Every kid has that one stuffed animal that they won’t let leave their sight. Maybe its a bear, a dog, a chimpanzee, a frog! (Hey we’re rhyming!) It travels with you on vacations, trips to family member’s houses, perhaps even to school from time to time. And hey, it’s not just kids who consider their stuffed toys precious. Even into adulthood these plushy companions can continue to provide comfort and hold sentimentality for us. So of course it’s common to be nervous about giving it a wash.
However, according to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, dust mites, mold and pet hair can get trapped in the fur of stuffed animals and be a real nightmare for anyone with allergies or asthma. If your child gets head lice, WebMD advises that on top of treating all members of the family for lice, you also need to do major cleaning, which includes washing your kid’s stuffed animals. (Who knew Mr. Snuggles could catch lice, too?)
If the plush toy in question is relatively new and you aren’t worried about it falling apart in the washing machine, here are the steps you’d want to take:
- Select the gentlest cycle available on your washing machine. This will help keep the fur on your animal safe, as well as avoid color bleeding for your more vibrant stuffed animals!
- Put your little friend in a Large Mesh Bag, or a pillowcase with the ends tied to protect it. (Padding the drum of the washer with towels is another way to add a layer of protection.) Wash in cold water using a mild detergent like our Unscented Sensitive Skin pods. (Other detergent pods will also work, these are just our gentlest option!)
- If disinfecting is a concern, you can go for for warm or hot water, and/or toss in an Oxi Booster Pod.
- Air-drying is the best choice for when the washing is finished. You can also use a hair dryer turned on low- or medium-heat to help to fluff up fur once the toy has reached the just-damp stage (like a finishing touch or a blow out at the salon!)
For more delicate or treasured creatures, hand washing may be the way to go:
- Fill the sink with warm water and one Small Loads Unscented Sensitive Skin pods, and one Oxi Boost Pod for disinfecting. Allow a few minutes for the pods to fully dissolve before submerging the stuffed animal.
- Submerge the plush toy in the water using a pumping motion, so that it becomes saturated with the detergent solution.
- Let it rest in the water for a generous soak for 15 minutes to an hour, depending on how dirty it is. Feel free to agitate it from time to time to help to release any lingering dirt.
- Once that time is up, drain the sink. After it's completely empty, you’ll want to press down gently on your plush toy to extrude as much water as possible. Next, transfer it to a clean towel and roll it up, pressing again to extract more water.
- Lay the item on the towel to air dry. Just like with the washing machine method, after the item is mostly dry you can use a hair dryer to fluff the fibers back up.
Hopefully these two options for washing will serve you well for a plethora of beloved toys. We have one more option for you that may be surprising but works extremely well for the most delicate of items. If you’ve got a stuffed animal so old that it remembers both world wars (or is just extremely precious to you) you can place it in the freezer for 24 hours and it will kill off any dust mites that have buried themselves and zap any germs! This of course won’t clean surface stains (those you will either need to spot treat or decide to accept them for what they are) but it’s a great option for disinfecting without risking pulling, tearing, or lost buttons on older toys. May your cherished items be fresh, clean, and around for years of snuggles!