Need some tips on how to wash stuffed animals? Those beloved treasures can be a trickier item to launder.
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!
▶ Have a stuffed animal that can’t go through the washing machine? Make sure you read: Washing Stuffed Animals That Can’t Go in the Washing Machine
You Can’t Wash Your Stuffed Animal in the Washing Machine if they:
– Have a music box sewn inside
– Are extremely old and fragile
– Have items glued on – sequins, etc. Glued-on eyes probably will survive a washing.
– Have delicate ‘clothing’ items on that can’t be removed (think glittery, net-type dresses or delicate little crowns or the like)
– Are filled with small foam balls inside (like Beanie Babies) and not batting.
(See the comments section for how to clean Beanie Baby-like stuffed animals.)
How To Wash Stuffed Animals in the Washing Machine
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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. I’ve ordered these S-hook-type clips, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to love them! They get great reviews.
Dryer heat – even on low – could potentially melt glued on or plastic parts.
Quick Washing Stuffed Animals 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.
Have questions about washing your stuffed animals? Ask in the comments –
I have a four-foot polar bear that I have tried spot cleaning but due to his shaggy fur, it hasn’t worked very well. would he be safe to throw in the wash?
Should I use laundry detergent? Or just the water?
If there’s visible dirt a small amount of non biological detergent would be first choice, otherwise I’d try with plain water.
I would use lots of soap and very hot water. Then dry them in the drier throughly. I used to put my animals in the washing machine with a cup is detergent for every one of which I have three. I put them through a hot water pre wash soak cycle and when that is done you rinse them with hot water, then wash them in very hot water. Then I repeat the way I wash the and then do an extra fine rinse. You can also freeze them but I don’t freeE mine because I don’t have the space in my freezer. Emily Wooton
one question, i bought an outfit for my snoopy plushie, and i wanna know, what do i wash it ini, hot or cold water, the outfit is polyester
Hi. Help! I just washed my son’s favorite new stuffed animal for the first time in the regular cycle and dryed it with regular heat and a fabric softener. It is now no longer soft like it was. I don’t think the dryer melted anything but it feels like the fabric softener left a filmy feel to it and it is no longer fluffy. He is so upset. Is there anyway to reverse the effects and get it soft once more? Thank you so much for any advice and help you can give.
If you’ve still got this problem I’d suggest a short, cold wash cycle. Just add white vinegar, nothing else, and this should help rinse out detergent and fabric softener. Whether the toy will revert to being soft, though, is anyone’s guess.
Hi. My mother is a hoarder and she’s also really bad at taking care of her cats. They poop and pee and throw up all over the house and she doesn’t really clean up after them. That house smells horrible. I was finally able to talk her into letting me come in and get some of my childhood things. I grabbed a bunch of my old stuffed animals, but they all smell and are very dirty and unsanitary. I threw them all in a garbage bag and they have been sitting in my garage for about 6 years. I want to wash them and bring them inside, but I’m nervous. I didnt even know if they could be saved or not, but I also didn’t have the heart to get rid of them. Then I read all of this and I now wonder if maybe they can. Do you think they can be saved, knowing all of what you do now? I also don’t have a mesh bag and was thinking using an old pillow case might work. What are your thoughts?
I don’t know if this will help or not. My daughter threw up all over her Christening gown. I spot cleaned it and put it away. Six years later I needed it again. I soaked it in Biz. For two days, changing the water and Biz as directed. Six year old stains came right out, it looked brand new.
Stomach acid stains are hard to get out once they’ve set in, so a big YAY for being able to get those out of the Christening gown!! That’s excellent.
Thanks for sharing your method!
If they really smell put them in a clean bag with a generous scoop of bicarbonate of soda. Seal the bag and leave a few days. The bicarb should absorb odours, so discard it and vacuum the toys. Repeat a few times if you need to remove persistent odour, leaving the bag sealed for longer with the bicarb inside.
Once you’ve tackled the smell, consider the dirt.
