‘There are many reasons you need to wash stuffed animals: the attack of the stomach bug, they can be dusty from sitting on a shelf, a little too much love from the owner, lice or other varmints, or frequent washing for kiddos with allergies and asthma.’ says dedicated site Mama’s Laundry Talk.
Creatures stuffed with a cotton or foam based fabric can most likely go in the washing machine, but anyone filled with beans, horsehair, voiceboxes/growlers, or made with glass eyes, glittery fur, detachable limbs etc probably needs more specialist treatment.
If washing in the machine, use a wool or cool cycle – ideally with no spinning – and put the animal into a net bag or pillowcase to prevent it catching on the drum.
If hand washing in the sink use a delicate detergent and hand up to dry by the feet (the inverted weight will help it to air dry quicker), then give it a bit of a ‘massage’ to re-fluff the limbs.
If the toy will withstand a sponge bath, try the advice of Michael Vercelletto, product manager for OxiClean in Princeton, New Jersey: “You can use a multipurpose stain remover to spot-clean stuffed animals. Mix a color-safe, multipurpose, oxygen-based stain remover with warm water. Be sure the powder is completely dissolved and apply it to the stain, saturating it. Rub the fabric in small areas and wait up to 10 minutes. Don’t allow the solution to dry on the fabric. Blot it with a white towel and repeat the procedure until the stain is no longer visible. Then rinse it with clean water and blot until dry.”
Or if it is surface dirt, try baking soda. Baking soda absorbs oil from stuffed animals’ fur, giving them a fresh, clean scent, according to Clean Stuffed Animals. Use about a tablespoon of baking soda for a small animal. Cover it with a light coating of baking soda and place the little guy in a pillowcase. You can clean more than one animal at the same time in a large pillowcase. Close the bag and shake it vigorously. Leave the animal in the bag for about a half hour so the baking soda can absorb the oil. Wipe the powder off the stuffed animal with a damp paper towel. Empty the pillowcase and place the stuffed animal back into it. Toss it in the dryer for a few minutes, then fluff your furry friend’s fur with a soft brush or use a small vacuum attachment.
Our Slick Mummy Tip: Many dry cleaners will be sympathetic and you could make the trip into a game, suggesting maybe that Mr Furry Friend is going to the spa or the hairdresser…
Editor’s Tip: we love these washable Alf bears, made from jersey fabric – currently on sale at Lilly and Sid – so grab an adorable bargain!
(No animals were harmed in the making of this post…)