hour spin. That’s the moisture level you are looking for: disappointing towel load.
Here’s where it gets good.
Now go over and put your slipcover back on your chair or sofa. You’ll find it is easy to redress your furniture. Yes, they will be slightly damp to your hand but they will dry quickly, don’t worry as this is where the magic is. Your slipcovers should be very clean and easy to put on because the moisture in the fabric allows them to easily be pulled on. You can even straighten the corner pleats and skirting at this point and it will dry as if you had ironed it.
Voila! No more waiting for your slipcover to dry on the deck where it gets dirt from the wind stuck on it and where it is inevitably going to dry rumpled and sad. No more breaking your nails and gritting your teeth trying to get them back on.
For a few of the set in stains, I went over them with a little paste o’ OxyClean with a hot and damp clean white kitchen towel. It did help lighten them and hopefully as I wash them with more routine in the future, they’ll disappear altogether.
It’s the way slipcovered furniture ownership is supposed to be. Now, when Ada knocks over my coffee while jumping off the coffee table, I’ll have no resignation in my heart at all to whip off the cover and stick it in the wash. In just one episode of Sesame Street, it’ll be back on and ready for another day!