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How to recycle upholstery foam

Updated February 21, 2017

Most upholstery foam is a polyurethane foam that is flame-retardant and usually ends up in landfills. These unwanted pieces of foam, which are often ripped or oddly shaped, may seem difficult to recycle or reuse. Polyurethane foam can be a challenge with commercial recycling centres, as some won't accept it. However, upholstery foam still has high potential for serving new purposes. According to the Center for the Polyurethanes Industry, polyurethanes are some of the most versatile materials made today. Being creative and accepting the challenge are the keys to successfully recycling upholstery foam.

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  1. Call your local college or high school drama departments. Theatrical groups often use upholstery foam to make various stage props.

  2. Spray each side of the foam lightly with a disinfectant. Cut the foam in pieces approximately 22 inches by 40 inches, to reuse for a preschool nap mat. Cut fabric pieces measuring 24 inches by 44 inches to allow extra fabric for seams. Place the right side of the fabric together and seam a 1-inch hem around three edges. Leave one end open. Slip the foam into the material. Sew the end closed with a thread and needle.

  3. Spray each side of foam lightly with a disinfectant. Roll a piece of foam up to a desired size to reuse as a pillow. Tape the foam's edges in place using duct tape. Place the foam pillow into a dust mite pillow casing, available at most discount stores or online. This will help to prevent you from breathing in dust or mite residue from the foam if it has been sitting in storage. Place the foam pillow inside a regular pillow case.

  4. Sculpt the foam into shapes and spray paint it to reuse for creative additions to Halloween costumes.

  5. Cut the foam to fit the shape of dog and cat beds. Cover it with a comfortable material.

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Things You'll Need

  • Disinfectant spray
  • Measuring tape
  • Fabric
  • Fabric scissors
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Needle
  • Duct tape
  • Dust mite pillow case
  • Regular pillow case
  • Spray paint

About the Author

As a former elementary school teacher, Cheryl Starr now writes full-time from Missouri. Her work has appeared in various magazines, including "Teachers of Vision," "Insight" and "Highlights." She is currently writing a novel and a devotional book. Starr studied elementary education at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

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