5 Do's and Don'ts of Washing Sofa Covers - Nolan Interior

5 Do's and Don'ts of Washing Sofa Covers

We’re going to go over a comprehensive guide to washing sofa covers and outline important do's and don'ts to help you wash your covers with confidence and ease.

Sofa covers play a big role in our living spaces and furniture. They serve not only as an aesthetic enhancement, but also protect our sofas from everyday wear and tear, accidental spills, and pet hair. Keeping them clean is important for maintaining both their functionality and visual appeal. However, improper washing methods can lead to discolored, shrunken, or damaged sofa covers that no longer serve their purpose or fit correctly.

The challenges often faced during the washing process can make this task daunting. Different fabrics require different care, certain cleaning products may be harmful, and even the method of drying can significantly impact the result. Without the proper knowledge and techniques, a simple cleaning endeavor can inadvertently ruin your beloved sofa covers. We’re going to go over a comprehensive guide to washing sofa covers and outline important do's and don'ts to help you wash your covers with confidence and ease.


5 Don’ts of Washing Sofa Covers

1. Don't Assume All Covers Are Machine Washable

removing sofa cover to wash it

A common mistake many people make is assuming that all sofa covers are machine washable. Most sofa covers are machine washable (including ours), but not all materials do well in washing machines. Sofa covers made from delicate fabrics like silk, wool, or certain types of synthetics may suffer irreversible damage in a washing machine. They might shrink, fray, or even completely lose their shape.

First identify the fabric type of your sofa cover before deciding on a cleaning method. You can usually find this information on the product tag, or if you purchased the sofa cover yourself, on the product information sheet. If the material is marked as non-washable, professional cleaning may be a safer option. Risking machine washing non-washable fabrics can lead to more harm than good.


2. Don’t Use Bleach

Don't use bleach

Bleach may seem like a tempting solution to tackle stubborn stains on your sofa covers, but it's generally not the best choice. The oxidizing properties in bleach can be extremely harsh on most fabrics. Using bleach can lead to discoloration, leaving your once vibrant sofa covers looking dull and faded. For colored or patterned covers, the impact can be even more dramatic.

Consider using gentle alternatives for stain removal. A solution of mild detergent and water can be used to treat stains before washing. You could also opt for commercial stain removers that are specifically designed to be fabric-friendly. The goal is to prolong the life and maintain the appearance of your sofa covers, and the use of bleach is often counterproductive to this goal.


3. Don't Dry Clean Without Checking the Label

Living room with a sofa that has sofa covers on it

Dry cleaning, often seen as the one-stop solution for all fabric care needs, isn’t usually suitable for sofa covers. Certain materials, particularly synthetics like polyester or certain types of microfiber, may react negatively to the chemicals used in the dry cleaning process. The result could be a change in texture, color fading, or even shrinkage. This can leave you with a cover that no longer fits your sofa properly.

Check the care label for instructions to see if dry cleaning is an option for your sofa covers. If the label indicates that dry cleaning is not suitable, it's best to avoid this method. Instead, consider hand washing or machine washing on a gentle cycle, as specified by the label. Taking these precautions can help you maintain the quality and longevity of your sofa covers.


4. Don’t Wash Different Colored Covers Together

Colored sofa covers

Washing sofa covers of different colors together may seem like a time-saving strategy, but this approach could end up causing more harm than good. This is because of the possibility of color bleeding, where the dyes from one fabric transfer to another during the washing process. This can result in your light-colored sofa covers taking on the hues of the darker ones, leading to discoloration and an overall mismatched appearance.

Wash your sofa covers in separate loads based on their colors to avoid this issue. Light colors such as white, beige, or pastel shades should be washed together, while darker colors like navy, black, or burgundy should be grouped separately. Your going to be much better off playing it safe when it comes to washing different color sofa covers.


5. Don't Ignore Small Repairs Before Washing

Removing sofa cover from cushion

Ignoring small repairs before washing is another common pitfall that can lead to significant damage to your sofa covers. Small rips, tears, or loose threads may seem insignificant, but they can easily worsen during the washing process. The agitation from the machine or even hand washing can cause these minor issues to become bigger problems, leading to a sofa cover that needs to be replaced.

Take a moment to inspect your sofa covers for any signs of damage. Look for loose threads, small tears, and any other minor issues that might become worse during the washing process. If you find any, take the time to repair them before washing them. Taking care of these issues beforehand will not only prevent further damage during washing but will also help extend the lifespan of your sofa cover.


