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Cleaning Stuffed Animals

As parents, it’s happened to us all … the happiness of watching as your little one  becomes lovingly attached to their beloved stuffed animal. How “sweet” she looks with her little “doggy” which now goes everywhere with her, eats meals with her, travels with her, and goes to sleep with her … depending on your child’s age, the “doggies” little ear may even have found it’s way into your child’s mouth! Not only do we get to watch all the cute interactions with child and stuffed animal, but we now get to smell them, too! The once pristine little “doggy” has been so loved, that it has now become dirty, dingy and… worst of all… stinky! Maybe your child won’t care, but you might. So, if you have ever wondered how to safely wash your child’s favorite stuffed animal, maybe we can help…

Below are some simple and safe ways to give that beloved stuffed animal a new lease on life!

Probably the first place to start is the washing instructions on the tag. It will say whether it is machine washable or if spot cleaning is recommended. Many manufacturers only recommend spot cleaning, but depending on how bad the stuffed animal is soiled, that may not be adequate. In this article, we will go through spot cleaning and a number of other options.

Just a freshen up?
If the stuffed animal is just a little smelly you can dry wash your stuffed animal by placing in a paper bag and shaking with baking soda and leave it on for 20 minutes. Then you can either shake it away or brush it off.

Spot Cleaning
For plush animals that have been stained or soiled, use a soft cloth or soft scrub brush with a gentle liquid laundry detergent. There are also some commercially available spot cleaners such as “Mother’s Little Miracle’ that are safe for babies. Only spray on soiled areas, trying not to saturate fabric. Allow animal to air dry or blow dry if necessary.
Siege Teddy Bear Cleaner Plush Toy Stain Remover

Machine washing
If spot cleaning is unsuccessful then you can try machine washing. Although not usually recommended, many people have reported good results with this method. This method can be hard on stuffed animals; here are a number of things you should consider before attempting to machine wash:

* If a animal has any of these materials, it should not be machine washed: excelsior, wool, styrene foam, or other foam materials.

* Some stuffed animals may have sound boxes, joints or cardboard (or other materials) to keep arms and legs stiff. Damage can occure if these are machine washed.

* The animal should be checked for damage. If there are any open seams these need to be repaired before cleaning .

* Remove any accessories that may be attached, before starting. Re-attach them when you are all done.

* If you have an expensive stuffed animal such as a Steiff bear this method is not recommended as it may damage the animal. For cleaning instuctions it’s best to contact the manufacturer in this case.

To wash the animal place it in a pillow case to protect it and tie it up (with a large rubber band, or just tie a knot), use baby detergent or a fragrance and dye free detergent and do a second rinse to get all the soap out. Use warm or cold water and delicate cycle.

Drying Animals
Get as much water as possible out of the animal by blotting with clean towels, place back in another pillow case and place in dryer on a gentle cycle.

You can also try air dying outside on hot days or placing them  near a dehumidifier. After 2-3 days, all the water is removed. Drying this way helps reduce any possible damage to the animal.

Whichever way you dry your plush animal, you want to do it in a way that will not damage the plush animal, and will not allow it to get moldy on the inside.

Miscellaneous Tips
If your plush animal  has dust mites then place it in the freezer overnight and then vacuum thoroughly and gently.

And here is the ultimate tip! If your child becomes attached to a specific stuffed animal, then why not buy another one and keep it hidden in case you can not clean the current one or it gets lost.

If you’re looking for a quality stuffed animal, some excellent manufacturers to consider are Jellycat, Douglas Cuddle, Gund and Steiff.

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