First of all, can you believe how cheap the contestants made drop cloths look on HGTV Design Star!  I kid of course.  Well, sort of.  Drop cloths are cheap, but they don’t have to look like it.  If you slap a drop cloth from the package directly to the window (especially with some pieces of a taxi cab bag tied to it, a la Design Star), it’s going to look cheap.  If you reuse them in creative ways, they can look fantastic!
This French chair was upholstered in a bleached drop cloth.
Slipcovers were made out of drop cloths for all of my dining room chairs…
…the pair of wing chairs in my family room and the sofa in my living room (yet to be revealed.)
I used a little leftover fabric to make a slipcover for an ottoman in my guest roomas well.I wrote a post about working with drop cloths in a home decor application, but I have learned something new since then.  Jamie left a comment for me with a link to an article about neutralizing bleach.  I had no idea you needed to neutralize bleach.  Apparently, it will stay active in the fabric until it is neutralized.  Now, I’ve been bleaching my white cotton twill slipcovers for years and I have never had any of them shred or fall apart, but it is better to be safe.  There were several products the article recommended, but hydrogen peroxide (3% solution) was the most readily available, so I bought a couple of bottles from the grocery store.

I had no idea there were so many uses for hydrogen peroxide!  Not only does it neutralize bleach, but it can be used to kill bacteria on cutting boards, tooth brushes, in bathrooms, and it’s a great stain remover.  So, I added about a cup to the wash with my bleached drop cloths to neutralize the beach.  I have no idea how to know if it worked…does anyone have any further tips on this?
I did learn that hydrogen peroxide in a stronger solution (35%) can be nasty stuff, so it’s better to purchase the 3% solution.
I know it’s extra work to wash, bleach, and neutralize, but this fabric is ideal for slipcovers and upholstery.  It’s durable, washable, and neutral.  It’s also cheap, so if you mess up, it’s not a big deal.
So, happy bleaching, neutralizing, slipping, and upholstering!

42 Comments

  1. marty (A Stroll Thru Life)

    I didn't know that you had to neutralize bleach either. I always have hydrogen peroxide because it is fabulous to put on a cut or to really stop an infection. Guess I need to put it in the wash too. Hugs, Marty

    Reply
  2. Kim @ Savvy Southern Style

    I love all the ways you have repurposed drop cloths. Thanks for the info about neutralizing bleach. I had not heard that either. I don't use bleach on my PB white slipcover. I use the Rit whitening kit and it comes out like a charm.

    Reply
    • mj

      Kim
      I started recovering loveseat with a too small dropcloth, expecting to just drop into BB store and pick up another. NO!
      The dropcloths now in HD and L’s are a darker color. Tan, not white.
      And rougher weave, too.
      Which kind of dropcloth did you use and do you know if Rit whitening kit will work on the newer tan kind of cloth? Thanks for any words of advice/wisdom.

      Reply
  3. Erin

    Glad you followed up with the info. I have been thinking about this drop cloth for a project. Goes on the list!

    Reply
  4. Miranda

    I didn't know that about bleach. Good info for sure. I'm using a lot of drop cloth pillows and slipcovers for the new house, so this is very interesting for me. I love what you've done with the slipcovers and ottoman. Great!

    Design Star was awful! They did make drop cloths look terrible.

    Reply
  5. Cathy~Mille Fleur

    Wow! You could give those guys a lesson or two! You really know how to rock a drop cloth!

    Enjoy!
    Cathy

    Reply
    • sona

      This is a dead link.

      Reply
  6. Sixty-Fifth Avenue

    You are just full of great info! My awesome husband just came home with the cutest little cane back bench/settee with an upholstered seat…for free. Yes, it needs some love and the old icky fabric grosses me out but it could be fabulous!
    Drop cloths would be the perfect answer for me because this would be my first time reupholstering.
    Thanks Miss Mustard Seed!
    Londen

    Reply
  7. Megan

    If you ever get blood on your clothes- put peroxide on it and rub a little and the blood will come right out!

    Reply
  8. Holly Lefevre

    I was completley dying when they did the drop cloth thing on Design Star and it was so awful. I love drop cloths and have a few projects in process with them. Clearly the design Star people don't read blogs.

    Reply
  9. Cindy

    I've even been using drop cloths for table cloths or as a picnic blanket. The possibilities are legion.

