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It’s kind of embarrassing how easy this was considering it took me at least 3 years to work up the courage to actually do it. Here’s the steps I took to dye our sofa slipcover (though I’m sure there are other ways to do this as well). We bought this Crate & Barrel sofa for an amazing deal on Craigslist about 5 years ago. You can find the slipcovers for it but they cost $700-$900 yikes! This cover was stained, ripped and did I mention stained? Sharpie, food (2 boys and 2 dogs need I say more?)

How to dye a sofa slipcover

I went with Rit liquid dye based on what I could get that day. This was one of those projects you all of the sudden get the courage to do so Amazon wasn’t going to work fast enough for me 😉 Here in Phoenix Joann’s, Michaels and Fry’s came through for me (I had to visit several stores). My first dye bath was with 2 Pearl Grey and 1 Jet Black. Here are the steps I took:

  • Wash covers completely  – leave wet. (I didn’t let it go through the full spin cycle so that it didn’t create creases.)
  • Use Rit color remover according to package. For me I did 2 loads – 1 with all cushion covers and 1 with the back cover using 3 packages in each load on extra large again leaving wet.
  • Fill washer up with hot water (making sure the fabric can move freely) and add dye to the water along with 1 cup of salt dissolved in about 4 cups of hot water.
  • Add covers to washer and agitate for 40 minutes. I set a timer to go off every 10 minutes so I could start the “heavy” cycle over since my washer didn’t have a timer. Once the 40 minutes were over I let it run through the complete cycle with extra rinse.
  • Wash covers with laundry soap and extra rinse again.
  • Dry most of the way in the dryer and put on the cushions when slightly damp to avoid wrinkles.

This first bath didn’t get as deep and dark as I wanted. I also noticed how very blue it was. I could have decided to add some tan in to warm it up some more but I decided to just go with the blue. You can still see some stripes in this one which made me decide to go ahead with another dye bath.

How to dye a sofa slipcoverThis time I used 2 blacks and 1 grey per load and I let it soak for 50 minutes (as well as then finishing that cycle) so a bit longer than the first time.

How to dye a sofa slipcoverI really am happy with the way it turned out. We’re still testing it out for color stay and bleeding properties but haven’t had any issues yet and there’s been a very light tan blanket on it from the boys most of the time and haven’t had any issues.

aftm-diy-dyed-sofa-3Here’s an iPhone photo in different lighting which takes out some of the blue

How to dye a sofa slipcoverEither way it saved this sofa for a little while and for a LOT less money than buying a new slipcover.

Tips: Check on the washer to make sure everything is submerged and moving freely, if you need to move anything around use gloves. Rinse well a couple of times if you want to just make sure! Rit also makes a color stay product so once I decide if I’m going to attempt to change the color or this or not I’ll probably use that. Also make sure you know what material your fabric is – this one was canvas(cotton).

 

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Author

Allison Waken is the founder, writer, photographer, and content creator of All for the Memories and All for the Boys.

40 Comments

  1. Hello! I am wanting to die my couches, actually the exact same couch and cover you have, and I’m curious if you use three bottles of dye per wash, One wash with the bass and one wash with the cushions, or did you put them all in with three bottles?
    Thank you!

  2. Hi, I would like to die my red slip covers black or blue, I don’t have a washer like yours however, so I am wondering, can i achieve the same thing using a large bucket? or what alternatives do you think I should use?

    • AllisonWaken Reply

      Yes you could, you’d just want to make sure it’s big enough to really move around the fabric so that the dye can get to ever spot evenly. A container too small will make the dye work unevenly. I have heard of some people doing it in their bathtubs (lining it with plastic to make sure it doesn’t stain). A big trash can like bucket should work fine though!

  3. Kathleen Ahern Reply

    I’m doing the same thing, I have a Crate & Barrel sleeper sofa that is sunburnt…. so determined to dye it asap!

  4. Hi, I have the same crate & barrel couch as you do expect mine is white, anyway I want to dye it exactly like yours. Did you use any blue dye to achieve the deep blue look? Or did you just use black and pearl grey?

    • AllisonWaken Reply

      I didn’t use any blue, the combo of black and pearl gray made it blue. I’m guessing the grey has heavy blue undertones.

  5. Hi me again 🙂 also did you put the whole couch covers in the wash together? Or separate loads? And do you think I can use a front loading washer?

    • AllisonWaken Reply

      No I did the main cover in one batch and all the cushion covers in another. I have no idea on the front loading washer since I’m not familiar with them. Sorry!

  6. Hi, looks great, I’m actually wanting to dye an Ikea cover for a futon we have. Looks like we have the same washer, I’m just a bit wary of putting the dye in the washer in case it stains the inside or something. Did you do anything to prevent that or did you just run a couple of empty cycles with normal cleaning detergent to get the inside of your washing machine clean?
    Thanks
    Jess

    • AllisonWaken Reply

      I didn’t do anything extra, just made sure to take it out right away. I did run the wash with washer cleaner (just picked up at the store) and then when I was ready to try a load I did some old towels just to make sure!

