sofa wash

Sofas are expensive investments that most homeowners want to keep looking excellent for years. However, constant use leads to stains, dirt buildup, and worn fabric, making even high-quality sofas look shabby.

Thankfully, with the proper techniques, you can clean sofa covers and cushions at home, saving time and money on professional cleaning services.

Should You Machine Wash Sofa Covers?

One common question homeowners have is, “Is it OK to wash sofa covers in the washing machine?” The answer depends on the fabric. Most sofa slipcovers and removable cushion covers made from cotton, linen, polyester, nylon, olefin, acrylic, or microfiber can safely be machine-washed. However, covers made from silk, wool, velvet, leather, or delicate embroidered fabrics should only be dry-cleaned by professionals to prevent damage.

To determine if your covers are machine washable, first check the tags. Care instructions are usually printed somewhere on the underside. If there’s no tag, look up the fabric content online to see what’s recommended. When in doubt, go with a conservative hand wash.

Preparing Sofa Covers for Machine Washing

Assuming your covers are washing machine-safe, follow these steps to clean them properly:

  • Vacuum the covers first to remove loose dirt, crumbs, and pet hair that could cause damage during high-speed spinning. Use an upholstery attachment to reach into crevices.
  • Pretreat stains by rubbing a small amount of laundry detergent directly onto the soiled area. Let sit 5-10 minutes before washing. This helps lift set-in stains.
  • Close zippers, hooks, and Velcro to prevent snagging and tangling. Tie strings and ribbons to keep them contained.
  • Wash similar colours together and avoid mixing light and dark fabrics, which could bleed dye. Wash printed covers inside out.
  • Use a gentle cycle like a permanent press and cool or warm water to prevent fading and pilling.
  • Select an all-purpose detergent without bleach or fabric softener, which may leave residue. Liquid detergents work better than powder on furniture fabrics.
  • Shake covers thoroughly once removed from the washer to distribute filling and avoid lumping. Air dry, reshape, and smooth while still slightly damp.

Can You Dry Clean Sofa Covers?

Dry Clean Sofa Covers

For covers labelled “dry clean only”, professional dry cleaning is recommended. Take note of any warnings on flammability since dry cleaning uses chemicals instead of water. When entrusted to expert cleaners, leather, suede, vinyl, and delicate upholstery fabrics will look their best.

However, you can DIY dry clean some covers at home using an absorbent cleaner like cornstarch or baby powder. Let the powder sit for 15 minutes before vacuuming away. This helps freshen fabrics without getting them wet. Just test first in an inconspicuous area.

Hand Washing Tips for Sofa Covers

Hand washing with a mild detergent is the most gentle cleaning method and works well for all fabric types. To wash sofa covers or cushion covers by hand:

  • Mix detergent and cool water in a large tub or sink. Avoid hot water, which can shrink or fade fabrics.
  • Submerge and gently swish covers around to let them soak. Let soak for 15-30 minutes.
  • Drain dirty water, then refill the tub and add more detergent. Wash by gently squeezing suds through the fabric. Rinse twice.
  • Do not wring or twist covers to force water out. Roll up in towels to absorb moisture.
  • Lay flat on top of towels and reshape to dry. Repeat rolling in fresh towels if still damp.
  • Fluff and arrange covers as they dry to prevent wrinkles.

Regardless of your washing method, always reference the manufacturer’s instructions for your particular sofa fabric. With the proper techniques, you can save money and enjoy fresh, clean covers without sending them out for expensive dry cleaning. Just treat stains promptly and wash covers regularly before dirt becomes ingrained. Your sofa will look revived in no time!

Cleaning Sofa Covers With Baking Soda

Baking soda is a versatile household cleaner that can freshen sofa covers safely. The gentle abrasiveness helps lift dirt from fabrics, while the alkaline composition neutralizes odours.

Cleaning Sofa Covers

To clean with baking soda:

  • Vacuum covers first to remove loose debris.
  • Sprinkle a light coating of baking soda over the entire surface. Rub gently into the fabric.
  • Let sit for at least 15 minutes to allow the baking soda to absorb odours.
  • Use the upholstery brush attachment to vacuum away baking soda. The scrubbing action helps lift dirt from fibres.
  • For more challenging odours, sprinkle a heavier layer of baking soda and let sit overnight before vacuuming.
  • Repeat monthly between regular washings to keep sofa covers fresh.

The scrubbing bubbles in seltzer water can also help remove baking soda residue. After vacuuming, spray the seltzer over the surface and wipe with a clean cloth. The carbonation helps remove any leftover powder.

Using Vinegar to Clean and Freshen Sofa Covers

White vinegar is another natural cleaner that can sanitize upholstery fabrics and eliminate odours. It’s safe for most washable cover materials.

To clean with vinegar:

  • Mix 1 cup vinegar with 1 cup water in a spray bottle. You may also add several drops of essential oil for scent.
  • Lightly mist over the entire surface of sofa covers and cushions. Do not saturate.
  • Let the vinegar solution penetrate the fabric for 5-10 minutes. This neutralizes odors.
  • Blot with a clean towel to soak up moisture. Allow to air dry thoroughly.
  • Repeat weekly between regular washing to keep fabrics fresh.

The vinegar smell will dissipate as the covers dry. If needed, baking soda can be sprinkled afterwards to neutralize the vinegar scent further.


With frequent use, sofa covers and cushions can quickly appear dirty, stained, and worn. But you don’t necessarily need expensive dry cleaning or replacement covers. With simple cleaning tricks using baking soda and vinegar, you can remove built-up grime, eliminate odours, and restore your upholstery to like-new condition. Always reference the manufacturer’s instructions for your particular fabrics. And tackle stains promptly before they have time to set. Regular care will keep your sofa looking fresh and extend the life of your covers.


How often should I clean my sofa covers?

For light-colored or patterned covers, clean every 6 months. For darker solid colors or minimal use, annual cleaning is usually sufficient. Clean immediately if you see stains or notice odors developing.

What is the best way to clean delicately embroidered or beaded sofa covers?

Gently hand wash embroidered covers using a very mild detergent, cool water, and minimal agitation. Avoid soaking. Roll up in a towel and reshape while drying. Iron while still slightly damp if needed.

Can I put sofa covers in the dryer?

Most light cotton or microfiber covers can go in the dryer on low heat. But medium or high heat may damage elastic, shrink fabrics, or melt embellishments. Air drying is best for most materials.

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