How to Clean Your Plush Toys

Plush toys are made to be loved and live adventures with the little ones that love them, but sometimes those adventures can get a little muddy. When that happens, the oft thought fatal moment has come... Time to wash them! Usually, our little ones don't particularly like this moment, as they miss their stuffed friend and the texture and smell of their toy will change. However, washing time doesn't have to be fatal for anyone involved. 

stuffed bear needs to be cleaned

I'm lucky in this regard, as my son doesn't mind washing his plushies. He's actually the one who puts them in the washer. We tell him they need to take a bath, just like he does, to get all clean and nice looking. By doing it this way, he feels in control of the process as he is the one who's giving his friend a "bath". A good tip is to avoid washing your child's stuffed animal around nap time or bed time to prevent any anxiety induced meltdowns.

Here are some guidelines to follow to avoid any washing fatalities or unpleasant fits! 



A stuffed animal's label will tell you in no uncertain terms whether it is okay to wash it in a machine or not. It will also indicate what cycle to use and any other washing instructions that might be important to note, like whether to tumble dry or dry flat. Always follow these instructions first, though it is a good idea to exercise additional care with older or more worn down toys. For example, an ancient stuffed bear that's been washed in a machine for years, may be better to hand wash. If a label is missing or too faded to read, it may also be better to hand wash the toy, just in case.

In some cases, you can't put a stuffed animal in the washing machine. These cases include when:

  • There is a music box sewn inside the toy that is non-washable.
  • The stuffie is extremely old and fragile.
  • The stuffed animal has items glued on – sequins, etc.  Glued-on eyes will probably survive a washing, but use your best judgment.
  • Plushies with delicate ‘clothing’ items that can’t be removed (think glittery, net-type dresses, fragile little hats etc.)
  • Stuffed animals filled with small foam balls (like Beanie Babies), as opposed to batting.



Most modern toys are designed for modern convenience, and can be washed in a machine. With that being said, check the label first, and proceed with caution! Here are some best practices to follow when washing plushies in a machine:

  • Choose the gentlest cycle available on your machine.
  • Use a mild detergent and choose the cold water setting.
  • Place the toy in a mesh laundry bag or pillow case prior to washing to protect it's parts. You can also pad the machine with towels for extra protection. 



For those toys that have had a long life or that are particularly fussy, hand washing is always your safest option. It's also a pretty painless and risk-free way of going about the task. Just follow these basic guidelines and wash your child's stuffed animals without fear.

  •  Fill a large, clean sink with lukewarm water and a small amount of mild detergent. Baby shampoo works nicely for these purposes, or if the toy needs a little whitening boost, include a small amount of baking soda in the mix. 
  • Immerse the stuffed animal in the soapy water. Gently massage its fur to remove any bacteria or stains. Let it soak in the water for a minimum of 15 minutes, to make sure it is fully disinfected. Allow dirtier toys to soak for up to an hour. 
  • Drain the sink and rinse it free of any residual scum. Fill it back up with clean water and submerge the toy again to get all the soap out. 
  • Drain the sink again and gently press the plushie between two towels to get as much water out as possible. Under no circumstances, should you twist or wring the toy as this could damage it. 



    There are a few ways to safely dry a stuffed animal. Choose the option that is best suited to the toy, regardless of what the label says. Here are your options in order of safety:

    • Air-drying for those toys that are particularly worn and/or delicate. Lay your freshly washed toy on a clean towel and wait! Avoid placing it near a heater or in direct sunlight as these could damage the plushie's colour and fur.
    • Using a hair-dryer on low and finishing it off with medium-heat (to help fluff up its fur). 
    • Machine drying on a low-heat setting for more durable toys.



    In those circumstances where your stuffed toy's label indicates that it absolutely cannot be washed/submerged in water, there is another option. You can "freeze" out germs by putting the stuffed animal in the freezer. If this is the option you choose, make sure to follow these guidelines: 

    • Start by placing the plushie in a ziplock or plastic bag and tightly sealing it. 
    • Expel as much air as possible from the bag before sealing it. 
    • Put the tightly sealed bag in the freezer and allow it to sit overnight or for a minimum of three hours. 
    • Deeply freezing the toy will kill any germs or dust mites that thrive on heat and warmer conditions. 
    • Remove the toy from the freezer and allow it to defrost fully before returning it to your child.
    • If it needs a little extra help defrosting, gently blow dry on a low setting to restore it to its proper fluffiness. 



    Every Petit Loulou plush toy from the timeless collection can be washed in a machine on a gentle cycle, with the exception of my monster collection. Even the musical toys can be washed in a machine, as I only use washable music boxes! Then air dry your plushie! Note that the fabric used to make the plushie will not stay as soft after a few trip in the washer and/or dryer.

    As for our monsters, because of the special texture of their fur, they can only be hand washed, dry-cleaned, or go in the freezer... Their favourite cleaning method being the freezer of course, as they are reminded of their older cousin Big Foot!

    animated gif of a teddy bear going to wash himself in a washing machine 



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    1 comment

    Love that cute animation! The scuba goggles cracked me up :P Thank you for the tips!


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