Wish you had white sofa covers but not sure how to keep them clean? Here’s how I clean IKEA couch covers, and keep them white with stunning results!
This is Part 3 of the Ikea Ektorp Series. Read all HERE
With the start of decorating for a new season, there’s one never-fail task that comes first… other than cleaning the house of course!
And that’s to clean the IKEA couch covers.
I happen to have two IKEA Ektorp 3.5 sofas with white slipcovers. I’ve wanted white slipcovers for sofas for years, however my first fear was, how in the world do you keep a white sofa white?! I didn’t think it was possible so I decided to play it safe the first round and purchase a set of IKEA Stocksund in a very safe dirt colored tan.
But I never loved that purchase because it wasn’t what I really wanted. So when they unfortunately failed, I didn’t hesitate! They were returned and I promptly chose my dream two white Ikea furniture slipcovers for 2 IKEA Ektorp 3.5 oversized sofas. Without a second thought!
And 3 years later? My goodness how I love these massive sofas! The oversized size offer superior comfort where you can curl right up in, (my feet don’t even hit the floor when I’m sitting!) and the white brightens up the living room so much! And of course, everything looks so good on white IKEA sofa covers which felt so durable too! They really suite my home!
However once I got them home and assembled, I was immediately faced with, how do I keep these white IKEA sofa covers clean?
I was about to find out.
Read: Winter living room tour HERE
How I keep the sofas cleaner longer
Read: Stenciling authentic grain sack pillows HERE
Sit on blankets
When I was shopping for the white sofas, I also threw a few IKEA blankets in my shopping cart. I figured I could sit on the blankets so the new covers would stay cleaner longer. Plus, what’s a sofa without a cozy blanket or 2?
My most favorite blanket is this super soft black and white Buffalo Check blanket from Walmart HERE
Read: Fall living room tour HERE
And know what? Sitting on blankets does buy time! For the most part, I throw a blanket on the sofa I sit on, taking care to cover the armrest I am using.
However at times this makes double the cleaning if the cats work their way on or under the blankets! So I (try and remember to) hang up the blanket after I’m done with it.
Swap out base cushions
Another tip is to swap out some cushions or and turn them backwards, especially when company is on its way…
However my most used trick is to simply clean just a few cushions that really need it.
And since the Ektorp 3.5 series is discontinued and I can’t get more covers to fit (unless I purchase the slightly larger Uppland covers or get a custom slipcover made) I try and keep on the original IKEA covers and wash when needed.
When it’s time to clean
But those cheats only get me so far… at least twice a year, it’s time to fully clean all the IKEA couch covers all at once for a good fresh start again.
Above is what the white sofas generally look like by the time they need cleaning.
The cushions are generally compacted where I use them most and everything looks ‘tired’.
And having two indoor cats, you can bet there will be sure fire signs of where they love to sleep because a pile of cat hair will tell all. Heh.
My own fav sitting spots are also obvious with dirt and some spills on the arm rests.
And when you times that by 2 light color sofas, it’s double the IKEA couch covers cleaning.
So sometimes I clean one sofa at a time, however this round, I did both to get it done.
From dirty old furniture…
Read: Create a dresser coffee table HERE
To fresh, clean and brand new once again because nothing beats this look and feel!
While washing white IKEA couch covers takes a little bit of effort, it’s well worth it if you love and want this fresh, versatile look that keeps your spaces light and bright!
So here’s how I clean Ikea sofa covers and keep them clean, so hopefully your white fear factor can be removed and you can get your dreamy white slipcovered sofas too!
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How to clean IKEA couch covers
Supplies you’ll need:
A good vacuum with appropriate attachments
Laundry brightener of some kind (I use Nellie’s)
Laundry spot remover (I use Shout)
A place to hang dry ( I use my outdoor line or patio rails)
Sheet or blanket
1. Vacuum all cushions and slipcover
The first step is to vacuum all the cushion covers and slipcover sides, for if you don’t, you run the risk of washing pet hair all over the covers. If you have pets…
However, removing pet hair really isn’t that big of a deal even on a regular basis if you have a good pet hair removal vacuum and attachments that work well.
