Caring For Your Foam Cushions



Foam plays a large part in the life of your outdoor cushions since any outdoor fabric is only relatively water proof in a rain storm, and will eventually let water into the cushions one day. Water sitting in the foam of your cushion can mold your fabric and create harmful mildew.  If you are willing to cover your cushions or bring them in to protect them from rain and moisture then do so. If however you are not, then here are a few types of outdoor cushion foams that may work for you.




Types of Foam
Compressed Polyester
More like a very dense polyester batting that also substitutes as an effective foam alternative, compressed polyester will not disintegrate or yellow like traditional foam, but it will however, compress over time. This foam alternative is an inexpensive option and is best used for occasional seating, like patio cushions.
Polyester Fiberfill
Like Compressed Polyester, Polyester Fiberfill is not truly foam, but rather blown polyester fibers. An affordable option, it is a common stuffing for pillows and deep seating back cushions. Generally, Polyester Fiberfill is stuffed inside a pre-sewn cover of Spun Bonded Pillow Protector Fabric, which is then inserted into the cushion or pillow fabric to give support and shape. Fiberfill is non-allergenic, and resistant to mildew. It is machine washable, but the fiber can bunch up in laundering. Use your hand to smooth it back out.
Polyurethane Foam
A more traditional foam option that often contains a biocide treatment, Polyurethane foam is affordable, has a medium firmness, and is suitable for seating and mattress applications. If polyurethane foam gets wet, the cells will soak up the water. The biocide treatment is important because it prevents mold and mildew growth that can occur when wet foam dries out. It is a good idea to use polyurethane foam in locations where it won’t get wet or to wrap the foam in plastic before inserting it into the fabric.
Open Cell Foam
An open cell reticulated foam has open pores that allow water and air to flow through easily. Open Cell foams make a comfortable and cool seating cushion or mattress. Open cell foam creates a virtually maintenance free cushion in sun, rain, and snow. Dry Fast is a popular, user-friendly open cell foam. To see if your foam is high quality Dry Fast foam, pour a cup of water on it. The water should run straight through the foam and drain out the bottom. If the water runs off the sides of the foam, this is an imitation Dry Fast foam.
Closed Cell Foam
Also known as floatation foam, Closed Cell foam does not allow water to run through, making it buoyant. This foam is made from PVN and is 3 times firmer than Polyurethane foam. It is also a more expensive option. Closed cell foam is great for flotation applications like floating cockpit cushions and life vests. This foam has no water absorption, so you can safely cover it with any type of fabric. Thin sheets of closed cell foam are often glued to the bottom of other foam, adding additional support for the cushion, like a box spring to a mattress.
Foam Terminology
Choosing the best foam for your project can make a world of difference in the cushion’s comfort and performance so it’s always good to start with the basics BEFORE you buy.

density is the most important property to consider when choosing foam. Density is a measurement of how little air is in the foam. Generally speaking, the higher the density, the better grade of foam and the less give the foam will have when you apply pressure. High density foam will in essence provide a firmer hand but also will be more difficult to cut if replacing your own cushions.
High Resilience:

High resilience foam gets its name from its properties that allow it to quickly regain its shape.HR foam is generally supportive, comfortable and durable and is used in upholstery and mattresses. HR foam is better suited for indoor applications than out, as the moisture of an outdoor setting may compromise the properties of the foam.


Biocide is an additive that reduces fungus growth in foam. A biocide treatment is usually applied during the manufacturing process and is recommended for outdoor foams that don’t easily drain water like polyurethane foams.

Cleaning Foam
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.

Step 1
Deodorize and disinfect the surface of the cushions by spraying them with a spray bottle full of vinegar. Cover the cushions with a light coat of the vinegar and let them air-dry.

Step 2
Pour 2 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of laundry detergent into a bowl for a more thorough cleaning.
Whisk the two ingredients until you have a large amount of soap suds.

Step 3
Collect the soap suds by scooping them up with a cleaning rag. Wipe the suds into the foam couch cushions. Using the soap suds alone eliminates the need for the water. Continue whisking and scooping up the suds as needed until all sides of the couch cushions are cleaned.

Step 4
Let the cushions air-dry (preferably outside) before placing them back on your couch.

Step 5

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.

Whether replacing a single cushion or revamping your whole outdoor living space, with these basic purchasing tips and care instructions, the only hard part left will be narrowing your selection of  fabulous fabric finds to just a few!

In need of a few tips for cutting too? Check out our previous Ask Netfah blog for proper tools and handling.

Happy Summer!


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