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Cleaning Stuffed Animals

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Household Management > Cleaning Stuffed Animals



Stuffed animals are getting grimy - need to clean them

Feb 2005

Do you have a good recommendation for cleaning stuffed animals? Ours are not exactly stained, but are looking rather grimy a few years later and my daughter doesn't seem ready to part with them for some time to come. I'm hoping for an easy-to-get product - something that doesn't have to be mail ordered with extra shipping/handling or minimum order amounts. Heike


I've had great luck just throwing stuffed animals in the washing machine with the sheets and towels. For the ones with parts (like wind-up music) I just wash them by hand with Woolite and am careful not to submerge them. I typically just put them in the dryer too. Haven't had any ruined loved ones yet! Kristen
Both my kids have had stuffed animals that have been loved into horrible, occasionally smelly, condition. We have always put them in a pillowcase, tied it with a twist tie, and tossed it into the washer, then the dryer. (A trick recommended by a store where one was bought.) The loveys have survived many such washings, and have always come out fine and smelling a whole lot better. Leslie
Many stuffed animals can be washed in the washing machine with ordinary detergent and then air dried. Start with the gentle/delicate cycle and cold water and don't mix cotton-covered animals of different colors (in case the dyes run). Make sure the filling can get wet. I wash the polyester-covered-and-filled animals in hot along with any other clothes. David
I threw all my son's stuffed animals in the washing machine, even though every label said not to, and dried them on hot at the laundromat (really hot). The only serious casualty was a lion with a long, soft mane. The mane came out permanently densely ratted. It might have been fine in a home dryer on medium heat. I don't recommend doing what I did (laundromat dryer on hot) but I'd do it again with a home machine, keeping an eye on them, turning it down to medium after awhile. They were all the usual, squishy type, and the ALL had dire warnings against anything more than a damp cloth. Jenny

Cleaning "surface washable only" cloth toys

Oct 2002

Does anyone have any fancy tricks for cleaning well-loved stuffed animals that are surface wash only? I've heard something about cornstarch, but haven't a clue how to go about this. Thanks. Lauren


re: cleaning ''surface wash only'' stuffed animals. Use the washing machine and dryer. My son spit up a lot. I mean a _lot_. I decided that surface washing just wasn't going to cut it and machine washed all his surface wash only stuffed animals. The ones with the crinkling sounds - like w/ paper inside - no longer crinkled, but the rest were fine. I must say i didn't have or wash any with anything fragile seeming. There are no guarantees, but realize that they might be just fine. Good luck! Sue
I ignored the tags that said ''surface wash only'' and threw all the used stuffed animals that I was given into the washing machine, using warm water and a scoop of Oxy-Clean along with the laundry detergent. Thus far, every stuffed animal I've tried this with has survived and looked almost like new. Diane
Jan 2002

Does anyone know a good way to thoroughly clean stuffed animals and cloth toys that are marked "surface washable only"? My 9-month-old teeths on everything, and I'm trying to find a non-toxic, but fairly thorough way to clean her cloth books, stuffed animals, etc. Thanks! Lianna


If your child hasn't already attached to one specific stuffed animal, try allergycontrol.com. They have stuffed animals designed to be washed in hot water. I have frequently put in "surface washable only" animals in the washer and had no problem, as long as they were well-constructed to start with. meghan

Cleaning Vintage Stuffed Animals

Nov 2001

I have a 30-year-old stuffed animal that I want to pass down to my son, but I'm having a hard time cleaning it. I handwashed it first, but the water turned so brown that I felt I needed to machine wash it, and now I can't get it dry. I started off tumbling it on no heat and then moved on to full blast for almost an hour, but the stuffing still feels heavy like it's wet inside and seems like it's starting to come loose a little. Now, after taking a hair dryer to it and letting it sit out for several days, it smells a little mildew-y. I'd really like this special toy to be played with, not put on a shelf, but I don't want to give it to my baby if it's unsafe. Should I dry clean it? What about the chemicals? If I do need to store it, is there some way to keep it pristine?


The easiest thing to do is to cut a seam, remove all the old stuffing (which probably isn't very nice after all this time) and restuff it with fresh (you can also get non-mildew stuffing to avoid this problem in the future). That will make it like new without taking away it's charm. Marianne
Since the issue seems to be the stuffing, have you thought of restuffing it? Perhaps you can find where on the seam the last stitches were done, carefully take enough of the stitches out to get the old stuffing out, and put in new clean stuffing. It may not look exactly the same as before, but you won't have the mildew concerns.
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this page was last updated: Nov 13, 2005


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