How to Clean a Bean Bag

Shannon asked: How do I clean a small beanie bag? It’s a small beanie bag that my parents got me. Recently, my dog has taken over it, and it smells. I want to know how I can get the gross smell off and clean it at the same time.

Bean bags come in two different styles, cloth coverings and vinyl coverings. The covering will determine the appropriate cleaning process. Using an odor neutralizer will help remove any lingering dog smells as well. Here’s what you need to do.

Cleaning a Cloth Covered Bean Bag

You Will Need:

  • Large bag or bin (to hold the beans)
  • Laundry detergent
  • Soft cloths
  • Stain remover

Steps to Clean the Bean Bag:

  1. Begin by carefully opening the zipper on the bean bag and removing the beans. Place them in a large bin or bag to contain them until the cover is clean.
  2. If the cover has pet hair on it, take it outside to shake it off. You can also use a vacuum with attachments to remove any excess pet hair.
  3. Next, check for any weak or damaged areas and mend them immediately. You don’t want any small holes to become larger during cleaning.
  4. Check for stains and treat them with a stain remover. Any stain remover will work.
  5. Place the cover in the washing machine and wash it following the care instructions on the label.
  6. If no instructions are present, wash it with a mild, bleach free laundry detergent in cool water.
  7. Run an extra rinse cycle to ensure that all of the laundry detergent is thoroughly removed.
  8. Hang the cover to dry, or machine dry if the instructions say that covering can tolerate it.
  9. Once clean, refill with the beans.

Cleaning a Vinyl Covered Bean Bag

You Will Need:

  • Large bag or bin (to hold the beans)
  • Laundry detergent
  • Soft cloths
  • Stain remover
  • Bucket
  • Water

Steps to Clean the Bean Bag:

  1. Begin by removing the beans and placing them either in a large bin or bag until the cleaning is complete.
  2. Spread the bag out flat so you can easily access a large area of the bag for cleaning.
  3. Fill a bucket with warm water and add a small amount of mild detergent. If strong odors are a problem, add vinegar to the water as well.
  4. Mix until suds begin to form.
  5. Moisten a soft cloth or sponge with the mixture.
  6. Gently clean any areas that have dirt or stains.
  7. Rinse thoroughly with clean water and a clean cloth.
  8. Flip the bag over and repeat the cleaning for the other side.
  9. Allow the surface to dry completely. If vinegar was used, it may take a day or two for the vinegar smell to dissipate completely.

Removing Odors from the Beans

You Will Need:

  • Large bin
  • Baking soda
  • Sachets
    • Loosely knit cloth (ex: cheesecloth)
    • Odor absorber (coffee grounds, activated charcoal, etc.)
    • String

Steps to Remove Odors from the Beans:

  1. When the actual beans absorb the odor, you may be able to extend the use by removing some of the odors.
  2. There are a couple of easy ways to do approach this. The first way involves airing them out. Place the beans in a large, open bin and allow them to sit in fresh air for several days or until the odor dissipates.
  3. A second way is to sprinkle the beans with baking soda, toss them around, and allow the baking soda to absorb the odors. You can’t actually moisten and wash the beans, but you can draw the odor out of them. Some simple shaking in the bin will allow the baking soda to settle at the bottom so it is not transferred back into the bean bag.
  4. A third way is to add sachets of odor absorbing materials into the bin of beans and allow it to soak up some of the odors. To make a sachet, simply cut a square of a porous fabric, such as cheesecloth. Pour a scoop of an odor-absorbing material (coffee grounds, activated charcoal, etc.) into the center of the cloth. Gather up the edges and tie the ends closed with a piece of string.
  5. Toss several sachets into the bin and mix the bin periodically to allow exposure to other beans.
  6. Remove the sachets before replacing the beans in the bag.

Cleaning a Hacky Sack Bean Bag

You Will Need:

  • Mild soap
  • Cold water
  • Towel
  • Sink or bucket

Steps to Clean the Bean Bag:

  1. Begin by soaking the hacky sack in cold water. Allow it to set for a few minutes so the water is completely absorbed.
  2. Squeeze a squirt or two of soap into your hand. Rub your hands together to distribute the soap.
  3. Take the hacky sack out of the water and begin working the soap into it with your hands. Use a rolling motion, rather than a pulling, pushing or squeezing motion.
  4. Continue rolling it until the soap is worked completely into the fabric.
  5. Rinse by placing the hacky sack into a clean container of water or holding it under running water.
  6. Remove the excess water by squeezing the bean bag slowly. You don’t want to force water through the fabric. You want to allow it to come out through the seams.
  7. Rinse and squeeze until the water runs clear.
  8. Place the hacky sack in a clean, dry towel.
  9. Gently/slowly squeeze the bean bag with the towel to remove as much of the water as possible.
  10. Allow it to air dry in a location that is out of direct sunlight. Do not machine dry your hacky sack.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • If the odor cannot be removed from the beans, new beans can be purchased online.
  • Spot clean your bean bag cover right away when spills occur, especially on vinyl covers. This will help keep the bag cleaner longer and alleviate the need for frequent deep cleanings.
  • Hacky sacks can be machine washed in cold water. However, they cannot be machine dried.


  1. Elizabeth says:

    The polystyrene beads are a pain. Previously, I emptied them into my dry bathtub, but the static made replacing them in the cleaned bag horrendous! I have a huge bean bag, 3-ft. diameter, which is loved by my three dogs. Fabric neutralizer spray does not help. If I can brave the rampant beans, I may attempt your odor-eating sachets. Thanks!

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