Pet hair remover tools
I have both a Dyson Animal vacuum cleaner as well as a Dyson canister vacuum cleaner. The combination of their amazing suction and the power head is what makes removing pet hair work!
This Dyson tangle free turbine upholstery tool on Amazon HERE is astounding for removing pet hair. They offer several different types, and I vote to collect them all because they all do something extra special.
However this particular one is my favorite.
The dual brushes turn opposite directions picking up every single pet hair, dust or dirt in its path.
I like to use this powerhead with the canister as the hose is nice and long and you don’t have to pull on it like you do with the upright.
This Dyson Pet Hair attachment tool is another that I love and use. It’s said to be a dog groomer tool but I use it on upholstery, pillows and the cat condo tree.
View other pet hair remover tools HERE
How to vacuum pet hair from slipcovers
- Vacuum all 6 sides of each cushion while still on the inserts.
- Remove cushions off the sofa.
- Vacuum the entire slipcover under the cushions and all sides.
- Use circular motions while vacuuming to pick everything up.
2. Remove all cushion covers
- Unzip each cushion cover and remove the inner cushion.
- Make a pile of covers and stack the cushions out of the way.
- Don’t remove the main sofa slipcover until it’s stain treated.
All IKEA Ektorp 3.5 cushion covers (now discontinued) have one zipper at one end, so with a little muscle, the cushion covers are relatively easy to remove.
Tip: I’ve read the newer IKEA Uppland cushion covers are even easier to remove with more openings, so I’d love to upgrade one day!
And yes, I’d get white all over again! And an extra cover next round as well.
3. Spot spray the cover stains
- Lightly spray over each stain.
- Saturate heavier stains.
- Allow to sit for at least 15 minutes before washing.
- Give one last quick spray on the toughest stains right before washing.
- Test-spot a small area if you are unsure of the outcome.
- Spray the arms on the sofa slipcover.
You may get the slipcovers clean without using a stain sprayer, however where heavier stains exist, I find it’s a must.
I use Shout myself. All stains get saturated, then I allow the covers to sit for at least 15 minutes.
Then I give them one last spray before tossing them into the washing machine.
I like to leave the main sofa slipcover in place until the arms are treated because I find it’s easier. The main slipcover is VERY large and harder to manage all the nooks and crannies once you remove it.
Visit other stain removers HERE
4. Use a laundry whitener
If you are washing white slipcovers, I find using some kind of brightener very helpful. I’ve tried laundry bleach which worked ok. But after trying Nellie’s All-Natural Oxygen Brightener, I stuck with this since it’s non toxic.
Another non-toxic fav whitener of mine use to be Shaklee laundry whitener in powder form.
How to mix a powder brightener
- Pour a small amount of powder into a bowl.
- Add a little hot water.
- Stir until dissolved.
- Pour into the washing machine bleach dispenser.
Then toss all the slipcovers into the washing machine, add your soap and wash!
Some whiteners may suggest to pour the powder inside the drum. I like to dissolve the powder myself so there’s less chance of a powder residue.
Read: Board and batten laundry room wall HERE
4. Wash in washing machine
These white IKEA couch covers are indeed machine washable.
Since my front loader Whirlpool washing machines offer several different cycles, one being ‘whiter whites’, my own preferences is to wash with a regular cycle first as the wash time is greatly diminished.
If they don’t come out as clean as I’d like, the next load is set to ‘whiter whites’, which is an extended wash with hotter water.
But I generally get everything clean in the regular wash if I treat the stains and use a brightener.
With 1 sofa, it takes approx two loads. So with 2 sofas, it’s generally 4 loads with a few extras thrown in.
Laundry detergent I prefer:
My favorite current laundry detergent is called Eco Max for he machines. It’s unscented, powerful, plant-based, hypoallergenic and does a great job!
But I wouldn’t get too hung up on this exact laundry detergent. I rotate, always choosing unscented and natural, and have found many no name brands to be wonderful.
HERE’S another good laundry detergent I’d get.
5. Hang dry
- Remove the slipcovers from the washing machine.
- Shake the covers, then hang dry them on a line or over patio rails to dry.