  7. Dawn Salucci Reply

    Allison,
    Thank you for this info.i have a blue denim slipcover sofa, actually 2 of them.
    I want to dye them, I’m unable to get replacements in my size.
    How did you find your perfect colors? Will they work on denim? I’m doing a lot of pieces,
    12 cushions , 2 bases and 4 throw pillows.
    A lil intimating . Any more hints?
    So to understand wash everything first in a landray Detergent , leave wet, dye , salt warm water, detergent again? Light dry? Seal? I’m confusing myself. Help?
    Do you think they’ll a dye the same?
    I really appreciate you
    Sharing this.
    Thanks,
    Dawn

    • AllisonWaken Reply

      I think it really depends on the size of your washer and the fabric. I did mine in 2 batches the base and 4 large cushions. Yes your steps sound right to me! You can always check the website of the dye you’re using too, they may have some different steps or suggestions with the fabric you’re using. As for the colors it’s really hit or miss. I was dyeing over other colors so I’m sure that came into play as well. I was actually looking for a dark grey but got more of a blue so I think if you set yourself up not looking for a perfect color match you’ll be ok 😉 I was worried about my base and cushions being the same color and they came out great!

    • AllisonWaken Reply

      I’m not sure about that! You’d probably still be able to make out the design no matter how much you dyed it but you could probably lessen the contrast for sure.

  8. Alison Fogarty Reply

    I am wondering what the cover looked like after you used the color remover. I have a khaki colored couch and I am wondering if I use the color remover alone if it would come out cream or just a much faded khaki.? . If you did this again would you skip the color remover process and just overdye? I don’t have a particular final color in mind but I do know that a base color will alter the final color and I would like to take that into consideration before i choose the dye. Your post has been super helpful, THANK YOU!

    • AllisonWaken Reply

      It actually didn’t change a whole lot which is why stripes are still visible when you really light up the fabric. It sort of stripped out some color but not all – mostly muting the color a bit. The cream looked pretty much the same. That’s a great question though, I feel like it did help even out the color tones a bit. I think the stripes would be more dramatic afterwards if I hadn’t done the color remover process but I’m not sure it really did a whole lot either. You’re right the base color will definitely alter that final color so in my case I think it’s more even because of the color remover.

  9. Stacy Meek Reply

    Wondering if I can bleach a slip cover to be white? It’s gold now. Hmmm?

    • AllisonWaken Reply

      I’m sure that all depends on the fabric, but I bet you could try. I’d just make sure to agitate it enough to get bleach evenly everywhere so you don’t have spots! Let us know if you decide to try it.

  10. i tried to dye my tan slipcovers black and they came out blue. any suggestions?

    • AllisonWaken Reply

      Did you use a color fixative? I know that helps along with making sure the water is as hot as possible. It may take a couple of times depending on the fabric. Black is tough if it wasn’t dark to begin with! Good luck and let me know if you are able to get it to the color you want. I’d love to know what you did!

  11. Ashley Moore Reply

    Hi! I am wanting to do this exact thing to my couch. My couch is currently cream colored (with the everyday stains of crazy dogs and spills). Do you think I would still need to use the color remover?

    • AllisonWaken Reply

      Probably not, but if the stains are dark you might want to try to lighten them first, if they aren’t too bad you’re probably ok! If you want to be thorough you could use the color remover to see how it goes. I always figured I’d just dye it again if I messed up 😉

  12. Hi
    My sofa and loveseat are not canvas. They are somewhat close to looking like velvet, but they are not velvet, just upholstered. Do you think they could be dyed?

    • AllisonWaken Reply

      I’m not sure! Do you have a small throw pillow cover you could try to dye without doing the whole covers?

  13. Hi….I am dying a white couch cover an aqua color….but i have a washing machine that is a water saver so if nothing is in it it won’t fill up with any water…so i’m looking at a big tub. do i have to use hot water…planning to do this outside…or can i use water out of a hose/faucet?

    • AllisonWaken Reply

      The dye has to be used with hot water to work properly. You could boil the water and bring it out (though that could be dangerous) or find a tub that will work in your bathtub maybe? I’ve seen some people line their tub with a plastic shower curtain so the water isn’t sitting in the tub for extended periods of time.

  14. Johanna Roebas Reply

    Hi! This process didn’t stain either the washer or dryer? thank you!
    Johanna

    • AllisonWaken Reply

      Hi Johann! Not at all, I did run an empty load or two and then did a load with old towels just to make sure!

  15. Shelli Bryant Reply

    Im wanting to do this with my gl8der cousions. They are whole cousions not covers. Will this procesz work fir these as well?

    • AllisonWaken Reply

      Honestly I am not sure, I’ve only ever done fabric. Maybe you could find something similar at a yard sale or thrift store and try it first?

  16. Hi! Thanks for the post! I am working up the courage to do mine, and your post has helped so much! I chucked at how you said Amazon wasn’t going to do it because you had the gusto right then! I can so relate to this!

    I’m wondering if – after a little bit of time having this – did you have any trouble with the color transferring to your clothes, etc.? I’m very concerned about it.

    Thanks!!

    • Allison Waken Reply

      I didn’t have any issues with it on clothing, though with such a dark color there was a bit of color transfer when rubbed with a WET white towel (never from anything dry). I’d definitely suggest using the color fixative if you’re concerned with that! Washing it a few times after should help as well!

  17. Allison, would you consider starting your own DYE company? I can’t find anyone willing to do it and I have a front load washer which I think would not work as well. Thanks for your posts, all very interesting!!

    • Allison Waken Reply

      Bummer! I don’t have the time right now but that’s definitely an interesting concept for a business! Have you considered trying it in your tub? It’s not as easy for sure but plenty of people have done it! You line it with plastic so the dye doesn’t sit in there and then just rinse it out real good at the end.

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