Cleaning Plushies: How to Keep Your Stuffed Animals Looking New

Photo: Dorothe Wouters via Unsplash

If you're like most people, you probably have a few plush toys that bring back memories of childhood. Maybe they're from your favorite movie or TV show, or maybe they're just a soft and cuddly friend that you can't resist. No matter what the reason, it's important to keep your plush toys looking new! In this blog post, we'll discuss how to clean plushies using simple methods that won't damage their fabric. We'll also provide some tips on how to prevent them from getting dirty in the first place. Keep your precious stuffed animals looking new for years to come by following our simple tips!

Many of us grew up with favorite plush toys, and there's a good chance our parents never washed any of them. We'll avoid the unpleasant specifics, but suffice to say that youngsters' messes are inconvenient. Thankfully, as parents, we have a greater understanding of dirt and germs than we did when we were children. They don't require regular baths like our children, but stuffed animals and other plush toys do require cleaning from time to time.

Washing stuffed animals are not difficult, but you must take precautions and use the proper technique. If your stuffed animals still have a legible label with washing instructions, that's fantastic. The dirtiest-looking toys are typically the ones that are loved the most, even if they lack an identification tag.

You may still learn how to wash stuffed animals without fabric care instructions, and our article will handle everything.

Is It Okay To Wash Stuffed Animals?

While most plush toys can be machine or hand-washed, some may not have a label indicating which is best. If this is the case and you're unsure of the materials, it's always better to err on the side of caution and wash by hand. But if you do choose to wash your stuffed animal by hand, how can you ensure that they come out clean and undamaged? Follow these steps:

  • Find a side seam and cut the stitching gently, then remove all of the fill—just make sure your children don't see this, okay?
  • Gently clean both sides of the exterior fabric by hand using a delicate detergent and some water.
  • Reverse the unstuffed animal and wash the inner fabric.
  • Thoroughly rinse your plush toy, remove any excess water by gently squeezing it, and then lay the toy flat to air dry.
  • Replace the old stuffing with a similar type.
  • Fill the gaps and stitch up the seam.

By investing some time and handling the stuffed animal with care, you can get it clean again--even if you have to handwash it. Not to mention, you can also make its stuffing look new again! In other words, by taking these steps, you've essentially given the stuffed animal a second chance at life.

All other stuffed animals and plush toys that require special treatment or can't be washed include:

  • Plushies with music or other gadgets.
  • Sequined, buttoned, and decked-out plush toys.
  • Toys with delicate clothing, such as transparent- or mesh-type fabrics.
  • Plush animals filled with foam balls rather than batting, like Beanie Babies.

It's critical to keep an eye on your plush animals for stains, rips, detached eyes, and loose decorations to stay ahead of the game. To help these prized stuffed toys last longer, spot treat any stains with a damp cloth and fix any damage you discover.

The Best Way to Clean Your Stuffed Animals by Hand

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Many plush toys are machine-washable, but the harsh rubbing on delicate materials causes them to wear out quickly. As a result, washing stuffed animals by hand is usually the best approach to preserve their softness and fragrance. Follow these guidelines for washing stuffed animals by hand to keep your favorites smelling and feeling brand new.

Start by Hand

Be slow and careful, especially with beloved plush toys that have been well-loved. The act of cuddling them each day can often result in thinning of the fabric on some parts from all the friction. Watch out for these weak spots. Pour a few drops of gentle detergent into some cool water in the sink and work it into the fabric beneath the fur.

Rinse-and-Squeeze Method

Get as much soap out of the toy as possible without wringing it. Rinse the stuffed animal until it’s soaked, then squeeze out the water. Repeat the rinsing process until the water runs clear.

Let it Dry!

To clean your stuffed animal, fluff up the fur with a damp cloth and wipe away any soap residue. Machine drying is not recommended for most stuffed animals because they are usually made of synthetic materials. If you can, put the toy outside in the sun or inside on a rack to air dry.

How to Clean Stuffed Animals in the Washing Machine

Even the most vigilant among us have accidentally thrown something in the washing machine that shouldn't go there. If your stuffed animal's tag indicates it is safe to wash in the machine, then don't hesitate. Machine washing can actually be beneficial for more than one stuffed animal at a time.

The process is technically the same—just a bit faster and more efficient with the washer. Using a laundry sanitizer on a washable stuffed animal will disinfect it. While spray disinfectant is convenient and quick to use, the chemicals may harm synthetic fur.

After that, just like the "rinse and squeeze" and "air dry" hand washing steps, you toss the plush animal into a clean white towel and press down to drain any extra water after washing it. Return the plush toy to its original form by redistributing any displaced fill material. Fluff up the stuffing, make sure all of it is there and welcome your new fur companion back.

The Most Effective Way to Clean Plush Toys Containing Electronics

Keep in mind that if you're unsure, it's always best to clean your stuffed animals by hand to avoid damaging them permanently. Plush toys with electronic components require special care so their parts aren't damaged during the cleaning process. Follow these steps for cleaning plushies by hand:

  • Cover all electrical inputs with tape and remove any batteries.
  • Use a white towel dampened with dish soap and water to remove the grime, and be cautious not to wet things too much.
  • Gently fluff the fur with a damp cloth and wipe away any soap residue.

How Frequently Should I Wash Stuffed Animals?

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You don't need to wash your child's stuffed animals every single day. A weekly dusting will suffice, and you should technically only have to wash them once a month. However, if your kid is sick, make sure to clean and disinfect the toys they've been playing with.

If you want to rid your stuffed animals of germs and mites, you must wash them at 149 degrees Fahrenheit. But because few plush toys can withstand hot water, put the toy in a plastic bag and leave it overnight in the freezer instead. The sub-zero temperature will kill any icky germs or critters, after which you can then wash the plushie in cold water.

Stuffed animals, like any other item, can acquire an undesired scent over time. Even with regular spot treatment and dusting, toys may have a pungent odor. Food odors, drool, carpet dirt, and pet scents might leave things unsound. Try the following to remove obnoxious smells:

  • Seal the stuffed animal in a plastic bag with a cup of baking soda.
  • Shake the bag for around 20 seconds before placing it outside in the sun or inside near a window.
  • After you think the sun has done its job, you can remove the stuffed toy and vacuum it! It should smell good as new!

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