It is very important to note that cotton or linen fabrics labeled preshrunk from the factory will still shrink further when washed and dried. The best way to stabilize the fabric and be sure it has been preshrunk adequately is to wash it and dry it in the dryer on a medium to high heat setting before cutting and sewing the slipcover. (This is also a great way to see how the fabric will hold up when washed). If you are sure this was done ahead of time, you can feel confident about washing the cover. All of the slipcovers we make at our retail shop, Posh Living, are preshrunk this way, so if you have one of our slipcovers, you’re ready to go.
Most large slipcovers, like sofas, will fit nicely into two laundry loads, usually one for the cushions and one for the body of the sofa. Do not turn the cushion covers inside out! This only wears out the seams. Zip them closed, right side out for washing.
If you have stains, pretreat with a laundry stain remover such as Resolve. For a stubborn or very messy stain, take the cover to the sink and use a gentle soap such as Ivory Liquid. Put a few drops on the stain, add a little water, lather and rinse. Follow with Resolve spray – spray once and leave overnight, then spray again just before washing. Oxi-Clean is also excellent for overall brightening on whites, and even colors - just test first to be sure it won't harm the fabric.
Wash light-colored slipcovers in lukewarm water; dark colors in cold water. Use a permanent press cycle, since the gentler the fabric is treated, the longer the cover will last.
If your slipcover is cotton or linen, dry the cover for 10 minutes on a medium or permanent press setting. This will release most wrinkles and take a lot of the moisture out. Take the cover out of the dryer when the large flat areas of the fabric are half dry, but the seams and cording are still very wet. Remember, if you have an outdoor fabric you'll skip the dryer part.
This is a great time to iron corner pleats or the hem of the skirt for a crisp look. Do not iron the whole cover, as wet ironing can stretch it and you'll have a baggy slipcover.
Put the damp slipcover back on the furniture, leaving the areas that tuck in to the sides of the seat untucked and loose. Line up the cover with the shape of the sofa, and smooth out any more wrinkles with your hands. Put the covers back on the loose cushions and zip closed. Stand the cushions on end next to the sofa (leaning against it for support but touching as little as possible so air can circulate.)
Your slipcover will dry completely in a few hours (depending on weather). I like to wash mine in the evening and leave them to dry overnight while everyone’s asleep.
Remember, all fabrics will wear and fade with repeated washing. Cotton fabrics get softer and more worn with each washing, and darker colors can fade considerably, but that’s part of the charm of a slipcover. Your slipcover should last several years, since most are washed just a few times a year. If you have pets or small children and are washing frequently, it can be handy to have some extra matching fabric around to replace a cushion cover or make a repair. Or, have an extra seat cushion so you’ll always have a clean one if there’s a spill.
If you accidently leave the cover in the dryer too long and it shrinks a bit much, you can wash it again, put it on the furniture wet, and stretch the cotton back out again.