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Can I save my white couch from my messy kids?

The question

In the folly of my pre-child days, I purchased a white couch. It's a good-quality piece, but the custom hemp slipcovers aren't washing as well as I'd hoped and my husband suggests we have them dyed a soft grey. Do you recommend it?

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The answer

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I have used white all through my children's lives and lived to tell the tale. Just as with T-shirts, it's far easier to scrub a stain from a white one than a coloured one, which can leave a faded mark that really cannot be repaired.

The secret is to have Fiber-Seal applied to your sofa (the company offers in-home services nationally) so that when a stain happens, it doesn't soak through. I love the fact that you used a hemp fabric; since it is all-natural, you have lots of options.

First, bring it to an environmentally friendly dry cleaner for a fantastic clean. If you're still not satisfied, opt for tea dying, which gives textiles an antique feel. Your husband is on to something, too, with the soft grey dye job. Let him run with that idea and, if it doesn't work out, he can be more easily convinced to purchase a new one.

Follow architect and interior designer Dee Dee Taylor Eustace on Twitter: @ddtaylorddd. Have a design dilemma? E-mail

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story contained incorrect information regarding the name of the fabric protection company.

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