How to Replace the Stuffing in Couch Pillows

Spruce up your home this season by renewing your saggy and worn couch pillows. These pillows are so versatile that we keep them around for years. Though pillows make a couch inviting and comfortable, those with wadded stuffing can be awkward to use and terrible to look at. Foam rubber stuffing can irritate allergies because it deteriorates; it grinds into a dust that can actually come out of the pillow through the fabric weave. Renew your home by replacing the stuffing in all of your old couch pillows.

Prepare the Old Pillow

Look for a zipper, which will allow you to remove the stuffing without a lot of work. If there is no zipper, inspect the pillow covering and attempt to identify the original stuffing seam. This may be indicated by a hand stitch. If no seam is found that looks like a stuffing seam, simply choose any seam to open.

Snip the seam thread of the old pillow for which you wish to replace the stuffing with the sharp-to-tip scissors. Do not snip any of the fabric. As you snip, pull the pieces of fabric apart gently; this will make it easier to get to the next stitch. Continue until one side of the pillow is open.

Empty the old pillow stuffing and discard.

Clean the empty pillow cover according to the fabric type. If it is a washable fabric, soak it gently in a pan of cool water.

Lay flat to dry. Turn inside out and press, then turn right side out and press.

Replace the Stuffing

Measure the width and length of your pillow cover. Add 1 inch to the length measurement and 1 inch to the width measurement. This is your muslin measurement.

Cut two squares of muslin as specified by your muslin measurement.

Pin the squares together. Place pins along the perimeter of the pillow. Machine straight stitch all the way around using a 1/2 inch seam allowance, leaving a 3-inch opening. You may choose to leave this area unpinned to remind you leave it open. Backstitch at the beginning and end of the stitch line to prevent the stitch from unraveling.

Turn right side out and fill with cotton stuffing until the form feels tight. For softer pillows, use less cotton.

Turn the raw edges inward and hand stitch the opening closed using a straight stitch.

Assemble the Pillow

Insert the pillow stuffing form into the pillow cover through the cover's open seam.

Position the pillow stuffing form straight inside the cover.

Turn the raw edges of the pillow cover inward and hand stitch using a small straight stitch, if the pillow cover did not have a zipper.


If your old pillow was stuffed with foam, empty it directly into a plastic bag, tie the bag and discard.


Empty deteriorated foam outside and avoid breathing in the dust particles. You may want to wear a mask.

About the Author

Jennifer Terry is program director for TriCounty Agency for Intellectual Disabilities. As a University of Alabama graduate, she holds a Masters in rehabilitation counseling and a Bachelor in psychology with an emphasis in child development. She also earned an Associate in business management and second Associate in computer information systems from Bevill State Community College. She holds a grant writing certificate from North Georgia College and State University.