How Do You Wash Stuffed Toys At Home?

Washing stuffed toys is necessary as they collect dust and other forms of dirt on their fur throughout the day. Kids come into contact with these toys regularly and, if not cleaned, can cause the transfer of bacterial infections.

Most stuffed animals can be washed alongside regular laundry; however, there are a few precautions you should take to reduce the risk of damage. Toys with special significance and those with delicate parts should be hand washed.

A. Washing in a machine

  1. Examine the toy for any fragile parts.

Ensure to always read the tag before placing a stuffed toy inside the machine to check for any washing instructions. If there are no cleaning directives, you can look out for the signs below to determine the delicateness of the toy.

Signs of a delicate toy 

  • Non-removable electrical constituents such as a voice box or lights and if the toy has metal frames.
  • Leather toys.
  • Toys densely stuffed with fiberfill, foam, paper, or plastic stiffeners. You can feel this material by squeezing the toy.
  • Visibly old or handmade toys.
  • Mobile limbs usually contain delicate wooden joints.
  • Large toys above 18 inches in any dimension may end up damaged in in-home laundry machines, though some laundromats have bigger machines.
  • Toys with any wear and tear need repairs before machine washing.
  1. Determine the toy’s weight.

Weighing is an optional step. The significance of weighing is to let you know when the toy is dry. Stuffed toys can take a long time to dry when they’re entirely wet. After washing, the toy’s weight should be the same as before to ascertain its dryness.

Skipping this step may lead to inadequate drying time for the toy, the inner moisture cause sagging or rotting.

  1. Pre-treat stains

Treating the stains prior to washing is also an optional step. You’ll have a higher chance of success in removing dry stains if you gently rub the toy using a mild laundry detergent. Allow the detergent to sit for about 10 minutes before starting the laundry. Before using any stain remover on a stuffed toy, examine it in an inconspicuous area to check for any discoloration effects.

  1. Use a zippered pillowcase in a top-load washer

Covering the stuffed toy minimizes damage from tumbling during washing.

  1. Use a cold, gentle cycle when washing

Wash with a mild laundry detergent. Avoid fabric softeners that increase the chance of fabric flammability. Moreover, some fabric softeners cause respiratory irritation. If you do not have a detergent labeled “mild,” look for eco-friendly products.

Alternatively, you can use a pinch of shampoo or dish detergent, about ¼ of the required amount, as it’ll create a large amount of foam. Add chlorine bleach to the washing machine for white stuffed toys to disinfect them. For their colored counterparts, use a safe color bleach.

  1. Air dry

Swirl the toy in the air a couple of times to toss off the surface moisture. Hang it up to drip dry in a well-ventilated area. After the toy stops dripping, cover it with a towel and leave it for several days to finish drying.

Exposing the stuffed toy to direct sunlight can cause color fade. If you feel damp lumps when squeezing the toy, it’s probably not done drying, but if it feels normal when squeezed, it’s most likely completely dried.

B. Handwashing

  1. Keep an eye out for any delicate parts

Stuffed toys can be washed in a bathtub or sink rather than in a washing machine. However, avoid submerging water toys with the delicate signs listed above.

  1. Immerse and squeeze the toy

Fill the sink or tub with cold water. Submerge the stuffed toy and squeeze. Lift it, squeeze the excess water, and repeat the steps twice or thrice to remove the light surface grime.

  1. Use mild detergent

Add a scoop of mild detergent or shampoo and stir to make foam in the water.

  1. Scrub the toy and squeeze it every now and then.

Scrub the dirt off the toy with a stiff-bristled brush or a toothbrush as you periodically squeeze the foam. This method works well if you squeeze the toy while it’s partly immersed in water for the air, suds, and water to get into it.

  1. Squeeze out the excess water and let it drip dry.

Squeeze the toy to remove excess water, but avoid wringing or twisting it. Hang the stuffed toy up to drip dry, and after that, put it on a towel and allow it several days to dry.

C. Extra-Gentle Cleaning

For young children, use alternative methods.

Small children who put toys in their mouths should have them cleaned in hot water using either one of the methods above for disinfection. If the particular toy design is not suitable for cleaning with the other washing methods, it’s probably inappropriate for young kids.

If you are cleaning toys with no noticeable stains or grime or working with very sensitive toys, you can use the gentle method below.

Get rid of dust.

This step is not compulsory, and in most instances, you can go straight to the next step of mixing detergent and water.

To remove light dirt on very fragile toys, place them in a bag of cornmeal and brush the fur using a plastic comb that has not come into contact with human hair or hair styling products.

To remove dust, use a cloth dampened in plain water and wring it till it is almost dry. Gently wipe off the dust with the cloth. Alternatively, you can use the hose attachment on a vacuum cleaner to dust off the toy.

To get rid of the odor:

  • Place the toy in a paper bag with a spoonful of baking soda.
  • Close and shake the bag to cover the toy with the baking soda, and allow it to sit for 30 minutes.
  • Brush the baking soda off using a dry towel.
  • Make a mixture of soap and water in a bowl.

Fill water in a medium-sized bowl and add a small quantity of mild soap, detergent, or shampoo. To make suds, combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl.

On soft fur, use baby shampoo or a mild wool detergent. When using any other cleaner, including a non-mild detergent, apply it to an inconspicuous area with a cotton swab and allow it to dry to test for damage or discoloration.

 Wet a clean cloth

Dampen the cloth, and wring it till it is almost dry. If the cloth is wet and the water soaks into the stuffing, then it can cause damage or rot. If you are anxious about damage by water, apply some suds from the surface, though foam alone may not be effective for substantial grime.

 Wipe the fur

Focus on the dirty areas or clean one area at a time if cleaning the entire toy. Occasionally rinse and wring the cloth to keep it damp but not wet.

 Rinse by wiping the toy with plain water

Wet the cloth in plain water to get rid of any soap traces. As stated in previous steps, wring the excess moisture to ensure the cloth is almost dry.

 Dry the toy with a towel

Wipe the toy down with a clean, dry towel. Move through the different parts of the towel as it gets damp. After the toy feels dry, give it a final rub on the fur to remove the last bit of moisture.

 Let the toy air dry

Toys should be kept in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight until the evaporation of all moisture. Drying would occur in less than an hour unless moisture penetrated the surface.

Important tips 

  • Do not blow-dry or tumble-dry stuffed toys as the heat can cause damage or fade.
  • Air drying can cause a stiff or crusty feeling on the fur tips. Brush these out with a hairbrush to give them their original feel.
  • Give the toys a thorough cleaning at least every week or whenever they become visibly soiled.


Washing your child’s stuffed toys is important for their physical appearance and hygiene purposes. It is essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and if there are none, use the guidelines in the article to avoid any damage to your young one’s sentimental soft toy.




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