Hello! Please please help me… I have been googling for months and still haven’t found an answer that would give me confidence on the safety of my baby polar bear once it’s washed. It’s a furry plush and it says ‘surface wash only’ – which is the problem. The bear isn’t actually dirty of stains or anything else except for dusts. It’s turned from bright white to grey, and the furs are clumped up making it look a lot skinnier. I’ve tried the damp cloth method, the issue is that it doesn’t really get ‘cleaned‘ at all. On my first attempt washing it, I immersed it in water and it came out a lot cleaner but I don’t want to do it again since it should only be surface washed. Any particular advice for surface washing furry animals? Would I ruin the bear if I immerse it in water again?? Really looking forward to your reply. Thank you in advance!
Try a wire dog brush to fluff him
I have an old panda stuffed animal. He’s not huge, but he’s about your average teddy bear size. He was bought about 17 years ago for me by my grandmother who purchased him at a Thrift store. So I have no real idea of how old he actually is other than he’s 17+ years old.
One of his arms is a little floppy, but he’s still held together.
What would be the best way to go about washing him?
He’s stuffed with regular stuffing.
i have a line town beanie baby from japan named Moon. i put him in the washing machine but not the dryer because those little balls in his bottom and his feet will melt
I have this medium sized beanie baby that also has stuffing in it, I’ve had it since the 3rd grade and I’m in my early 20s now so this stuff animal is pretty old now.
I don’t want to ruin it if I wash it I’m planning to give it to my son when he’s born.
I don’t know if you’ll still be on and stuff to answer my question, but I have a tsum tsum of Rocket raccoon, he is full of stuffing but also the ball things, but his eyes used to be white and they’re dirtier now and it’s stressing me out, is there a way to make it clean looking again without ruining him?
Hmm. I’m not familiar with that stuffed animal, but if it has the little balls/pellets inside, I’d be careful with cleaning him. Without knowing exactly what the eyes are like (fabric? plastic?) I’d try using either diluted Tide or Dawn on a toothbrush and gently rubbing them to see if that would help. Then air dry and assess results. If they’re still not what you want, try again with the diluted Tide or Dawn.
Hope that helps!
I have a 31″ tall stuffed Hulk. His head is hard plastic, n his feet have cardboard on the bottom to help him stand. How can i clean him
I’d spot clean him only. His plastic head will never look the same after going through a machine, and it would destroy the cardboard feet.
So spot cleaning with a little bit of Tide or Dawn on a toothbrush is the way to go.
Hi. I found my cute baby goat teddy which I’be had since I can remember and looks that way as well now. It is filled with somethig that feels like grain, rice size. How would you recommend to wash it? Thank you
Carmen, if it’s old and precious to you, I would definitely use my guidelines for hand washing it! Old stuffed animals are usually too fragile and delicate to go through the machine.
Hope that helps!
If I put it in a pillowcase, is it okay to wash a stuffed animal in a top loading washing machine? A mouse got into my apartment and thankfully it’s back outside. But, there was a stuffed animal in the floor and I’m afraid the mouse found it. I don’t want to just hand wash it because I want to use Lysol laundry sanitizer. I hate to throw it out because it was a gift. What do you think?
Angela, yes, you’d better believe I’d wash that stuffed animal because I do NOT do rodents of any type. Ever. ::shudder::
I can relate to your mouse dilemma and wanting the stuffed animal to be clean again!
Now a top-loader probably has an agitator and that will definitely put wear and tear on the item, so just know that before you wash. But I agree with you 100% – I’d rather it go through the machine to drench it in water and wash it well and have the peace of mind that it’s clean.
But it WILL probably change the look and feel of it. Just be forewarned.
Hope that helps some! 🙂
when I read through this article about cleaning you stuffed animals or “Plushies” as my children whose ages rages from 9-13 as well as my smartsy fartsy neice (lol, shes so adorable and loves being around her cousins) call them. Anyway, I too would not want anyone touching our toys after knowing or witnessing a mouse on or around them either. Like most people, I also have a top loader washing machine but if I dont want to ruin their stuffies I would 100% take them to a laundromat and use the washing machines that are opposite of a top loader or a machine without the agitator.
