Stuffed Animal Fun
Stuffed Animal Cleaning Methods
Because stuffed animals become such adored, trusted companions it's important to keep them looking as clean and cuddly as ever. To preserve their longevity, try these kindler gentler cleaning methods on your stuffed animals.
Prior to Cleaning the Stuffed Animal
Before cleaning the stuffed animal, I would recommend taking a couple of preliminary steps. First, read the stuffed animal's manufacturer's instructions from the label. This will give you some idea how fragile the stuffed animal is. Keep in mind, though, that the instructions on the stuffed animal's label are often exaggerated and need to be taken with a grain of salt.
Next, before cleaning the stuffed animal, check for particularly worn material and any loose button noses, eyes, whiskers, and so forth. Remove any sound boxes from the stuffed animal. If anything is loose, resew or secure it, or remove and set it aside to be reattached to the stuffed animal after cleaning.
And the most important thing is to use your own judgement concerning the cleaning of the stuffed animal. If it looks like it will fall apart in the washing machine, it probably will.
Cleaning the Stuffed Animal
There are various ways to clean a stuffed animal and we'll discuss them from highest to lowest degrees of fragility. For the most fragile stuffed animals, you could simply spot clean the animal's fur with detergent, and/or use something like Fabreeze to remove odor. To remove dust from the stuffed animal, try using the brush attachment on a vacuum cleaner. If you think the stuffed animal may have dust mites, try putting it in the freezer inside a protective plastic bag. Then, the next day, vacuum the stuffed animal.
Another useful method for cleaning a stuffed animal is to dust it by hand with baking soda or baby powder (or by putting the stuffed animal in a bag and shaking it up with the baking soda to coat it). Then, let the stuffed animal sit for 15-20 minutes. Next, shake the baking soda/baby powder off, or rub it off the stuffed animal with a soft brush or towel.
The majority of stuffed animals actually do quite well in the washing machine. Be careful not to wash stuffed animals of different colors together (or with clothes of different colors) as the colors may bleed. Before running the stuffed animal through the gentle cycle (preferably using fabric softener to protect the cuddliness of the stuffed animal), place it in a pillow case or lingerie bag secured with a safety pin.
If you're feeling ambitious and want to insure a perfect stuffed animal cleaning, cut open a side seam of the stuffed animal. Remove the stuffing and clean only the outer "skin" in the washing machine. Then put the stuffing back in (adding more if necessary- from an old pillow or purchased at a craft store), and resew the stuffed animal. This will protect the stuffed animal's shape and prevent the possibility of mildew in the stuffing.
Drying the Stuffed Animal
Once you've cleaned the stuffed animal, brush out its fur gently with a hairbrush to prevent matting. Then air dry the stuffed animal in the sun. If this is not an option (because it's raining, etc.), you could speed the process along with a hairdryer or by leaving the stuffed animal in front of a dehumidifier.
If all else fails, many stuffed animals survive a few minutes in the dryer unscathed. Be sure to use a warm (not hot!) setting on the dryer, and do not leave the stuffed animal unattended in the dryer for more than a few minutes before checking on it. Best of luck cleaning your favorite stuffed animals!