Any way to salvage an upholstered seat that's full of spilled milk?
February 3, 2019 7:57 AM   Subscribe

Is there any way I can salvage a seat cushion that's full of milk?

I've got one of these chairs that my terrible daughter SOAKED with milk yesterday. We sopped up as much as we could with towels, then I unscrewed and removed the upholstered bit from the chair frame. It feels like it's a thin sheet of plywood or similar, with some padding on top, then the upholstered bit stapled on top. Pretty standard stuff.

It's currently on the front porch drying off, but there's already a strong sour cream smell setting in, and I fear that no amount of Febreeze will be able to defeat it. Is there anything I can do to salvage this thing, or is this funk permanent?
posted by saladin to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You soaked up the milk but didn't wash the chair pad?

Douse it in Dawn on both sides and hose it A LOT. The repeat. Then let it dry.

In case this doesn't work either, it will be literally trivial to carefully remove the fabric, clean the wood, and have a new chair pad cut. An upholsterer can do this very cheaply but obviously, please hand over a clean non-creamy chair for her to work with.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:03 AM on February 3, 2019 [3 favorites]

You'll never salvage it if it's all together in one piece. I'd go ahead and take it apart. Set aside the wood and hand-wash the fabric and hang it to dry. Then soak the foam pad in detergent and water and squeeze it out, multiple times, then leave it to dry (sunny spot if possible). But to DarlingBri's point, it's an easy and not terribly expensive job for an upholsterer to replace. You could even try it yourself if cost is an issue.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 8:18 AM on February 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

I would try soaking it in the bathtub (go through a few cycles of saturating the seat, then pulling it out and squeezing out as much water as you can), then after a final thorough squeeze (take it outside, set a piece of plywood or something on top, and stomp down) set it up in front of a fan to dry as quickly as possible.
posted by drlith at 8:28 AM on February 3, 2019

I would say you should take it apart now and separate the wood and the padding or risk having the wood become a lost cause.

Probably you can save the cover, but I have doubts about the padding. I would treat all three components with a living culture deodorant such as Biokleen Bac Out, which has living bacteria which will hunt down and eat the sources of odor.
posted by jamjam at 8:43 AM on February 3, 2019

Nature’s Miracle. Get a big bottle of it and just douse the pad with it. That’s how I saved the backseat of my car when an entire large sippy cup of milk was left in the backseat and leaked... and then we didn’t drive the car for three days, in California summer heat. I seriously thought we were going to have to replace the entire backseat to get that smell out, but tried the Natures Miracle as a last resort, and it worked.
posted by erst at 9:28 AM on February 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

My mother has de-funked some upholstered furniture by using a carpet-cleaning machine. Saturate the chair with the cleaning solution (maybe some nature's miracle or similar enzyme based cleaner beforehand too) then use carpet cleaner to suck the moisture back out. I believe a wet vac is basically the same thing, but here carpet cleaners are easier to rent.
posted by stillnocturnal at 9:58 AM on February 3, 2019

Yep, take it apart or it won't ever dry. You may have to have an upholstery shop provide a new foam pad or cut new plywood (or both), or worst case you can have a whole new seat made.

But you will need to take the parts completely apart.
posted by anastasiav at 11:58 AM on February 3, 2019

I’ve saved thick carpet from a terrible milk fate by soaking it repeatedly with rubbing alcohol, which kills bacteria that love organics while also evaporating well. Soak the cushion through several cycles of wet/dry.
posted by quince at 1:38 PM on February 3, 2019

My daughter spilled an entire milkshake in the backseat of my car. A friend of mine who does car detailing suggested Folex upholstery cleaner (you can get it at Home Depot). It's cheap and totally amazing. I've also had great luck with both Nature's Miracle (any big pet store) and Odoban (Home Depot). The trick with all of these is soaking up as much of the original offending item, and then REALLY dousing the cleaner on the spot. You need to let it sit and do it's job before blotting it up.

Sometimes you may even need to use a wet vac to get everything out. And yes, you may need to do this more than once.
posted by dancinglamb at 10:01 PM on February 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

These were all great recommendations, thanks to you all. Unbelievably, two days sitting in the sun and it had no discernable smell or texture issues or anything, so it's back in service. Maybe less milk soaked in than we thought?
posted by saladin at 3:56 PM on April 2, 2019

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