Because I have a big, beautiful outdoor wash line, I like to hang dry all the cushion covers and main slipcovers on the line.
If it’s a rainy day, I’ll throw the covers over the outdoor covered patio rail to air dry.
Something to keep in mind when drying slipcovers is the fact that you don’t want them to shrink. So if you wish to try using a dryer, I’d suggest to air dry them with no heat to remove the wrinkles, then lay the covers over chair backs inside the house until dry myself.
How to use the sofa while covers are drying
Waiting for the slipcovers to dry can take a day or two, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use the sofas!
I simply position all the cushions where they go…
(Oh by the way… along the bottom of the couch is where my cats scratch. UNDER the slipcovers. How respectful are they?!)
… then cover the works with a clean sheet or blanket. Then use until the covers are ready to be put back on again.
6. Put on clean covers once dry
With two sofas, the piles of clean covers definitely entertain me for a while!
However they came out so beautiful, just like brand new again! I am always so thrilled with the results each and every time. The white IKEA slipcovers are really made well!
IKEA Ektorp 3.5 white slipcovers offer a beautiful, firm fit. For this reason, they can be a little tricky to put back on. Just take it one at a time, and remember they will fit… as long as they didn’t shrink from dryer heat!
7. Fluff and rotate cushions before covers go back on
Before I cover the cushions once again, this is where I examine cushion wear.
If some back cushions look flat, I’ll massage and fluff them until they look puffy again.
For seat cushions, they slightly compact over time, so it’s a good idea to rotate where you normally sit with a different cushion.
8. How to replace the main sofa slipcover
For the main slipcover, I start by positioning one armrest first, then pull backwards, and position the backrest corner into place.
Then while pulling the slipcover as tight as possible, the other arm is positioned then pulled into place towards the back.
Next, I smooth out the cover in between the arms by pressing the long horizontal velcro strip into position where the seat and back joins.
Then toss the cushions back into place, and enjoy your clean slipcovered sofa!
How to clean IKEA couch covers (and ottoman) and keep them white longer!
- Vacuum all cushions and main slipcover.
- Remove cushion covers and treat them with a good spot cleaner.
- Treat the arm rests of the main sofa cover while still on, then remove.
- Add a brightener to the washing machine along with your favorite detergent.
- Run through a regular cycle, and if you don’t find they came out clean enough, try a hotter setting next round.
- Hang dry to avoid shrinkage.
- Put the slipcovers back on once dry.
- Wash complete covers at least twice a year.
- Clean only some covers if they need it in between.
- Flip around some cushions to get more mileage out of them.
- Sit on blankets.
- Be sure to read our full post with our favorite products!
Watch short video above to see how epic that vacuum attachment works!
Ektorp Slipcover Questions and Answers
Are IKEA couch covers washable?
For the Ektorp 3.5, yes, the white slipcovers are most definitely washable! I’m just uncertain if all fabrics are washable, so be sure to read the instructions.
Can you put IKEA couch covers in the dryer?
I don’t suggest it. Personally, I don’t want to risk the slipcovers shrinking so I hang to dry. Some dry for 10 minutes on no heat to remove wrinkles.
Did Ikea discontinue the Ektorp?
Yes. There are actually two Ektorp sofas. The original which is smaller, and Ektorp 3.5, which is slightly oversized which is the one I’m writing about today.
Is Uppland bigger than Ektorp?
Yes. By appearance the sofas look the same, but by measurements, Uppland is slightly larger.
Are Ektorp and Uppland covers the same?
No. The Ektorp 3.5 covers will be slightly smaller than the larger IKEA Uppland.
Can you still get Ektorp covers?
No, not from IKEA. However you can purchase custom-made.
Can you buy replacement covers for IKEA sofas?
Yes, you can continue to buy slipcovers separately direct from IKEA as long as that type of sofa isn’t discontinued. Once the sofa is discontinued, you can get slipcovers custom-made.
Do you need bleach for white slipcovers?
No. I use to use a laundry bleach, and while it does work on this fabric, I choose to use a non-toxic laundry brightener due to our septic system. Works great!