5 Do’s of Washing Sofa Covers

1. Do Read the Label Thoroughly

Woman getting ready to wash sofa cover

Reading the care label on your sofa covers may seem like a no-brainer, but it's a step that's often overlooked. These are a detailed instruction manual for the care and maintenance of your fabric. Ignoring these instructions can result in irreversible damage to your sofa covers such as shrinkage, color fading, and fabric distortion.

The care label will usually provide information about washing method, water temperature, the type of detergent that should be used, and drying instructions. Some labels might even include specific instructions for stain removal. Understanding and following these guidelines will help you maintain the quality, fit, and appearance of your sofa covers for as long as possible.


2. Do Pre-Treat Stains

Putting sofa covers in the washing machine

Stains are an inevitable part of life, particularly when it comes to furniture coverings like sofa covers. While it might be tempting to toss a stained sofa cover directly into the wash, it's better to pre-treat stains before washing. This is because the heat and agitation from the washing process can set stains, making them more difficult to remove later.

Before washing your sofa cover, inspect it for any visible stains. Once identified, pre-treat these areas using a gentle, fabric-safe stain remover. Apply the stain remover to the affected area and gently work it into the fabric with a soft brush or cloth. Let it sit for a few minutes to allow the stain remover to break down the stain. After pre-treatment, you can proceed with washing the sofa cover. Pre-treating stains not only increases the chances of completely removing them but also helps to maintain the overall look and integrity of your sofa covers.


3. Do Use a Mild Detergent

Adding mild detergent to washing machine

The choice of detergent can significantly impact the longevity and vibrancy of your sofa covers. Using a strong detergent might seem like the best way to get your covers clean, but these often have harsh chemicals and can damage the fabric. They can cause color fading, break down the fabric fibers, and even lead to skin irritation when you come into contact with the treated covers.

Instead use a mild detergent when washing your sofa covers. These are typically free from dyes, perfumes, and other harsh chemicals, making them a safer choice for your fabric. Mild detergents can effectively clean your covers without the risk of damaging them or causing discomfort to sensitive skin. By choosing the right detergent, you can make sure you clean the sofa cover well without compromising on the health and appearance of your sofa covers.


4. Do Wash on a Gentle Cycle

Adding sofa covers to washing machine

When it comes to washing sofa covers, a gentle touch is often the best approach. Regular or heavy-duty cycles may seem like the best choice for a thorough clean, but these settings can be damaging to your sofa covers. They can cause undue stress to the fabric, leading to fraying, pilling, and even tears. This is especially true for covers made from delicate or loosely woven fabrics.

You should always opt for a gentle or delicate cycle when washing your sofa covers. This cycle uses less agitation and a slower spin speed, reducing the risk of damaging the fabric. Using cold water can help prevent color fading and reduce the chance of shrinkage as well. If your washing machine doesn't have a gentle cycle, consider hand washing as an alternative. Preserving the integrity and longevity of your sofa covers often comes down to being gentle and attentive during the washing process.


5. Do Dry Properly

Adding clothes to dryer machine

Drying your sofa covers is an important step to get right to avoid any unwanted damage. Just like washing, incorrect drying methods can lead to problems like shrinkage, wrinkling, and fabric damage. Many people make the mistake of placing their sofa covers in a hot dryer, thinking this will speed up the process. However, the high heat can cause fabrics to shrink and colors to fade, leaving your sofa covers looking far from their best.

Use a light tumble setting or  air dry your sofa covers whenever possible. This method is not only gentler on the fabric, but it also helps to maintain the shape and fit of the covers. Ironing should generally be avoided, but if necessary, use a low setting and always iron on the reverse side of the cover.



The upkeep and maintenance of your sofa covers doesn’t need to be a dreaded task.. By following the do's and don'ts we've outlined, you can ensure that your sofa covers maintain their beauty, comfort, and durability for years to come. Each step plays a critical role in preserving the quality of your covers. Always prioritize the care instructions provided on the label, as these are designed specifically for the fabric type of your sofa cover.

Proper care and maintenance of your sofa covers extend beyond simple cleanliness. It's about preserving the aesthetic appeal of your living space, prolonging the lifespan of your covers, and ultimately, getting the most out of your sofa covers.