Design, Family, FAQ, Mommin

How the Heck I Maintain White Furniture with Four Kids (A Review of IKEA’s Slipcovered Ektorp Line)

There are a handful of questions that I know I will get asked on the daily, and one of them is, “Why in the world do you have white furniture with four kids and three pets…and how do you keep it white?”  πŸ˜‰  I get it.  I really do–it’s sort of a seemingly backwards choice for furniture color with marker-wielding, snotty-nosed littles running around everywhere.  But let me tell you why we took the plunge, how we maintain the whiteness, and a review of the IKEA Ektorp sectional and chairs we’ve had for a few years now.

1.  WHY did you choose white if you have four little children in the house?

First, let me start by telling you why we went with white as opposed to a more sane color choice for a family with four small kiddos…I love white.  πŸ˜¬  Is that enough of an explanation?!  No…??  πŸ˜‰  Honestly, we almost chose distressed leather or a grey linen type of fabric, but I very much wanted this light, bright, cozy, cottage, farmhouse look and feel in our space…so the compromise came with these rather comparatively inexpensive pieces from IKEA’s Ektorp line.  And the kicker that sealed the deal for us…?  WASHABLE SLIPCOVERS, YO.  πŸ™ŒπŸ»  Not only are these bad boys washable, but, if the worst should happen and an irrevocable stain or happenstance occur to them, the cost of replacing one cushion’s slipcover or even the entire chair or sofa slipcover was worth it to me to get that look I desired.  The slipcovers are sold through IKEA and are so dang reasonable compared to other brands of white couches in similar styles.  Price check and see…the savings are bananas, AND when stains happen, I don’t feel so panicked about it since the cost was quite low compared to other similar styles.  BOOM.

2.  How do you keep the white furniture, well, WHITE?!

One way to prevent stains is that we don’t let the kiddos eat dinner or messy things on the white furniture, and that’s partly how they remain fairly white on the regular.  (However…that family rule is sometimes a sort of wishful thinking type of rule…you know what I’m sayin.’  πŸ˜‰)  However, adults have spilled coffee on them (…πŸ™‹πŸ» guilty….), the girls have accidentally wiped wet nail polish in a spot, an almost-dry finger painting has been laid down on the chaise, etc….you get my drift.  Stains happen, man.  And I thought I’d be the type to sort of be nervous when people came to my house to sit on my white furniture, but I decided long ago that a welcoming, comfortable home used for hosting will inevitably equal stains…and I chilled WAY out about that.  I don’t want a beautiful home that everyone is afraid to touch and use!  So!  Enter the Fantastic Duo…!

These two stain fighters are total lifesavers if you choose white furniture!  We love using the Clorox Bleach Pen in a pinch, and then we’ll wash the whole thing in Oxy Clean about once every two months to bring back that crisp, white whiteness!  Here’s a look at Slipcover Washing Day at our house…plus a little time saver trick down below that has changed everything!  πŸ™ŒπŸ»

So like I said, about once every two or three months depending on stains, we remove the slipcovers from our IKEA Ektorp chairs and sectional, spot treat them with the bleach pen as needed, and then we run them through the washing machine throughout the day.  Talk about a fresh start!  πŸ˜  I know it seems counterintuitive to have white furniture with little kids, but man…to know I can rip off and wash the covers starting over completely fresh and clean??  That’s a pretty big selling point for me, because we all know how much grime and goo can settle into furniture, with or without kids and pets to help with the griming and the goo-ing.  πŸ˜‰  Now…let me show you our big ol’ timesaver trick…

Our least favorite part about slipcovered furniture was the ironing after drying….LOATHED IT.  It took forever!!  But!  Then I read somewhere online (and if you know who posted it, tell me so I can give credit!) about how if you only let the slipcovers go in the dryer until about 50% dry, you can put them back on still damp, pull and stretch on them after putting them on, smooth them out with your hands for a sec….and boom!!  No ironing.  SOLD OMG.  πŸŽ‰  I’m sure you can achieve an even more crisp finish if you want to bust out the iron, but for us…it’s a circus around here, and if there’s an option that involves no ironing, ya best believe Imma take it.  πŸ˜‰  All of the pictures I show here and on my Instagram [CLICK HERE] of the couch and chairs are no-ironing pics, too!

