How to clean sofa covers

Updated July 20, 2017

Sofa covers can easily become soiled from normal use. If you have dogs or children in your home, your sofa will require regular cleaning to maintain its appearance. Some sofa covers can be removed and washed in a washing machine. Others should remain in place on your sofa while you clean it. Your sofa cover will look like new if you clean it using the recommended method and treat stains as soon as they occur.

Read the fabric-care label to determine the manufacturer's recommendations for cleaning.

Locate a hidden piece of fabric and test the upholstery cleaner for colour fastness. Allow the fabric to dry and make sure that the sofa cover retains its colour.

Apply the upholstery cleaner according to the product instructions. Most products are liquids or foams that you spray directly onto the cover.

Blot with a clean rag. Remove as much moisture as possible to shorten drying time. Allow the sofa cover to air dry.

Read the fabric-care label to identify the type of fabric and determine the manufacturer's instructions for washing.

Machine-wash or hand-wash the sofa cover according to the manufacturer's instructions. Washing in cold water is usually recommended to prevent shrinking or fading. Use a washing machine at a laundromat if the slipcover is too large for your machine at home. If hand-washing is recommended, wash the cover in cold water with a mild laundry detergent. If the cover is too large to fit in your sink, hand-wash it in a clean tub.

Iron the slipcover on the reverse side if the fabric label recommends ironing. Use spray starch to release any wrinkles.

Put the cover back on the sofa while it is still a little damp. This makes it easy to manoeuvre the cover into place and prevents shrinkage.

Allow the sofa cover to air dry.


Washing a tight-fitting slipcover can cause shrinkage, making it difficult to put it back on the sofa. Shampoo a tight-fitting slipcover while it remains on the sofa, instead of machine-washing it, to ensure it retains its shape. To remove tough stains, apply the upholstery cleaner and allow it to sit for 15 to 30 minutes before cleaning.


Spot-cleaning a slipcover may cause a difference in colour. Clean the entire sofa cover for best results. If you notice discolouration after testing the sofa cover for colour fastness, call a professional cleaning service.

Things You'll Need

  • Upholstery cleaner
  • Clean rags
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About the Author

Based in Texas, Elizabeth Smith has been writing since 1998. She has written manuals, course materials, technical guides and reports covering topics such as application development and deployment, design patterns, Web services, security, software installation and OS configuration. Smith has also written family health, home and travel articles for Trails, eHow, and AnswerBag.