How to Wash Sofa Covers Without Shrinking Them

How to Wash Sofa Covers Without Shrinking Them

Sofa covers are going to get dirty, and you can’t really stop this from happening. Drinks will inevitably spill, crayons will colour them in and paws will march all manners of dirt over your sofa covers. 

So, it’s essential to keep the covers looking clean and refreshed. And you can do this easily by washing and maintaining them regularly. 

The problem with this little cleaning activity is that sofa covers love to shrink in the wash. This isn’t exactly ideal because you actually need to replace the spotless covers when you’re done. But if they don’t fit anymore, you’ve got a major problem on your hands. Some would call it a disaster! 

So, how do you wash sofa covers without shrinking them? Follow the steps below!  

Tips on Washing Sofa Covers

check wash label of sofa covers

Before you start cleaning your sofa covers, you should consider the following points:

  • You should always follow the guidance on your sofa cover’s label before you attempt to clean it. There’s usually a tag somewhere, and it’s essential that you read it. Not doing so could be very costly for you and your sofa!
  • Ask the manufacturer for help if you’re not sure how to clean your sofa’s covers. The manufacturer could have a dedicated blog to answer questions like this, or you may be able to speak with a representative. Plus, manufacturers usually have many channels through which you can contact them. So, don’t give up after your first attempt.
  • You’ll need to hoover your sofa covers before you wash them. Hoovering them will remove any loose debris and animal hair that’s got lodged in the covers. This will prevent any blockages further down the line, for example, in the washing machine.
  • Spot clean stains as they appear to aid the overall cleaning process. Don’t wait around to wipe your sofa covers down, clean them straight away. This may prevent your sofa covers from becoming soiled in tough dirt that is really difficult to remove later on.
  • Keep in mind that some manufacturers may advise you against washing your sofa covers, because washing them may remove the fire retardant that has been put on them. If this is the case, you should look into having your sofa professionally cleaned, or just do some spot cleaning.
  • Unless there is a zip on your sofa, you won’t be able to remove the covers to clean them. Do not rip your sofa covers off, as this will ruin your entire sofa. Leather sofas, for example, cannot be washed in a machine. If you cannot remove your covers, you should spot clean them by hand. Always follow the cleaning guidance noted on the tag.


How to Wash Sofa Covers Without Shrinking Them

hoover sofa covers before putting in washing machine

Below you’ll find a step-by-step guide to washing sofa covers without shrinking them. There are a few methods you can try, and you can work through the options in whatever order you like. 

Do keep in mind that you may not see your desired end result immediately, if your sofa covers haven’t been cleaned in a while. And not all methods will work out for everyone. 

Plus, you should always test out the products mentioned below before spreading them across your sofa covers. 

Washing sofa covers in a washing machine

What you need:

  • Hoover
  • Upholstery cleaner
  • Hair removal tool 
  • Mild detergent that is dye free
  • Washing machine

removing hair from sofa covers

Steps to follow:

  1. Check to see if you’re allowed to do this first – read your tags!
  2. Prepare your goods in advance.
  3. Hoover your sofa covers when they’re still on your sofa to remove dirt.#
  4. Try and clean away as much pet hair as you can. This may block up your washing machine – Rub your sofa covers down with a pet hair removal tool.
  5. Clean away any stains you can see by using a specialised upholstery stain remover – always do a patch test first. 
  6. Remove and then zip up your sofa covers. 
  7. Pop the sofa covers in the washing machine – if they’re small you can do two or three at a time. Don’t overfill your washing machine with too many large sofa covers, they won’t be washed properly. 
  8. Set your washing machine up to do a cold-water wash.
  9. If possible, tell it to also do a delicate cycle.
  10. Add in some dye free detergent, or a mild detergent will do the trick. 
  11. Start the cycle as normal.
  12. When the cycle has ended pull the sofa covers out and dry them naturally.
  13. Replace the sofa covers when the material is almost dry. 


