Best Laundry Detergent Deals

Washing Stuffed Animals

This post contains affiliate links that help support Mama’s Laundry Talk.  Visit Mama’s Disclosure Policy for more information.

Washing Stuffed Animals - A Step-by-Step Guide


One of the most popular posts here at Mama’s is How to Wash Stuffed Animals.  It is in the top three most viewed posts every day.  And while it offers good advice on how to launder stuffed animals, it doesn’t address those animals that can’t be submerged in water.

 

So what stuffed animals cannot go through the washer?

- Those with a music box
- Those with items that are glued on, such as buttons or a hat.  Glued-on eyes will probably survive washing okay if you follow Mama’s instructions
- The animal has on delicate clothing items that can’t be removed
- Those that have objects such as glitter or sequins
- Those that have styrofoam balls inside (ie: Beanie Babies)
- Those that have been over-loved and are extremely old or fragile

 

How to Wash a Stuffed Animal that Cannot Go Through the Washing Machine

If you have a most-loved stuffed animal that cannot go through the washer for a good cleaning, use the following guide to spot-clean it by hand.  It’s not nearly as hard or time-consuming as you might think.

Assemble your supplies:

Supplies for Washing Stuffed Animals

A clean toothbrush (it doesn’t have to be new, just clean)
Two clean white washcloths
A clean white towel
A small bowl or wash basin
High-Efficiency laundry detergent

I’ve tried washing stuffed animals using several different types of soaps (dish detergent and hand soap) but it works best to use an HE detergent due to its low-sudsing properties.

Use only a white or very light colored towel to wash and dry your stuffed animals.  A towel that is dark in color or hasn’t been washed a million times might transfer its color onto your animal.  And then you’ve got a whole new set of troubles.  So save yourself the headache and use white linens.

Depending upon the size of your bowl or basin, place a small amount of HE detergent in the bottom.  There is only about a tablespoon in this basin.

Detergent to Wash Stuffed Animals

Fill the container with warm water, agitating the water as it fills the bowl so the detergent dissolves.

Soapy Water for Washing Stuffed Animals

Water to Wash Stuffed Animals

Dip your washcloth into the detergent solution and leave the cloth fairly wet, but not saturated.  In a circular motion, very gently rub the outside of the animal.  Continue washing until the whole stuffed animal is clean.

Wash the Stuffed Animal

If you have a problem spot or stain, dip the toothbrush into your detergent solution and very lightly scrub the stubborn spot.  I will caution you that scrubbing any garment or stuffed animal with a toothbrush can cause damage.  So only use a toothbrush for stains after you’ve tried to lightly scrub it with the washcloth.  A toothbrush should be your last resort for a stain.

Wet the other washcloth under cool, running water and again leave it fairly wet but not saturated.  ‘Rinse’ the stuffed animal using the water-only wash cloth, gently rubbing in a circular motion.  You might have to rinse this washcloth several times and wash again to remove the bulk of the detergent.

It is best to let the stuffed animal hang-dry or sit in front of a fan to dry.  In all likelihood, if the animal is too delicate to go in the washer then it is probably too delicate for the heat of the dryer also.

Hang Dry Stuffed Animals

 

More Washing Tips for Stuffed Animals

  • Once a stuffed animal is cleaned in any fashion (washing machine or spot-clean) the nap (the baby’s fur) will probably never look the same again.  While you are able to clean the animal, it won’t have that ‘brand-new’ look.  Make sure your expectations are realistic about what the animal will look like after it is clean.
  •  

  • If you want to fluff up the nap of the stuffed animal, try lightly brushing or combing it.  If you don’t have the results you were hoping for, you can put it in the dryer on the air cycle for a few minutes.  Be extremely careful with the heat of the dryer. Delicate items cannot handle its heat and can melt quickly.  You can also try drying it and fluffing it with a hair dryer.  Again, be very careful with the heat of the dryer.
  •  

  • Don’t overdo it on the detergent.  You want there to be enough detergent to be effective,  but you don’t want so much that you can’t get the soap off.  A dry soapy stuffed animal is a crunchy stuffed animal.  For best results, use a high-efficiency detergent so the sudding won’t be as severe.