    Reply
  10. Pam

    Thanks for the tip on the hydrogen peroxide. I'm going to attempt to slipcover my ottoman this weekend so that little tip will come in handy. Definately stay away from the 35% stuff though. I have used it to clean china that had stains on it and it was pretty strong stuff. And didn't get the stain out of the china either.

    Reply
  11. Debbie

    I'm trying to get up the nerve to make a slip cover for my couch, and I think a drop cloth would work perfect. At least if I mess up I haven't put out a lot of $$$ and I can STILL use it for a drop cloth!!! LOL!!! Maybe this is a really STUPID QUESTION, but the drop cloth I purchased has a seam down the middle. What do you do with that on a couch? Do you just work around it, or do I need to get a larger size? Thanks for sharing you knowledge with us!!!!!

    Reply
  12. freckled laundry

    I did not know that either…thanks for sharing! Your french chair slips are beautiful and worth the extra step! 🙂

    Reply
  13. Kacey

    I just love drop cloths! But I had no idea about the bleach and hydrogen peroxide. Thanks for the tip!

    Reply
  14. Shay

    Thanks for the new info–I always make sure that i rinse anything that I bleach twice—just to make sure the chlorine is not in there eating away and weakening my fabric thanks Shay in S.C.

    Reply
  15. Peggy of Plush Nest

    in my college costume shop we used white vinegar to neutralize bleach. I think the need to do so really depends on the fabric. some are more fragile than others.

    Reply
  16. Becky

    What was she thinking…lets see I am trying to win my own decorating show, humm, maybe I'll sew some curtains which I've never done before. I was laughing the whole time! Glad she is gone, can't wait until next week to check out the next decorating train wreck. I haven't seen anything original yet. Thanks for all of your great information.

    Reply
  17. SueAnn

    Oh shucks! I missed the Design Star episode where they used drop cloths. Darn! I hope I remembered to DVR it?! That show cracks me up!
    And I had no idea that peroxide neutralizes bleach. Who knew?
    Thanks for the tip
    Hugs
    SueAnn

    Reply
  18. Suzan

    I just tried bleaching some drop cloths that I am planning on using for curtains. I didn't notice any change to the color after I bleached them. Did I not use enough bleach or not soak them long enough? Could you tell me your method? I really want them lighter than the color they are now…too "oatmeally"!

    Reply
  19. Erin @ The Little Apartment

    I love this! I just made some curtains out of drop cloth, I can't wait to try a slipcover! Beautiful pictures. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Reply
  20. Three Men and a Little Crazy

    To Suzan: If you click on her link in the text ("post") it takes you to a previous post which gives very detailed instructions on bleaching.

    I'm looking forward to trying this!

    Reply
  21. Amanda

    I just watched that episode last night and those two were a couple a wack-a-do's. I couldn't believe how bad the curtians looked. The entire room was a disaster. I agree that drop cloths look great in the many applications you have done, but not for a luxury Trump condo. And not if you have no experience sewing and are on national TV on a competition that could make or break your career. The bed was perfect until that disasterous choice to remove the bed springs. What was she thinking? I won't want her to design my rooms.

    Reply
  22. Simply LKJ

    What great uses for drop cloths…mine usually just have paint all over them! LOL

    Reply
  23. Jenn "Rook No. 17"

    WOW! My friend Holly over at 504 Main sent me over, saying that I simply had to see what you'd done with dropcloths. Sheesh…she wasn't kidding. These are phenomenal. Your aesthetic is really something to admire, and your creative talent is top notch! Best, Jenn

    Reply
  24. Patrice

    I was horrified by the drop cloths in that episode. Glad to see that you know just how to use them!!!

    Reply
  25. Jennifer

    Seeing all of your great drop cloth projects has pushed me to officially get my drop cloth tablecloth project out of my head and onto a real project list!

    Reply
  26. Vicki K.

    Okay, but I have a question – when do you put the hydrogen peroxide in? In the same tub with the bleach, after the bleach, after everything is dried and you wash again??

    Thanks for your help and inspiration!

    Reply
  27. Tamra

    I can not believe these are the best designers they could get. Seriously!

    And let's not forget the crown molding that was cut wrong so the girl just nailed it flat to the wall. Hilarious!

