A Squishy is a popular stress relief toy. Squishes are also known as Kawaii Squishes. Kawaii means cute in Japanese. They can help relieve stress and anxiety. People using them often feel a sense of calm when they squeeze and shape them. Squishes are sometimes infused with scents that match the look of them, so a strawberry cake squishy gives off the smell of strawberry. The scent can increase the relaxation effect.


Squishies are made from a special rubberized foam that is easily squeezed and then slowly goes back to the original shape. Squishes come in a variety of styles that often come from pop culture, anime, animals, and foods. Examples include ice cream cones, donuts, cupcakes,strawberries, Japanese milk buns, strawberry shortcake, toast, pandas, tigers, Hello Kitty, and Despicable Me.


Kawaii squishies were invented in Japan. It was their very squishy feel that gave them their iconic name.[1] Most squishies are made out of Polyurethane. Polyurethan was invented by a German named Otto Bayer in 1937. Early use goes back to World War II airplane coatings. It is commonly used in cars today.

Squishy Safety

Most squishes are made from polyurethane which is a synthetic material. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that long-term exposure to polyurethane foam may cause various illnesses and conditions ranging from cancer to asthma. However, the amount of toxic material released from the solid foam form of it found in squishes is very small.[2] Squishes should never be put in the mouth or ingested. They must never be heated. Children should not sleep in bed with them. New squishies should be aired out for a while to allow the chemicals to dissipate until there is no strong smell.

A Danish agency issued a warning to avoid squishies that have any strong chemical smell to them.[3] If children already have squishes with a strong fragrance, they should use them in a well ventilated area and avoid prolonged contact with them. With smaller bodies and developing organs, children are more sensitive than adults to chemicals, so there may be a high toxic exposure risk with extended time near the toy. The Danish investigation detected harmful chemicals, including dimethylformamide, styrene and toluene which may cause cancer, liver damage, and skin irritation[4]. The agency is in the process of conducting studies to further investigate the actual health impact.

Reports of squishies causing severe chemical burns from liquid inside it have been reported[5]. However, the manufacturer claimed it must have been from heating it up before handling it, but the parent's deny that it was heated.

See our Homemade Squishies section below to learn how to make them without foam and your own natural safe scents. You can also find commercially available ones made using non-toxic materials.

Homemade Squishes

Squishes can be made at home without using sponge material, such as cushion foam available at most craft stores or even a kitchen sponge. Memory foam is another good material that can be used. Use scissors to cut the sponge into whatever shape you like. Color can be added using fabric markers, chalk pastels, 3D paint, or window paint. Paints can be applied using a paint brush or popsicle stick.[6]

A very simple squishy can be easily made using paper and tape without foam. Draw and color the shape of your squishy on a piece of paper. Next, cut out two identical pieces for the front and back. The two sides get taped together leaving the bottom open and space for the filling. They are then stuffed with a material that simulates the slow rising property of foam, such as wool cotton, plastic bag pieces, or other safe materials. You can even add natural scents to them, like fruit zest. Finally, tape everything closed. The outside can be made stronger by wrapping clear tape or duct tape over it.

How to Use a Kawaii Squishy

There is no specific way to use them, but many people like to slowly squeeze them and then take some time to enjoy the released scent. When watching them, one can visualize their stress going away as it expands back to their original shape. Doing it repeatedly can be very relaxing and is considered to be a form of meditation.

Care Instructions

Squishies are not very durable and can be easily broken. Direct sunlight in particular can cause them to lose their scent and color. Sunlight can also make them fall apart over time, so keep them away from direct sunlight if you want them to last for a long time.[7]

Smashy Mashy Pets

Smashy Mashies are marketed more for boys. They come in clear slime-filled canisters with a Smashy Mashy slow-rising pet monster character. Unlike regular squishies, these have what others call a "stinky" nacho cheese scent.[8] A secret decoder allows kids to discover and play a special word game.

Related Toys

Other popular toys that are similar are Fidget Cubes and Fidget Spinners. Fidget Cubes have many buttons on the them that can be pressed on and off and Fidget Spinners can be twirled when holding them. They both provide stress relief and are good for people that tend to fidget around.


  1. "What are Kawaii Squishies?". 23 July 2017.
  2. "Is Polyurethane Foam Safe?". 23 July 2017.
  3. "Danish Agency Warns Against "Squishy" Toys, While Consumers Are Warned of Strong Chemical Smells and the Importance of the CE Mark on Toys". 20 April 2018.
  4. "Popular Squishies Toys Banned After Safety Scare But What About Australia?". 4 September 2018.
  5. "Mom Shares Urgent Squishies Warning After Her Girl Suffers Chemical Burns". 29 May 2018.
  6. "FAQ Homemade Squishies". 23 July 2017.
  7. "What Material are Squishies Made of?". 23 July 2017.
  8. "Smashy Mashy Pets Series 1 Review". 8 August 2018.