How to Clean Foam

14March 2023 /
how to clean foam

It’s difficult to imagine a world without foam. With many types of foam and an infinite number of applications, it is likely there is foam in every home. Most of the foam in domestic situations is in furnishings and beds and is subject to constant usage and for this reason, they can need cleaning. Cleaning foam in the home is not too difficult if the correct method is used for the situation. In this article, we look at how to clean foam and what steps to take to prevent your foam from needing frequent cleaning.

First steps in cleaning foam

With any spills or accidents with liquids and foodstuffs on foam furnishings, it is best to deal with them immediately making it less likely the spills will seep into the foam.  Blot up as much liquid as you can and then deal with any staining. There are proprietary products, but these are not necessarily to hand with a spill such as red wine or blood. Cool water is the next step then keep blotting to dilute the stain. If the item has a cover, take it off and check the care label to see if it can be washed. You will be able to see if any of the liquid has soaked into the foam and assess whether that also needs cleaning.

How to clean foam – where to start

Different foams have different densities which dictate the way liquid might pass through. For example, an outdoor foam, such as the Calipore foam we supply at F.C. Hancox is manufactured to allow air and water to easily pass through. Opposite to this is memory foams, such as our Vasco and Reflex foams which are much denser so it is difficult for liquids to filter out. There is a range of foams in between, therefore, the first thing you need to do is to try to identify the type of foam you have.

There should be care instructions alongside cushions or mattresses when they were purchased giving the type of foam used, so look them out. Failing this a guide would be if you press your hand onto the foam, does it leave an imprint, if so, it will be a memory foam if it doesn’t it’s likely to be an all-purpose foam. Here is a guide on cleaning the different kinds of foam.

How to clean foam –  general-purpose foam

As with all spills onto upholstery or foam items the more quickly it is dealt with, the less likely it is to leave a stain or seep deep into the foam. There are numerous stain removers and upholstery cleaners on the market and if you have one to hand, then follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If not, there are simple actions you can take using everyday items in your kitchen.

Dab quickly with paper towels to absorb the liquid. If the spillage is likely to cause a stain, such as red wine, blood or fruit juice then use a clean sponge dipped in cold water to dilute the liquid as it is absorbed.

If there is a cover over the foam which can be removed, take it off as quickly as possible so the liquid is less likely to leak into the foam. The cover can most likely be laundered, so follow any care instructions on the cover. If the foam has been affected then dab it with warm water and mild soap. Dabbing until the stain lifts and there is no longer any moisture. You can test this using a paper towel and light pressure. If the foam is still wet, use bicarbonate of soda or baking soda. Sprinkle it over the wet area and it will soak up the moisture. When it has done so and is dry, vacuum it away. This also deals with odours.

How to clean foam – memory foam

Being high density it is likely that if dealt with promptly liquids will not have had time to trickle into the foam, so act on spills and accidents as quickly as possible.  After removing the covers first blot the spill with paper towels or kitchen roll then wipe it with a sponge using clean soapy water, taking care to not use so much it gets too wet. Excess moisture can be soaked up using common bicarbonate of soda or baking soda. Allow the soda to dry and then vacuum. This can also eliminate smells.

How to clean foam – reflex foam

Clean Reflex foam the same way you would clean memory foam. Deal with any spillages as soon as possible

How to clean foam – outdoor foam

Outdoor – reticulated foam is the easiest foam to clean. It is manufactured to allow water to pass through easily, so for general cleaning, it can simply be hosed down. If it is stained, the foam can be washed with soapy water and rinsed thoroughly. It can then be left out to dry naturally as it would have been in a shower of rain.

How to clean foam – chip foam

Chip foam consists of a variety of bits of foam. At F.C. Hancox we send offcuts from our foam cut-to-size service back to the manufacturer we bought them from to be recycled into chip foam. The chip foam can then be reused usually in scatter cushions, pet beds and some toy stuffings and can simply be washed in a washing machine and tumble-dried using a cool setting. If the item is too big for the drier, simply leave it outside in the sunshine. Hang on a line if possible or, if not, leave it in as upright a position as you can, so any moisture will drain out. You can test if it is dry by resting the item on a paper towel and applying pressure. Any moisture remaining will show up on the towel.

Most foams, if small enough pieces, can be cleaned this way.

How to clean foam if it’s heavily soiled

If your foam is heavily soiled it can be submerged in warm, soapy water and pressed and agitated until the dirt and stains are gone. However, this method needs time, maybe several changes of water and may take a long time to dry, especially if it is a dense foam. It might be easier to replace the foam altogether and this is easily done with our Foam cut-to-size service.

Tips on caring for foam

There are many applications where foam can be used. We have looked mainly at seating foam and mattress foam, but methods for caring for your foam and the cleaning of foam remain the same whatever the application. We have focussed on accidental spills and stains, but with domestic applications, especially seating and beds, dirt and soiling can build up over time. Here are some steps you can take to prolong the life of your upholstery foam and foam mattresses.


  • Clear up spills and deal with stains as soon as possible.
  • Regularly vacuum upholstery, chairs, sofas, and other seating. This removes dust and debris that could otherwise build up and make the item start to look grubby.
  • Where covers are removable, launder them according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Do this two or three times a year depending upon the amount of use.
  • Where covers are fixed, wipe after vacuuming, again following the manufacturer’s cleaning and maintenance instructions.
  • Many sofa manufacturers recommend not washing cushions at home and having your sofas and chairs professionally cleaned. This is not usually because of the foam, but the fabric, which could be damaged by washing or lose its flame resistance.
  • If you have lost the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning your upholstery, check their website, they are often available there.
  • Consider keeping an upholstery spot remover amongst your cleaning products in case of accidents


  • Vacuum your mattress regularly, turning it at each time.
  • Use a good-quality mattress protector.
  • Clear spills and accidents as soon as possible
  • Children’s foam mattresses are particularly susceptible to accidental soiling. Check when buying if they are washable. This will make things easier in the future.

Foam is a very versatile product that can give many years of good service that can be extended through good care. It is a washable product and cleaning foam is relatively easy, but each type of foam has different properties, so needs to be dealt with differently. And don’t forget, if cleaning the foam isn’t sufficient it is easy to replace in many applications.

Foam Replacement

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