Laundering an Ikea Paong Chair Cover

I must make apologies for the blog absence once again.  My college grad daughter moved home at the end of July while in transition to the next chapter of her life. It was fun having another female in the house for awhile again and I got out of the habit of blogging. This week she'll be moving into her own apartment in a neighboring community. She'll be living much closer this time so moving will be an easier task than usual and done over several days. Hopefully it will be easier on all of us than those student moving days of the past.

The last few weeks I've been having a ton of fun as acting interior decorator! My daughter's previous apartments have always been partially furnished student housing supplemented with the usual mismatched collections that roommates scrounge together. This time she's moving into her own unfurnished apartment but on a very shoe string budget. Since I have about a million decorating ideas floating around in my obsessed brain I offered my role as interior designer. Between Craigslist, second hand stores, thrift sales and our attic/basement/garage we've managed to come up with almost everything she needs. Most of it has needed some TLC. I've been making good friends with paint brushes and spray paint, my sewing machine and the family moving van. The next few posts will highlight some of the projects that have been undertaken.

Yesterday we found two Ikea Paong chairs at a thrift sale. They came with the Alme natural covers which, unfortunately, were quite grungy. The previous owners let their two dogs sit in the chairs and it looked as if they were dirty wet dogs at that. The cushions were filthy, covered in dog hair, and had mildew stains. I wish I'd remembered to take some before pictures so you could see how truly miserable they looked.

I really had my doubts that I'd be able to make the covers look presentable and was looking forward resigned to making a trip to Ikea to purchase new covers. But I figured I had nothing to lose by trying. For anyone faced with a similar situation I'll outline how I tackled the job. It's a bit of a chore but well worth it considering replacement cushions start at $30 for the plain jane natural Alme cover and go up from there.

Your first step is to unzip and remove the foam inserts. This needs to be done carefully. Don't just tug at them because more than likely you'll tear the foam. I reached in and kind of folded the foam corners down and carefully rolled the pieces out. I didn't attempt to clean the foam but I did give them a good airing on the clothesline for several hours. They weren't stinky and didn't have any signs of mildew so I felt comfortable with that. If they had I probably would have bought new foam instead of trying to clean it. Foam is expensive so I'm glad I was able to avoid it.

I then turned to dealing with the covers which are a padded quilted construction with an attached headrest. Following some advice I'd found online about how to remove mildew stains I made a paste of granular oxygen cleaner (I used Oxiclean), water and ammonia. I applied it liberally to the stains. The liquids immediately soaked into the padding and left me mostly with the undissolved Oxiclean so I used a soft brush and more water to work it into the fabric. Then I folded the pad in half with the treated areas inside (I mainly needed to treat the seat area) to keep things moist and let it sit for at least half an hour.

Next I ran the covers, one at a time, through a rinse cycle on my washer using a full load setting. I have a large capacity washer and wanted to be sure there was plenty of room for the cushion to move around. It's bulky and heavy when wet so two cushions together would have been hard on the washer I think. After a spin I took the cover out and refilled the machine with tepid water, laundry detergent and a cup of bleach. The washing instructions on the cushion say not to use bleach but I decided I'd risk it with the natural covers. Obviously you wouldn't use bleach if you have colored covers. Once the bleach was well diluted I submerged the cover and let it soak for a half hour again before running it through the complete wash cycle with a double rinse to get rid of as much of the bleach as possible.

A word of warning: DO NOT put these into the dryer! They're constructed of cotton and have a synthetic backing of some kind that would most likely shrink with heat. Hang them to line dry and if at all possible hang them outside in the sun. We had a breezy sunny day yesterday so the conditions were ideal. There were still some telltale traces of the stains when I hung the cushions outside but by the time they had dried and further bleached in the sun the stains were gone! It was amazing! They look as good as new. They do still have a faint lingering bleach odor but another day of airing outdoors should take care of that.

Many people have complained about the near impossibility of getting the foam pieces inserted back into the covers. Personally I didn't have any problems with it. You need to take your time and not try to slide the cushion in. It won't work. I folded the foam into thirds lengthwise and then it was fairly easy to just position the foam inside as far as it needed to go and carefully unfold it, tucking the corners into place and smoothing everything out. I hope that makes sense. It took about two minutes. Easy peasy.

So there you have it.  Tomorrow the moving starts and when I've had a chance to catch my breath again (literally...5th floor apartment) I'll fill you in on a few of my other projects.


  1. Thanks for your post. This helped me a lot.

  2. Thanks! My covers say not to wash - dryclean only but DC is so expensive! I will try the wash and line dry method.

    1. I hope it works out as well for you as it did for me. I've actually washed and bleached mine several times now and they're still looking great, with no shrinking or other issues. I suspect the dry cleaning would be recommended particularly for colored cushions as the colors might bleed and fade. For the natural color it isn't an issue.