Are the white IKEA couch covers easy to keep white?
Yes, if you stain-treat and wash them before deep stains set in. However I also sit on blankets which really helps.
How often do you wash the slipcovers?
I generally wash all the slipcovers 2x a year, but will sometimes wash just a few cushion covers that really need it.
Does pet hair show on white slipcovers?
Big yes. Unfortunately. But that just means it’s easy to spot so you can remove it, right? Heh. Get a good pet remover vacuum or device and you won’t have to worry about it.
Would you get white slipcovers again?
100% YES! I love how they brighten up my living room and how white just goes with everything and every season beautifully.
Does an IKEA Uppland cover fit an Ektorp 3.5 sofa?
The IKEA Ektorp 3.5 is an IKEA series that is a discontinued model.
The IKEA Uppland sofa is the newest replacement, however it has a slightly larger frame than an Ektorp 3.5.
After much reading, the Uppland covers are said to fit the Ektorp 3.5 but fit a little baggier. But it’s still a cheaper option than purchasing custom covers so I say it’s worth a shot. Then, after checking store return policy, return them if you are unhappy with the fit.
If I ever purchase an Uppland cover, I will indeed share my findings on this because I get asked this a LOT. I just haven’t needed to replace my Ektorp 3.5 covers yet because they wear so well!
Note: an original IKEA Ektorp sofa is smaller than IKEA Ektorp 3.5 sofa. View the size differences in THIS POST.
Get my most fav buff check blanket from Walmart HERE!
In summary, I just LOVE my white slipcovered sofas! They are affordable, so comfy, easy to clean, easy to assemble myself, and they give me the look I want.
And on wash day, the effort looks like a whole new couch again!
Any tips on how you keep your white slipcovers white?
How to clean IKEA couch covers (and keep them white!)
- Washing machine (mine is a front loader)
- A good vacuum (I use a Dyson Animal)
- Washing machine detergent
- Laundry brightener
- Shout Laundry spot remover
- Sheets or blankets
- A place to hang-dry
- Vacuum all cushions and the main couch slipcover.
- Remove the inserts from all seat and back cushion covers.
- Spot-spray the flattened covers and allow to sit for 15 min.
- Load the washing machine with laundry detergent and a whitener.
- Machine wash in washing machine.
- Hang dry on a wash line.
- While covers are drying, sit on a sheet or blanket.
- Fluff up all seat and back cushions.
- Put cushion covers and sofa cover back on once dry, or even nearly dry.
- Sit on blankets or sheets to help keep them cleaner.
- Place a cover over the arm rests to help protect them.
- Wash slipcovers at least once if not twice a year to keep them up.
Other IKEA Ektorp posts:
Visit my first winter living room tour!
How to assemble Ektorp 3.5 sofas
Visit the entire Ektorp sofa series HERE
Getting different looks with white slipcovers…
Fall pumpkin pillows on a white sofa
Christmas living room with Bayberry green bench
Christmas living room sweater pillows tour
Visit many other unique IKEA projects to make HERE
5 thoughts on “How to clean IKEA couch covers (and keep them white!)”
Great post and the pic of the slip covers hanging on the clothesline! What a view!!
Thanks Kim! And I appreciate that view every single moment I look out! Never taken for granted.
I have the original Ektorp sectional and chair/ottoman in white. Love it and the sectional is a handfull to remove and wash but it turns out beautiful. I do dry on low and do not over dry. They look as good as new. My bottom cushions aren’t sagging but the back cushions are because my cats think those cushions are made for them. Good post.
I bought the Ektorp sofa, loveseat and chair a few years ago and got the very light beige slipcovers since I was too chicken to get the white. What I have i fine and pretty light but I wish I’d gotten the white. When I bought the furniture 5 years ago, I even bought extra slipcovers (same color) for each piece – just in case- and they are still in the boxes! I’ve thought about trying to bleach my slipcovers to make them white but I’m too chicken to try that too.
Thanks for a great post!
That sounds like something I would do. haha I sure have regrets not getting extra sets though even in white or another color 2. Ah well… I’m just grateful they are so well made that they are lasting because it’s all I get! LOL