Today I am going to answer one of the most frequently asked questions I receive here on my blog… How hard is it to clean and live with white slipcovers?
I covered my 16 year old navy sofa about 5 years ago with a white Pottery Barn throw-over/ loose fit style slipcover that I bought on a discount website that sold Pottery Barn rejects for $29. I want to stress that it is not a custom made fitted slipcover with piping and zippers. I did however, using my own style, make it custom to fit my needs.
I made separate cushion covers myself using a white quilt to make the throw-over/loose style slipcover look more like this…
… a down filled Comfort Sofa from Pottery Barn. It is a slipcovered sofa with separate cushion covers complete with zippers.
My throw-over/loose style cover would look messy all the time if I hadn’t made separate covers for the cushions to help hold the loose cover in place.
Not only do I love the look of this PB Comfort sofa (above), but it is amazingly comfortable and I didn’t know just how much until I had the pleasure to sit on one.
My 16 year old sofa is comfy and I am totally content with it since it is well-made and still in good shape.
My reason for covering it was I was tired of living with the color. I know navy is a trending color now, but you know how it is sometimes, you just get tired of things and need a refresh from time to time. It also show signs of wear along some sections of the cording on the cushions.
A slipcover was the budget friendly answer for me to get the look I wanted, especially since Ed had lost his job at the time I wanted to get a new sofa. Covering it was the best option I had. I ended up loving it so much, that if I ever do buy a new sofa, it will be a slipcovered one and here is why.
- Having a white slipcover gives me a lot of options in the colors I use to decorate. It allows me to use any color scheme in the room I want. Need a color change for the seasons? It is very easy to do when you have white or neutral seating.
- The white slipcovers keep my decor looking casual and easy going.
- A slipcover is easy to clean, truly it is. I simply remove it and the cushion covers and throw them in the washer with Oxy clean detergent and warm water. I clean the slipcover itself about every 6 months. If something gets spilled, it is usually on one of the seat cushions that I simply remove and wash. The cushions get washed more frequently for this reason.
- To keep wrinkles at bay, I only dry the covers half way in the dryer and but them back on the sofa when they are damp. I use my hand to smooth the fabric and then let it dry. No wrinkles :-)
- I spot-clean the arms when needed using spray-on spot removers and a damp rag. I have used many different brands, all have worked.
- If I see dust on the back and arms between washings, I simply use the furniture attachment on my vacuum to remove it.
The hardest part of covering a sofa with a slipcover is when the cover is new and it is the first time you are putting it on. Once you figure it out and get the hang of it, the process gets easier every time.
How to Put a Slipcover Back on a Sofa the Fast and Easy Way
After washing and only drying half way so the fabric is damp, I have a TIP that I use to help make putting the slipcover back on the sofa fast and EASY.
- I attach 2 safety pins to the front arms of the cover before I wash it. After it comes out of the dryer, I simply find these pins to guide me on placing the cover back on correctly. Works every time!
Once it is back on the sofa, I smooth the fabric with my hands and tuck in all the extra fabric into the crevices. I use the ties to gather and secure the fabric in front of each arm. There is a lot of extra fabric since I don’t cover the entire sofa and cushions the way a throw-over/loose style slipcover is intended. I only cover the sofa frame/body.
Once I have the cover on, I add the cushions. I left this cushion uncovered so you can see how I place the cushions over top of the throw-over/loose style cover.
I do everything the easy way…at least for me. If you are a skilled and patient sewer, then making cushion covers the traditional way is probably a breeze for you. :-)
My days of working in retail display taught me that what you don’t see can easily be faked. The cushion covers are sewn, but instead of making complete box cushions with zippers, I made a half-box cover and added ribbon to tie the covers on to each bottom cushion.
Since making the initial covers using fabric from a white quilt, I have made new bottom cushion covers using white canvas to replace the quilted ones I made first. The quilt stitching didn’t hold up over the years. Canvas or twill is much sturdier.
The back pillows are covered with simple pillow covers and are still covered with fabric from a white quilt. They don’t get sat on and look just as nice as the day I first made them.
You can find the tutorials on how to make both of these here:
The ties at the front are long enough to be tied into a bow, but I just tie into a knot. This photo just shows the beginning of how I tie into a pretty knot and then let the excess hang down in front of the folds.
If needed, to keep the fabric where you want it, you can use TWIST PINS.
To use them, you simply gather the fabric where you want it and push and then twist the pin into the sofa. The twist pin will hold the fabric in place until you untwist.
For more tips and tricks on getting loose fitting slipcovers to stay in place, check out the post I wrote when I first added the slipcover to my sofa. You can find it here: How to Cover a Chair or Sofa with a Loose Fit Slipcover
Here is a short time-lapse sequence showing how I add the cushions after the throw-over/loose style slipcover is on the sofa.
Maybe when I have some extra cash I will buy the PB Comfort sofa since the price has come down quite a bit, but for now I am quite content with my semi-homemade slipcovered sofa. What is more important for me now though is what I see when I am sitting on the sofa….
…. even on a rainy day… I am so happy and content sitting on my semi-homemade white slipcovered sofa and gazing out at the lake. In fact I am sitting on it as I write this post. :-)
The online store where I bought my throw-over/loose style white slipcover is still in business, it is called UglySofa.com, but I must warn you that many customers have said they didn’t get what they ordered and did not like the customer service. I never had a problem dealing with them, in fact the owner did a search for me to find a white-white cover for me. It is a second and was missing one tie, but for $29, I didn’t mind having to add it myself. I guess I am one of their happy customers.
You can purchase twist pins here: Twist Pins
If you have any questions about the white slipcovers that I did not cover in the post, please ask them in the comments.