Washing stuffed animals can be tricky. Can they go in the washer or not? Can you use regular detergent or do you have to use a specialty product? Is my little one going to have a melt-down if I take the stuffed animal away long enough to wash it? (Hint: don’t wash those kinds of stuffed animals around nap time or bed time. Trust me.)
There are many reasons you need to wash stuffed animals: the attack of the stomach bug, they can be dusty from sitting on a shelf, a little too much love from the owner, lice or other varmints, or frequent washing for kiddos with allergies and asthma.
Stuffed animals are like clothes – the less you wash them, the longer they will look new. After an animal has been washed that crisp, new look probably won’t be there. But at least they’ll look clean!
You Can’t Wash Your Stuffed Animal in the Washing Machine if:
- They have a music box sewn inside
- They are extremely old and fragile
- They have items glued on – sequins, etc. Glued-on eyes probably will survive a washing.
- They have delicate ‘clothing’ items on that can’t be removed (think glittery, net-type dresses or delicate little crowns or the like)
- They have small foam balls inside (like Beanie Babies) not batting.
(See the comments section for how to clean Beanie Baby-like stuffed animals.)
How To Wash Stuffed Animals in the Washing Machine
Before washing a stuffed animal, examine it carefully. Are there parts that need to be removed first? Any strings that need to be secured?
Stuffed animals are similar to pillows in that they wash much better if laundered in a machine that does not have an agitator. If you have a top loader, you could always take a large load and wash them at the laundromat. Washing with an agitator tends to make the animal ball up due to the agitator displacing the batting.
After determining your stuffed animal can be washed, place it in a mesh laundry bag. The mesh bag gives it an extra level of protection from snagging or being pummeled too much in the machine.
Always wash stuffed animals on the gentle/delicate cycle. They just can’t tolerate a more aggressive washing that a ‘normal’ cycle would give. You can use a warm or cool wash but steer clear of hot. If items are glued on, the hot water might dissolve some of the glue.
After washing, remove from the bag and hang dry. I hang mine using a child’s clamp hanger or on my S-hooks. Dryer heat – even on low – could potentially melt glued on or plastic parts.
Quick Washing Guide:
- Make sure the stuffed animal can be washed.
- Place in a mesh bag.
- Wash on warm/cool water temperature on the delicate cycle.
- Hang dry. Don’t put in the dryer.