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Buying guide for Best recliner slipcovers

Giving up your comfy recliner is like saying goodbye to an old, dear friend. Instead of throwing it in the trash, you can keep your recliner — even your leather one with duct tape over the cracks —  and freshen it up using a slipcover. Recliner slipcovers, just like sofa and chair slipcovers, have come a long way with better designs, patterns, and construction. They are made to be more form fitting, which helps your covered chair blend in better with your living space instead of sticking out.

Recliner slipcovers transform your chair, but if you’d prefer an easier on-and-off cover, there’s an alternative. Shields, or protectors, cover worn areas while protecting your recliner, and you can whip them on and off in seconds. They were designed to protect furniture from pets, but shields are popular in non-pet households, too.

Whether you want a full-coverage slipcover or a shield for your recliner, there are plenty of options. Recliners come in all sizes, from petite to chair-and-a-half models. 

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Sometimes, slipcovers run small and may rip if forced onto your chair. Buy a recliner slipcover that is slightly larger than your chair’s exact measurements. A stretchy slipcover with a tiny bit of extra room still fits well.

Key considerations

Full or partial coverage

As mentioned, you can choose between full-coverage slipcovers and protectors that cover parts of the recliner. There are pros and cons to both types of products. A full slipcover can give you the look of a reupholstered recliner, but the cover can be challenging to put on and take off when it needs washing. A protector can be taken off and put on in seconds, and you’ll find them in multiple convenient sizes. However, a protector looks like a shield rather than upholstery, and part of your aged, worn recliner may still show.


A number of recliner slipcovers are constructed of pique fabrics, which is a weave that creates a soft, slight waffled texture. The more spandex in the fabric content, the stretchier the slipcover will be. This is important for the odd angles and extra-wide arm pads of a recliner. You’ll find varying percentages of spandex in the fabric, from 4% to a whopping 15%.

Pattern and texture

Recliner slipcovers come in solid colors and patterns; the choice is yours. You’ll find subtle tone-on-tone checkered or diamond patterns and bolder floral or geometric patterns. Many slipcovers have a semi-cushiony waffle texture. Others include smooth synthetic leather, soft micro suede, and cozy velvet plush. You’ll find more elegant patterns for recliner slipcovers, including jacquard patterns in rich jewel tones and slightly raised velvet textures that mimic damask.

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Expert Tip
A slipcover may come with one or more cylindrical foam pieces. Keep this piece on hand. Many consumers report mistaking this tuck tool for part of the packaging and discarding it.

Number of pieces

A recliner cover may consist of one piece or up to four separate pieces. You may think that a one-piece slipcover would be easiest to install. Or, you might prefer four separate pieces so installation doesn’t seem so daunting. Notably, a one-piece slipcover will extend from the seat to the footrest. When the footrest lifts, you’ll have one continuous piece of cloth.

Separate recliner slipcover pieces offer a more tailored and taut, form-fitting appearance. For example, one of the pieces might be dedicated to the footrest. There might be a piece dedicated to each arm and a separate piece for the back.


This is perhaps the most important consideration of all. From compact recliners to chair-and-a-half sized models, size and shape vary widely. Knowing the width of your recliner is vital to selecting a slipcover that fits the chair. Standard recliner slipcovers generally fit widths of between 30 and 37 inches. However, a few standard slipcovers are advertised to cover an oversized recliner that is 40 inches wide.

If you have an oversized or “big man” recliner, find a slipcover with extra spandex so it stretches further. Note that a typical recliner slipcover likely won’t reach across a chair-and-a-half recliner, which usually measures 45 to 50 inches wide.



Recliner chair shields are typically reversible to give you two looks in one. A number of recliner chair shields have a solid color on one side and another solid color, or a coordinating design, on the other side. Though rare, there are reversible slipcovers that give you two style options. This feature is especially helpful if you don’t have time to wash your cover or if one side becomes well-used over time.

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Expert Tip
Wing-backed recliners can be beautifully covered with a slipcover designed for that specific style. It’ll look like you reupholstered your chair.

Tuck tools

Keeping the fabric tucked into the back of your recliner is a matter of using tuck tools. Manufacturers offer any number of tuck tools to help you keep your slipcover in place. Types of tuck tools include foam cylinders, rubberized cylinders, and special upholstery tacks to keep fabric snug.

Elastic bottoms

One of the biggest challenges is to keep the recliner slipcover tight on the bottom so it doesn’t ride up. Manufacturers provide a number of ways to keep a slipcover in place. There are slipcovers that are elasticized around the bottom. If you have a recliner with four legs, there are slipcovers with elastic straps that hook underneath the chair legs to keep the cover in place.


