seat cushion on chair
Care Tips

How to Clean a Seat Cushion

    Last Updated
    September 20, 2022
    min read

    Knowing how to clean a seat cushion can be challenging. Seat cushions often cannot be washed in a machine. So the question is how do I wash my seat cushion? Our guide will walk you through what you need to know to wash your seat cushion.

    How to Clean a Seat Cushion

    • Check the label for care instructions
    • Machine wash the cover when possible
    • Vacuum regularly
    • Freshen up
    • Spot clean when necessary
    • Hand wash for deeper cleaning
    • Air dry fully before using

    Fortunately, keeping your seat cushion clean and fresh may be easier than you think. Depending on the fabric and materials used, you should be able to keep it in top shape in just a few simple steps.

    Step 1: Check the Label for Care Instructions

    First things first – always check the label provided by the manufacturer. Depending on the fabric and material of the cushion, the instructions for cleaning a seat cushion can vary greatly. If you don’t see a label attached to the cover of your seat cushion, try visiting the manufacturer’s website or contacting their support team.

    Step 2: Machine Wash the Cover When Possible

    Washing Machine With Seat Cushion Cover

    Many portable seat cushions – including Purple Seat Cushions – have a removable, machine washable cushion cover that makes cleaning a snap. Simply remove the cover and machine wash on a gentle cycle, then dry on low heat or hang to air dry. Use a mild detergent, if possible. This works for most machine washable fabric covers, but make sure to thoroughly read the label for care instructions for any portable seat cushion you have.

    Step 3: Vacuum Regularly

    If your cushion is picking up dirt, debris, pet hair, dust, etc., especially from outdoor events, you can start by simply vacuuming the outside surface. This will get rid of a lot of grime right from the start. The upholstery brush attachment of a vacuum cleaner can help loosen and pull out deeply embedded particles. Before using your vacuum cleaner, you can also take a dry soft bristle brush and rub it over the surface of your cushion. This will help loosen any dried-on particles and make them easier to vacuum up.

    Pro tip: If your cushion is collecting lots of pet hair, rub your hand over its surface while wearing a rubber glove. The glove will attract the pet hair and lift it off your seat cushion with ease.

    Step 4: Freshen Up

    Sometimes, your cushion may not be visibly stained, but the fabric still smells like it’s had a bad time. If odor is your cushion’s main issue, you can try a couple of different methods to freshen it up. First, sprinkle baking soda over your cushion, let it sit for at least an hour, and then vacuum it. This will pull odors out of the fabric, along with the baking soda. If any smells linger, simply repeat. If you want to get fancy, you can also add a few drops of your favorite essential oil, like lemon or lavender, to the baking soda before sprinkling on your cushion.

    Another quick refresher is a simple spritz of white vinegar, or a mixture of vinegar and water using a spray bottle. Just make sure to test the vinegar on a small patch of your cushion first to make sure it doesn’t damage the color. Let your cushion air dry and you should be able to tell a real difference in the smell. If possible, let your cushion sit outside while it dries. It’s amazing what fresh air and sunshine can do about funky smells.

    Step 5: Spot Clean When Necessary

    If you can’t wash the cover in the washing machine, never fear – spot cleaning will often do the trick. If you spill your beverage, there are a few different ways to spot clean your cushion.

    First, blot the spill immediately with a clean cloth to keep as much of the liquid as possible from soaking into the cushion. You can sometimes blot stains and spills with a vinegar-soaked damp cloth, which can also help prevent staining and odor. Or, you can make a gentle cleaner by combining dish soap with water and continuing to blot the stain. Try mixing 1-part dish soap with 4-parts water. You can also find commercial stain remover specifically designed to help lift stains out of fabrics.

    You may want to add a little of your chosen mild soap to the stained area and then let it sit for a little while. Then, scrub the area gently with a soft bristle brush and continue to blot with a clean cloth. Use a soft cloth dampened with water to remove any suds – a microfiber cloth works well. Then let your cushion air dry. Depending on the stain, you may need to repeat this process a few times until you’re satisfied with the results.

    Step 6: Hand Wash for Deeper Cleaning

    Faucet With Running Water

    If you’re dealing with a stain, grime, or odor issue that goes down deep into your cushion, you may need to give it a more thorough cleaning. In that case, you may be able to gently hand wash your cushion core with soap and water. Allow it to air dry completely before replacing the cushion cover. Be careful, though, and read the label for specific care instructions. Many types of foam are not intended to be washed with soap and water.

    Purple Seat Cushions are superior because they are so easy to clean. They’re made with the patented Hyper-Elastic Polymer material of the Purple Grid, so you can wash them with water without having any problems. If you’re dealing with a Purple cushion, once you’ve removed the outer, machine washable cover, you can also hand-wash the polymer Purple Grid core for a deeper clean. Our cushion core holds up to hand washing much better than memory foam or poly foam cushions.

    Depending on the size of your cushion, you can do this in a kitchen sink, a bathtub, or a large tub of warm, soapy water. Just make sure your container is large enough for the entire cushion to be submerged. Once you’ve submerged the cushion in the clean water, keep pressing it down to help work the soap and water into the cushion. As the water gets dirty, empty your tub and replace it with clean, soapy water. Rinse as many times as you need to until the bulk of the dirt or stain has been flushed out of the cushion. Then drain your container and press firmly on the cushion to release as much water from it as possible.

    Step 7: Air Dry Fully Before Using

    Be sure to allow the cushion core and cover to dry completely before use. When you remove your cushion from your hand washing container, squeeze out as much water as you can. Then wrap your cushion in clean, dry towels and keep gently pressing the cushion to force out more water. After you’ve done this a few times, place your cushion in a warm, bright area with good ventilation so that it can continue to air dry – outdoors in the sunlight is your best option. Try to lay your pillow at an angle to the ground rather than flat so that air can circulate it and facilitate faster drying.

    Unless your care instructions specifically say you can, it’s generally not a good idea to put a portable seat cushion in the dryer. The agitation and high heat can be highly damaging and cause your cushion to break down.

    Where Can You Use a Seat Cushion?

    You can use a seat cushion literally anywhere you sit. They’re perfect for office chairs, dining room chairs, bar stools, outdoor seating, school plays, airplane seats – you name it. A good seat cushion with the right kind of support and pressure relief can help you sit more comfortably and healthfully anywhere you go.

    A seat cushion can get dirty in different ways, depending on where you use it. An office chair cushion might attract food crumbs and spilled coffee, while cushions at home wind up with pet hair. A lot of times, food is the biggest culprit for staining a seat cushion. Greasy snacks can leave stains and odors behind. But no matter what gets your cushion dirty, you can keep it nice and clean by using some of the recommendations here.

    Cleaning Your Portable Seat Cushion

    Many of us often find ourselves in situations where we may have to sit for prolonged periods, and many seats can quickly become uncomfortable without the added support of a seat cushion. A portable seat cushion can help you retain healthy posture, improve blood flow and circulation, and reduce compression on your spine, lower back, coccyx (tailbone), and hips. A good seat cushion may be just what you need for your next piano recital, Little League tournament, or lengthy plane ride.

    One of the chief ways you can extend the life of your seat cushion is to take proper care of it. With proper care and cleaning, you can protect the life of your seat cushion and keep it clean and fresh for years to come.


    About the authors

    Cecilia Gillen

    Cecilia brings over five years of writing experience primarily centered around lifestyle and health topics. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Media and Journalism from the University of South Dakota. She’s both an advocate for sleep and a night owl at heart.