3.  Last but not least, what’s your real opinion on the IKEA Ektorp sectional and chairs?

We’ve had these chairs for three years and the sectional for about two years now, and, while I can’t really compare them directly to the Pottery Barn version since we’ve never owned them, I can tell you these things about the less-expensive IKEA line:

β–ͺ️  That’s the first one….the price!  Soooo much cheaper.

β–ͺ️  The PB version comes with more depth in the seat, and I’ve heard it is a bit softer at first, whereas the IKEA version is a bit more shallow and was kinda firm at first.  I can tell you for sure that it will soften up and get very nice and cozy over time without losing it’s shape.

β–ͺ️  We chose the sectional with the chaise attachment because you can move the attachment and cushion to either side of the couch depending on your home layout.  There is a slight ridge/bump where the chaise meets the sofa base, but it’s nothing uncomfortable or really all that noticeable.

β–ͺ️  The Ektorp chairs are surprisingly oversized and cozy, and they really bring in that cottage/farmhouse feel while being comfortable and classic.

β–ͺ️The slipcovers take a bit of elbow grease to get on and off (as all slipcovers that fit snugly do), but that’s also a mark in the plus column for me: they don’t sag or droop.

β–ͺ️  We’ve washed and rewashed them many times, and they haven’t pilled or opened up on the seams, and besides one or two spots where we didn’t get to the small stain fast enough and it set a bit, the white slipcovers are basically the exact same as when we bought them years ago.

β–ͺ️  And finally, the real selling point for me: I can let go of the fact that stains WILL HAPPEN on my white furniture, because, if it won’t come out in the wash, the slipcovers are replaceable and pretty inexpensive.  We’ve had them now for about three years with multiple pets coming and going, four very young kids bouncing about, plus numerous house guests and playdates…and we still haven’t needed to replace any slipcovers.  πŸ™ŒπŸ»

There you have it!  THAT is how the heck I maintain white furniture with four little ladies plus three pets, plus my honest review of the IKEA Ektorp line after living with it for a few years.

What about you?  Do you dare to have white furniture in your home?  Are you crazy like me?!  πŸ˜‰  Did this post maybe change your mind just a little bit on white furniture with kids/pets, or do you still think I’m nuts…?  πŸ˜‚  It’s okay.  You can tell me.  πŸ˜‰

I sure appreciate you guys reading along over here–means so much to me!!  Come say hi on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, too! ❀️


(**NOTE: Below, I’ve linked the Pottery Barn versions of what I have as IKEA won’t allow direct affiliate links.  However, I’ve linked the IKEA products in the captions up above in the post πŸ‘†πŸ» as a way around that.  That way, you can compare and contrast both brands!**)

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  1. Lauren says:

    Great tipsπŸ‘ŒπŸΌπŸ‘ŒπŸΌ Your home is gorgeous. I so appreciate you sharing your tips and tricks!! I just love your style, and following your instagram and reading your blog has been so fun! Thanks for taking the time to share!

  2. Lynn Lam says:

    Nice…..love your home and style. We went with gray a year ago. I almost went with lighter colors (like always) but I went out of my comfort zone and went with darker. So far I love it! Not sure my OCD would have let me gone with white….lol

  3. Kristyn Jackson says:

    Totally agree! I love my white ektorp. & I love the fact that every time I wash them, my whole living room smells like fresh, clean laundry! ❀️

    • Erin | Cotton Stem says:

      Yes! Such a refreshing feeling to know it’s all clean and you’re starting with a clean slate! πŸ™‚

  4. Jill says:

    I’ve had our new IKEA couches for a couple of weeks now and love them! Thanks for letting us all know about them. Now I need to snap a pic and post those beauties on IG! ❀️ ~jillykay

    • Erin | Cotton Stem says:

      Oh yes, we need to see pics!! I bet it looks beautiful as all pics of your home do!

