Last fall we bought an IKEA Ektorp sofa. At $399, it was a steal.
Or so I thought.
If you’re unfamiliar with this classic IKEA sofa, here’s what you need to know: you buy your sofa base and choose your own slipcover from a dozen or so options. I had planned to get beige slipcovers, but they were sold out. Since we live 120 miles from IKEA, popping in a few days later to pick one up wasn’t an option. So we went with white.
Before you tell me I’m crazy (four kids and a dog!) let me explain: I’d done my due diligence. I’d read many blog posts (like here, here, and here) from busy moms who love their white Ektorp sofas, and who swore they’re not hard to maintain.
If you read those posts (and the other Ektorp reviews online), you’ll notice a common thread: the people who love their white couches wash their slipcovers all. the. time. (Typical recommendations are to wash weekly or every other week.)
We’ve now had our Ektorp sofa for four months. It’s comfy. It looks great.
The maintenance routine looks like this: I strip the slipcovers from the base and the couch’s six cushions. I wash them in two separate loads (even though I have a front-loader, it’s a bit much for one load). I dry each load separately to 60 % or so and s-t-r-e-t-c-h the covers back onto the frame and cushions. (I hate that last part.)
The sofa looks best when I wash the slipcovers every week, but I don’t wash weekly unless we’re having guests or somebody spills something. It looks pretty good with every other week, and I can stretch it to three if I need to. But that’s still way more time than I want to spend maintaining a couch.
I have found a few things that make the maintenance a bit easier:
Folex. My mom gifted me my first bottle of this nontoxic instant stain remover, and it’s amazing. When I spilled red wine (sad but true) on the arm of the sofa, the Folex made it disappear. Miracle. (My kids have rules about where they can and cannot have snack, yet I’m the one always spilling wine and coffee everywhere. Anne may mean “graceful” but it doesn’t always fit.)
Biokleen laundry powder. This product relies on grapefruit seed and orange extract for cleaning power, and I love its fresh, subtle smell. My favorite part of washing the slipcovers is the way the whole living room smells when they’re newly cleaned. We use Biokleen because my girls and I have sensitive skin, but the important thing is to choose a detergent you really like the smell of–because the smell will permeate the whole room on that first day.
Biokleen oxygen bleach. I use this in every load to brighten and whiten. Similar to OxiClean but I prefer this brand.
Bleach. No, it’s not gentle, but I bleach the slipcovers every 3 washes or so to get rid of the dinginess that comes with having 4 kids and a dog (and a mom who sloshes her coffee).
I like my sofa. I love the look of the white. And I know I can buy new slipcovers or dye the ones I have or cover the couch with blankets to protect it. But what I really want is to not be high-maintenance about my furniture.
My sofa may have been cheap, but I can’t believe how much it’s costing me. This thing should have come with a maid.
IKEA furniture: tell us all about yours in comments.