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How to wash stuffed animals without ruining them

Even teddy bears need a bath sometimes

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Don’t let yourself get grossed out. Instead, school yourself on how to best get those little guys clean. Here is everything you need to know to give your child’s stuffies a refresh and to get them clean enough to cuddle with abandon.

Your kid’s stuffies and Squishmallows have been through a lot. They need to be washed more often than you think.

The answer to that question is: Probably more often than you think.

It’s actually recommended that you wash your child’s stuffies monthly. Short of that, if your child has been cuddling with their stuffed toys during an illness, if they’ve had seasonal allergies, if they’ve recently had a bout with lice, or if you have family pets that like to snuggle in bed too—these are all reasons to give your toys a trip to the deep-cleaning spa.

We also recommend you wash toys regularly if your child has asthma, if the toys smell musty, and any time the toys look grimy.

The good news is, most stuffed animals can survive a gentle cycle in your washing machine, but you should be smart about it. First off, check the manufacturers’ recommendations. After years of love, those tags may have grown difficult to read, so here are some rules of thumb.

Don’t toss that teddy bear in the washer if they have an audio or music box inside, is particularly old or fragile, or is stuffed with anything other than batting (Beanie Babies are out).

Check for pieces that may become dislodged in the wash, such as glued-on eyes, sequins, loose pieces, and plastic parts. If your little buddy is particularly fragile, you may want to stick to spot cleaning, rather than submerging it in water.

Before any type of cleaning, be sure to give the toy a vigorous shake outside, or give it a once-over with the upholstery attachment on your vacuum cleaner. Removing all of the dust, bits, and debris will help prevent unexpected staining while you’re cleaning the toy.

Most stuffed animals can take a trip through the gentle or delicate cycle on a cold water setting.

While most stuffed animals can go into the laundry, there are some important tips to follow before you throw Teddy in the wash.

Check all the seams and any buttons or other parts to make sure nothing needs to be resecured with needle and thread. Then look at any loose parts that might get tangled in the wash and remove them.

It’s always best to address any stains or spots before you put your stuffy in the wash, since stain treatments may cause discoloration of fabric. Just use a little bit of gentle detergent and either a rag or a soft brush to attack stubborn-looking stains.

We always recommend putting toys and stuffed animals in a mesh laundry bag or a pillowcase. These will protect the toy from getting banged up or from accidentally getting caught on something during the wash cycle.

If either bag doesn’t come with a zip top, be sure to tie a knot in it to keep things secure.

Consider any allergies your child might have. Since your kiddos will be cuddling close with these toys—and likely rubbing them on their faces—we recommend using an unscented laundry detergent and be sure to skip the fabric softener.

Finally, be wary if you’ve got a top-loading washing machine, as the agitator might prove a bit too rough for your plush friend.

Keep in mind that some stuffed animals may not be able to handle a normal wash cycle. It’s best to use the gentle or delicate cycle on your machine and choose the cold water option.

Unless you are trying to kill lice or bedbugs—or the manufacturer’s instructions recommend one of your dryer’s heat settings—you should air-dry all of your child’s stuffed animals.

Line-drying them can help them keep their shape. You can also dry them by using a hair dryer to fluff them, or by placing them in safe proximity to a fan or a dehumidifier.

We always recommend a spot clean before you put a stuffie in the washing machine.

Stuffed animals are cute, but they can pick up a lot of dust!

For the more delicate stuffies, hand washing is your best bet. Here are the steps to follow.

Shake the toy outside or give it a once-over it with the upholstery attachment on your vacuum cleaner.

Fill a basin with cool water and a few drops of mild soap or detergent. You can use a gentle laundry detergent, baby wash, or even a gentle dish soap.

Lightly scrub or spot-clean any stains. Use a washcloth for wiping down the toy’s surface. A soft-bristled brush can be used to address stubborn stains.

Refill the basin with clean water and, depending on the toy, you can either use a fresh washcloth with the clean water to rinse off the toy’s surface, or you can submerge the toy and gently squeeze out excess water.

Some well-loved toys that can’t be machine washed or submerged in soapy water may still need a thorough cleaning to remove oils. In those instances, there is still hope!

Baking soda can be used to remove oils and absorb odors from stuffed animals, to give them a non-toxic dry cleaning at home.

Simply put the stuffie in a plastic baggie, sprinkle it with a light layer of baking soda, and then shake the bag vigorously for a few minutes. Let the toy sit for about 30 minutes to allow the baking soda to absorb the oils and odors.

After you’ve allowed the baking soda to do its magic, remove the stuffed animal from the bag and shake off the excess. Then place the toy into a pillowcase and toss it in the dryer on the tumble dry setting to fluff it up.

If your machine has a steam clean or sanitize option, it may prove even more effective than a washing machine for safely cleaning stuffed animals.

The toys started out musty, dusty, and bedraggled but the 30-minute cycle had them smelling sweet and looking like they had taken a trip to the stuffie spa. If you have a dryer with a steam option this can be a great alternative to washing stuffed animals by hand, or in the washer.

Category: Technology

Source: USA Today Technology

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