Hand washing sofa covers with washing up liquid

What you need:

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Marigold gloves
  • Cloths
  • Upholstery stain remover
  • Washing up bowl
  • Washing up liquid
  • Warm water
  • Soft upholstery cleaning brush

Steps to follow:

  1. Prepare your goods.
  2. Hoover your sofa covers when they’re still on your sofa.
  3. Remove any obvious dirt – mud, for example
  4. Try and remove as much pet hair as you can – Pop a Marigold glove on and rub your hand over the sofa covers.
  5. Blot away any stains you can see. You can do this by using a specialised upholstery stain remover – always do a patch test first. 
  6. In a washing up bowl put half a teaspoon of washing up liquid, followed by warm water. 
  7. Dip your very soft upholstery cleaning brush into the liquid and shake off excess water. 
  8. Rub the brush across your sofa covers to clean them. 
  9. Do not saturate the sofa. 
  10. Use a dry cloth to soak up any excess moisture as you go. 
  11. Continue to clean your sofa covers. 
  12. When you’re done, clean your sofa covers down with a damp cloth to pick up any excess soap. 
  13. Allow the sofa covers to dry naturally. 
  14. Do not sit on the sofa covers.

Hand washing sofa covers with vinegar and bicarbonate of soda

Hand washing sofa covers with vinegar and bicarbonate of soda

What you need:

Steps to follow:

  1. Prepare your goods in advance.
  2. Hoover your sofa covers when they’re still on your sofa.
  3. Remove your sofa covers. 
  4. Try and remove any obvious stains with an upholstery stain remover. 
  5. Zip up your sofa covers. 
  6. Fill a bucket with water. 
  7. Pop half to one cup of bicarbonate of soda into the water.
  8. Stir the mixture around. 
  9. Add four to six drops of white vinegar into the bucket.
  10. Continue to stir the mix.
  11. Do a patch test with this mixture. Pick a hidden piece of material to do this. If all works out okay, continue with this method. 
  12. Pop one sofa cover into the bucket. 
  13. Gently agitate the cover when it is submerged in water.
  14. You may want to leave the cover to rest in the water overnight, this will, however, lengthen the cleaning process.
  15. Pull the sofa cover out and rinse it under cold water. 
  16. Hang the sofa cover up to air dry it naturally. 
  17. Repeat this process for all other sofa covers. 
  18. Replace the sofa covers when the material is almost dry. 

Note: To speed this process up you could use a bathtub instead or multiple buckets at once. Adjust the measurements above in accordance to what you decide to use.


Drying Sofa Covers

Drying Sofa CoversYou should not tumble dry any sort of sofa cover. The intense heat in the machine will affect the material’s fibres and the covers will shrink. Always air-dry sofa covers and replace the covers when the material is almost dry. This will make the material a little easier to handle!  

However, if you’re extremely pressed for time, and tumble drying is absolutely essential, choose a very, very low heat and don’t leave your sofa covers in the tumble dryer for too long. You do this at your own risk. 

It’s also advisable to avoid the drying area. So, don’t sit on the sofa covers as they’re going through their final natural drying phase, this will slow down the process. Just wait until all the sofa covers are completely dry.


How Often Should You Wash Sofa Covers?

It’s not essential to wash your sofa covers in a washing machine or by hand every week. You can do a full clean every month or two, if need be. However, if you keep on top of your cleaning, you may be able to extend this time. 

On the other hand, if you live in a busy home and your sofa covers get dirty very quickly, you should wash them at least every month for hygiene reasons

You should aim to hoover your sofa covers once a week as this will prevent too much dirt from building up. 

You should also remove stains as soon as possible.


How Can You Keep Sofa Covers Clean for Longer?

How To Keep Sofa Covers Clean for Longer

Here are a few ideas to help keep your sofa covers looking cleaner for longer:

  • Use a waterproof guard to limit the damage that spills make to your covers. Scotchgard Fabric Water Shield can be used on upholstery, but you should always do a patch test before putting it all over your sofa.
  • Remove and treat stains as quickly as possible. This will limit the damage they make.
  • Keep on top of the hoovering.
  • Cover the sofa covers with additional blankets to prevent the dirt from staining them.
  • Don’t put shoes on sofa covers.
  • Wipe your pet’s feet before they jump up and onto the sofa covers.  


How Long Does It Take to Clean Sofa Covers?

It’s difficult to give an exact time because how many sofa covers you want to clean, how big they are, and your cleaning method impacts the time. 

As a guide, it will take a wash cycle’s length to wash a sofa cover in the washing machine. This could be around 45 minutes to an hour and a half. This does not include drying time. 

If you choose to wash your covers by hand it will take even longer. Depending on how many covers you wash in a set period of time, how quick you work and whether or not the sofa covers are able to dry quickly impacts how long this will take.

Drying times also vary depending on how well ventilated the room is, if you peg the covers out to dry, and if you actually allow the covers to dry thoroughly before sitting on them again.