8 Ways to Clean and Care for Stuffed Animals

Every child treasures their collection of plush toys, but as these adorable cuddly friends accompany them from the playground to bedtime, they can collect more than just memories. From the occasional trip to the beach to unexpected encounters with pets, stuffed animals can harbor a variety of dirt, germs, and more. Yet, the joy of gifting these plushies to our children is irreplaceable. Thus, staying informed on the best cleaning practices is essential to ensure these stuffed companions remain safe and hygienic for your little ones.

Stuffed animals, by nature, attract a mix of dust, dirt, sweat, and bacteria. Fear not, for we're here to guide you through the safest and most effective methods to clean your child's plushie pals, ensuring they remain in perfect cuddling condition.

1. Machine Washing Plush Toys

The simplest way to refresh stuffed animals is by using your washing machine, applicable to most plush toys. Here's how to do it right:

  • Check Care Labels: Always verify that the toy is machine washable.
  • Protective Washing: Place each toy in a mesh laundry bag or a zippered pillowcase to minimize wear and tear. If unavailable, an old sock can serve as a makeshift protector.
  • Gentle Cycle: Use cold water and a mild detergent, opting for a delicate cycle. An extra rinse ensures all soap residue is removed.

2. Hand Washing for Delicate Stuffed Animals

For those plush toys that require a bit more TLC or are too large for the machine:

  • Ideal for Delicate Fabrics: Hand wash toys made from sensitive materials or those with electronic components.
  • Cleaning Solution: Mix a gentle detergent in cold water.
  • Thorough Soak: Submerge the toy, allowing it to soak for at least 15 minutes, then gently cleanse.
  • Rinse Well: Avoid wringing; instead, squeeze out the water gently and rinse until clean.

3. Surface and Spot Cleaning

For toys that cannot be submerged:

  • Mild Cleaning Solution: A mix of cold water and a teaspoon of liquid dish soap can do wonders.
  • Spot Test: Always test a hidden area first to ensure the fabric's safety.
  • Gentle Wiping: Use a soft cloth for cleaning and another damp cloth to remove soap traces.
  • Air Drying: Let the toy air dry completely.

4. Drying Stuffed Animals Post-Wash

  • Absorb Excess Water: Use a clean towel to gently press out water without wringing.
  • Air Drying: Choose a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight.
  • Low Heat Dryer: If you must use a dryer, opt for a low heat setting and monitor the process.

5. Deodorizing Without Washing

  • Baking Soda Method: Great for removing odors without a full wash. Shake the toy in a bag with baking soda, then vacuum off the residue.

6. Disinfecting Plush Toys

  • Freezer Trick: Overnight freezing can kill germs effectively, especially when combined with a quick wash or disinfectant spray beforehand.

7. Special Considerations

  • Extra Plush Toys: Avoid machine washing to prevent damage to long, soft fur.
  • Cleaning Vintage Stuffed Animals: Seek professional services for these precious toys to avoid damage.

8. Tips for Extra Large Stuffed Animals

  • Dryer Freshening: A quick air cycle in the dryer within a pillowcase can refresh without washing.
  • Spot Cleaning and Disinfecting: For human-sized toys, spot cleaning and disinfecting sprays are your best bet.


Armed with these tips, you can ensure your child's stuffed animal friends remain clean, fresh, and ready for the next adventure. Regular cleaning not only extends the life of these cherished toys but also keeps your child's play environment healthy and safe.


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