 

Questions about washing stuffed animals?  Feel free to leave them in the comments.
 
 

Comments

  1. ChristiDarty says:

    Oh thank you! I have toys from my childhood that my mom was afraid to wash, I will give this a try on my handmade doll and let you know how it turned out.

  2. Samantha says:

    I want to thank you SO much for this! I do have a question though. The stuffed animal I have in question is a fairly large elephant that’s fur is about 2cm long. I’m kind of scared of washing it in any way because I’m afraid it’ll lose the way it feels and the fur may get matted together or something. So even though I found a way to clean it, I’m not sure if I want to!

    (First gift from my significant other.) :)

    • mamalaundry says:

      Samantha, honestly I think it could very well lose the way it feels if you wash it. That’s just the nature of washing this type of item.

      You could try this: Wash the elephant according to these directions and let him hang dry. Then fluff him in the dryer on the lowest heat setting for 4-5 minutes at the time. After 4-5 minutes, take him out and rub him all over to fluff up his fur with your hand. It might help in getting some of the original feel back.

      (But my disclaimer is that you always try Mama’s ideas at your own risk. I’m not responsible if you don’t get your desired result!)

      I hope it works ok for you! Let me know how it goes. :)

      -Lauren

      • Cristel says:

        When you’re afraid of putting it in de washing machine, you can mix some soft detergent with water and use a cloth. Make it damped with the solutions and rub carefully over the toy. After all it’s done, do the same with clear water and let dry, when it’s dry use a naw dogsbrush and it became as fluffy as it was before. This is methode I use for my handmade bears, if they’re very dusty I first blow them with a hairdryer

  3. Would you use this same technique on baby rattles that have plush feet or arms but plastic bodies? A few of ours have been spit-up on or chewed on and i just don’t know how clean the stuffing may be, even after doing this…any suggestions on how to sanitize, as well as surface clean?

    • mamalaundry says:

      Danielle, as far as baby toys go…yes I put everything in a mesh bag that will go and throw them in the washing machine. If it is something that is extremely gross (like after a stomach flu kind of gross), I put them in the washing machine on the normal cycle.

      If it is a toy that can only be surface cleaned, I use a toothbrush, detergent and running water. And then let it drip dry of course.

      I’m not sure that answered your question. Let me know if it didn’t. ;)

      -Lauren

  4. My daughter has a stuffed animal that she sleeps with every night and will even suck on the ears. This has obviously added to it’s “fragrance” lol. The toy has a wind up music box in it and I dont really care too much if it stops working. I just want it to get really clean. Can I put it in the washer (not dryer) or are there other reasons not to put it through the wash.
    Thank you,
    Jaime

    • mamalaundry says:

      You know, Jaime, I still don’t think I’d actually put it through the washer because of the music box. Once it is completely saturated, my guess is that it would rust and/or mold, possibly even through the stuffing and onto the outer surface. Since it’s your daughter’s absolute favorite, I’d steer clear of the machine and just surface wash it.

  5. It didnt work for my Angry bird!!!

  6. THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH FOR THIS POST!!! Several of my son’s stuffed animals are in desperate need to cleaning and I wasn’t sure how to go about doing it. This looks simple enough and won’t take me all day! Thanks again!

  7. DedraLovebug says:

    I am so glad I found this on Pinterest! I just went to a consignment sale last week and bought some good conditioned stuffed animals (most of which have a voice box or move) for a cheap price. The only problem was that they had some minor stains on them. I’m so glad I can get those out before my little girl gets here to play with them! Thank you! :)

  8. I am wondering why I shouldnt put a beanie butt stuffed animal in the washer? My daughter has a pooh and eeyore stuffed animals and they have the beanie butts on them and they are getting pretty dirty, would it destroy the beans in them, or do you think its because of a mold problem? I thought about trying to put them in a laundry mesh bag and try a delicate cycle, and let them air dry but since they are disney they are pretty expensive i’d hate to ruin them and waste the money. sorry its probably a silly question :)

    • mamalaundry says:

      Kelsi – No, not a silly question at all! I’m not sure it could get totally dry if you completely submerged it in water. And anything damp leads to mold/mildew, as you know. Since they’re pricey, I wouldn’t take a chance on running them through even a low cycle on the dryer.

