project : white slipcover

alright. i love white couches. i love white linens generally. so crisp and clean and fresh. i love the blankness of white, too: the opportunities they afford to change your color palette at a moment’s notice by simply switching up the throw pillows, the wall color, the art on the walls, the dishes. mmmm. white. 

i actually had a little flashback remembrance today to a time in my early adolescence in which i was distinctly focused on the dream of one day having my own house that would be all sorts of white on white, with splashes of color here and there. though i departed from that dream for most of the college and grad school years — preferring during that time to use bold wall colors and lots of rich colors — i am apparently coming full circle. 

but white slip covers (and yes, they DO need to be slipcovers because they MUST be washable!) are expensive, it turns out. like, over $300 for ONE custom-made one like the  two-piece, custom-made beauty that would have been my first choice. in the end, however, i realized that the day would probably never come when i would feel at liberty with my conscience to spend that much money on a slipcover, even if i did ever find myself suddenly with $600 of expendable income. and so i began to look into other ways to accomplish my vision. 

one day recently i found a sale at Surefit.net. SureFit sells ready-made slipcovers and lots of them are ugly. and they are cheap as far as slipcovers go. and they had one for T-cushion sofas (that’s what we have, and they are harder to find slipcovers for) in a “natural” color, 100% cotton. i ordered one for the sofa and one for the loveseat, since they sale was Buy One, Get One 30% off, and reasoned that i could probably bleach them to white with minimal effort. total cost: $129, including shipping. that’s more like it!

enter a season of lots of trial and error on test swatches of fabric. the result was some sort of yellow-ish tone that really wasn’t at all what i had in mind. 

however, i ended up going for it on the entire love seat cover, modifying the plan a bit from my test runs, based on logic and some reading. and i crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. 

here is the final color comparison. original “natural” on the left, new “white[-ish]” on the right. 

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and here, for those who are interested in the nitty gritty, is the exact process of how i accomplished it:

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1. i prewashed the slipcover in natural detergent, warm wash. i reasoned the a pre-wash might soften and prepare the fibers for the bleach treatment. 

2. i set the washing machine for a warm, medium-size load and poured in a large container of concentrated Clorox. this ended up creating a roughly mixture of 4 parts water to 1 part bleach. then I put the slipcover (still damp from the wash) into the mixture.

3. i left the lid of the machine open so as let the slipcover soak. I left it to soak for 10 hours, occasionally putting the machine into agitate mode again to stir things up.

4. after 10 hours, i close the machine lid so that the wash cycle would proceed to drain and rinse and spin. then i ran another light water-only wash cycle on it. 

5. i dried the slipcover almost entirely in the dryer. 

6. i repeated step 2, but this time i used the Gentle Clorox, Free-and-Clear variety, and i had to use two smaller-size jugs because it doesn’t seem to be available in a larger jug. 

7. i left the machine open again and allowed the slipcover to soak for 7 hours. this time it got really frothy and foamy in there. very interesting, and i’m not sure why. 

8. after 7 hours, i close the lid and allowed the wash cycle to complete itself. then i ran another water-only warm wash. 

9. did a full, warm wash cycle with the natural detergent and rinsed it twice. 

10. i put the slipcover (now twice bleached and twice washed) into the drier to dry. 

11. next i set up a normal, warm-water wash using Mrs. Stewart’s Bluing Agent, because i was hoping to get the yellow tones out. i followed the instructions on the bottle for this, which meant putting in about 1/4 tsp of Mrs. Stewarts, plus the usual amount of the same natural detergent i’d been using through the same process. no soaking this time, just a normal wash cycle. 

12. i dried the slipcover.

after all of this, it looks good enough to me, so i tried it on the love seat. the cover definitely has shrunk a bit, but that is sorta good, because now it’s a tighter fit. the color is not TRUE white, but it is close enough that i can still work with it, if i drop my perfectionism. 🙂

because i went this route, i saved probably a few hundred dollars. i guess i’d say it’s worth it!

now onward to do the sofa cover… 

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