Give your home furniture a lift with attractive and functional slipcovers. Discover what options you have by getting to know the different types of slipcovers available on the market today.
Slipcovers have a long history that started even before the Medieval Age. Slipcovers made of cloth such as white muslin or lightweight canvas were popularly used as furniture covers to protect from rodents, weather exposure, and other elements.
It only became fashionable beginning in the 18th century when English aristocrats commissioned tailors for custom-made slipcovers made of breathable fabrics. Tailors then began to outdo each other as they crafted attractive slipcovers embellished with piping, cords, bows, buttons, and ruffles.
During the 1940s and ’50s, slipcovers made of clear vinyl or plastic became the trend only to be eclipsed in the succeeding years with convenient furniture that didn’t require the protection of slipcovers.
Table of Contents
- A. Types
- B. Care
- C. Features
- D. Design
- E. Material
- F. Attachment Type
- Frequently Asked Questions
- What are furniture slipcovers?
- What types of furniture can you buy slipcovers for?
- Who invented slipcovers?
- When were slipcovers invented?
- Are slipcovers washable?
- Can slipcovers be dry cleaned?
- Are there slipcovers for recliner chairs/sofas?
- Can you machine wash slipcovers?
- What materials are slipcovers made from?
If you have stools in your home for a bar or eat-in kitchen, then you already know that they can get really messy quickly when people spill. The best way to combat this mess is to put on slipcovers that can be easily wiped clean. These often come with sports logos on them, making them ideal in a man cave area, but they can be used in any area of the home. Make sure that they are snug enough on the stool so that the person using the seat will not accidentally slip off.
If you’re unhappy with the way your ottoman looks, then a slipcover is a great way to give it a fresh new look. These come in a variety of colors and fabrics so you can update your living room for very little money. They’re especially beneficial because ottomans tend to get dirty very quickly and easily and they can be removed and washed with very little hassle.
3. Love Seat
You shouldn’t ever try to use a slipcover that is designed for a sofa on a loveseat as it will be much too big, look baggy, and won’t fit right. Make sure that the slipcover you choose for your ottoman is easy to put on as the larger the piece of furniture is, the more unwieldy the slipcover tends to be.
4. Dining Chair
Covering your dining chairs can instantly elevate your dining room and make it look much more impressive and formal. It won’t matter how your dining chairs look when you buy quality slipcovers for them as the slipcover will instantly hide any flaws, staining problems, or chips out of the frame. These are great if you are going to be having a fancy party or event at your home or they can be used for everyday use as long as you buy ones that can be easily laundered.
Give your armchair a new life and a facelift with a great slipcover. These come in a variety of colors and designs and will update your living room and greatly improve the appearance of your home. Whether you have buyer’s remorse about the type of chair you bought or it is secondhand and starting to show wear and tear, a great slipcover can hide a multitude of sins.
When choosing a slipcover for your sofa, you are going to have a lot of choices. One classic look is when all of the cushions are covered in a single piece of fabric. This makes the sofa look very streamlined and modern but is more difficult to clean as the whole slipcover will need to be removed to be washed. Another option is to have all of the cushions covered individually. This is normally something that you have to have custom made but looks very natural in your home and is a lot easier to clean if there is only a small spot on one area of the slipcover.
Even a bench in your home sometimes needs to be refreshed. This is easy to do with a slipcover. No matter where you bench is located in the home and how you use it, from sitting and talking in the bedroom or putting on shoes in the hall, a new slipcover will make it look new again.
Freshen up the bedrooms in your home by adding a splash of color with a headboard slipcover. You can choose from neutral colors that will make the room seem more open and bright or pick something that will give your space a bright pop of color. No matter what you choose, not only will the slipcover become a focal point in the room but it will instantly update the appearance of your bed.
While not as easy to find as other types of slipcovers due to the moving parts in a recliner, these are very beneficial. They are specially made to have allowances for the recliner to move so that the user can still push back and get comfortable while using the chair. Slipcovers made for a stationary chair may fit on the recliner but they are not going to offer the range of movement that you want from your chair, which is why it’s so important to only choose one that is specifically made for a recliner.
Even your futon needs updating from time to time. Choose a slipcover that is easy to put on so that you can remove it to wash it without needing help from anyone else. Also look for one that will fit into the color scheme and overall appearance of your home. The right slipcover won’t be loose, which will make the futon difficult to sit on and sleep on, but won’t be so tight that the futon can’t be bent up into a sofa position.
