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Should I be washing my cushion covers by myself? This question comes up all the time from our customers. It's a very easy thing to do. You notice your sofa cushions are a little dingy (which is perfectly normal with kids, pets, and normal usage). So you decide that washing cushion covers in the washing machine or even by hand in the sink would be a relatively easy task.

After washing, they come out looking nice. But, you notice a little problem...The colors aren't as bright as they used to be, and it takes a lot of effort to get the covers back over the foam cushions themselves. In fact, for one or more of the cushions you can't even get them zipped up all the way.

The reason you are not really satisfied with your efforts is because do-it-yourself washing cushion covers like normal laundry is not the way they were designed. So why do they have zippers? The real reason is zippers are there totally for the convenience of the furniture manufacturing company or the upholsterer.


Below are important points to consider if you are tempted to go about washing cushion covers by yourself:

  1. When washing cushion covers, there is some danger of fabric shrinkage and dye loss. Once this happens, there is not much you or anyone else  can do to fix it.
  2. Shrinkage typically occurs more often in the dryer, so if you are temped to wash your own cushion covers, hang them to dry. Unfortunately, there will still be some risk of shrinkage.
  3. Dyes are funny things. The dyes on your favorite t-shirts are pretty tough and durable and will last a long time but on upholstery they can bleed or fade.
  4. Putting cushion covers in the laundry can also cause problems with the integrity of the fabric, such as any latex backing that could be present. Delamination, the separation of the face fiber and backing, can occur.


Cleaning codes on upholstered furniture can give good clues about the type of cleaning that can be used on a fabric. Cleaning codes are listed on some upholstered items, usually on the decking under the cushions.

These codes help identify the type of cleaning process recommended by the manufacturers to be used on the fabrics. (Please note: do not confuse this with the white 'do not remove' tag found on many pieces. This tag describes the inside stuffing of the item, not the fabric covering). Beware: While the codes serve as a general guideline for cleaning, they may not always be the optimum solution.

Four common codes can be listed by manufacturers which represent cleaning instructions and colorfastness of dyes:

  • 'S' code assures that dyes are stable to dry (solvent-based) spotters or cleaners. These should be cleaned with a dry-cleaning solvent method.
  • 'W' code means the dyes are stable to water-based spotters and cleaners. 
  • 'W/S' signifies dyes are stable to water or solvent-based spotters or cleaners. 
  • 'X' code indicates dyes are not stable to either water or solvent-based spotters or cleaners and should only be thoroughly vacuumed on a regular basis.

You cannot safely dry-clean by yourself in your home if that is the code you find or if you suspect dry cleaning may be the way to go. At ABC we have sophisticated machinery that allows for safe dry-cleaning in a home environment.

We can come to your home to clean your upholstered furniture or you can bring your furniture to us or take advantage of our pick up and delivery service. Do not remove your cushion covers! We always clean the cushions with the covers on so if there should be any shrinkage, it will be uniform throughout.

There are certain specialized types of upholstery fabric that need special attention during and after the cleaning. We will always suggest the cleaning take place in our plant if this should be the case with your upholstery fabric. If we have explained to you that your particular piece of upholstery needs to be cleaned in our plant, we have done so for both your protection as well as ours.

Whether your furniture needs wet or dry cleaning, we can provide it, usually in your home and if necessary, in our plant. Small items such as removable patio and boat cushions are best cleaned in our plant.


When you have ABC clean your upholstered furniture, we can also provide after cleaning treatments to help with problems such as dust mites and to minimize the effect of spills and spots between cleanings.


Upholstered furnishings can accumulate soil rapidly due to oils, dander, and soil from contact with human and animal skin and hair.

Dander and soil can be removed by vacuuming the furniture regularly. Areas that receive heavy soiling are typically cushions, arm rests, skirtings, and headrests. Frequent attention to these areas will reduce the chances of excess soiling.

Rotating cushions and utilizing arm covers and/or head covers will prevent premature wear and prolong the fabric's life. A professional cleaning and the application of a stain protector after the cleaning will assure your upholstery will be protected from permanent damage from any accidental spills and spots.

Spots and spills should be addressed as soon after they occur as possible using only the proper spotting compounds and procedures. Please call our office for information on proper spotting methods for upholstery at (607) 272-1566. You may also contact us here.

If you are looking for an upholstery fabric that will work well in a home with pets, please read our article, Pet Friendly Upholstery Fabric.

Leather upholstery cleaning, as well as types of leather upholstery and general maintenance of each is discussed in Leather Upholstery Cleaning.


Unfortunately, most manufacturers of upholstered furniture give little consideration to the fact the fabric will ever be cleaned. Because of this, we cannot guarantee the results. There can be no guarantee regarding shrinkage, fugitive colors, fabric separation, change in texture, or any resulting unforeseen problems occurring from soil resistant treatments and conditions which cannot be anticipated as well as any problems that may arise from previous cleanings over which we had no control.


If you have any questions about the cleanability of your upholstered furniture or any other questions about washing cushion covers, do not hesitate to call or email us. Our phone number is 607-272-1566 and we are in the office from 8 to 5 Monday through Thursday and from 8 to 4:30 on Fridays. We are also open from 10 to 1 on Saturdays for your convenience.

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ABC Oriental Rug & Carpet Cleaning Co.
130 Cecil Malone Drive Ithaca, NY 14850


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Did you know that our ABC Responsible Care Spotter can get those pesky spots out of your carpet and rugs and will work equally as well on your clothes and upholstery?

Stop by our office and pick one up.  They are $5.00 + Tax but if you have carpets or upholstery cleaned in your home or business, just request a free one from your Technician.

And don't forget to fill out the form above to download your free ABC Spotting Guide!  

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Spotting Guide

Learn how to remove spots with ordinary household solutions

Sign up below to gain access to your complementary Spotting Guide from ABC.

Registering your email address guarantees you will be notified whenever discount savings coupons become available.