  5. Diana Blakney says:

    What do you do about pet fur on white furniture and bedding? My gray cat leaves fur everywhere she lays and I end up having to lint brush my white bedding every few days, so I got a gray couch! Lol

    • Erin | Cotton Stem says:

      I feel ya. Before our black dog passed away, it was a little annoying with fur getting caught around the base where she’d lay to rest. We have three white/grey cats now with long hair, and it really isn’t too bad–they don’t shed much (they are called ragamuffins), so it’s really not to big of a deal now.

  6. Lucy says:

    Thanks for the honest review! Great tip about putting the covers back on 1/2 wet! Love it! πŸ™ŒπŸ»
    I have a darker color but I think I’ll get the white now. Thanks!

  7. Heather says:

    Have you had any shrinkage issues? I’ve been going back and forth on these for over a yearπŸ™ˆ

    • Erin | Cotton Stem says:

      Hey Heather! No, no shrinkage! And we were even drying the slipcovers alllllll the way in the dryer each time before realizing this little still-damp trick–they didn’t shrink!

  8. Squirrels says:

    So beautiful! We had slipcovers on our last two large pieces- when the kids were smaller- and it does take the worry out to know you can toss them in the wash!! (Although I worried more about him making a mess than I did the kiddos) πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

    • Erin | Cotton Stem says:

      Yes!! And also…I die over your username! πŸ˜‚ Always look forward to a visit from Squirrels!

  9. Hannah Hargis says:

    I love having a slipcovered couch for the same reasons!! Especially when we had a kid throw up on our couch !😷😱 I ripped that cover off so fast, it didn’t even get into the couch cushions , life saver !!

    • Erin | Cotton Stem says:

      Exactly! Yes! It sounds so backwards, but I’m way less worried about my couches now that they are white! πŸ˜‚

  10. Sarah Ferraresso says:

    Thanks for this review! We bought some PB slip covered furniture on clearance and have been very disappointed with the fabric quality. It has pilled terribly! I’ve been wondering about the IKEA Ektorp line for another room and this review has been helpful.

  11. Elma says:

    Your home is sooooo beautiful!! Love all the white now I want white!!!

  12. Melea keck says:

    We have the same sofa with chaise and chair with ottoman. We opted for the loffalet beige only because it was cheaper and matched our dining room chairs perfectly. We have six kids and pets. Best purchase I ever made!!

  13. Great review! You were sweet enough to give me the run down on your sectional a couple of months ago, but I’m still on the fence. Mainly because I have a giant German Shepherd 😬 However, my current leather sofa is huge in my new living room and the smaller IKEA sofa is calling my name. I’m going to Dallas in a week. I may have to bite the bullet! You’re pulling me to the white. I hear your siren call, and I’m headed for the white waters, lady!! Thanks 😘

  14. Serena says:

    Hi there! I just started following you on insta and love what you do. But I Literally was just wondering how the heck you keep your furniture so white the other day after seeing all your pretty pics of your home. I LOVE the white look it’s so cottag-y and snuggly but I always thought there was no way I could have that look with my baby girl and doggy. So this post has definitely given me hope that I can one day own something pristine white and not have to run after my baby all over the house to make sure she doesn’t have strawberry jelly on her hands. So thank you for sharing!

  15. Chyna Wilkins says:

    We bought a white couch before we had kids (not slip cover, but the main cushions do zip off, it’s a ton of work though). Now we have two little boys and I’m still sticking to my guns! I love having a white couch because it’s such a big furniture piece, and it makes the whole room so light and bright! If we get another we may just have to go the ikea route!

  16. Gina says:

    White is actually the best color tobhave with children, whether it’s furniture or clothing, becoause it’s the only thing you can bleach and bleach takes out 99.9% of stains! Can’t go wrong!