Slipcover side pockets and arm pockets can store television remotes, magazines, and other small items for easier access. A pocket can also hold a lift chair’s remote control. Though pockets are made from the same durable fabric as slipcovers, avoid overstuffing them, as they could weaken and rip.

Placement labels

To take the frustration out of installing recliner slipcovers, some manufacturers have integrated semi-discrete labels to help you in the process. These placement labels help you to position the slipcover.

Lever openings

Do you have a recliner with a manual footrest lever? If so, you need a slipcover with a small, discreet opening to slip over the lever for easy access. Notably, not every recliner slipcover has this feature. In addition, It's hard to find a recliner slipcover with a hole provided for the button on the side of an electric recliner chair. However, you could always put an electronic chair’s remote control in a slipcover side pocket for easy access. If you opt to do this, make sure the slipcover you purchase does indeed have side pockets.

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Expert Tip
Before covering a synthetic leather recliner with a worn, peeling surface, cut away any sharp bits sticking up. The sharp points will snag a slipcover’s fabric.

Recliner slipcover prices

Inexpensive: In the $15 to $25 range, you’ll find the bulk of recliner chair protectors/shields that lie on the chair and strap into place. Many of these are available in a choice of colors and a few patterns.

Mid-range: In the $25 to $50 range, you’ll find slipcovers with better weaves and thicker fabrics. The slipcovers may have anywhere from one to four pieces, and they come with a range of looks: solid colors, two-toned patterns, plush and softer textures. Products in this price range often include tuck tools to help you keep your slipcover looking tidy.

Expensive: Over $50 is where you’ll begin to find specialized recliner slipcovers. For example, you may find synthetic leather choices in black, burgundy, navy, gray, and cream. You may find wingback recliner chair slipcovers with T-cushion seats. Expect to pay up to $80 for these high-quality slipcovers.

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Expert Tip
To keep the slipcover securely on your footrest, try using a small bungee cord to strap it from underneath. 


  • Measure your chair’s back. That number is important to make sure the slipcover fits the entire back of the chair. Measure from the top edge the bottom edge for the height.
  • If you have an extra-padded recliner, another measurement you may need is the back’s circumference. To do this, measure it like you would measure your waist, putting the measuring tape around the front and back just above the arms. The standard circumference of a recliner back is 78 to 88 inches.
  • If you’re opting for a recliner seat protector rather than a full-coverage slipcover, be mindful of any grippy material on the back of the shield. If it’s rubber, it may be extremely grippy and could transfer to your chair’s fabric. You may also opt for a reversible fabric shield that is held on the chair with straps instead of a grippy back.
  • A slipcover or protector will cover cat claw marks, but it won’t deter your cat from future clawing. To keep your cat away from your newly slipcovered recliner, put a cat scratcher right next to the chair. The goal is to divert your kitty’s attention to the new toy.
  • After putting the slipcover on, spray the chair with nontoxic citrus spray to keep your cat away. Your cat will hopefully associate the newly covered chair with a foul smell and avoid it altogether.
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If a foam cylinder fails to keep the back of your recliner fabric tucked in, try foam pipe insulation from a home store. The foam pipe is gray, so it may blend in better. In addition, it can easily be cut to size.


Q. How do I cover a recliner with a split footrest?
A split footrest means the lower portion of the footrest is likely smaller than the top part. The lower part of the footrest is generally to support your feet. A stretchy slipcover may conform to the split footrest’s shape quite well. If not, you could always modify the cover by using upholstery tacks on the underside of the footrest. Keep a little give on the footrests so any movement of your feet doesn’t rip the fabric.

Q. Are there different slipcovers for lift recliner chairs?
To be on the safe side, buy a slipcover made specifically for lift recliners. There are two types of lift recliners. One lifts from the base and tilts forward. A larger lift recliner telescopes up from the base, then tips forward. The lift recliner sits on a mechanism, so you’ll also want to have a slipcover with an elasticized bottom that fits snugly under the chair, but that doesn’t interfere with the mechanism.

Q. Are recliner slipcovers waterproof enough to handle incontinence?
Recliner slipcovers are machine washable in case there’s an accident. Recliner protectors are treated to repel liquids, and messes can be wiped off. If you prefer a full-coverage recliner slipcover but worry about incontinence, add additional seat protector pads that are waterproof, absorbent, and machine washable. These pads eliminate the need and cost of disposable pads.

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