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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Bleach and Slipcovers

By Dr. Laundry December 30, 2011

Q:  Can I use Clorox® Regular-Bleach on a slipcover that’s not solid white? I don’t mind if the bleach lightens the fabric, it’s just so soiled that I want it brighter.

A:  If the slipcover is cotton or cotton/polyester, then you can wash it with Clorox® Regular-Bleach.  Here are some other considerations for how you can proceed.

1.  Wash in hot water using a good detergent and ¾ cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach.

2.  If the slipcover is very dirty, start by soaking the entire slipcover (and any cushion covers) fully submerged in a bleach solution of ¼ cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach per gallon of water for 5 minutes.  Drain the soaking solution and then wash as described above.

3.  Avoid shrinkage—keep it out of the dryer.  Instead, put it back on the couch before it dries.  This is especially important for cushion covers, which need to be stretched over the cushions while still damp or they won’t fit back on again.

4.  If the slipcover is made of nylon or rayon, I would still expect it to be bleachable, but I would confirm this first with a bleachability test:  add 2 teaspoons bleach to ¼ cup water and apply a drop of this solution to a less-visible part of the slipcover.  Wait 1 minute and then blot dry—any color change will give you an idea what to expect if you bleach it.  In fact you may even want to do this if the slip cover is made of cotton, and you may also want to check any topstitching thread to see if that will shift color when bleached.

5.  If you decide you don’t want to use bleach on the slipcover, then I would try an overnight pre-soak using Powdered Clorox2® Stain Remover and Color Booster.  Use 1 scoop per 2 gallons of very hot water—make sure the powder has completely dissolved and then add the slip cover to the soaking solution.  Make sure it is fully submerged (weight it down if you need to) and let it sit overnight or up to 8 hours.  Drain the soaking solution and then wash in hot water using detergent and more Clorox2®.  Air dry as described above.