    The sad thing is that there's a whole group of us girls in blog land that could take a bunch of drop cloths and some thrift store junk and make a room fit for Trump Tower any day!! I don't mean to sound arrogant, I'm just sayin'.

    Reply
  28. Miss Mustard Seed

    Vicki, First of all, follow my bleaching instructions, but add hydrogen peroxide and soap with no bleach to the last wash. Then dry the drop cloths.

    Reply
  29. Good Time Charlie

    I am laughing over the HGTV Design Star drop cloth drapes, seriously, what was she thinking!!!! I however do not live in Trump Towers and I have been toying with the idea of using drop cloths for many of my slipcovered ideas. Thank you, thank you, for sharing! You have inspired to cover up my very scary sofa in my kids play room. No one need know what lies beneath. Love your blog, inspired me to clean up mine. Now, back to work….

    Reply
  30. Lori @ Projects Plenty

    Yeah, the gal on Design Star who did those window treatments deserved to go home. I am seriously underwhelmed by the majority of those contestants. Thanks for the bleaching instructions.

    Reply
  31. Sebastian

    Have used dropcloths for room divider curtains to seal out cold air. They are a fabulous fabric source and can get quite soft. Thinking of making some casual clothes for spring from them this season!

    Reply
  32. sarag

    Hydrogen peroxide is a very mild acid, and bleach is a base. When you cobine an acid and a base they neutralize each other. I didn't know you had to neutralize bleach in fabric though. Thanks for the info!

    Reply
  33. Catherine in NJ

    Dear Miss Mustard Seed- OK I’m going to tackle the couch, and redo making a slipcover out of drop cloth canvas. Now I have watched your tutorial, and had read something regarding the drop cloths somewhere on your blog this past summer, but now I can’t find it. Here is my question; I remember you writing about getting your canvas drop cloth at Walmart, but that they had discontinued fabric at most of the Walmarts. Then I read that you now get them at home Depot. On your blog your slipcovers look very white, which I love. However, the drop cloths at Home Depot look Tan. Could I be nuts? I want to try the slipcover for the couch with a white drop cloth. Help! Thank you!

    Reply
  34. May

    Oh, you are seeping into my brain! It came to me in a dream-literally-that I should get a drop cloth to reupholster the curbside chair we picked up for my daughter. I should have known you would have beaten me to this!
    Sign from God…..I am full steam ahead now! You’re just the best!

    Reply
  35. Barb Gyles

    You are so stinkin’ cute. I’ve been dying to slipcover my old denim chair and a half and ottoman, and I’m starting today. You video is like manna from heaven. I’m goin’ step by step. Wish me luck.

    Reply
  36. Tsu Dho Nimh

    So, I added about a cup to the wash with my bleached drop cloths to neutralize the beach. I have no idea how to know if it worked…does anyone have any further tips on this? I did learn that hydrogen peroxide in a stronger solution (35%) can be nasty stuff, so it’s better to purchase the 3% solution.

    One cup of 3% in a washer full of water won’t neutralize much. You need to thoroughly wet the bleached cloth in 3% hydrogen peroxide before washing … several quarts of it for a dropcloth.

    The 35% is only as scary as you let it be. One cup of 35% and 9 cups of water = 2 1/2 quarts of 3% hydrogen peroxide. If you buy it by the gallon from a beauty supply store you can neutralize a lot of bleach inexpensively.

    Reply
  37. Teresa

    Question , I just bought a drop cloth but it’s more of an oatmeal color and I want it more of a white……so are you saying to wash the drop cloth first then wash it again using bleach and how did you put the stripes on your chair……..your stuff looks great. I’m thinking I’m going to try and upholster a old wing back chair I have and drop cloth is just the price I want to pay , not $20 a yard for fabric………thanks for the info!

    Reply
  38. Carmen

    Hi,
    I really enjoy your blog!
    I wanted to know where I could find the red toile curtain, with the bulls and the jute binding on the picture above? I have it pinned on Pinterest andf want to make these so bad!! LOL!
    I love it!
    Thanks!
    Carmen

    Reply
  39. rosehoving

    Love your site! My question, how, and what did you use to get that perfect yellow on pinned chair?! It’s exactly what I’ve been searching for. Thanks

    Reply

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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

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