How to wash couch cushion covers

Experts share how to wash couch cushion covers to give your living room an instant refresh

White L-shape couch with orange cushions and black table with plants
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Learn how to wash couch cushion covers to give your living room an instant refresh. If you can't remember when you last cleaned your couch cushions, that means it's probably time now to get cracking.

While it might sound like a specialist clean, there's no need for fancy equipment. It's easier than you think to wash your couch cushions at home without taking them to the dry cleaners, and our four-step guide makes this task a cinch.

We asked cleaning experts for advice on the best ways to do laundry. See how to get your couch looking as good as new.

How to wash couch cushion covers in four steps

Once you have all your laundry room essentials stocked up (we always make sure we have Tide Free & Gentle detergent, available on Amazon on hand) it's actually pretty easy to wash couch cushion covers by hand or in the washing machine, depending on the material.

You'll want to avoid cleaning a leather couch with this method though, as leather should not be exposed to water. 

Close up of neutral couch and cushions

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Step 1: check the care label

Before washing anything, you'll want to check the care label. The laundry symbols will explain what products to use and what temperature you should set the machine to. 

"Before washing any fabric, always check the care label on the cushion
covers for specific instructions from the manufacturer. This will indicate
the recommended water temperature, cycle type, and any other special
considerations," says Angela Rubin, a cleaning expert from Hellamaid.

Angela Rubin, cleaning expert at HellaMaid
Angela Rubin

Angela Rubin works at Hellamaid, a top-rated cleaning company in Canada. Hellamaid are industry experts specializing in residential and commercial cleaning services.

Step 2: prep the cushion covers

Once you've pulled the cushion covers off the sofa, turn them inside to avoid snags in the machine. 

"If the cushion covers have zippers, buttons, or other fastenings, be sure to close them before washing to prevent damage to the fabric. If possible, remove any removable inserts or padding from the covers before washing," Angela explains.

It's also important to remove stains from a couch to get it looking clean. If you eat meals on the couch, remove food stains and shake off any crumbs (or loose popcorn kernels from movie night!). We recommend using Miss Mouth's stain treater from Amazon to get rid of tough stains.

Hashi Mohamed
Hashi Mohamed

Hashi Mohamed is the president of Ivy Cleans, a premier cleaning and lifestyle solutions company based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Specializing in cleaning, organizing, and promoting a holistic lifestyle, it is passionate about transforming spaces into clean, organized, and vibrant environments.  

Step 3: wash on a gentle cycle

It's always best to use a gentle cycle if you're unsure how they'll hold up in the wash. "Set your washing machine to a gentle cycle with cold water and add a
small amount of mild detergent. Avoid using bleach or harsh chemicals, as
these can damage the fabric and cause colors to fade," says Angela. 

Step 4: air dry

Don't stick your couch cushion covers in the dryer as the heat may warp the shape. Once the wash cycle is complete, remove the covers promptly and avoid wringing them out, as this can damage the fabric. 

"Instead, gently squeeze out excess water and reshape the covers if needed," says Hashi. "Finally, air-dry the covers away from direct sunlight or heat sources to prevent shrinkage or damage."

If you're wondering how to dry clothes in a small space, you may want to use a drying rack like this white Amazon Basics rack with over 60k reviews.

Put the covers back on the cushion when they're about 80% dry. The slight moisture will help shape them back into place.


Can I hand wash couch cushion covers?

While it may require a little more elbow grease, you can hand-wash cushion covers instead. Fill a basin, like this collapsible basin from Amazon, with soapy water to soak them in. 

"Place the cushion covers in the soapy water and gently agitate them with your hands to loosen dirt and grime. Pay special attention to any stained or soiled areas, using a soft-bristled brush or cloth to gently scrub the fabric," says Angela.

With these simple but great laundry hacks, it's actually easier than you may think to wash your couch cushion covers in the washing machine. Just avoid making any common laundry mistakes like using bleach in the laundry when the material isn't suited for it by checking the care label. 

Emily Lambe
Deputy Editor

Hey! I’m Emily and I’m the deputy digital editor at Real Homes. I’m here to bring you the latest decor trends, inspirational ideas and the best budget-friendly buys. I live in a rented apartment, making the most of small spaces and using accent pieces to make things pop. When I’m not writing, I’m usually doing yoga, eating chocolate or working on my skincare routine.