How To Clean Ikea Fabric Boxes

Ikea fabric storage boxes come in a variety of colors and sizes, and are attractive, convenient storage containers, making them one of the most popular items sold at Ikea. 

Unfortunately, anything made from fabric is at risk of staining. Whether it be an accidental spill or a rogue paint stain from art supplies, fabric just seems to stain so quickly that it’s hard to avoid. Since so many of us store things like nail polish, paints, and craft supplies in Ikea fabric storage boxes, we are no stranger to these stains.

So, how do you clean Ikea fabric boxes?

Since Ikea fabric boxes have cardboard backing, spot cleaning is the best way to clean them. To spot clean, you can use warm soap and water, or rubbing alcohol. 

Below, we’ve detailed how to wash your Ikea fabric boxes with both soap and rubbing alcohol so you can have your fabric boxes looking brand new in no time!

How To Clean Ikea Fabric Boxes

Ikea fabric boxes are made from some sort of fabric, usually polyester, covering a rigid cardboard cube. While polyester is easily cleaned, and on its own, could be thrown into the washer with no problem, the cardboard portion of the box complicates things.

When the cardboard portion of the storage cube becomes saturated with water, it can become mishappen or saggy. Once the cube has become wet, its rigidity will be compromised, even after it dries. So to keep out Ikea fabric boxes in the best shape, we want to avoid getting them too wet. 

Since we can’t submerge the fabric storage cube, we’ll have to spot clean it instead. Spot cleaning, or surface cleaning, refers to cleaning only the outermost layer of the box, either all over or just focusing on the stained area. 

When spot cleaning, you’ll use minimal amounts of water. This ensures that the cardboard within the box doesn’t become overly saturated. 

Let’s go over the two methods of spot cleaning: soap and water, or rubbing alcohol. 

Cleaning Your Ikea Fabric Boxes With Soap And Water

Using water on a cardboard box covered in fabric can be tricky, so start out with as little water as possible, and increase the amount if needed as you go.

You will need:

  • A mild detergent 
  • Cleaning brush or rag
  • Clean water for rinsing


  • Identify the areas that need to be cleaned. Avoid washing the whole box if necessary to avoid warping of the cardboard.
  • Wet either your cleaning brush or rag with warm, soapy water.
  • Wring out the rag thoroughly.
  • Carefully wash the stained area, wringing out your rag each time you go back for more water. If you’re using a cleaning brush, scrub the stain in gentle, circular motions.
  • Once the stain is cleaned, go over the area a last time with clean water with no soap to rinse, and let the box air dry.
  • Always open the box up when air drying to prevent mildew and maintain the shape of the Ikea fabric box. The box will also dry quicker when opened. 

Cleaning with soap and water can be preferable to using rubbing alcohol because it doesn’t dry as quickly, giving you more time to work out the stain, and there’s less of a chance for discoloration.

Never use harsh soaps or bleach on Ikea fabric boxes. These cleaning agents could ruin the fabric, even more so than the stain you were trying to clean in the first place.

Cleaning Your Ikea Fabric Boxes With Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is a great stain removed, especially for dyes, so it’s perfect for cleaning things like pen ink and paints from Ikea fabric storage boxes.

Rubbing alcohol comes in all different concentrations, but we recommend 70% rubbing alcohol for cleaning fabric storage cubes. 

You will need:

  • 70% isopropyl rubbing alcohol 
  • Clean water for rinsing 
  • A rag for cleaning 


  • Identify the places that need to be cleaned.
  • Wet your cloth with the rubbing alcohol until it is damp, and clean in small, circular motions on the stain.
  • Once the stain is gone, rinse the area with clean water, but only in small amounts. We want to avoid getting the cardboard underneath the fabric wet.
  • Open the fabric box up fully and allow it to air dry. Leaving it folded will make the drying take much longer and can possibly lead to mildew. 

While all cleaning products have the potential to discolor fabric if used in large amounts, alcohol is more likely to cause these discolorations than soap and water. If you’re washing a delicate fabric, or something very dark that discoloration would be more apparent on, it might be better to stick with soap and water. 

Can You Wash Ikea Fabric Boxes? 

You can spot clean Ikea fabric boxes, but Ikea’s own website warns against washing in the washing machine, or tumble drying. 

Using a washing machine to clean Ikea fabric boxes will ruin the box irreparably. A washing machine would easily destroy the cardboard backing of the fabric box, making it unusable. 

Related Questions

What are Ikea fabric boxes made out of?

Most Ikea fabric boxes are made from polyester fabric and cardboard inserts. 

Where can you purchase Ikea fabric boxes?

Ikea fabric boxes can be purchased online on their website, or in their stores. If you don’t have an Ikea close by, they ship their items all over the world.