How I Keep My White Slipcovers White

Well, here it is, the answer to the question you all have been dying to ask {or maybe HAVE asked, ha!}…

How in the world do I live with white furniture/slipcovers AND two young children?

The answer is simple and involves three words: washable, oxy-clean and bleach…and that is in order of importance BTW. :)

I would be amiss if I didn’t start this post off with WHY I have white furniture. Waaayyy back when {over 12 years ago now} I found Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic. There was a lovely little boutique in Santa Rosa’s Railroad Square that sold her furniture. I would walk into that store and feel right at home. The whole blend of fancy and imperfect, squashy and formal, livable and elegant just really grabbed my attention and caused me to fall in love. It was so me. I knew when I had my own place my house would have to mimic this style.

When I moved out of my parents home and had my first apartment with my friend Joy, I bought Rachel’s books and poured over them. Her whole philosophy of finding something old and making it new worked for me. I didn’t have much money and according to her concepts, I could have a beautiful and stunning home with little fuss. The first thing Joy and I did was buy a set of couches and an ottoman from a model home garage sale {we spent $200 on the trio} and had some friends create a slipcover for the couches. I covered the ottoman with a quilt. I still have those same couches covered with the same slipcovers {they are now in my living room} and the ottoman still sits proudly in my family room, however now has a slipcover of it’s own.

Rachel’s staple color for slipcovers was white, and so we followed suit. The last time I heard Rachel speak, she was asked by an audience member why in the world did she choose white with kids? Her answer was the same as the one I gave you above. I was sitting in the back of the room during the lecture, but I wanted to jump and clap in agreement to stop all the naysayers that were in the room…. if you have kids, white is most definitely the best color you could choose to decorate with. I am a witness! :)

When we bought our first home in Stockton eight years ago, my parents helped us buy Rachel’s Elegant sofa and her Squadgy chair for our family room. The pieces have deep down cushions which makes the sofa and chair oh-so-very large and welcoming. Rachel’s stores went out of business a couple years back, however she reopened several stores under a new Couture line and she has reproduced the same sofa {here} and chair {here} but under a new name.

So I am sure you are all thinking this is fabulous information but how in the world do I keep them all clean?!?! SIMPLE! We wash them once every month or two. I do all three pieces {sofa, chair and ottoman} in two loads with my front load washer. When I had a regular machine, I did it three loads. Here’s how I do it:

Start with a dirty couch. We eat on ours, drink milk, the whole nine yards. This couch gets used DAILY.

There were large splashes of coffee on the arm

and there was pen on the cushion

And yes, both these spots will come out. It might take two washings, but it will come out, I promise!

I actually only did the couch this time. I washed both the couch and the chair last month, but the couch has been beaten up this month. I can’t handle it when the couch starts to stink like little kids! ha. So in the wash it goes. Anyway, I did the couch in two loads because I felt like it. :) Here it is with the pillows and cushions off….

I pile them into a pile and look closely for stains. 

And then I take to the laundry room and treat with oxyclean spray. I can’t say enough about this spray. It has saved me over and over through the years.

This cover has been sprayed with Oxyclean. If it’s really bad I’ll let them sit for 10 minutes or so. The coffee stain could have used that as a tiny bit of it didn’t come out. It will come out the second time though, it always does.

And then I toss into the wash and add liquid soap and powder oxyclean in the presoak section. I buy the powder at Costco. Sorry for the blurry picture.

I wash on COLD and do the PRESOAK option as well.

Easy Peasy right? And it looks beautiful after done!

And remember you have two sides to each pillow and cushion, which means when ours gets really, we flip them and have a clean side. When both sides are dirty I know its time to wash. 

Questions? Comment and I’ll answer! Hope that clears things up for you all! Oh and you can pin it too! :) xoxo

UPDATE: It totally slipped my mind to tell you I put everything in the dryer! When we first got the slipcovers I put them in the dryer for 20 mins and then put them on damp and let them dry overnight but about two or three years ago, we just started drying them. The slipcovers have last for eight years, but are getting a bit run down, so I am sure in the next couple years we will have to have new slipcovers made.

Also, regarding bleach: I use only when necessary to get out a nasty stain. I want to prolong the life of the covers as much as possible, so I try to stick to oxyclean and whatever stains those don’t get out, I’ll use bleach, either dab a little on via a Q-tip or put in the wash cycle. Hope that helps! :)

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13 thoughts on “How I Keep My White Slipcovers White

  1. 1
    connie mendoza says:

    Hi Amy. I was soooooo one of those people wondering how you lived with white when you had two little one’s around. I have a question I hope you can answer? Have you ever had to remove black marker from your white slip covers? My two little one’s are drawn to markers and no matter where I hide them they sniff those markers out and draw on EVERYTHING (including there baby sister). They’ve drawn on my couches and I’d really like to go with white because it feels so clean and wonderful but I’m scared I’ll waste money on white slip covers with my mark-a-lot kids.