      • I can’t attest to the Disney animals, but one of my son’s favorite stuffed animals is a Ty Beanie Baby. He loves the tag and it gets pretty dirty, so I put the Beanie Baby in a lingerie bag and wash it on the delicate cycle. I dry it on low. It comes out just fine.

      • I have washed all of our beanie babies, large and small, simply by throwing them in the wash with light colored clothes and mild detergent. No pillow cases and no lingerie bags. Just toss them in. Then they go straight to the drier on normal heat. They have always come out looking terrific and feeling soft. I have never had a problem.

  9. We put my son’s pillow pet in the wash….let me just assure everyone that on the commercial when you see them pull out the pillow pets out of the dryer and they are all fluffy and new looking…they lie. I’m thinking I should have tried this. That poor panda pillow pet. Looks pretty disgusting.

    • mamalaundry says:

      Amanda, you could try get the pillow pet wet again and then drying with a hair dryer. It might fluff it up a little. But make sure you use the low heat setting so you don’t melt anything.

    • if you read the tag on a pillow pet it says to wash it in the washer in a pillow case and to let it air dry.

  10. I had to hand-wash a stuffed animal I bought off eBay. Problem was, it had nappy fur to begin with. It was an OLD musical lamb, just like one I had as a baby…28 years ago. I combed it to get bits of stuff out of the “wool”, washed it, the same way your article says, and hung it outside to dry. Smells nice & clean now! :)

  11. I have cleaned soft toys and furry soft toys too, by hand using similar methods and also fully submerged them and they have come out okay. However, I have dried them in my sauna, which makes the world of difference…….so if you have one of those, it really helps! Plus, I use an old hairbrush to brush the fur back to original condition. Many of the ones I have washed, you would never know they older, washed toys.

  12. I have found that you can get that stiff feeling out of the fabric of a stuff toy by having rinse water available that has some vinegar in it. It removes the soap film that is the cause of the stiffness. You could also use a very diluted liquid fabric softener in the rinse water. Hang in the sunshine to make it smell clean and dry quickly.
    I have only hand-washed stuffed toys.

  13. Here I am, a 20 year old student wondering of this will work for my hello kitty collection and other stuffed babies haha.

    Thank you for the tips! I will definitely be trying this out soon :)

  14. WOW thank you!

  15. This is what i always do :)

  16. Hello, I’m Cristel from Belgium. I am a bearmaker and to brush the bears I use a brush that’s used for brushing a dog.Ofcourse not the same one you use on your dog,buy a new one for the stuffed animals, but with this brush you can make the animal as fluffy as new after it is washed..

  17. Fantastic tips thank you!
    Wondering about soft toys that go on the play mat – they have solid plastic circles to hang them from, and a couple of the have got rattles inside or ‘crinkly’ bits. I don’t really mind what they come out looking like, but it was second hand and my daughter is now at the stage she wants to suck on everything! Would they be ok to throw in the washing machine?

Trackbacks

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jimmie, Lauren Hill. Lauren Hill said: Have Stuffed Animals that can't go in the Washer? Here's how to wash them by hand: http://wp.me/pO8yH-vh #laundry [...]

  2. [...] Washing Stuffed Animals – Mama’s Laundry Talk What parent hasn’t dealt with a stuffed animal that got something like chocolate milk, ketchup, or vomit on it?  I mean, really?   Please tell me it’s not just me. [...]

  3. […] Washing Stuffed Animals – Mama’s Laundry Talk What parent hasn’t dealt with a stuffed animal that got something like chocolate milk, ketchup, or vomit on it?  I mean, really?   Please tell me it’s not just me. […]

Speak Your Mind

*