by

Becky Lim

2015-03-28

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Taking care of your fabrics

After a long day, your sofa is where you want to curl up and unwind. Sometimes this involves food and wine. Sometimes your furry friends jump into the mix. Other times, children. With crayons.

Let’s face it, when life happens, the sofa gets d-i-r-t-y. But that’s why you bought a fully removable slipcovered sofa in the first place. So that you can chuck in to the wash. And really, what’s the point of a slipcover if you can’t clean it at home?

Most larger slipcovers will fit nicely into two laundry loads, usually one load for cushions and one for the body of the sofa. I like to wash mine in the evening and leave them to dry overnight while everyone’s asleep.

Let’s have a look at a few popular fabrics.

100% Cotton / Cotton Duck

cotton

Cotton is one of the most common fabric used in making slipcovers, it’s comfortable, durable and easily dyed in many colours. But to know the exact composition, you’ve got to check with your manufacturer.

1. Washing

For machine washable cotton slipcovers, wash them in cold water using the gentlest cycle in the washing machine, since the gentler the fabric is treated, the longer your slipcovers will last. You might also want to wash the whole set at the same time so to avoid uneven shades as dirty covers will be darker with all the grime and of course, clean ones would be brighter.

Typically, cotton slipcovers do get softer after each washing, and darker fabrics may fade slightly, but that’s part of the charm of a slipcover. Your slipcover should last several years, since most are washed just a few times a year.

2. Drying & Ironing

Once you’re done washing them, now’s the time for drying. If you’ve heard of the myth of fitting the covers while they are still damp, well, it’s true! Leave them to drip dry in the shade for a few hours and put the covers on the sofa while it’s still a little damp. The covers slip on easier as they’re looser and any creases and wrinkles can be minimized.

TIP: You can have a fan blowing towards it to quicken the process, and try to leave the area as open as possible to give more air flow.

While it’s still a bit damp, now would be a great time to iron the corners of the pleats and skirts, but don’t iron the whole cover as wet ironing may stretch the slipcovers.

3. Spot Cleaning

Moisten a clean cloth/sponge with water and press the cloth gently against the fabric. Work your way from the edges of the affected area into the center, blotting up the stain as you go. Then, press clean paper towels against the damp fabric after the furniture has been cleaned. This will absorb excess moisture and speed up the drying process.

Polyester/Polyester Blends

polyester

Polyester fabric are synthetic fibers that are used in fabrics to increase durability of the fabric. There is a wide range of polyester fabrics and some of them are blended with natural fibres.

1. Washing

Most of the time, polyester covers are safe to be thrown into the washing machine and in cold wash on the gentlest cycle of your machine.

TIP: Turn the covers inside out before washing them because this way, the outside surface will look as good as new for a long time.

2. Drying & Ironing

Now before you chuck the covers into the dryer, do know that polyester is prone to melt under high temperatures. It should be fine for a short time if it’s on low temperature but don’t leave it in there for too long, and just remember that if your covers have any fastenings such as zippers and velcro straps, heat will wear them down. Generally we recommend drip drying them in the shade as polyester covers don’t absorb much water and dry pretty quickly.

Polyester covers don’t wrinkle easily, so that should save the job of ironing but for that crisp look, ironing the corners of skirts and the pleats inside out under low/medium heat should do the trick.

3. Spot Cleaning

This works similarly with cotton. Moisten a cloth/sponge with water and press the cloth gently against the fabric. Work your way from the edges of the affected area into the center, blotting up the stain as you go. Then, press clean towels against the damp fabric after the furniture has been cleaned. This will absorb excess moisture and speed the drying process.  

Linens and linen blends

linen

Linens blends are natural linen fabrics blended with other components, typically cotton to make them more durable and affordable. Natural pure linens are very thin and much more expensive which would not make them an ideal set sofa slipcovers, but mostly better for clothing instead.

1. Washing

Caring for linen blends is not as easy as cotton fabrics as they are more delicate. First, identify your fabric type. For example if you have a slipcover in our Lino Brushed (30% linen, 70% cotton), it’s best washed in the machine with cold water on the regular cycle. If you have a specialty fabric like our stain-resistant nanocoated Liege fabric though, this fabric is not washable and needs to be dry-cleaned instead to preserve its stain-resistant properties.

2. Drying & Ironing

Washable covers should be drip dried in the shade and fitted on the sofa when they’re almost dry but slightly damp. Ironing is not really a priority when it comes to linen items unless they’re really wrinkled so you get that relaxed, rustic farmhouse style.

Still, if you prefer ironing, it would be a good idea to iron while the fabric is still damp. Otherwise, iron with steam on the medium setting. While white linen is best ironed on both sides, it is best to iron dark linen on the inside only.

3. Spot Cleaning

For linens, as they are more delicate and we’re all for natural spot cleaning removers, you can try the 50/50 white vinegar+water mix,  mix equal parts of white vinegar and water (apple cider and etc don’t work), pour them in a spray bottle and you’re good to go!

TIP: Always try at an inconspicuous spot on your sofa first, if all’s well, go ahead and try it on the stained area.

