Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Give Stains the Slip

Remember when you bought that great slipcovered sofa and you were all, "oh great, I can wash it when it gets dingy, and then it will always be like new"? But then, you lived with it for a while, and it got a little dingy, and the more you thought about washing it and dealing with all that fabric the more it seemed easier and more logical to just buy a new sofa (preferably one made of plastic)? Yeah, me too. But then logic intervened, and I decided to give slipcover-washing the old college try. And, you know what? It's not so bad.

Here's what to do:

1. Act Fast. Clean up individual spots as they show up- don't let the situation go for too long. You can wait for your guests to leave before you attack the spot of dip they dribbled on your cushions, but don't pull the old "eh, we're having another party next month, I'll clean it then" move. If the spill is on one of the cushions or pillows you can remove the cover, treat the spot and wash it pretty easily. If the spot is on the arm or body of the main piece of the cover, you may just want to treat it right on the couch, like you would upholstery, with a clean rag, a spot treater, and a bit of warm water.

2. The Big Show. When you get that all-over dirtiness that warrants a full slipcover cleaning, don't panic. Remove the covers from all of the cushions, pillows and the couch. You may need to vacuum up some crumbs and gunk, or you can just shake it out (if you are more concerned with your sofa than your floor). Lay out the covers to check for spots, and treat each one individually with a spot treater. I like OxyClean or Spray 'N Wash. Let sit for a few minutes. Load the covers into the washing machine- do up all the zippers and Velcro, to help them keep their shape. Use a small amount of your favorite detergent, as well as a wash-booster, like Biz or Clorox 2. As with your other laundry, light colors can be washed in warm water, but dark colors should be washed in cold. When the wash cycle is over, check on the stains you treated in the beginning, as you may need to treat them and wash again (see? You should have treated them right away). Load them into the dryer, and dry on gentle for just 10-20 minutes, until most of the wrinkles are released, but the slipcovers are still quite damp. Put the covers back on the couch and smooth the damp fabric into place. Allow to dry completely (it's a good idea to wash them at night, and let them dry while you sleep).

3. Spray Away. If there are lingering wrinkles, or if you leave the slipcovers in the dryer too long and they have shrunken too much, load a clean spray bottle with warm water, and mist the problem areas. The water will release the wrinkles, allowing you to tug and stretch the fabric smooth and even.

In the meantime, take that change you found in between the cushions to the bank to start your Plastic Couch Fund.

photo credit: Pottery Barn

1 comment:

Stevie said...

Just discovered your blog so now I find myself going back and reading every. single. entry... Love it!

To this I wanted to add that a hot hair straightener works wonders for 'ironing' any wrinkly or flipped up edges of the slip cover. Just make sure the straightener is clean and hair-gunk free. I also use mine as an iron substitute on shirts with wonky collars or rogue hems on my jeans.