Did you know you need to clean stuffed animals? When your child gets covered in dirt or sweat from playing hard, you make sure they take a good bath. Their stuffed toys need cleaning now and then, too, and for the same reason. As a mom, I know it’s important to wash stuffed animals the right way, because our kids get so attached to them. So I’ve put together this guide to help you safely get your children’s’ stuffed toys clean, whether they’re just a little dirty or downright gross.
Before You Begin
The right method to clean your child’s stuffed animals depends on two things: how the toy is made, and how dirty it is. If it’s delicate or has electronic parts, I stick with spot washing. Otherwise, I wash them in the sink if they’re just a little dirty or pop them into the washer if they’re grubby.
- Spot wash toys containing electronic parts including lights and music boxes, those filled with foam beads (like Beanie Babies) or rice, and those embellished with delicate fabrics.
- Hand wash stuffed toys decorated with sequins or ornaments that are glued on, not sewn.
- Machine wash other stuffed animals and plush toys following directions on the care label, if there is one, or use the method below.
Spot-Clean Stuffed Animals
For non-washable toys, or just to clean up surface messes, I recommend using a white cloth and cool, soapy water to wipe away messes. It’s a good idea to test for colorfastness first. Once you’ve removed the mess, rinse the spot with a clean, damp cloth to get rid of the soap reside. Let the toy dry and fluff it up with a brush.
Washing Stuffed Animals by Hand
It’s easiest to hand-wash stuffed toys in the sink, though you can use a bucket or bathtub if needed. As I show in the video at the top of the page, washing a stuffed animal by hand is just like hand-washing laundry.
- Fill the basin halfway with cold water and add two tablespoons of mild dish soap or liquid laundry detergent. Swirl to mix.
- Soak the stuffed animal and gently squeeze soapy water through it. Use your fingers to rub any particularly soiled spots or stains.
- Drain the sink and rinse the toy under cold running water, pressing it gently to squeeze out soap suds.
- Once the water runs clear, blot the toy in fresh towels and let it air dry.
Machine Washing Stuffed Toys
To machine wash stuffed animals, it’s best to put each toy in a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase that you knot at the top. Launder the stuffed toy using a gentle cycle, mild detergent and cold water. Once the cycle’s done, blot each toy separately in a towel then let them air dry. Use a brush to fluff up their fur when they’re dry.
FAQs about Cleaning Stuffed Animals
This blog exists to help people, so I encourage readers to ask questions in the comment section. When many people have the same question, I update the post to include the answer and increase the article’s helpfulness. If you have a question not answered in the article or FAQs below, please leave it in the comments and you’ll be helping others, too.
How often should I wash stuffed animals?
Wash your child’s stuffed toys after every illness or bout with lice. If your child has allergies or asthma, clean their stuffed animals monthly to remove dust, pollen, and other irritants. And, of course, wash them any time they look grimy or smell musty.
Can I put my child’s stuffed toy in the dryer?
I don’t recommend it. Tumble drying plush toys sometimes makes them shrink or get lumpy. It’s better to blot the wet toy with fresh towels then air-dry or line-dry it. If you absolutely must use a dryer, blot the toy then use a low heat setting for 15 minutes to get most of the damp out but let it finish air-drying to avoid shrinkage.
How can I freshen a smelly teddy bear without washing it?
To freshen musty-smelling stuffed animals, put them in a plastic bag with a cup of baking soda, seal the bag, and give it a shake so the baking soda covers the toy. Let the toy deodorize overnight, then shake off the powder outside. Remove any remaining baking soda using your vacuum cleaner’s dust attachment, taking care around the eyes or other decorative embellishments.
How do I clean a vintage or sentimental Stuffed toy?
Damaged, vintage, or valuable stuffed animals require professional attention. Talk to your dry cleaner who may be able to help. Otherwise, check local business listings for places like “stuffed animal hospitals” or toy repair services.
Our kids get so attached to their stuffed animals, but that also means their beloved toys can get covered in grime and filled with germs. Spot cleaning works for surface messes, but there will be times you’ll want to clean stuffed animals more thoroughly. Wash stuffed animals by hand or in the machine using cold water if they’re not electronic or vintage, blot them with towels, then let them air dry. Your child will be so happy when their clean stuffed animals are good as new!