  17. Karin says:

    I have an IKEA Ektorp white sofa, two chairs and the sectional sofa (in blue denim) I love the white sofa and chairs but right now we have two large dogs a St. Bernard and Yellow Lab living with us ( Daughters dogs) and their hair is everywhere right now πŸ™ all around the base of the of the chairs and sofas… I wish there was a hair repellent formula that I could spray around the bottoms of the sofas and chairs πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ other than that and my grandkids dirty hands that always seem to find their way on ALL the armrests…they are great!! I need to wash them a little more often with the dogs and 4 little grandkids running around here… but it is so worth it and they come out nice and clean fresh every time!
    Great post!

  18. Heather Lane says:

    I have a PB couch, a RH couch, 2 Ektorp chairs, the Ektorp loveseat, and IKEA chaise lounges….ALL slipcovered in white. I get that question all the time, too! I LOVE having slipcovered and would never go back! It’s so great being able to wash them!! They have even survived dirty dogs! They’re my fave! I’m so glad you did this review. Next time anyone asks me, I’ll send them to this blog post. 😊

  19. Studiosoapco says:

    Super huge thanks on how you avoid ironing! I will be trying that my next slipcover wash day;)
    Eight people live in my home and the Ektorp still looks new! It’s a year old. I plan to buy the chairs next:))

  20. Heather says:

    We’ve had white Ektorps for something like five years now. And we have three boys! I love the sturdy fabric and how well it washes up. Shout spray is my favorite stain remover for them. Baby wipes are also surprisingly effective to spot treat between washings ☺

  21. Karen says:

    I had the love seat from Ikea and loved it, just throw the slipcovers in washing machine with Tide and Oxiclean. I would air dry or on delicate in dryer until slightly damp then put on seat. I now have a white slipcover sofa and love itπŸ’•

  22. Ruth says:

    Hi Erin, I posted on Instagram first but my rule for the kids is to always eat at the counter or the table. If they always do that it’s normal to them plus they learn to take care of their stuff. Not that there are never slip ups (Mum and Dad) lol but it helps keep everything nice.
    Love your home xx

  23. Nina says:

    We have a light grey Ikea couch. I bought it thinking "oh cool, I can wash the slip covers". It’s like 2 years later & I’ve yet to do it! Lol thanks for the motivation to get er done! 2 young kids & 2 dogs here….although most of the stains are the parents’ coffee πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‚ Love your insta stories, Erin. Your honesty keeps me coming back.

  24. Kathryn says:

    Lovely. Do you wash in Oxyclean only or add the Oxyclean to laundry soap? I’m about to give the whities a go

  25. Chemise says:

    Hi! Where could I get the slip covers from ???

  26. Kelly says:

    We have had our Ektorp furniture (couch, loveseat, and chair) for 15 years now. We’ve had two different slipcovers. The first ones lasted 7 years and then the seats wore through. We’ve had these covers for 8 years and I am ready for new ones. I’m thinking you just might have convinced me to get white ones. I have three boys and live in the forest but I ha e always wanted white slipcovers. You make it sound like no big deal! Thanks for the review!❀️

  27. Sarah says:

    I am in love with this floral rug! Where is it from?

  28. Michelle says:

    Hey Erin, I love all of your post!!! We are building our Forever Home and I love the farm, beach, cottage look!!! The couch and chairs you showed are they Vittard White and do you buy the Extorp cover separately? The 3 piece sectional like yours is $499 and the chair is $249 I want to make sure I get the one like yoursπŸ€—

    • Erin | Cotton Stem says:

      Oh man, I can’t remember for sure, but I’m thinking the cover came with? We got the white you mentioned, and the sectional with chaise attached.

