How To Clean Stuffed Animals At Home

How To Clean Stuffed Animals At Home

Being a mother of two, I am well aware of how much kids love their favorite plush toys. My little ones have many stuffed toys, some even as old as they are. All very dear to them. Both my kids would want to bring their soft toys everywhere they go. And so it becomes essential to keep their plush toys clean and tidy at all times. Believe me when I say that cleaning plush toys is not that difficult. With a few simple tips, you can easily maintain your child’s toys as good as new.

Most stuffed toys these days come with washing instructions, which makes them easy to maintain. However, I also have my own theory to wash or disinfect soft toys at home. In this blog,  I will be sharing three simple ways to clean stuffed animals. You can follow any method to keep the stuffed toys neat and clean.

Washing Stuffed Toys In The Washer

I remember washing my son’s favorite teddy in my washing machine and getting it out dirtier than before. Hence, lesson learned, and here are my tested and tried steps of washing delicate stuffed animals in the machine:

Step 1: Cover the stuffed toy before you put it in the washer. You can keep it inside a mesh bag or pillowcase with zip closure before washing. This will protect the delicate toys from breaking.

Step 2: Select gentle washing settings on your machine. When washing plush toys in the machine, do not put any other clothes for washing in the machine. This will protect your child’s soft toy from discoloration or getting soiled by a bleeding cloth. Just a quick wash in your machine is enough for a soft toy.

Step 3: Add a mild detergent to the washtub. Do not use detergents with harsh chemicals to clean stuffed animals. Use a mild washing liquid or powder that would not bleach the soft toy. You can also use a biodegradable washing liquid or powder to wash the toys.

Step 4: Use cold or lukewarm water to wash soft toys. Hot water can ruin the fur of the soft toy. It may also ruin the colors of the toy. Hot water can also shrink the stuffed animal.

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Step 5: Now how to dry soft toys after washing?. Use the air dry method. Simply put the washed toy in a mesh bag and hang it in open for air drying. You can also use a hairdryer to fluff up the fur of the soft toys. Remember to use the hand hairdryer on the lowest heat setting. You can use the machine for drying your toy if the toy is relatively firmer.

Do not try to wash large soft toys in the machine as it can de-shape the toy or even break the filling. I also avoid washing toys in the machine if they have:

  • sequins
  • delicate clothing or fur
  • a battery or music box
  • small beads
  • glued-in plastic parts

Washing Stuffed Toys By Hand

Handwashing is the best way to wash delicate stuffed toys or old stuffed toys. You may also check the wash instructions by the manufacturer to decide if you want to handwash your stuffed animal.

Here are the steps that I follow to hand wash teddy bear or other old delicate stuffed toys:

Step 1: Soak the toy in water for some time. Soaking helps stains and spots to come loose. Thus, removal becomes easy. You can use lukewarm or cold water to soak your stuffed toys. Follow this step for at least 15 minutes to soak the toys well.

Step 2: Use a mild, biodegradable detergent to clean your child’s soft toy. Simply apply the soap to the teddy bear with gentle pressure. And leave it for 5 minutes to soak. Using a harsh chemical can ruin the fur and coating of the stuffed toy.

Step 3: Once the detergent has done its work, it is now time to handwash the teddy bear gently. Again use cold water to gently clean the detergent and wash your little one’s toy. Do not scrub the stuffed toy as this can ruin the fur. Also, do not wring the soft toy while rinsing the soap as it can de-shape the toy.

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Step 4: After you have completely washed the soft toy, it is time to dry it out. Pat dry the toy before air drying it. Place your toy in a mesh, similar to the machine wash method, to air dry it in open.

Spot Cleaning Stuffed Toys

Spot cleaning is preferred for toys that are tattered, very delicate, old, or come with a music or voice box. You can also spot clean stuffed animals with batteries. I use a damp cloth and mild soap for a surface wash. This cleans only a stained or spoiled spot on your stuffed toy.

I avoid submerging these toys in the water. You can also use hand-wash or dish-wash soap to clean the spots as these soaps are mild yet absorb well. Do not scrub these toys with a big laundry brush. You can use an old toothbrush with soft bristles to gently clean the dirty spot on your toy.

After your delicate stuffed toy is clean, air dry it in the open. You can also use a hairdryer on the lowest heat setting to gently dry the washed spot.

Points To Keep In Mind When Cleaning Stuffed Toys At Home

1. Remember not to expose the toy to the sun for too long. This can fade the bright colors of the toy.
2. You can use borax or baking soda teamed with a mild detergent to brighten up an old toy.
3. Do not over-handle the delicate soft toys.
4. Avoid putting the toys with glued-in eyes, nose, or other parts in a dryer as this can melt the plastic.
5. Use an S-type hook to hang dry the soft toys.
6. Different types of fur can react with different types of chemicals. Use a mild detergent to avoid any chemical damage.
7. Before air-drying your stuffed toy, gently press down the excess water. You can do this in your sink to avoid any spillage.
8. Do not overstuff your washing tub when using a washing machine to clean plush toys.
9. Use an EPA-registered disinfectant for soft toys to keep them clean from germs, odor, and other viruses.
10. Use a brush with large bristles to smoothen out the edges of the fur once the toy is completely dried.

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FAQs – Cleaning Dirty Stuffed Animals

1. How to clean dust and dirt deposited on an old teddy bear?

To clean a dusty toy when it is not ready for a wash, you can take it outside and shake it to remove the dust. You can use a brush with large bristles to gently remove the deposited dirt. Once clean, get it inside and use a damp cloth to remove any stubborn spot.

2. For how long can we wash stuffed animals in a machine?

I would recommend that you choose the ‘Quick Wash’ setting on your machine, or use the gentle cycle. A wash-cycle of around 20 minutes would be enough for a stuffed toy.

3. How often should I wash stuffed animals?

Once every month would suffice. However, you may have to wash it whenever it gets soiled. In case the spot is not stubborn go for spot cleaning instead of washing the toy every time your child soils it.

4. How to clean non-washable stuffed toys?

A toy can be non-washable if it has batteries or a music box, or the inside fur is sensitive to water. To clean such a stuffed toy you can opt for either spot cleaning or rinsing and air drying. You can also use baking soda to clean grime, grease, or unpleasant odor.

5. How will I know if my stuffed toy is delicate?

A stuffed toy is considered delicate if it has:
● delicate fur
● electrical components like a music box, voice box and battery box
● movable parts like limbs and head
● fiber filling
● leather surface
● sequins or beads

Apart from this any old or handmade stuffed toy is also considered delicate.

I hope these steps will help you to easily clean and disinfect stuffed animals at home. Be cautious when handling a delicate or old stuffed toy. Believe me, you would not want to ruin your child’s favorite plush toy while washing.