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I Must Be Old, I Finally Get What Slipcovers Were All About

Updated on June 24, 2010


For most of you, you will be far too young to understand any of this blog so just go ahead and come back tomorrow. A long time ago on a coast that was east my family’s furniture was encased with plastic known as “slipcovers.” That’s right, when you would sit down on a piece of furniture your bum didn’t actually touch the fabric of the material because it was all encased in clear plastic that was custom fit for the furniture and zipped up the sides. It was sort of like Snow White in her glass casket. You could see how lovely the fabric was but this allowed it to stay so lovely by you not getting your dirt and grime upon it. (That is until the plastic had been on too long and began to yellow.) I know it seems impossible to many of you that something like this existed but I assure you that it did and when I was very young and we lived in the east every piece of everyone’s furniture was covered with this plastic. I think my grandmother’s brother was in the business which sort of explains it and also it seemed all the rage (at least in my family). To let you know to what extent the slipcovers were used, I can remember the seat cushions on my grandmother’s dining room set being covered in slip covers too! Well recently I got a new printer for my computer and as I took it out of the box I found myself fighting with myself as to whether or not to remove the thin plastic protective film that was used to protect it during shipping. That’s when it hit me. I must be old, I finally get what slipcovers were all about – Don’t Get Me Started!

I hated slipcovers when I was young. I hated everything about them, from the crunching noise they would make when you sat down to the fact that in the summer when you were wearing shorts you would actually stick to the plastic and when you would go to get up it wasn’t unlike peeling clear tape off of a window. Once you could get yourself unstuck and standing you would always check the back of your legs to ensure that your skin had not come off. If you had sat long enough you would have the seam of the slipcover indented into your skin for a good twenty minutes or so. How I loathed my grandmother’s home because of the slipcovers. I didn’t understand it, thought it was stupid that no one was allowed to sit on the actual furniture and God forbid the plastic would crack somewhere because then you would have to sit in such a way as to not impale yourself on the thick dagger of plastic coming from the furniture. I was delighted that once my family had moved west that the slipcovers slipped away. When you live in Arizona, I don’t care how much you run your air conditioner, in the summer just sitting on those slipcovers the back of your legs would begin to immediately sweat and then if you didn’t slide off from the sweat against the plastic you would find that you would just periodically have to lift your leg up (while still sitting) and wipe the back of your leg off with your hand. This was an okay solution but you could never get the sweat completely off so when you put your leg back down it created a sort of suction effect and then you were just stuck to the damn sofa for life or until someone came and pried you off. Before the slipcovers eventually went away I remember my grandmother trying to keep them on and just put towels over them. Well that was against the whole point because you couldn’t see the “nice and expensive” furniture anymore. I think we have an old photo somewhere of my grandmother’s living room and it looks like aliens or spirits are in the room, you can’t see anything from the glare created when the flash hit the plastic slipcovers and bounced back to take the Polaroid picture.

Needless to say I do everything in my power to not have slipcovers on anything. Whether they’re the new fabric kind or not, I have an aversion to all things covered in slips. But what I discovered is that in a strange way I’ve brought this phenomenon into this century because I find it very difficult when it comes to taking the thin clear piece of plastic they put on any electronic device. Right now I have a piece of plastic covering the face of my iPhone so that my face oils and dirt from my hands won’t mess up the “nice and expensive” phone underneath. I remember when I first got my Mini Cooper there was plastic covering the silver metal that is on the bottom of the doors on the car. I left that plastic on so long that it left marks when I removed it years later. How stupid is that? Pretty stupid but like it or not, I have come to the realization that it was not my fault. The fault clearly lies in my family who taught when I was growing up that “nice” things were to be covered in plastic and not touched, not fully enjoyed or something. I’m sure a therapist would have a field day with this one and that perhaps I do things to protect myself emotionally just like that plastic layer or slipcover. But I just think that it’s about realizing I must be getting old, I finally get what slipcovers were all about – Don’t Get Me Started!

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    • Easy Fit Inc. profile image

      Easy Fit Inc. 7 years ago from Woodside, NY

      You had me laughing out loud while reading -- thanks! I too have the plastic coverings protecting most of my hand-held electronics. And you are right, furniture covers have come a long way since the clear plastic coverings our grandparent's loved so much. Between my loveseat, dining chairs and pillows, I think I have some sort of furniture covering in each room.

    • JBeadle profile image

      JBeadle 7 years ago from Midwest

      I have to say we totally had "feats of strength" - make that "feets of strength" walks over those plastic carpet covers while they were upside down. They had plastic spikes that would never cut but always really really hurt. Sounds like a new hub. My feet are tough now though so I think it was worth it.

    • somelikeitscott profile image

      somelikeitscott 7 years ago from Las Vegas

      WOW, I really thought this hub was going to be so obscure in its reference that no one would get or care what I was talking about. Thanks for proving me wrong on this one kids. And yes, MH I do still remember the "runners" with the spikes, sort of like what you put under your office chair but running all the way down the hall, right? Thank you all for your great comments and continuing to read!

    • Earth Angel profile image

      Earth Angel 7 years ago

      Oh dear, I still have them!! ;-)

      Blessings Mr. Funny Bones!!

      Earth Angel!!

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 7 years ago from Upstate New York

      It always makes me laugh. I never saw the point of what my mother used--antimacassars, which are lace doily kind of slipcovers. They went on the armrests and also where the head rests. I thought they were a pain.

      Now, though, they're kind of a family heirloom, being the last things my mother's mother tatted, herself.

    • MotherHubber profile image

      MotherHubber 7 years ago from Southern California

      Hee hee! My mother-in-law still does this. A couple of years ago, we visited them during the holidays and we were sitting in the "Front (fancy) Room." My husband was in shock and awe that his mom had finally removed the clear slipcover from the couch he was never allowed to sit on when he was a kid (yes, same couch - so old it's stylish again). My poor husband was so conditioned that he couldn't sit next to me on that couch for fear of spilling his wine. He sat at the dining room table. LOL!!! Good hub. Very relatable!

      P.S. Please tell me you remember the plastic floor runners that they had down to protect the carpet?! If you flipped one over, it had razor-sharp spikes to help anchor it into the carpet and keep from slipping. My cousins and I used to flip those over and dare each other to walk all the way across them barefoot. LOL!

    • JBeadle profile image

      JBeadle 7 years ago from Midwest

      My grandma had slip covers just on the furniture in the "show" living room. The "show" living room was a room no one could go into - it was just for show. The only exception was on Christmas when we went over to open the Grandma presents - which usually consisted of socks or gloves. Your story takes me back to those times! I'd not made the connection between iPhone covers and the couch covers before. It's true. I guess Grandma really loved that couch.