What is bean bag ? {Which are the best fillers used in it}

Bean Bag – When I was younger I thought a bean bag is that tiny little cloth bag filled with beans that I played toss with friends. Then when I actually saw the first bean bag in a relative’s house I thought it was filled with the same lentil beans that  filled up my tossing toys. Now I know a lot more about bean bags than I did then. 

what is bean bag

I have had many bean bags in my home down the years. They self-destroyed themselves;  ok, fine, we did that –  stomping on it , jumping from a height and eating and smearing many different sauces on it are killers to bean bags. But then what are bean bags for, if not for getting comfortable on?

Don’t you love watching movies lying on an oversized bean bag, munching popcorn? But nothing beats watching movies in a theater. Now you can combine these two experiences if you go to some theatres in US and Australia; you can lounge on bean bags and watch blockbuster movies – just like you would do in your own home.

Bean bags did start out as the small tossing  bags. They were used as toys by kids but they sure have evolved into much much more — even to the shape and size of a big bed. 

What is a Bean Bag?

what is a bean bag

Bean bag refers to a  cushion  filled with different types of pellets that serves as a stand alone furniture, specifically a very comfortable informal seating. They are mostly round in shape but a variety of shapes and sizes are available today – small sized kid bean bags to big XXXL bean bags. They are shaped like pear or a sphere or a pill or a box. 

It is the epitome of convenience & comfort in seating. You can relax in a bean bag like no other chair.

Today most of the bean bag covers come with a kid friendly opening with  a safety, break-away zipper-which locks the zipper in place to prevent spills of the pellets inside the bean bag

Removable external bean bag covers with an internal cover to fill the pellets makes taking out the external cover to clean easy. 

What fabric is used for a bean bag cover

The best thing about a bean bag as a furniture is that you can choose it to suit your interior. It is available in so many different materials and patterns and designs that whatever be your design style, there is a bean bag to go with it.

The most frequently seen material as bean bag cover is polyester. It is very inxpensive and may not quite be the quality bean bag cover you are looking for. The next popular material is nylon. You also get cotton, canvas, faux fur, suede , leather, corduroy, microsuede bean bag covers.I think microsuede fabric makes the softest and most comfortable bean bags.

Nylon and polyester which are UV retardant and water resistant coated are used to make outdoor bean bags. 

4 of the best fillers for bean bags

Natural fillers

You can fill the bean bag  with dried beans or grains, like rice , beans, corn, wheat, buckwheat hull the way it was done long time back.  It may not be as bouncy as the plastic beads and you will need a lot of this to fill big bean bags ( on top of that makes it a dead weight) but you can rest knowing that you are lying on  things from nature

Expanded polypropylene (EPP)

These lightweight beads that do not lose their form easily is the best plastic  filler for bean bags. Just do not get them exposed to oxygen and they will stay the same for a long time . One disadvantage is that moisture can damage these beads

Expanded polystyrene (EPS) beads

These  lightweight beads are the  commonly used ones ; they are very comfortable, durable and resilient as well, though not as much as polypropylene beads. You will get virgin EPS beads and recycled EPS beads. Ensure that you get the virgin beads if you want them to last and keep their shape ( you can test it by squeezing a single bead in between your thumb and forefinger. Let go and see if it immediately retains it’s orignal shape . A virgin EPS bead would.)


Shredded foam is another  filler used inside bean bag chairs. The irregularity of the shreeded foam makes it less popular than the other options.

Memory foam is another option. Memory foam with its many advantages is taking over the bed space. Now they are starting on bean bags as well. The comfort and ease of memory foam makes it a favourite of  many who do not have qualms on spending for quality filler for their bean bag. Memory foam is expensive but they are very comfortable.

Buying or making bean bags

Bean bag is nothing but a cushion; a fabric bag. You make a round cushion in your preferred size and fill it with the filling of your choice and you have a bean bag. The bean bag filled with beads are available in the stores as well as bean bag covers which you have to fill with the beads of your choice later.

I prefer to buy the full bag with beads as filling the bean bag is a pain. ( ie If I am not making the bean bag myself – If that is the case checkout the tutorial to make an easy bean bag cover here)  The beads being round  and small and lightweight fly all around the place and simply refuse to get inside the  bag when you want it to.


How to properly  fill your bean bag

Even if you have bought a readymade bean bag with all the beads you need filled in properly you will need to fill beads inside after some time – around 6 months or so. Because most of the beads will somehwhat flatten with constant pressure of body weight on them. You can simply add more beads to your reduced bead volume. There is no need to discard the beans inside the bean bag.

Clean the surface where you intend to fill the bean bag. This way even if you spill the beans when you gather them you will not get dirt and debris along with it.

Make a funnel with a large sheet of newspaper ; tape the loose ends and insert the tip into the opening you have . Fill beans through the funnel

Donot fill the bean bag 100% full. 2/3 portion is enough for comfortable seating

How much beads should you buy for different sized bean bags

A bag of polystyrene beads come in 500 gm or I kg packages.

For an XXXL BEAN BAG ; 46 inch by 28 inch bean bag ( accomodating a person with weight 59-100 kg – adult sized) you need about 2.5-3 Kg of beads
For an XXL BEAN BAG 42 inch by 24 inch bean bag ( accomodating a person with weight 30-55 kg)you need atleast 2 kg of beads
For an XL BEAN BAG 39 inch by 21 inch bean bag ( accomodating a person with weight <30 kg)you need atleast 1.5 kg of beads
For smaller kid sized bean bags you may need to fill .75 -1 kg of polystyerene beads

How to take care of your bean bag

Bean bag is one furniture we put on the floor and forget about it till it is time to plop down on it. Because it has no corners or creases on it we feel that it does not attract dust . But that is not true. You have to take care of your bean bag like any other furniture in your house.

You can choose a bean bag made with a material which is coated with  mold retardant coating to prevent the mold or dirt from settling on the bean bag. This will make your job easier in taking care of your bean bag

 If you have a fabric bean bag, do vacuum it. If you have a polyester or nylon one you can clean it thoroughly with a dampened wash cloth. Remember to use a dry cloth to wipe of the wetness 

In case of a food spill do not wait till it has settled and developed into a stain . Wipe it off immediately with a wetcloth. Same is the case with sweat and oil

If you are careful, a bean bag can and will last a long time, till you have had enough of the sight of it and replace it with a new one.



Comments 4

    1. Post

      Hi Liliana
      Most bean bags these days are made of faux leather – you cannot put them in the washer ( even if your company said that) they will eventually be destroyed. You can simply wipe them with soap solution and then wipe again with clean water till the suds are gone and then wipe dry – air dry away from heat and sunlight. If it was made of fabric you could have washed in the washer.

    1. Post

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