Last year we purchased a sectional sofa with clean lines and best of all, removable and washable upholstery. Even though the tag said it was ok to do so, we were still shy about using our washer to get things clean. Curiosity won in the end, so we tossed them in — said a silent prayer — and hit start!
We originally purchased our ridiculously large sofa (over 15 feet total!) from a dealer in KC, just before the holiday season last year. Since then we've moved lofts, had flooding and an influx of slime and grime from not only our previous building, but both of our dogs and normal wear and tear as well.
We chose this particular grey shade intentionally to keep the appearance of dirt and staining away. It's actually done an amazing job at hiding the occasional muddy paw print that we didn't really didn't know just how dirty the covers really were. Yes, even Apartment Therapy Editors accumulate dirt occasionally — though we're still not positive Martha Stewart does.
The tag on our fabric was imprinted with a "W" implying it could be cleaned with water. Make sure to read up on the different upholstery codes before tossing your fabrics in the wash! We unzipped all of our pillows and un-velcro-ed the panels that covered the body of the sofa. We used our regular detergent on our silk/satin setting, which means the water stayed warm (not hot) and the load didn't spin at as fast of revolutions per minute. (Note: Our washer isn't a moon, it's really a space station!)
They looked great after the wash cycle and against out better judgement *gasp* put the pieces in the dryer! We checked on them every 10 minutes to make sure they were doing ok and they finished their drying time on low heat/delicates to ensure nothing funny happened.
We vacuumed off our pillow inserts, don't ask us how they already managed to get dog hair on them and slid the covers back on. Since more than one load was required, we got a good look at the difference between the post and pre-washed fabrics. I wouldn't have told you they were dirty before we started and didn't have the guts to post a comparison photo when all was said and done! Some things are best left off the internet!
So make sure you take the time to clean your upholstery, even if it can't be thrown in the wash as easily as ours, it's a great way to reduce allergens in the home and stay on top of things and will keep furniture looking like new! Don't forget to check our archives if you need tips on cleaning a specific fabric or stain.