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How to reuse or renew your old sofa

Recycle old sofa foam

At eFoam, we are continuously working to find new ways to ensure that any foam offcuts and old foam products do not end up in a landfill. We ensure that all our excess foam is repurposed and resold – all our foam offcuts can be purchased via our website and can be used in an array of projects and applications. As an environmentally conscious producer of foam, we also like to offer our customers creative ideas on how old furniture items – and more – can be broken apart with the foam and other materials re-used in new applications.

How to reuse your old sofa?

If you are thinking of replacing your sofa, you may be in two minds about how to sensibly pass it on. Sometimes it isn't easy to sell on a second-hand sofa or donate it to a charity shop. However, a sofa includes several foam components that can be easily stripped out and used elsewhere, in addition to the great amount of upholstery fabric covering it. Instead of discarding your sofa, the numerous materials it holds can be put to great use.

To begin, strip all upholstery fabric from your sofa as best you can. Some parts may be chemically bonded or affixed with strong glue, so they may be more difficult to remove than other parts. Carefully remove the fabric to ensure you are left with multiple large pieces – this will increase the opportunity for you to find a suitable application for them. Some sofa cushions have multiple foam bases, topped with a feather or synthetic wadding, both of which can be separated and used.

Thinking about what to do with each component of your old sofa is easy. For example, the polyurethane foam used within sofas can also be used to upholster many different types of dining chairs. Given that these chairs only require a thin yet high-density piece of foam to ensure adequate comfort, you can store your cut up foam pieces somewhere safe and use them to upholster dining chairs on an ongoing basis.

Your sofa foam pieces can be cut to the desired thickness and shape, wrapped in the appropriate stockinette, and inserted into existing seat pad covers. Alternatively, you can upholster entirely new seat cushions using a fabric of your choice – or even using the fabric that covered your old sofa!

What to do with an old sofa

Feathers and/or synthetic wadding can find a new lease of life in DIY cushions, quilt blankets and more. Should you have a large sofa with plenty of excess filling, you may choose to create a selection of scatter cushions to go on your new sofa! Any old material from your old sofa can also be used to create new cushions or become a part of a patchwork blanket, for example. Sofas typically include many materials we should avoid discarding, such as leathers, cottons and more.

Should the foam in your old sofa be really worn out or not be suitable enough for seating or cushion applications, you can create comfortable pet beds using multiple layers of foam. Foam is highly resistant to wear and tear, making it the perfect comfort solution for our four-legged friends. You may wish to top your old sofa foam with new memory foam or a high-density foam sheet, which can be ordered using our cut to size online tool for added comfort and durability.

How to renew your old sofa?

We live in a throw away society, many people will throw away a sofa that is looking a bit tired and has lost its shape, and simply buy a new one.

But, the last several years has seen an increasing trend towards "up-cycling" i.e. the creative repurposing and renewing of used objects, furniture etc. A good example of up-cycling is the creative reuse of wooden pallets. Have pallets leftover from a delivery of paving slabs? Put them on Freecycle and see how many people show an interest, stating that they want to make them into coffee tables and other furniture.

But I digress, in comparison to turning old, splintered and dirty wood into an attractive coffee table, renewing an old sofa is quite an easy endeavour which can be done in just a few steps:

  1. Thoroughly clean the upholstery and/or leather with the appropriate cleaning products. If your sofa is cloth covered, usually the cushion covers can be easily removed and washed in the washing machine (check labels for washing and drying instructions). If the cloth covering the rest of the sofa cannot be removed, it can probably be lightly sponge cleaned as it is and left to air dry (again check any labels for instructions). Leather is a bit more tricky, it should be cleaned with a soft cloth and mild soap (diluted dish soap or baby shampoo can work), dried with a soft towel and then ideally treated with some kind of leather treatment cream or oil. A quick Google search of "clean and feed leather" should bring up an array of products and suggestions. Avoid using alcohol and harsh chemicals on leather as this can cause it to crack. This step alone may be enough to give your sofa a new lease of life, but if the sofa is looking and feeling a bit deflated and out of shape, move on to step 2.
  2. Saggy old sofa example
  3. Measure for new sofa cushions Buying foam cut to size online is now easier than ever, with some foam providers also offering a service to replace old cushions (such as our cushion refill service). If you choose to order foam cut to size, you will need to remove your existing sofa cushions, and then measure the covers (length, width and height, from seam to seam) in order to figure out the measurements of your new cushions (it is best not to measure the actual cushions as they may have become deformed over time). For detailed instructions about measuring, please see our video "how to measure a sofa cushion".
  4. Double check your measurements and order your new cushions As the saying goes "measure twice, cut once", once you are confident with your measurements you can order your new cushion foam. Adding a polyfibre (Dacron) wrap and stockinette undercover will also prolong the life of the new cushions and make them easier to fit.
  5. Fit your new cushions Once you have your new cushions, you have the fun job of fitting them! It can be a bit fiddly to get the sofa cushions fitted into the covers. If you have children, perhaps they can help, having an extra pair of (small!) hands can be a bonus, but not necessary. If your cushions seems a bit misshapen after fitting, don't worry, they should settle down after a day or two and adjust to their correct shape. See our "how to fit a foam cushion into the cover" video.
  6. Enjoy your renewed sofa!

Your sofa should now be looking a lot fresher and newer, and all for the fraction of the cost of buying a new one.

For more information on our sustainability goals, or if you would like more craft ideas, check out our other blogs.

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