Thank you for all the great advice and sharing the techniques on how to clean the different types of stuffed toys that are out there.
i have two stuffed animals that were gifts that i absolutely adore – total comfort items. bad news is.. after having them for almost 2 years now and extensive snuggling – they’re starting to smell a bit, like the “ive worn this shirt 6 times this week but havent moved from my bed” smell lol. one of them is sorta like a beanie baby but theres no tags and the other is a stuffed bear. my biggest concern is with the bear – if i wash it in a washing machine, couldn’t that cause the stuffing to separate? im super concerned about ruining them both and just needed some extra advice. thanks!
I have some that are white with other colors like a hello kitty. Is it safe to wash in the washer still?
My son spilled water on his baby. He’s a hippo beanie baby and it’s his best friend. We live in a basement apartment so I’m sorta scared of letting him air dry (due to musty and moldy). He’s literally a part of this family so I’m very worried.
Hello I just recently washed a stuffed animal that received a potty accident on it. I didn’t realize it had beads mixed in with the stuffing and now I feel the beads are all bunched up in one area, any suggestions?!
I have a talking Cecil the Sea Serpent I need to wash (His voice-box is likely to get water inside if I use any great amount). Do you know of any product that will clean hi without using water. I sure would be happy to find such a thing.
Thanks for being here for us.
Please tell me how I can get wax out of the fur of a stuffed toy? A candle dripped onto it. I sure hope you can help.
Hi! thanks for this article. I would like to wash one of my own old stuffed dogs (a Patrick the Pup dog from FAO Schwarz) so that my daughter can play with it now. In all honesty, I’m not sure I’ve ever washed it, and now am scared that it will ruin it if I do (but it desperately needs to be washed). It’s in pretty good shape, just has been through a lot over the years so it’s needs to be cleaned. Any reason not to follow these instructions?
Hey Allie – As with all laundry advice and wisdom here at Mama’s Laundry Talk, you need to weigh the pros and cons. There’s always a chance that “cleaning” or “spot removal” can potentially make a problem worse.
I would personally try handwashing it with these instructions and see what happens.
Be as gentle as possible due to its age. 🙂
Hello! I have this stuffed Rilakkuma plushie that is super dirty all over. I have no idea how to wash it because the head is completely filled with the normal plush toy stuffing but the torso, arms, and legs are filled with these bead things and some stuffing. I have been searching all over how to clean him as it is special to me and I want him to be clean again. I just don’t know what to do given the unique stuffing of this particular bear as from what I can observe, most Rilakkuma bear plushies are just filled with normal stuffed toy stuffing. I was hoping that maybe you could help me because I don’t think it should go in the washing machine. I have been contemplating dry cleaning it but I’m not sure. I hope you could give me some advice 🙂
Thank you and have a good day!
I’m not familiar with that particular kind of stuffed animal, so I can’t give specific advice. However, I will say that if your gut feeling says not to put it int he washer, I would definitely not do that then!
You can always surface wash the stuffed animal and then decide if that’s good enough for you. That’s the least invasive way to see results.
But do keep in mind that the outer fur of the stuffed animal won’t look quite the same again since you’re getting it wet. Just be forewarned. 🙂
Hi! I have an old Crazy Frog Plush toy and I had to hand wash it. After washing I have noticed that the print on the tag was faded, is this normal, does anyone had the same experience?
Yes, I’ve definitely had the tag fade. Unfortunately, it just is one of the trade offs of washing the toy.
I’m sorry. 🙁
HI! no clue if people are still answering questions here, but i have a little jellycat dragon plushie (named Jelly) and jellycats plushies are really really soft when you first get them but ive been very attached to this guy since i got him for christmas and ive taken him everywhere, hes ended up looking shaggy and the fur clumps a bit, any ideas on how to get them back to their original fluffieness?? theyre full polyester with some plastic pellets in the bottom, thanks!
I have used baking soda in a large baggie with stuffed animal inside it to clean animal. Let it sit inside ( shake bag a few times a day) for a couple days. Remove animal & shake or vacuum to get excess soda out. I hang mine outside in fresh air for afternoon. If it is for a small child this is not recommended but if it is for sitting on shelf it works great.