Washing Stuffed Animals | How to Clean Your Baby’s Babies

Emily's Candy

It happens to all of us as parents.  Our dear sweet child has her favorite “lovey” toy and something castrophic happens to it – spilled milk, diaper mishap, drug through the dirt outside… What do you do now?

Being a mother of 4, I’ve certainly experienced more than my fair share of stuffed animal disasters, and for a while I was really in the dark about how to fix what seemed to be unfixable.  Can you put it in the washer?  Is it safe to get wet?  Oh please tell me it’s not ruined!!!

A friend of mine asked me the other day if there was any hope for her daughter’s favorite stuffed animal and it inspired me to share with all of you!  YES!  More often than not you CAN wash them!

Before you get way too excited, here are the list of those that may not survive depending on how you wash them:

  • Chenille
  • Stuffed toys with electronics inside  (gently spot clean these for best results)
  • Antique and or older stuffed animals (use your own discretion)
  • Fuzzy things that come out of the vending machine (if they’re shedding already, that’s a good sign it won’t hold up)
  • Stuffed toys with glitter, glued on items (eyes seem to stay on ok), or netting (again, gently spot clean)
  • Beanies (Ok to hand wash – DO NOT put in the dryer)

When you wash your animals, know that they probably won’t look exactly like they did before you started, but they’ll be clean – and sometimes clean is all that matters.  You can keep them looking the closest to new by avoiding two things: agitation and heat.

Washing Stuffed Animals 6

This is what happens to chenille when you wash it in a washer with an agitator and put it in the dryer.  These are the same two cats.  See how the batting inside the 1st one is all bunched up and displaced?  The dryer did a number on the kitties chenille fur too.  🙁

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If you choose to use the washer, front loader washers and top loaders without agitators are ideal.  Place your stuffed toy in a delicates bag like this one or in a pillow case for protection.  A gentle cold water wash and a gentle detergent are best.  I suggest running it through one more time without detergent just to make sure all the soap got out from the inside.  Then hang dry or use a rack in the dryer with a no heat cycle.

If you don’t have a front loader, or are worried about how well the toy will hold up, hand washing works well too!

Washing Stuffed Animals 4

Dilute a mild detergent and find a gentle brush of some kind (nail brush, toothbrush).  Submerge your subject in the sink and gently scrub out the dirty spots.  The more gentle you are, the better the asthetic outcome will be.

Washing Stuffed Animals 1

Then squeeze over and over again until the water turns clear and you don’t see any more soap.  Refill the sink with clean water and repeat until the water is clear and you are sure the soap is out.

Washing Stuffed Animals 2

Remove from the water and gently squeeze the majority of the water out.  This is also a good time to do a little “fluffing” with that brush you had.  Ever so gently brush the fuzz and fur to keep it from matting down.

Washing Stuffed Animals 3

Then simply hang dry where ever you have a decent place to do so.  I used this pants hanger on a shower curatin rod, but you can get creative and use regular clothes hangers – or whatever you have that works.  Just make sure it’s over something that will collect water – because these things hold a lot of it!

Whatever you do, be careful and use good judgement.  Every stuffed toy is different and so therefore I cannot absolutely guarantee yours will survive – however in most cases if you follow the above instructions, you should have a clean and happy outcome!




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