  2. 2
    evystree says:

    Hey Connie! I actually sat on a black marking pen a couple years ago and it left a super saturated, huge mark on the cushion. It didn’t get out right away, I think it took several tries of bleach to get it out. You can still see it FAINTLY if you look very, very closely, but really its not noticeable at all. The kids have taken a sharpie and gotten it on the covers, but it wasn’t bad and that came out as well. They have drawn on the couch with crayons and pens and both of those came out. The key is to make sure you treat the stain before you wash it. Brandon washed them a couple months ago and forgot to treat it….the stains he missed are still there and probably won’t come out. :( As far as pens near the couch…I don’t allow the kids to have anything but crayons in the family room {because I know they come out! :)} and they get in trouble if I catch them with pens/markers. Evy is a stinker though and will sneak them in. I think the key to living with white is be willing to know your boundaries of what you will and won’t allow in the room. But really, I’ve gotten most everything that has gotten on the couch out…even tea, which normally stains. hope that helps!

    • 2.1
      connie mendoza says:

      Thank you so so so very much Amy. This blog was one of my favorites you have done. I even bookmarked it and as soon as I can figure out how to cut and paste on this tablet I will repost it for my friends to view as well. I woke up this morning and told my husband we were going with white couches in the living room (we are currently redoing our house and looking to buy some new couches so your blog came right on time). You should have seen his face! Haha He looked like this ====> o_O and than he said, “I’ll have no children when I come home from work because you will have killed them from getting your white couches dirty”. LoL I told him about your blog and than I had him read it and view the pics as well. He than said, “Do it and his face was like this =====> :-) “. I can’t thank you enough for sharing this.

  3. 3
    Angela Rodriguez says:

    Amy-we have white couches, too :) everyone thinks I’m crazy, but you’re right, it’s actually really practical with kids. Everything really does come out! My oldest even bled on the chair one time, and it all came out!! Love it :)


  4. 4
    Michelle says:

    Hello! So happy that I have found your lovely blog and especially this particular post! I’ve loved Rachel’s shabby chic style for ages, but I never really believed they were as easy to keep clean as everyone said. Well, now I’ve heard it from so many bloggers who have kids and pets, I’m finally believing it and I’m hoping to get some white Ikea sofas very soon! I’m so exited!!! Thanks for sharing your cleaning tips! I have pinned this so I won’t lose it!
    Michelle xoxo

  5. 5
    Sue K says:

    Thanks for the help on how to clean my white covers. I have the same couch. But what I want to tell you is I changed my legs of the couch to a nice round wood leg, about 5″. So now my couch sits higher making it way more comfortable to sit in and it sits off the floor leaving my covers looking crisp and clean at the bottom.

  6. 6
    Kris says:

    Looks beautiful!!!!
    What is the material on your couch and the color?
    They have so many materials and varieties of whites to choose from! I love yours!

    • 6.1
      evystree says:

      Hi Kris! Our fabric is Rachel’s white heavy linen. It’s lovely! My sister has the white denim and she really likes it, but it’s a bit heavy for me. Hope that helps! xoxo

  7. 7
    Diana says:

    So thankful to find this post. In my mind this is what I was going to do to keep my couch (which I just ordered) clean. Well, since I’ve told people all I get is “I’m scared for you” looks LOL. Thanks a million for this.

  8. 8
    Nesreen says:


    Where are your window valances from? I have a bay window and would like to get that look. Also, you’ve totally convinced me to get white slipcovers. Thanks!

    • 8.1
      evystree says:

      Hi! Our valences were from the Simply Shabby Chic line carried in Target about two years ago. I’m not sure they carry them anymore, but I would search Simply Shabby Chic on Target’s website and see if they come up. Hope that helps! I hope you love your slipcovers! :) xoxo

  9. 9
    Robyn says:

    Thank you so much. My husband and I have fallen in love with a linen/ light beige color. Do you have any wisdom on keeping this light, non-white colored slipcover looking nice?

  10. 10
    m posin says:

    I have some 100% cotton slipcovers from Rachel Ashwell in a powder blue color. I have done all the things you suggested to get out the stains but nothing works. How can I use regular bleach to get all the stains out (I don’t mind if they end up white or it shortens the life of the covers).

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