11. Window Seat
While window seats are one of the most sought-after design elements in the home, if the cushion used doesn’t look clean and taken care of, then the whole area will appear messy and won’t increase the value of the home. While window seat cushions are generally not very dirty and aren’t commonly spilled on, over time, the fabric will fade from the sun.
When this happens, you’ll want to update the look right away so that your cushion looks the best it can. Don’t spend money on a new cushion; simply recover it with a slipcover.
12. Patio Furniture
While not traditional slipcovers because they are not in place while the furniture is being used, outdoor patio slipcovers are important as they keep your furniture protected from the harsh elements. While you can get away with leaving some wood or iron furniture uncovered, anything with cushions or wicker will need to be protected so that you don’t have to buy new furniture on a regular basis. Look for patio furniture slipcovers that are lightweight enough to be handled easily and that have quality Velcro or ties so that they won’t blow away in a strong wind.
1. Machine Wash
One of the major benefits of having a slipcover for your furniture is that it makes it much easier to clean any spots or stains. Instead of having to worry about how you are going to clean the sofa or get the cushions to a cleaner, you can easily remove the slipcover and toss it in the wash. If ease of cleaning is one of the main reasons why you are putting slipcovers on your furniture, then you will want to make sure that the one you choose has this as a care option or you will be stuck getting it professionally cleaned or having to wash it by hand each time it gets dirty.
2. Hand Wash
While you still don’t have to take these slipcovers to be professionally cleaned, they do require a little more care than ones that you can simply through into the washing machine. If you get spots or someone spills on slipcovers that are hand washable, you will have to wash them in the sink or the tub using a soft detergent that won’t damage the fabric. This takes more time and can be very frustrating as most homeowners don’t want to devote their sinks or tubs to the process.
3. Dry Clean Only
While these slipcovers do tend to be made out of more luxurious fabrics than their counterparts that you can easily and quickly wash at home, they are much more difficult to care for. Instead of being able to toss them in the wash to get them clean, you will have to make the effort to take them for professional dry cleaning. You have to decide if that extra effort is worth the appearance of these slipcovers or if you want something that can be more easily cleaned on your own.
4. Spot Clean
Small spots can easily be cleaned off of fabric that can be spot cleaned. Spills or other problems are often wiped away with a damp cloth and a little bit of gentle soap. While you won’t want to scrub too hard on this fabric, it can be removed and washed in the sink if there is a slightly tougher stain. Make sure that you have a soap that is gentle enough to be used on this fabric so you don’t accidentally damage it.
A nice tight slipcover looks amazing and planned. Instead of having excess fabric that you have to tuck into the furniture or that makes the whole piece look untidy, when you opt for a slipcover that is form-fitting, you can rest easy that it will look amazing. These are made of a stretchy fabric that will fit snugly over the piece of furniture so they can be a little tricky to get on the first time but the end result is worth it. Out of all of the types of slipcovers, they are the ones that will look the most natural in your home.
2. Fabric Protection
It’s always a good idea to get fabric that has a little extra protection against spills and stains. It’s inevitable that you are going to spill on your new slipcover and a little extra fabric protection can make the difference in how easily you can get out the stain or if your slipcover is ruined. Not all slipcovers come with this feature so if you live in a busy house with kids or pets, then you will want to specifically look for it to enjoy its extra bit of protection.
3. Slipcover Grip
Source: Home Depot
Strapless slipcovers tend to look much better and more professional than others but you don’t want to have to deal with slipcovers that are shifting position once they are in place. When you choose a slipcover that comes with a grip, then it won’t move, no matter how many times people sit on it and get off again. These slipcovers are great for homes that have many people or that have children who love to play and climb on the furniture.
Skirted slipcovers look very romantic, light, breezy, and airy. They offer full coverage all of the way to the floor, which makes it very easy to hide something under the piece of furniture without anyone knowing that you’re using it for storage space. While some people don’t like the way that they look because they can make a piece of furniture appear more bulky and heavy, depending on the fabric that you choose, they can actually give an appearance of the furniture being lighter weight. Neutral colors and whites are perfect for giving your furniture this appearance.
One of the main reasons why many people opt for slipcovers on their furniture is to protect it from their pets. These slipcovers are going to be a little sturdier than others and will offer protection not only from the fur and smell of the dog or cat living in your home but also their claws. This ensures that the furniture isn’t damaged in any way when they get up to snuggle. These slipcovers are almost always machine washable so you don’t have to worry about getting them professionally cleaned when they are covered with fur.
