How To Clean Stuffed Animals Without Hurting Your Child's Best Friend

Have you been wondering how to clean stuffed animals?

how to clean stuffed animals
Photo by meddygarnet
I know this is a subject near and dear to my heart because my kids seem to have favorite stuffed animals, and they also seem to be quite accident prone.

Thus, the need to know how to adequately clean the beloved toy while not completely ruining it.

Criteria To Consider When Determing How To Clean Stuffed Animals

Figuring out how to clean stuffed animals properly can be more art than science, but I have found the information below is helpful in getting the job done.

Consider the following factors before making any decisions on how to clean a stuffed animal, especially one that is your child's beloved friend:

  • Age of the stuffed animal - the older it is, the more beloved it probably is, and also more fragile
  • Construction of the toy - sturdy stitching versus glue is important in making an informed decision
  • Stuffing material inside the animal - can make a difference on if it can be washed, or dried with heat, for example
  • Whether there are any working or moving parts - if so, do not immerse in water

Some, But Not All, Stuffed Animals Are Machine Washable

Some stuffed animals, especially those made for babies and very young children are designed to be washed in the washing machine.

As a parent, when shopping for stuffed animals if I notice it is machine washable it is a huge plus.

For example, I specifically bought my youngest a Gloworm because you could take out the part that lights up and wash it in the washing machine, plastic face and all.

This is a big plus because, as you know, babies drool, chew, spit, sneeze and vomit on everything in their crib.

However, we don't always have the luxury of choosing what stuffed animals are given to our children and which ones they will actually love and cherish, so learning how to clean stuffed animals can be important.

Tips For How To Clean Stuffed Animals In The Washing Machine

  • Look at the tag to see if it says it is machine washable
  • If it says on the tag you can wash by hand, you may want to risk machine washing (but no guarantees)
  • But, if it says "surface clean only" then think really hard before you throw it in the washing machine, because this warning means the insides of the animal shouldn't get wet
  • Make sure any little bows, ribbons, and other removable items have been removed before you begin washing (such things are choking hazards for young children anyway, so don't have them on any stuffed animals they play with)
  • Make sure to sew up any small holes in the seams which have developed with your child's loving grasp before washing, or the poor little guy will lose all his stuffing
  • Use cold water, the genle cycle, and mild laundry detergent, such as Woolite, for cleaning stuffed animals
  • Place the stuffed animal in a pillowcase and tie it shut before washing -- this does two things: (1) it helps protect the stuffed animal's "fur"; and (2) helps you gather the pieces if it falls apart in the wash (which is always a risk)
  • After washing you should let the animal air dry (high heat settings may damage the synthetic materials in many stuffed animals)
  • If your stuffed animal looks matted when it comes out of the washing machine you can fix this by putting it in the dryer on fluff air for 5-10 minutes
  • If your child cannot wait for the stuffed animal to thoroughly air dry before demanding his lovie back, you can throw it in the dryer to speed up the drying process (confession - I do this for some stuffed animals) but you have to live with the consequences if it messes the little animal up

How To Clean Stuffed Animals That Can Be Surface Cleaned Only

First, let me say that I dislike stuffed animals that can only be surface cleaned.

When my kids dirty one of their stuffed animals they don't just dirty the outside of it generally. Instead, they throw up on it while clutching the poor thing in their bed while feeling sick, or peeing on it while in the potty training stages, or spill an entire cup of liquid on it when they are transitioning from a sippy cup to a big kid cup.

In my house our stuffed animals are loved hard, and so I have, on occasion, decided to throw an unsalvageable stuffed animal away.

On the other hand, if the poor little stuffed animal is going to get thrown away anyway, why not just try machine washing and see how it goes?

But if you are really scared about machine washing, and the stuffed animal is too precious or delicate for cleaning by anything but a professional I suggest sending your stuffed animal to the Stuffed Animal Hospital, where they know how to clean stuffed animals and can professionally evaluate your stuffed animal to determine how best to salvage it.

However, if you want to try to surface clean your own stuffed animal, what do you do?

Steps For How To Clean Stuffed Animals That Must Be Surface Cleaned

1. Vacuum surface dust and dirt with your vacuum's upholstery brush.

2. Apply a foam upholstery cleaner to the surface of your stuffed animal.

Make Your Own "Safer" Upholstery Cleaner For Your Stuffed Animals

For stuffed animals that are being cleaned for your kids to play with you do not want to use harsh or toxic upholstery cleaners on them.

Every mother knows the first place stuffed animals go is into your child's mouth. I sure don't want my kids sucking on toxic cleaners.

Try making your own cleaning foam like this:

Directions: Add 2 cups of warm water into a mixing bowl, and then add a squirt of liquid dishwashing soap. Use an electric mixer at medium speed to mix the solution, and it will create a foam that can be used to clean your stuffed animals.

3. Use a spray bottle to rinse the surface of the stuffed animal with clean water. Be careful to rinse as much soap away as possible without soaking the inside of your stuffed animal.

4. Let the little stuffed animal air dry, and then fluff him or her in the dryer on the no heat setting if the stuffed animal's fur looks matted.

So that is how to clean stuffed animals. I hope this information can make a child happy to see their beloved friend all clean and happy again after an accident.

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