Kerri asked: How do I clean foam cushions? My son has a kid’s sleeper chair that has foam cushions. He has had several nighttime accidents on it, and I’m not sure how to clean the foam cushions properly. What is the best cleaner to use for foam, and what is the best way to dry it properly once it’s been cleaned? Should I steam the foam or just use water and cleaner? Thank you for your advice!
Foam cushions can seem complicated to clean, but you can achieve great results with this simple technique. You’ll need a few hours or days for proper dry time, however, so plan ahead before you take the plunge. Keep in mind that this method is only necessary when the entire cushion needs cleaning. If you only need to clean one spot, such as for urine or a drink spill, use the guide How to Clean Urine from Memory Foam.
You Will Need:
- Upholstery cleaner or mild detergent
- Warm water
- Paper towel
Steps to Clean the Cushions:
- Remove the cover from the cushion if possible.
- If you cannot remove the cover, check the tag on the couch or pillow to determine if it cannot be washed. If you’re still not sure, try washing a small hidden area of the cover first to look for any damage.
- If only the surface of the foam or cover needs cleaning, use an upholstery shampoo. The foaming upholstery cleaners can simply be rubbed into the surface with a cloth and the excess wiped away. If you don’t have an upholstery foam, plain white shaving cream can be used instead.
- If the entire cushion needs to be washed, fill a clean bath tub with enough warm water to submerge the cushion.
- Add detergent to the water, using label directions to determine the proper amount. Agitate to distribute it evenly.
- Place the cushion in the water. Press it down to submerge. Press it continually to work the water and soap into the cushion. The suction of the water in and out will help clean the inside. If the water gets dirty, drain the tub and refill with fresh water and detergent.
- Empty out the soapy water and refill the tub with clean water. If you have a removable shower head, it can be used to spray clean water through the foam cushion, squeezing as you go, to rinse. If not, simply rinse and repeat. Push on the cushion several times to “rinse” inside the cushion.
- Once the water remains clean and free of soap, drain the tub. Before removing the cushion, press it tightly from top to bottom to remove as much water as possible. Start on the side away from the drain and work toward it).
- Wrap the cushion in several clean towels, then squeeze the cushin or step on it to squeeze out more water. As the towels become soaked, switch them out for dry towels.
- If possible, place the cushion outside in the sun to dry. If not, pick a bright, warm location and allow it to dry thoroughly before use. If possible, dry at an angle to the ground to allow for better air circulation.
- Test for remaining moisture by placing a paper towel under the cushion and pressing hard on the top. If the paper towel gets wet, the cushion is not dry.
Additional Tips and Advice
- If you have a wet vac, one site user (Thanks Caroline N.!) recommends putting the cushion in a trash bag and using a wet vac to suck out the water from the bag.
- Placing a dehumidifier near the cushion can also help speed drying time. This can be either a dehumidifier machine, a small room dehumidifier like DampRid, or a DIY version like a bucket of charcoal briquettes with holes poked in the bucket lid.
- If an odor remains, sprinkle the cushions with baking soda and allow them to sit in the sun for several hours. Vacuum the baking soda to remove it, and odors should be gone as well.
- If you have a steam cleaner, you can use it to clean the cushions. Use upholstery cleaner or a mild detergent.
- Do not place foam cushions in a washing machine or dryer. The agitation in the machines can easily damage the foam, and dryer heat could damage it as well.
- If the cushions are in bad shape or are not responding to cleaning, many craft or fabric stores carry replacement foam.
- If you want to avoid cleanings in the future, you can put the cushions in plastic covers before placing them back in their upholstery covers. If needed, you can use trash bags or plastic wrap and tape to make your own plastic covers.
- If the cushion covers are removable and you want to wash them as well, usse cold water and low or no heat for drying to prevent shrinking.