How to Clean Slipcovers So They Look Like New

Have a messy household? Slipcovers are the answer.

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How to Clean Slipcovers, white slipcovers on chairs around dining table

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Whether you're binge-watching your favorite show, having a snack, or enjoying a glass of wine, the average sofa gets a lot of wear and tear. Add pets or kids to the mix and it’s practically guaranteed your sofa will get dirty at some point. But having your sofa professionally cleaned can be quite costly. 

One solution to this problem is choosing a sofa with a slipcover. Whether machine-washable or dry-clean-only, slip-covered sofas are far easier to maintain than standard upholstered sofas. The same goes for slip-covered dining chairs and armchairs, too.

An added bonus: any time you want to change up the look of your living room or dining room, just swap out the slipcovers instead of buying a new sofa or dining chairs. It's more economical and eco-friendly than buying new.

To keep all your covers in tip-top shape, follow these expert tips on how to clean and maintain slipcovers. 

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Washing machine
  • A large table or surface for air-drying


  • Stain pretreatment
  • Gentle laundry detergent


How Often to Wash Slipcovers

While every manufacturer will have their own suggestions, Billy Shaw, founder and CEO of 7th Avenue, a brand of modular slipcovered sofas and chairs, tells me that how often you wash your slipcovers is generally contingent upon the color. “We generally recommend customers wash their light-colored slipcovers once every three months. For dark-colored slipcovers, washing once a year is more than enough to get rid of hidden dirt in the fabrics.”

How to Wash Slipcovers

Dry-clean-only slipcovers should never be put in the washing machine. Be sure to consult the manufacturer or read the label for more specific information.

The following instructions are generally applicable to most machine-washable slipcovers.

  1. Vacuum up crumbs

    Remove any excess dirt, lint, or crumbs from your slipcovers using a vacuum cleaner with an upholstery tool. 

  2. Pre-treat stains

    Remove the slipcovers from the sofa and pre-treat any visible stains.

  3. Machine-wash

    Place slipcovers in an empty washing machine. Load the recommended amount of gentle laundry detergent, following the washing machine manufacturer's directions.

  4. Run the gentle cycle

    Make sure the water is set to cool and run the gentle cycle.

  5. Repeat the process

    If you have a large sofa, you may need to run multiple cycles to clean all of your slipcovers. Don't overstuff your washing machine. Alternatively, you can use an industrial-size machine at your local laundromat.

  6. Let air-dry

    Let the slipcovers air-dry. To prevent shrinking, never put slipcovers in the dryer. Instead, lay them flat on a large table or on a drying rack. When one side dries, flip the slipcovers over to allow the other side to dry. You can also set up a fan to help speed up the drying process.

    Additional Maintenance Tips

    Spot Clean

    While it might be tempting to wash slipcovers frequently, most aren’t meant to be laundered regularly. They will last longer if you spot-treat stains and only put them in the washing machine or take them to the dry cleaner when absolutely necessary. Shaw tells me, “For regular dirt, spot-cleaning slipcovers with warm water and soap generally works.” 

    Don't Let Stains Sit

    It’s also important to spot-treat stains as quickly as possible. If you take care of spills when they happen, stains will be less likely to set in. 

    Take Care of Fur and Dust

    If you have pets, Shaw suggests using a lint roller to remove excess hair. “We also generally recommend vacuuming the covers every month or so to make sure the sofa is free of dust.”

    Read Next: How to Clean Upholstery in 15 Minutes or Less

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