Ahh… the moveable, squishable, cuddly comfort of a bean bag chair. It’s the perfect seat for reading, watching T.V., playing video games, or napping. Bean bags make great footrests as well.
But movie night brings dangers — buttery fingers and spilled soda. How do you keep those bean bags looking and smelling tip-top when the family flops on them day in and day out?
You can’t just stuff the whole thing in the washer. At best, it would ruin the beads, and at worst, the bean bag could burst and clog up your drains.
Most bean bags are easy to care for with a little preplanning and attention. Remove the beans from the bag, and clean the fabric based on the type of fabric it is. Some can be tossed in the washer and dryer, while others can be wiped down with a damp cloth and gentle cleanser. Gather your supplies, and let’s wash those bean bags.
The Beans Are An Issue When Washing
When you prepare to wash the bean bag on your bean bag chair, you need to be prepared to deal with the beans.
The pellets inside the bag are usually a form of expanded polystyrene, a form of styrofoam. It is lightweight and holds its shape pretty well for several years. It is the same material as a styrofoam cup.
Another kind of pellet is expanded polypropylene (EPP). These are solid beads that, when compressed, will return to their original shape. Either way, these pellets are likely to be staticky.
They are also extremely light and can be blown around by a fan or a breeze. Be sure to turn off the fans and close the windows.
What Supplies Do I need To Wash A Bean Bag?
Supplies (depending on the fabric of your bean bag)
|To manage the beans:||Large Trash bag|
|Leather Bean Bags|
|Suede Bean Bags|
Talc or Cornstarch
|Plush / Faux Fur Bean Bags|
Plastic or boar bristle brush
|Cotton / Poly-Cotton|
|Velvet / Velour|
What Is Inside My Bean Bag?
The construction of your bean bag chair will affect how you wash it. First, unzip the outside of your bag.
In some bean bags, the polystyrene beans are inside an inner liner. These are the easiest to deal with so that you don’t have to juggle the beans while you are washing the cover.
If the styrofoam beans are loose, carefully dump them into the trash bag. Make sure that you get all the beans out of the liner.
What If I Spill The Beans?
If the pellets do not cooperate, you will have to clean up the beans that escape. They are likely to be staticky and uncooperative.
If you have anti-static spray, give the pellets a light once-over with it. That should make them more cooperative.
Next, use the hose attachment on your vacuum cleaner. Stretch the old stocking over the end of the hose and secure it with a rubber band.
When you turn on the vacuum, the pellets will be lifted by the suction but not get sucked all the way into the machine.
Once the stocking end is full, knock the pellets into your trash bag and chase the others.
If the pellets are sticking to you, give yourself a once-over with a dryer sheet. That should reduce the static on your clothes and hands so that you can manage the pellets.
Tie up the trash bag full of styrofoam beans, so it doesn’t accidentally spill and ruin all your hard work.
After your bean bag cover is dry, return the pellets to the cover, zip it up, and lounge in comfort.
Washing The Bean Bag Cover
The best method for washing the bean bag cover will depend on the fabric it is made of.
Check and see if there is a tag with care instructions on the inside of the bag. That will give you the manufacturers’ best advice on caring for the fabric.
No tag? No worries; try out the following options:
Caring for a smooth leather bean bag cover is relatively easy. Just wipe it with a dust cloth as you complete your regular cleaning routine.
If something sticky is on the leather, take a clean, damp cloth and gently rub the spot until the residue is gone.
Dry the area with a clean, dry cloth. Apply a leather conditioner every 3-6 months to keep the leather from drying out and cracking.
Because suede is a kind of leather with a softened finish, it cannot be put into the washing machine or soaked with water.
You should invest in a suede brush to care for all the suede items in your home: bean bag chairs, handbags, shoes, pillows, etc. Regularly brush your suede bean bag to remove dirt and keep the nap refreshed.
When something is spilled on suede, immediately blot away as much liquid as possible. If a stain remains, use a clean damp cloth to blot the stain until it disappears.
Does the stain have an oily residue? Sprinkle talc or cornstarch over the spot. Let it sit for 3-4 hours, and vacuum the powder.
Repeat this process until the powder absorbs the oil. After all the spots are removed, brush the suede to refresh the nap. Apply a suede protectant to prevent future stains.
Much like leather, vinyl is easy to care for and is an excellent choice for a busy home with children.
Simply wipe it clean with a damp cloth. If any areas need a little more attention, use a soft cloth with warm water and a gentle cleanser.
Don’t completely soak vinyl as it may shrink, crack, or lose its shape upon drying.
Washing Cotton Or Poly-Cotton Blend
These covers should be machine washable. Pre-treat any stains with your preferred stain remover, then machine-wash the bean bag cover on cold.
If the manufacturer’s tag indicates that the cover can be put in the dryer, then go for it. Otherwise, line dry to ensure that it doesn’t shrink.
Washing Velvet / Velour
Unless the manufacturer says otherwise, these probably should not go into the washing machine. Instead, once the bag is empty, take it outside and give it a good shake to loosen and dust and dirt that is in the fabric.
Using the hose attachment on your vacuum, go over the bag to remove the loose dirt and dust.
To clean a stain, take a bowl of warm water and gentle detergent, dampen a clean towel in the water and blot the stain.
Continue blotting with a clean, dry towel to remove excess water. Repeat until the spot is removed, then line dry. Fluff up the nap, and the bag will be ready to go.
Washing Plush / Fake Fur
You can keep plush and faux fur bean bag chairs looking great with a bit of diligence. First, use a vacuum cleaner regularly to remove any dirt and dust.
Spot-clean spills immediately with a damp cloth. When the fabric is dry, brush the fluff with a plastic bristle brush.
Sometimes you will need to wash the entire cover. Fill a basin or the bathtub with cool water and mild detergent. Hand-wash and line dry. Then, you will need to detangle the fur.
Fill a spray bottle with water and a teaspoon of hair conditioner. Working in small sections, spray the fur and gently brush with a plastic or boar bristle brush.
Considerations for Bean Bag Chairs
- Think about your lifestyle before you purchase a bean bag chair. If you have messy kids and shedding pets, you may want to opt for an easy-to-clean leather or vinyl bean bag chair.
- Alternately, look for one with a machine washable cover so that you can slip it off and toss it in the washer and dryer.
- Add the bean bags to your regular cleaning schedule. Try to catch wet or sticky stains as soon as they happen. Vacuum off crumbs and dirt when you vacuum the floor.
- Before your kids start camping on the bean bags, spray them with a fabric protectant to prevent stains.
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How Is A Bean Bag Built?
Check out your bean bag. It most likely has a zipper nested in one of the seams. Open up that zipper carefully and take a peek inside. Many bean bags have an inner liner that actually contains the beans.
If that is the case with yours, pull out the inner liner and get to work cleaning the outside.
If your beans are not contained in a liner, you will need to do some careful planning before you try taking the beans out. Zip it back up and read on for the next steps.
My name is Keren Tayler. I am a stay-at-home mama to three lovely girls, Sarah + Rachel + Hannah. Prior to becoming a mom, I had a successful career in the accounting field, steps away from becoming a CPA. I decided to give up on my career in order to raise my own kids (as opposed to letting a nanny do it, no judgment here :)) I learned a lot and I love sharing it with other moms. Along the way, I also became a Certified Food Handler.