How to Wash Cushion Covers

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How to Wash Cushion Covers

Cushions can cater to a wide variety of everyday functions and allow the household to exercise a certain amount of individuality in their living space. Cushions and their covers come in a wide variety of designs, colours, materials, and sizes, so that every taste can be catered for. Most cushion covers are designed to be fairly durable and endure a fair amount of everyday wear and tear, be they either large covers on the sofa or the smaller decorative kind. Cushion covers in any household, but particularly family homes with children or pets, will occasionally require a good clean. Cushions can quickly pick up dirt, hair, and various spills that make them look grubby and smell unfresh. Covers can be washed in a variety of ways, and it is important to know the difference since washing one the wrong way can permanently ruin the material. Follow the steps below to ensure each cover is correctly washed and always looking its best in the home.

The First Step

Before performing any kind of wash cycle on a cushion, first the excess dirt, grime or other particles should be removed using the proper attachment of a vacuum cleaner. Go over the surface of the cushion with this attachment, and then afterwards with a lint roller or a clean damp sponge to remove unwanted hair. For pet hair, use a lint roller that is designed to remove it from fabric. Giving the cover a good shake and a bash outside with a hand or a broom can help to detach the dirt. Now that the surface dirt has been removed, it is time to carefully consult the washing instructions of the cushion cover itself.

Cushion Covers That Cannot Be Removed

It can be quite tricky to wash covers that are not removable from the cushion itself, as usually these types of cushions are not suitable for either a machine wash or a dry clean. This is because the foam inside the cushion cannot be made overly wet, as it will either shrink or become damaged. In this instance, it is probably best to use a steam cleaner. These devices can be hired as well as purchased on eBay.. The whole cushion will probably be damp once finished, so it will need to be placed somewhere warm to dry - a radiator or airer is ideal if the weather is not sunny enough to place the cushions outside. Avoid using a tumble dryer as the forced hot air can cause a cover to shrink. Alternatively in this circumstance, follow the same steps for covers that are not machine washable. Apply a spot test, using a minimal amount of cleaner to remove specific stains, or use a spot corrector pen. Use a soft sponge dipped in water to dab at the stain and remove the applied corrector or detergent. Again, allow a suitable drying place so the whole cushion is able to be aired. Note that some covers, particularly on cushions designed for use around a pool, are specifically waterproof as they are exposed to water regularly anyway. These types of cushion covers will not require cleaning at all, and a wipe down with a soft wet cloth should be sufficient to remove marks and stains.

How to Test That the Cover Is Washable

If there are no attached instructions and it is unclear in how to wash the cover, a small corner should be tested before the whole cover is done. Make up a wet paste with water and a very small amount of washing detergent.. Rub a small amount of this paste into the corner of the cover, the underside or somewhere it will not be noticeable. Leave it for a few minutes and then wash it off by hand, then allow to dry. Once dry, check for any discolouration before making a final decision on how to wash the cover.

Cushion Covers That Are Machine Washable

The greatest indication to the type of machine wash that is suitable for a cover is through the washing instruction label, usually found on the inside of the item. If no instructions can be found, yet it seems probable that the cover is able to be washed in a machine, err on the side of caution and wash the cover on a gentle cycle at a cool temperature (or a hand wash cycle if the washing machine has one). Most fabric cushions are machine washable, unless there is a particular embellishment on the cover that may become snagged or otherwise damaged in a machine wash. Faux fur cushion covers are an example of this. Some covers will bear the words 'dry clean only'. Leather cushion covers will probably have these words on their label and will probably require special cleaning, so they should be taken to a dry cleaners. The same is usually true of pure silk cushions. If the covers have zippers, do the zipper back up once removed to ensure it does not get snagged on anything else in the wash and damage delicate items. Cushion covers should also be turned inside out before going into the wash, to protect embellishments on the front and to keep the colours from running.

Cushion Covers That Are Not Machine Washable

Handmade cushion covers are unlikely to be machine washable, due to the delicate nature of the design. Cushion covers with a personal photograph design are also quite delicate as a result of the printing process, and will also require great care to be taken when cleaning. If either the instructions or the spot test dictates that the cover cannot safely be machine washed, then one option is to apply a small amount of upholstery cleaner to any stain. Be sure to use the correct product and follow the manufacturer's guidelines on the bottle, and only test it on a small area first. An alternative to an upholstery cleaner is to use a mixture of warm water and white vinegar combined. Always use a soft, dry cloth to apply the substance and allow the cleaned spot to dry.

Unusual Situations

If the cover for the cushion is particularly large, and will not fit into the machine, it can be washed in either a bathtub or outside. The detergent or soap should be worked into the water by hand and make sure to allow the cover to soak in it for a while. Obviously the dirtier the cover, the longer it should be allowed to soak. If a stain or smell has soaked through the cover into the cushion itself, a cup of vinegar in water or stain remover should be applied to the section of the affected cushion. This should always be done by hand.

Finding Cushion Covers on eBay

To purchase cushion covers, first head to the eBay homepage. Go to the drop down box on the left hand side of the page and click on Home & Garden from the list, and then Home & Garden from the drop down box there. This will then load the Home & Garden page. Then go to the drop down box on the left again and click on Furniture & Living and then Home Decor from the list. This leads to the home decor page. Cushions is an option on the left hand side of the page, and clicking on that will go to the next page where the category of Cushion Cover can be chosen. As cushion covers can be bought under several different categories, including Home, Furniture & DIY and Collectables to name a few. Sometimes it is easier to use the search engine on the eBay site to enter the details of the cover that is desired, which will narrow down the options until the perfect cushion cover is found.


Depending on the material of the cover itself, most cushion covers are washable in some form. Great care must always be taken when cleaning to ensure the fabric of the cover is not ruined, and, where possible, use a gentle wash or clean by hand. The washing instructions on the label, where available, will give the greatest indication as to how the cover should be cleaned. By following these steps written here, the cushion covers should maintain their fresh and clean appearance for the home.

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