A DIY Solution for Surface-Clean-Only Items

Learn the secret of washing “surface-clean only” items using homemade soap foam. Say goodbye to stains with this simple, effective method!

A stuffed dog drying on a clothesline.

Our weekend started off on a somewhat sour note. A sour stomach, to be more specific. Both boys were sick as dogs. I believe it was the questionable dinner that Dad served, but I have no proofโ€”just a theory. The only true highlight of this sick-y subject is that I learned how to wash things that are typically not washable.

I will now share my pearls of wisdom with you, my dear readers.

Washing Surface-Clean Only Stuffed Animals

My middle child’s bunny has been his BFF since he was 1 year old. We have a tradition of having the kids make a lovey at Build-a-Bear for their first birthday. Bunny still sleeps with him every night, even 7 years later.

A freshly cleaned stuffed bunny being hugged by a stuffed sloth.

So how did I restore Bunny to his former glory?

Washing Slippers and Footwear

Minus the fact that I become more static-charged than a load of clothes in the dryer in winter when I wear my UltraIdeas slippers, they are the best slippers ever. Unfortunately, between the faux wool and the rubber soles, they don’t tend to survive the washing machine, even on the delicate cycle. There is a large flaw in the design of my comfy slippers.

My favorite cozy slippers with a faux fur cuff.

So how did I get my slippers good-as-new?

Washing Upholstery and “The Ugly Chair”

The ugliest 70s recliner in existence.

Okay, so you can tell from the title of this one that I am not particularly fond of said chair. It’s like the ’70s threw up on it (pun intended), but it’s my (now โ€œexโ€) husband’s favorite chair, and, as the compromising wife that I am (was), I let him keep it, though I cover it with a throw when I know company is coming. I lack a steam cleaner, and that tweed holds solids and liquids like you wouldn’t believe.

So how did I save the chair I secretly loathe?

My Recipe for Surface Washing Foam

The secret to cleaning “surface clean only” items lies in the gentle power of Dawn dish soap foam. Create a cleansing potion by whisking Dawn dish soap into water until it transforms into a fluffy foam. 

Add 2 cups of warm water into a mixing bowl, and then add a squirt of liquid dishwashing soap (like Dawn). Use an electric mixer at medium speed to mix the solution, and it will create a foam that can be used to clean your unwashable stuff. Simply scrub the item with a clean cloth or washcloth. Remember to only use the foam. You can use the mixer repeatedly if you need more foam. An old toothbrush is great for small-scale scrubbing. 

Use a spray bottle with cold water to gently rinse the surface of the said item. Do not saturate the item!

Rinse as much soap suds away as possible without letting it soak the inside. Remove excess water with a clean towel and let the item air dry. With items like slippers and stuffed toys, you can fluff it with a hair dryer on a warm or cool setting.

So, wave goodbye to stubborn stains and embrace the revitalizing touch of Dawn dish soap foam, giving your “surface clean only” items a new lease on life.

Tip: For stubborn stains, consider treating the area with a specialized stain remover suitable for the fabric type. Perform a spot test in an inconspicuous area first to ensure compatibility. Remember, patience is key, and gradual, gentle cleaning is often the best approach for delicate items.

Frequently Asked Questions

“Surface wash only” is a care label commonly found on clothing and other fabric items. It means that rather than soaking the item in water or machine-washing it, you should gently wipe the surface with a damp cloth or sponge. This is a caution to avoid potential damage to delicate fabrics or embellishments that may not withstand traditional washing methods.

Putting stuffed animals in the washing machine can damage them due to the mechanical agitation, which may cause the stuffing to clump or shift. The fabric of the stuffed animal may not hold up well to the rigorous movement and water exposure in a washing machine. Additionally, if the toy has delicate features, such as glued-on eyes or decorations, they may come off or get damaged during the washing process. For these reasons, it’s often recommended to surface-clean or spot-clean stuffed animals rather than subjecting them to a full washing machine cycle.

Drying slippers in the dryer can lead to various issues. The heat and tumbling action of the dryer can cause the slippers to lose their shape, especially if they have padding or lining. Additionally, the dryer’s heat might damage materials like rubber or faux fur commonly found in slippers. To preserve their integrity and avoid any potential damage from the dryer’s heat and mechanical action, it is advisable to air-dry slippers. This ensures your slippers stay comfortable and in good condition for longer.

Need more cleaning help?

If you’ve found value in this blog post and enjoyed reading it, why not share it with your Pinterest community? Pin the image below and spread the love!

A Pinterest-friendly graphic for my technique for cleaning surface-clean-only items.

Once you’ve mastered the skill of cleaning “surface clean only” items, there are countless ways to preserve your beloved possessions. You can revive delicate textiles and keep your beloved possessions looking new and vibrant with the help of Dawn dish soap foam and the right approach for tough stains. Take your time to safeguard the longevity of your cherished possessions.

Which “surface clean only” item are you excited to rescue using the Dawn dish soap foam method? Share your experiences and tips below!

Hands scooping up dish detergent foam from a purple bowl.
5 stars

How to Wash Delicates with Soap Foam

Using dish detergent foam, you can clean your delicate and cherished possessions.
Print Recipe
Prep Time:1 minute
Cook Time:1 minute
Total Time:2 minutes

This post may contain paid links. If you make a purchase using the links in this recipe, I may earn a commission.


  • 1 Mixing Bowl
  • 1 Spray Bottle


  • 1 squirt Dish Soap I prefer Dawn
  • 2 c. Warm Water


  • Put warm water into a mixing bowl, and then add a squirt of liquid dishwashing soap.
    2 c. Warm Water, 1 squirt Dish Soap
  • Use an electric mixer at medium speed to mix the solution until it creates foam.
  • Gently clean the item with the foam.
  • Use a spray bottle to rinse the surface of the item with clean water.
  • Let the item air dry or use a hair dryer on a warm or cool setting.


Avoid oversaturating your items. This may lead to mold or damage.
Keyword: For the Home, Soap
Servings: 1
Cost: $1.25

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