  29. Lynee says:

    I’ve been leaning towards a White sectional for our living room but held off because of my six year old and my 5 and 3year old grands. I don’t ajust much of my deco for kids (if it’s too costly it not in the mixπŸ˜‰) but after reading your tips I’m taking the plunge! Thank you for sharing great tips, your lovely home ,your beauty and personality with us in the insta world. Best Lynne😁

  30. Kelly says:

    I can give you direct feedback in the Pottery Barn version. Yep, we shelled out the clams and purchased the slipcovers in both white and cranberry, so we sould change things up as the mood arose. I busted out those cranberry slipcovers after year 4, when we moved to a house with all white walls, floors, cabinetry, tile 😳 You get me…. it was monochromatic to the max!
    As much as I loved the ability to throw the whole shebang into the wash – the shrinkage… my word… the shrinkage!! It was a workout and a half just stretching those suckers over the arms – forget the rest of the frame. After year 7, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was not sad to see them go. Your post now has me all itchy to try the IKEA sofas.
    Must. resist. buying. more. furniture. The struggle is real, Man.

  31. Kary Ross says:

    Maybe the person who gave you the tip about the slip covers was @missmustardseed.

    I too have white couches but the PB style. They’re due a little washing up. Sadly mine are not washable in machine. They are covered with Performance Wear material. I’m still a bit hesitant to spot clean then tho!

  32. Devon Van Horn says:

    Erin! I’m looking into these right now πŸ™‚ our current couch is not comfy by any means and we are ready for something different. Strange question, but does the dye from your jeans transfer to the couch? I worry about the faded blue spots from just sitting on it.


  33. Kathy says:

    Very helpful information Erin. Thank you so much!

  34. MarchyMakes says:

    I’ve been following you recently and must admit that I’m starting to look forward to your posts whether it be your interior or other posts.
    I love Ikea and live in South Africa so it’s too bad we don’t have an Ikea here πŸ™ TOTAL bummer. Of all the products I like, I now REALLY want the couches… like REALLY. And like everyone inspired by your blog, I am not as afraid of the thought of white anymore!
    Thanks! πŸ™‚

  35. Celli says:

    Hi! Just wanted to say that I have the Ballard design version of your couches and they have held up so poorly! I bought 2 covers and the twill ripped in several places. I also have a velvety one and it is so stretched out, it looks terrible. After about 4 years the structure of the couch gave out and we had to take it apart and add wood to fix it. Now the cushions are shot πŸ™ needless to say, we are getting an ektorp in a couple weeks. I could have bought 3 for the price of the Ballard design one! Lesson learned! BTW, I also put my covers on when they are still damp. I wash them with Downey beads (unstoppables???) and it smells clean for so long!

  36. Tara says:

    I see your daughters got nail polish on your slipcover… how’d you get it out? I’ve had my white ektorp for 14 months now and have loved how I’ve been able to get EVERY stain out… but now I’ve gotten red polish on the skirt, and I may die! I tried polish remover, and it helped a tad but there are still 4 red dots… They’re in the wash now, but I’m curious how you got the polish out. Please help!

  37. Autum says:

    I have the Ektorp sectional sofa also with 6 kids and 3 dogs. Plus let’s not forget about the messy husband lol. I have had my soda for about 6 years now and it is still as white as the day I recieved it. I wash it about every 2-3 months with tide, oxyclean and a splash of bleach. People call me crazy but I love my white couch

  38. Esther says:

    I love white too! We have oatmeal white couches but they don’t have covers….. we don’t have kids yet so that’s probably why we didn’t think about the ramifications! They don’t have covers either, so I don’t know what I’m going to do when the time comes! I found your work on a rug site online and I love your design!

  39. That’s a good idea to spot clean the furniture with a bleach pen. My sons will spill things on the couch all the time, so I could see how that could be a good way to keep it looking nice. I’ll have to do that if I decide to pick up a white couch so I could keep it nice.

  40. Thank you for your best informative content. Very helpful and very easy method for washing. I hope this information clear my concept.

  41. Thanks for your best information. Very helpful and informative.

  42. You are a brave woman! πŸ˜‰ All my kids are grown up now, and I am pondering a white couch myself in future.

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