Helpful Tips

Can You Wash Stuffed Animals?

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Stuffed animals are so precious and so valued by our children. But they also get kind of gross over time. Can you wash stuffed animals? You don’t want to do anything to damage a beloved item, but, at the same time, there comes a point where stuffed animals can be downright unsanitary.

Here’s a look at two options for how to wash stuffed animals, including some additional tips for keeping stuffed animals in tip-top shape for as long as possible.

Remember this before you start washing stuffed animals: It’s hard to find the right time. Stuffed animals are incredibly important to our children, but they are most important during naptime and bedtime — so don’t try to sneak them away at those moments. Instead, try washing stuffed animals while your kids are away with the grandparents, or while one parent takes them to the playground (while the other stays back to do the cleaning). Find the right time to wash stuffed animals is just as important as how to wash them.


How to Wash Stuffed Animals

Many parents find themselves wondering: Can you wash stuffed animals in the washer? The answer is “yes,” but only if you’re incredibly careful. Here’s a step-by-step look at how to wash stuffed animals in the washer:

  1. Remove Anything “Extra”: If the stuffed animal has clothing or anything else that can be removed, take it off. If the stuffed animal is exceedingly old or fragile, or if it includes electronics, you’ll have to hand wash it.
  2. Use a Mesh Bag: Stick your stuffed animal in a mesh laundry bag while washing it. The bag serves as a needed layer of protection during the wash cycle.
  3. Wash Using the Gentle Cycle: Use whatever the lightest cycle on your washer is called. It might be “gentle,” or it might be “delicate.” Whatever it is, use that.
  4. Stay Away From Hot Water: Cool water is best, but you can push it to warm without too much concern. Just don’t use hot water.
  5. Hang Dry: Never put your stuffed animals in the dryer. Instead, use a hanger with a clip, clipping one a sturdy leg or ear of the stuffed animal. Leave in a space that gets lots of fresh air — maybe somewhere outdoors where there’s a breeze.

One last note on using a washing machine to clean stuffed animals: Front-loading washing machines work best. The spindle in the middle of top-loading washers can spell trouble for stuffed animals. If you don’t have a front-loader, ask a friend or family member — or visit a Laundromat, where washers are almost exclusively front-loading.


How to Sanitize Stuffed Animals That Can’t Be Washed

Sometimes a stuffed animal is covered in sequins that won’t last in the washer, or sometimes a stuffed animal is on its last leg — and he or she is likely to disintegrate even during a delicate cycle.

So, to help with fragile items, here’s a look at how to sanitize stuffed animals that can’t be washed:

  1. Fill a Sink: Find a spacious sink (kitchen sinks work best) and fill it with lukewarm water.
  2. Add Detergent: Add just a little bit of mild detergent. If you add too much, you’ll never be able to fully rinse the stuffed animal. Start with a teaspoon and work your way up as needed.
  3. Submerge the Stuffed Animal: Now fully submerge the stuffed animal and gently move your hands through it to make sure the cleaning begins. Leave your stuffed animal fully submerged for 30 minutes to an hour, returning from time to time to move your hands through it again.
  4. Drain and Rinse: After 30 minutes to an hour, drain the water. Then, refill the sink with fresh water — again, lukewarm. Now let your stuffed animal rinse in the fresh water for as long as needed to get rid of the suds.
  5. Dry: Gently wring out as much water as possible, then roll the stuffed animal into paper towels to get even more water out. You may need to use your hands to reshape the stuffed animal. Then, hang dry using a clip hanger, just as noted above. It might help to use a hair dryer on its lowest, coolest level, or to place a fan where it can blow on the hanging stuffed animal.

Once you’re finished, simply replace where your child will find him or her. Everyone will be happier that the beloved stuffed animal is now clean again.


Final Thoughts on Washing Stuffed Animals

Kids get really attached to stuffed animals. But don’t kill yourself trying to salvage a stuffed animal that has seen better days — and that simply can’t be cleaned. It’s part of the cycle of toys, the circle of life, and your child will eventually move on to other things.

The day will come when your child isn’t interested in stuffed animals at all anymore, and that day will make you sad. So do your best to keep the current stuffed animals in great shape, but don’t panic if there’s nothing you can do for one of them.

Do you have any other tips for washing stuffed animals? If so, just leave a comment below, or you can always send a message directly through our contact page.


Uncanny Kids is where moms and dads speak to moms and dads by sharing experiences, offering insights, providing tips and much more about the parenting journey. Explore our site to find product reviews, hacks, home remedies, news, trends and anything else related to raising Uncanny Kids.

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