Not too long ago a puke bug hit my house. Everyone had it. The worst part? The cleaning that comes after the sickness and knowing how to wash stuffed animals came in really handy.
Because the whole house was sick, I did the best I could during the plague, but some things just got set outside for me to deal with later. Stuffed animals were one of the things I decided to deal with later. Take it from me, a garbage bag full of puke covered stuffed animals is not a very pleasant thing to deal with.
I spent a lot of time googling and then even more time doing lots of trial and error to get these things back to a non-vomit covered, smelly state. More than once I thought about tossing the entire bag into the garbage, but my oldest kept asking for several of her stuffed animals. And I couldn’t let myself just toss them. Mom guilt, right?
Here’s everything I learned and all you need to know about how to wash stuffed animals!
How to Wash Stuffed Animals
How to Machine Wash Stuffed Animals
- Place the stuffed animal in an old pillowcase. Use a separate one for each animal to keep them from rubbing together and damaging the fabric.
- Use a COLD wash and rinse cycle with 1/2 the usual amount of detergent. Hot or warm water could damage glue used to attach decorations or reinforce seams.
- Run them through a second rinse cycle to get all the suds out then remove them from the pillowcases.
*Note: If your stuffies start out covered in vomit like ours did, start off by spraying all of those bad boys down with a hose in the backyard. Thank me later.
How to Hand Wash Stuffed Animals
- Fill the sink halfway with cold water and add two tablespoons laundry detergent. Swirl to mix.
- Drop in one animal at a time and use your fingers to rub any particularly soiled or stained areas gently.
- Drain the sink, squeeze as much water out of the thing as you can, then refill with cold water.
- Submerge the toy again and press it repeatedly to remove detergent residue.
- Drain, rinse and repeat until all the suds are gone.
*Note- I used our double sink in the kitchen. I’d wash 3-4 animals per sink full of water and just toss them into the empty sink. Then dump the soapy water, fill with clean water and rinse the stuffed animals. I felt like I wasn’t wasting water by doing it this way.
How to Surface Wash Stuffed Animals
This works on any plush toy that cannot go in the washer or get submerged in water. So, things with batteries, etc.
- Pour a cup of baking soda into a large plastic bag. I used some of those jumbo Ziploc bags.
- Insert one toy at a time, shaking the bag vigorously, so the toy gets covered with the baking soda. (My kids loved to help with this step)
- Remove the item and let it sit for a few hours as the baking soda absorbs odors and greasy dirt. I’d recommend sitting them outside- because baking soda can get messy.
- Vacuum the toys with your machine’s dust attachment to remove any remaining powder.
*Yes, it actually works.
How to Spot Clean Stuffed Animals
I followed the baking soda shake with a light spot cleaning. You may not need to, but just in case, here’s what worked best for me.
- Mix one teaspoon liquid dish detergent (blue dawn) in 1 cup warm water.
- Use a cloth to lightly clean dirty areas.
- Rinse your cloth and repeat until the toy is clean.
How to Dry Stuffed Animals
Now that we know how to wash stuffed animals, we should chat about drying them!
How to Air Dry Stuffed Animals
The dryer’s heat is harmful to soft toys, so they must be air-dried instead.
- Wrap the stuffy in a clean hand towel and gently squeeze, changing towels as needed to remove as much water as possible. This helps to remove excess water and speed drying time.
- Fluff the fur with your fingers then place the item on a flat drying rack.
- Turn every few hours to ensure even drying.
- Use an old, clean toothbrush to comb it and restore texture.
How to Dry Stuffed Animals in the Dryer
Every now and then you just don’t have time to air dry because your child needs their favorite pink unicorn NOW. So, you must use the dryer.
- Add a few clean towels to the dryer. This will help speed drying time and fluff the fur on the stuffed animal.
- Toss in the stuffed animal and set the dryer to a low/medium heat setting. High heat can damage any parts of the stuffed animal that are attached with glue.
- Boom. Dry.
What About the Germs?
Does Putting Stuffed Animals in the Dryer Kill Germs?
Yep, it can. Drying the toy on high heat for at least 45 minutes will kill any lingering germs. Just be careful, high heat can damage stuffed animals that use glue to reinforce decorations or seams.
Instead, you can do the ‘porch sit’ method- which is what I do. Since most germs cannot live without a host for more than 24 hours, I’ll toss clean stuffed animals in a bag and set them outside on my front porch for a few days.
When they come back inside, you can be assured that no more nasty germs are alive. While the toys are on their vacation, I tell my kids that they’re at the toy doctor. That’s worked so far!
How do you Sterilize Stuffed Animals?
Well, now that you know how to wash stuffed animals, do that. It’s the first step in sterilizing and sanitizing stuffed animals and other plush toys.
Once the animals are clean, you can either use the dryer or the porch method like I mentioned above.
But if you really want to take it a step farther, you can lightly spray the stuffed animals with lysol to get rid of any extra germs.
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