Spring Cleaning a Slipcovered Ikea Sofa: Try This at Home!

1 Material
20 Minutes

Now that Spring has sprung, it's time for a little spring cleaning! Upholstered couches are great, but washable slipcovers are even better! Each spring we like to get a fresh start by starting with our sofa and switching up our decor. Our Ikea Karlstad couch is white, so it shows every speck of dirt, and was in dire need of cleaning. However the washing instructions say not to put the slipcover the dryer, so we'd be without it for the full day it takes to dry. What happens when the cover is in the wash and you don't have a spare in the interim?The solution? A full-sized (double) fitted bed sheet, the kind with the elasticized corners like the retro one shown below. We just happened to have it in our linen closet and it fits perfectly in a pinch while the slipcover dries!

In hindsight, another colour sofa might get more mileage between cleanings but I love the fresh look of white. For that reason, I don't think it's a hardship for the sofa to look like this for a day while we launder our one and only slipcover:

Our interim solution allows us to continue to use our sofa while the cover is air drying - and it's a great repurpose of a full-fitted sheet!We only removed the seat and back cushion covers - to remove the back and armrests would have meant we'd have to take the entire couch apart to get it all off. Since it was in good shape, we found that a good vacuum with a special upholstery attachment was all it needed to freshen it up again.

The upholstery attachment has a nubby strip that catches all the dust and lint so it's definitely worthwhile to invest in one:

We vacuumed not only the parts we left out of the wash, but also the fabric on the seat cushions and back to get as much dust off before washing. Since they can't go into the dryer, if you don't remove the dust first, most of it will still be there when it comes out of the wash.

I removed the seat and back cushions so I could vacuum underneath them and in all the crevices along the back and sides. Once everything was vacuumed, we unzipped all the cushions and stripped off the slipcovers.

Then we put all the bare cushions back on the sofa and threw on the fitted sheet. I was surprised that it fit so well in both the width and length and there was still plenty of extra to tuck it all in!

If we had gone to the extent of taking apart the couch to wash everything, I would've added in a few regular pillows with matching pillow cases to protect the ends of the sofa while the cover is in the wash, as shown below:

Once the sofa covers came out of the wash, we had to get creative finding a place to dry them. We used the shower rod in one of our bathrooms and a clothing rack to drape them as they dried. Even if they could be machine dried, air drying is a much more sustainable option and saves $$'s too, so it's a win-win!

After they're dry, the slipcovers will be quite wrinkled so should be ironed. I used a steam iron on the cotton setting and pressed them on the wrong side. Even after vacuuming, there's still going to be some lint! To finish them off, I went over each one on the right side with a lint roller to get off all remaining traces of lint.

At this point you can take off the temporary floral sheet, put the slipcovers back on the couch and your spring cleaning is done! The floral sheet is great for spring cleaning purposes, but if you have a white Karlstad couch like us, you could even consider using a solid white fitted sheet as a slipcover for everyday use and then whip it off for company. We picked one up at Ikea (Somntuta) and find that using a fitted sheet on a daily basis gives the Karlstad slipcover even more mileage between washings!

To de-winterize our look, we switched out the artwork and accessories and plumped out the sofa with some seasonal pillows; now we feel ready for the spring and summer season ahead :)

If this project has inspired you to tackle some spring cleaning around your home, please pin and share!

We've used Ikea pieces in other areas of our home, but we have more fun when we hack them. In the kitchen, for instance, we took an  Ikea Stenstorp Kitchen Cart and added in removable drawers (in case we ever wanted to convert it back).

At Birdz of a Feather, we're feathering the nest... one room at a time. Follow our blog right here if you're interested in seeing other DIY projects and hacks, in and around the home. You can also follow us on:

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Suggested materials:

  • Retro full fitted sheet  (Had on hand)
  • Lint remover  (Had on hand)

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 18 questions
  • Carol
    on Mar 22, 2019

    Why does noone address the fact that washing machines don’t clean all the crap and lint off of the laundry. I had a washer that filtered the water as it washed and you had to clean the filter every time but it took it out of the clothing and made it disposable. I like to hang my laundry outside and sometimes the lint problem is really a mess.

    • Dingo635
      on Feb 27, 2020

      I really agree with you. I also dry most of my laundry outdoors. It would be nice o still have the lint catchers in the washers. I love the outdoors smell my clothes have compared to the dryers. I do live in the country so that does help for hanging outside and fresh air.

  • Wanda Barnes
    on Mar 22, 2019

    Where did you get vacuum attachment? Great idea!!

  • Carole
    on Mar 23, 2019

    How did you fit the cushion

Join the conversation

3 of 193 comments
  • Launa Elaine Strickland
    on Feb 27, 2020

    Great idea! Why didn’t I think of that? Never mind, I’m smart enough to steal it! Haha!

    This is a terrific way to keep the sofa clean year round-Just pull off the cover when guests are coming! Thumbs up!

  • Victoria Kincaid
    on Mar 29, 2020

    Great idea! I have an Ektorp sofa, will it work for that one too?!

    • Birdz of a Feather
      on Mar 31, 2020

      You would have to measure the width at the back and depth of the seats to determine if it comes close to the size of a fitted bedsheet. If it's larger than a Karlstad then perhaps a King sized sheet would work. Or if smaller, you can always tuck in excess. Now I'm curious to know: you'll have to let me know if you tried it :)

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