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How Long Will a Meditation Cushion Last

How Long Will a Meditation Cushion Last

Posted by Jay Suthers on Jun 27th, 2023

One question that is frequently asked by customers is, "How long will my meditation cushion last?" The answer to this question is generally, "What do you mean by 'last'?" I suppose they mean how long before the cushion is no longer useable or how long before it completely fails in some way.

With normal use, that is, daily sitting meditation, here are some typical things that happen to a meditation cushion over time:

  1. The cushion flattens out.
  2. The cushion develops an odor.
  3. The cushion becomes dirty.
  4. The color of the cushion fades.

The meditation cushion is essentially a fabric container filled with buckwheat hulls or Kapok - the two main types of fill used in meditation cushions. Over time, the fabric will stretch, which increases the size of the container. In addition, the buckwheat hulls break down because they grind together with each use. The air surrounding the Kapok fibers gets squeezed out as you sit on the cushion. These factors cause the cushion to flatten out over time.

Buckwheat Hulls can be replenished. Our meditation cushions all have a zippered opening where we filled the cushion and more hulls can be added as needed. Kapok cushions can be squeezed (hugged) to restore the shape of the cushion but additional Kapok is very difficult to add. There is an opening in our cushions but stuffing more Kapok in with a stick creates lumps of unevenly-packed Kapok.

The flattening out of a cushion generally happens slowly over years of use. Your body will adapt to this process as well. The usability of the cushion will not likely change from this flattening for several years.

Over time, cushions can develop odors, which oftentimes come from your body or from pets who love to cuddle next to a warm meditation cushion. There are some great products for eliminating odors such as Fabreeze or Pooph.

Cushions can also become dirty, generally collecting dust over time. Many of our meditation cushions come with removable covers. We recommend washing them in cold water on a gentle cycle with mild detergent. If your cushion does not have a removable cover, you can regularly vacuum the cushion to remove dust buildup. You can also take the cushion outside and give it a good shake and mild beating to get the dust out of it.

One note with Buckwheat Hulls is that, as they break down, you may notice a fine, black powder coming out of the cushion or collecting between the removable cover and the inner bag containing the hulls. This is normal as the bits work their way through the fabric. Some people see this and think they might have an insect infestation. To be sure, they are just tiny bits of the hulls and not insect eggs.

Finally, the color dyes in any fabric will fade over time. Fading doesn't just come from exposure to sunlight but also from exposure to oxygen. UV rays from sunlight will definitely accelerate fabric fade but daily exposure to oxygen slowly changes the color as well. There isn't any way to stop this from happening. Fortunately, it's a slow process that happens imperceptibly. One day you might get a new cushion and, upon setting it next to the old one, you will discover how much the color has changed.

Here are some atypical things that happened to meditation cushions:

  1. Seam or fabric tears.
  2. Fabric stains.
  3. Pet mishaps.
  4. Water damage.
  5. Fire.

Our meditation cushions are made with heavy denim-weight fabric and the seams are sewn with heavy cotton thread. With normal use, there shouldn't be any tearing or seam failure. In order to avoid these failures, don't keep any sharp objects in your pockets during meditation to avoid chaffing or cutting the fabric. Seams can fail if the cushion is jumped on or tossed into the air and dropped. Just like a pumpkin, it will crack open if dropped or jumped on.

To avoid stains, do not eat food or drink beverages while sitting on a cushion. Keep the cushion away from places where food, beverages, cleaning chemicals, art supplies, and other spills might occur. Make sure to wear clean clothes - especially pants or dresses that are free from paint, oils, and other materials that could transfer to the fabric on the cushion.

Pet mishaps do occur. We love our pets but their behavior is difficult to understand. They may suddenly choose to use your cushion as a bathroom. If you've noticed your pet going to the bathroom on other inappropriate objects, take measures to protect your cushion such as putting it in a plastic back or stowing it in a closet when not in use. If it's too late, then you can try products the neutralize pet odors typically available at any pet supply store. Our removable covers can be washed in cool water, with a gentle cycle, and mild detergent. We also offer replacement covers and inserts if needed.

Water damage is difficult to remedy. A cotton-filled Zabuton can absorb a couple of gallons of water and will not likely dry out before mold and mildew begin to grow. Kapok is naturally waterproof - it was and still is used in life jackets and other floatation devices. Still, if it gets wet, it can also grow mold and mildew. Buckwheat Hulls can also hold water. 

If only a bit of water has been spilled on a cushion, put the cushion on a drying rack in a cool-dry place to see if it will dry out quickly. Setting the cushion on a rack outside in the sun can also help to dry it more quickly but the sun will fade the fabric color if the cover is not removable. If the cushion is completely saturated, there really isn't anything that can be done to dry it out.

Don't ever put a cushion or cushion insert into a washing machine or dryer. The tumbling action will likely break the cushion open and give you a royal mess. A water-saturated cushion is very heavy and can break your machine. 

With Buckwheat Hulls they can be removed from the cushion, spread out on a tarp, and dried. The covers can then be dried on a rack or with low to no heat in a dryer. Put the hulls back into the fabric and the cushion should be fine.

Of course, I only mention fire because it can happen. Unfortunately, a burned cushion is simply not repairable.

In conclusion, with normal use, your meditation cushion should last several years. Do your best to protect the cushion from the unusual. Treat it like the sacred object that it is. It is part of your meditation journey and should be treated as such.

Thank you for reading,


If you would like to comment on this blog or have any questions, please feel free to Contact Sage Meditation Customer Service.