There is no better way to guarantee that your slipcover will fit your furniture perfectly than buying one that is custom made. This involves taking the measurements of your furniture and then choosing the fabric that you want but when the slipcover is completed, it will look perfect. There won’t be any problems with the fabric sagging or looking too large as it will be cut to exact size. These do tend to be more expensive but the improvement in appearance is worth it to many people.
One piece slipcovers make the piece look modern and put together. They are fairly easy and fast to put on since there aren’t multiple pieces to put together. Of course, if there is a spill on the slipcover, then the whole thing has to be removed in order to be cleaned.
Two-piece slipcovers are fairly common for chairs as having the ability to tighten two pieces of the same slipcover makes it easier to get a tighter and more natural-looking fit.
3. Furniture Throw
Source: Home Depot
While these do not fit the furniture perfectly the way that slipcovers do and don’t offer protection all down the sides and back of the piece, they still are a great way to easily and quickly protect your furniture from damage. They are incredibly easy to put on the furniture and to take back off and are ideal for the elderly because they are so easily handled.
This is one of the most common slipcover fabrics available and for good reason. While not as soft as pure cotton, it is incredibly forgiving. It’s easy to wash, doesn’t wrinkle, and is very comfortable to sit on. Polyester is a great choice for most families because of these reasons.
2. Faux Leather
It’s possible to achieve an upscale look with a slipcover and faux leather is the best way to do that. While you will be hard-pressed to find a faux leather slipcover for your sofa or loveseat, you can usually find them for your ottoman, pillows, or bed. They add a touch of elegance and class to your room without being overwhelming.
Source: Home Depot
Microfiber has become very popular because of how forgiving it is. While some people aren’t terribly fond of its appearance, it is so easy to wipe clean when there are spills that it is worth a second look. These slipcovers are ideal in busy homes, especially ones where the family likes to sit on the furniture and eat or drink.
When you want very luxurious fabric in your home, then you will want to choose velvet. These slipcovers are fun to sit on, kids love the way that they feel, and they will instantly update your home and make it appear a little more upscale. Look for velvet that is in deep jewel or earth tones as this will make the fabric appear even more rich than it actually is.
Cotton slipcovers are very soft and look very inviting for people to sit on and enjoy. They come in a variety of colors and patterns and are very versatile. These slipcovers can generally be cleaned in your washing machine and won’t require professional cleaning unless they have been very badly stained. While they may not hold their shape as well as other fabrics will, they will make up for that in how comfortable they are.
Linen always looks great, neutral, and fresh. Take advantage of this by using slipcovers made of linen. While they will tend to wrinkle more than other fabrics, many people think that this is part of the charm of linen.
These slipcovers are incredibly comfortable and have a very distinct look. While they may be out of place in an ordinary living room, they are a great way to take the space from boring to glam. Make sure that if you opt for suede, you are aware of the cleaning commitment as many people may not be willing to put as much effort into cleaning these slipcovers as is necessary.
F. Attachment Type
Elastic slipcovers are easy to use and, as long as you measured correctly, should fit your furniture fairly well. The problem with these slipcovers is when you did not do a good job measuring, then they will either be too tight and will tear around the seams or much too large and will be baggy. Careful measurements are important as is care as you do not want to damage the elastic.
Slipcovers that are tied on are not going to be as tight or have a sleek look the way that elastic ones will but they are much easier to get perfect. You won’t have to worry about baggy areas with these slipcovers as you can simply cinch the fabric tighter and then tie it in place. Over time, the knots may come loose and have to be retied but this is very simple to do and a good tradeoff for a great-looking slipcover.
3. Zipper Closure
Being able to zip your cushions into the slipcover means that they will be individually covered and will look great. You won’t have to worry about them sliding down behind the slipcover and being uncomfortable when you have the option to pick them up and move them around. Slipcovers with zippers usually fit really well.
4. Hook and Loop Fastener
Throw slipcovers aren’t normally just tossed onto the furniture. They are generally attached with hook and loops. This holds them in place so you don’t have to worry about them slipping and makes it incredibly easy to take them off to clean them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are answers to commonly asked questions about slipcovers.
What are furniture slipcovers?
A slipcover, or loose cover in its simplest form, is a protective cover that slips on and off furniture typically to help prevent original upholstery from getting soiled or stained. Think of them as giant antimacassars or a bodysuit for your furniture. Another familiar use for slipcovers is in the catering business when there is the need to have all 350 chairs in the banquet room wearing the same gown so to speak. In the same vein, slipcovers allow you to make your odd pieces in a room uniform or to refresh your choice of furniture fabrics without going through the expense of complete re-upholstery.
