How to Wash Stuffed Animals and Keep Them Soft

Updated July 6, 2020
teddy bear stuffed animal in washing machine

Getting your child's prized stuffy and friend clean quick is imperative when it falls into the mud. Therefore, it's important to know the right way to wash a stuffed animal using both a washing machine and hand washing. You'll even get tricks for how to clean electronic stuffed animals.

How to Wash Stuffed Animals

When it comes to cleaning your plush toys, there are a few items you need to grab first.

  • Mild detergent
  • Cloth
  • Baking soda, vinegar or commercial pre-treater

With your tools at the ready, it's time to get washing.

How to Wash Stuffed Animals in Machine Washers

Many types of stuffed animals are pretty durable. They must be, to be a kid's favorite toy. Therefore, you can wash them in the washer. However, you need to take a bit of preparation to be sure that your child's best friend does not get destroyed. To machine wash your stuffy, just follow these steps.

  1. Pre-treat any apparent stains with a color-safe pre-treater, baking soda or white vinegar.
  2. Place the stuffed animal in a pillowcase or mesh bag to protect it.
  3. Put it in with a load of dirty laundry, like towels or blankets.
  4. Set the machine to the gentlest cycle using warm water for added laundry disinfecting.
  5. Run it through the cycle.
  6. Allow the toy to air dry.
  7. While it is still slightly damp, put it in the dryer for 5-10 minutes on low to fluff the fur.

Stuffed Animals That Shouldn't Be Machine Washed

While machine washing is the easiest method for cleaning your stuffed animals, there are some toys it just doesn't work on. These include:

  • Old or antique toys
  • Toys with rips or tears
  • Stuffed animals with batteries or circuits
  • Toys with a music box
  • Stuffed animals with glued-on parts like sequins or eyes (like some Teddy bears have)
  • Toys filled with foam balls (Beanie Babies)

How to Wash Plush Toys by Hand

hand wash teddy bear stuffed animal in sink

Hand washing your plush toys is a bit more time consuming but it ensures they don't get damaged. And depending on how important that toy is to you or your child, it can be totally worth the extra effort. To hand-wash your plush toys, just follow these steps.

  1. Depending on the size of your plush toy, fill your sink or tub with warm water.
  2. Add a teaspoon or two of mild detergent, depending on size.
  3. Swish the water around.
  4. Check and pre-treat stains.
  5. Submerge the stuffy into the bath.
  6. Let it soak for about 30-60 minutes.
  7. Agitate the stuffed animal in the water.
  8. Rinse until the soap is completely gone.
  9. Air dry and use the dryer to fluff. Depending on the setting, it can also work to kill germs.

How to Wash Stuffed Animals With Electronic Parts

Stuffed animals with electronic parts need special care. Unless you can remove the electronic parts completely, you don't want to submerge the toy completely into the water. In this case, you'll need to give the stuffed animal a sponge bath with these steps.

  1. Remove all the electronic parts of the stuffy that are removable.
  2. Fill a kitchen or bathroom sink with warm water and add a teaspoon or two of mild detergent.
  3. Pre-treat any apparent stains with your choice of stain fighter.
  4. Dunk a rag in the water and detergent mixture.
  5. Thoroughly wipe down your stuffed animal.
  6. Rinse the rag and repeat as necessary.
  7. Use a clean rag and water to rinse.
  8. Allow it to air dry.

How to Clean Dusty Stuffed Animals

If your stuffed animals are just a bit dusty, they don't need a complete bath. Instead, you can take them outside and shake off the dust. Once they are dust-free, use a damp cloth to gently wipe them down removing any stubborn particles. Mix a teaspoon or two of white vinegar into the water you're dunking the cloth in to tackle any stubborn stains on your dusty stuffed animal.

How Often to Wash Stuffed Animals

As long as the stuffed animal is clean and your child isn't sick, washing a stuffed animal once every month is a good rule of thumb. If it's carried around excessively or stained then it might be good to wash it a bit more like once a week. However, if you are going to be washing a stuffed animal quite often, using the hand-wash method is more gentle and can provide less wear on the stuffed animal.

Washing Stuffed Animals

Stuffed animals are not only a prized possession by children but adult collectors, too. Knowing the right way to make sure your stuffies stay clean and germ-free can advance their life and value. Got Squishmallows? Here's how to wash yours.

How to Wash Stuffed Animals and Keep Them Soft