Velvet Blends

velet

Velvets are definitely one of our most soft and comfortable slipcover fabrics, it’s very easy to fall in love with their soft, lustrous texture and that shine they give to the couch. I absolutely love the fluffy feeling of velvets but they are more prone to wearing with heavy usage and requires more delicate care.

1. Washing

Almost all synthetic velvets that are marked washable should never be machine washed. They’re very delicate and should be gently hand washed  in cold water and some bits of soap flakes. Of course, with technology today, some washing machine have “hand-wash ” cycle, it does not guarantee the same gentle washing as washing by hand.

That being said though, hand washing these heavy slipcovers is definitely not  an easy task and you’ll have to get a huge tub to wash it! As such, I’d bet my money on the “hand wash” cycle and if not, I’ll send them to the dry cleaners. Or else, you can just handwash the cushion covers only to keep them clean.

2. Drying & Ironing

Do not iron velvets, instead use a clothes brush to restore the nap as it dries. Only brush in one direction so that they all look the same!

Tip: If your velvet slipcovers have lost their shimmer, you can use a steamer to restore its signature shine. Keep the nozzle moving across the velvet at a moderate pace in the direction of the nap.  After it dries, use a soft-bristled hair brush and gently brush it in the direction of the nap. 

3. Spot Cleaning

If there’s a stain on your velvet covers, you should always treat them prior to washing because if not, the stain might set and ruin the nap of the velvet, then you’ll be stuck with a patch of inconsistent nap on your couch. I don’t have OCD (I really don’t!) but I’d get really annoyed if there’s a certain spot of nap that isn’t smooth.

Use a cloth dampened in lukewarm water and dab the stain gently, moving up and down. Dab with a dry cloth to clear up an excess water. After trying to remove the stain, if it still appears to be there, then it’s best left to the dry cleaners.

Microfiber

Microfiber

1. Washing

It’s always good practice to vacuum the couch cushions with a soft brush, vacuum-cleaner attachment hose to suck up loose dust and dirt. Then set the washing machine to the gentle, delicate or hand-wash cycle. Fill the machine with cold water and add the proper amount of a mild laundry detergent as specified by the detergent bottle.

2.Drying & Ironing

It’s crucial that they don’t get expose to heat, so you can place the covers in a good location in doors with good air circulation (near a fan would help) or you can place the covers into a dryer, only use “air-dry” option, which does not use any heat. You can brush it similarly as the velvets, by using a clothes brush to restore the nap , and remember to brush them in the same direction.

3. Spot Cleaning

The magic combination is rubbing alcohol, white scrub sponges, and a soft bristle brush, we found this interesting tutorial by Brieanne from Darling Doodles, where she put this combination to the test and the results were amazing!

All you need to do is spray rubbing alcohol on the dirty stains, use the white sponge and gently scrub the grime off. Once that’s done, you use a soft bristle brush to fluff the fabric, at first, you’ll see scratch lines with the bristle brush, but it’ll be gone after awhile.

TIP: If you have pets or small children and are washing frequently, it can be handy to have some extra matching fabric around to replace a cushion cover or make a repair. Or, have an extra seat cushion so you’ll always have a clean one if there’s a spill.

Bycast Leather

bycast leaher

Now before you throw these into the washing machine, they’re definitely NOT WASHABLE. But bycast leather is used on many upholstered furniture pieces. Bycast leather may be either completely synthetic, or a combination of real hide with a synthetic backing/coating, making it a more affordable, yet an elegant option to consider when purchasing furniture. They also have a layer of polyurethane (PU) which makes them stain resistant which makes them easy to care.

1. Cleaning

Just use a dry cloth and wipe your sofa every few months just to remove dust and grime that might cause wear and tear of your covers. For stubborn stains, mix three cups of water with a squirt of liquid dish detergent in the sink. Dip a cleaning cloth in this solution, wring out as much water as possible, then continue wiping until it’s all gone.

2. Maintenance 

After you wipe the grime and dust, to keep your bycast leather covers shiny and looking luxurious, buff the polyurethane finish, as constant wear and use will dull the finish over time. Get specialised conditioners and protectors designed for bycast leather furniture which can be easily purchase in your nearby local hardware store or Ikea!

absorb-leathercare-set__34353_PE124286_S4 

If you don’t have any washing guidelines for your covers, you will have to determine for yourself whether the material is colourfast, and non-shrinking, and so on, and wash them at your own risk. To determine this, try wetting at an inconspicuous area of the sofa, then blot it with a white paper towel. There should be no colour transfer. To investigate for shrinkage, inspect your test patch when it dries to see whether it still lies totally flat. Any buckling indicates that the material may shrink in water.

If you already have one of our custom slipcovers and you’re not sure on how to care for them, feel free to drop us a message at info@comfortworks.com.au

Photo Credits:
Cotton:http://www.vanhungphat.vnponline.vn/
Linen: http://www.justfabrics.co.uk/
Polyester: http://www.easyflags.co.uk/
Velvet: http://www.hartsfabric.com/
Microfiber: http://www.source4style.com/
Bycast leather: http://marketresearchplanet.com/
Ikea Absorb Leather Care Set: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/20137945/