What types of furniture can you buy slipcovers for?
Since slipcovers are considered clothing for furniture, there really is no limit as to what you can cover. You can either have them tailored to suit your needs or there are countless pre-made furniture garments available for club chairs, parsons-style or wing chairs, sofas, couches, bar stools or ottomans. They can be made to fit directly over the entire chair or tailored to fit specifically over the cushions. There are also slipcovers designed for headboards, footboards or an entire bed frame. There are slipcovers for coffee tables, accent tables or even for those half-round demi-lunes. Slipcovering tables and placing a piece of fitted glass over the top gives you a proper working surface for a variety of tasks.
Who invented slipcovers?
It is not so much a matter of who specifically invented slipcovers as much as it was the necessity for them. It was common practice in the 1900s to pack up the estate before retreating to the seashore for the summer. Using a lightweight slipcover on the summer furniture protected the upholstery from dirt and sweat, but it also proved to be much more comfortable than the heavy, woven upholstery brocades and damasks. This spurred a cottage industry with tailors earning the nickname “summertime millionaires” for all the custom slipcovers they were making to order.
When were slipcovers invented?
Slipcovers actually have a long history going back to medieval times when they were used to protect furniture that was not used very often. It was usually a lightweight canvas that was used to cover furnishings to protect them from dust, the elements and from attracting rodents. By the 18th century, this practice had evolved to custom-made slip coverings made from breathable fabrics that the rich English ladies would buy. The competition among tailors naturally led to such attractive adornments as ruffles, piping, cording, buttons and bows. This fashionable display carried through the Victorian Era as styles changed with the times.
Are slipcovers washable?
Many slipcovers are washable, but you should check the cleaning instructions that pertain to your slipcovers before you consider just tossing them into the machine. While some are machine washable, most linen slipcovers are dry-clean only. You may be dealing with contrasting welt in the fabric, meaning there are multiple fabrics used to make the slipcovers. If this is so, you want to test an area that is not too immediately visible in case colors bleed into each other. It is the best practice to go by what the instructions that came from the manufacturer indicate for non-washable fabrics.
Can slipcovers be dry cleaned?
Most slipcovers are intended as dry-clean only. This is the best protection against shrinking and color bleed. If this is the case with your slipcovers, locate a dry cleaner or professional upholstery cleaning company. They have what is needed to spot clean as well as clean the slipcovers while still on the frame. In this way, they retain their fit even if there should be some shrinking. You should have a fabric code that came with the product from the manufacturer that you can give to your dry-cleaning professional so they may follow the prescribed guidelines for cleaning.
Are there slipcovers for recliner chairs/sofas?
There are indeed slipcovers for both recliner chairs and sofas. They tend to be four-part covers that give you a protective back, seat and the two arms. They also come as one-piece slipcovers that completely cover your chair and sofa. Since these chairs are usually the ones that get the most use, they can get dirty-looking and worn out faster than other chairs and sofas. These covers are typically held in place to the seat base with adjustable elastic straps and a clip system. A full slip-on style of slipcover goes over the entire recliner using elastane so it hugs to curves and fits like a glove.
Can you machine wash slipcovers?
It is advisable to check the cleaning instructions before you assume your slipcovers are machine washable. While any upholstered fabrics are machine washable in cold water without causing any harm, a quick check to be sure they are not dry-clean only is a safe step to take. Some fabrics can safely go in the washing machine but may be air-dry only or okay for the dryer as long as it is set on a low temperature. Even if they are washable, you can still have them cleaned professionally if you prefer.
What materials are slipcovers made from?
There is a wide range of fabrics used to make slipcovers today. Interior designers have helped drive the market to go from clear vinyl or plastic to include such materials as jacquard, quilted slipcovers, textured pique, cozy twill, microfiber, deep pile velvet, stretch suede, faux fur, stretch or vintage leather, faux mink, stretch mid-weight corduroy, comfort memory foam, micro-fleece, soft suede and Sherpa and more. The popularity of different styles, as well as the desire to have more serviceable material such as stretchable fabric or poly-blends, have helped to broaden your choices of fabrics. You have the freedom to choose the very casual shabby-chic style or the form-fitting elastane where you can’t even tell it is a slipcover.
Home Stratosphere is an award-winning home and garden online publication that’s a result of our talented researchers and writers who work directly with hundreds of professional interior designers, furniture designers, landscape designers and architects from around the world to create helpful, informative, entertaining and inspiring articles and design galleries.