Don’t Let A Stain Ruin a Good Toy
Keeping stuffed toys clean is a huge undertaking. If you display them, they get dusty. If you take them places, they get dirty. If they are the treasured friend of a kid… well we all know how that ends. So knowing how to keep them clean tends to be a point of confusion. They are delicate, but sturdy, and often have plastic eyes. So how do you clean them without destroying them?
Well we at Gemr have some tips and tricks to keep your fluffy friend a little more fluffy and a little less smelly (if you wanted an animal that gets smelly, you would have gotten a puppy). There are a couple options based on the level of funk your friend has.
The first advice we give is avoid the washer! Washing machines are the natural enemy of stuffed toys, especially ones with an agitator. What you are looking at is a stuffed animal death trap–okay we are being a little hyperbolic, but agitators tear up teddies like a blender tears up… you get the point. Most stuffed animals shouldn’t be so aggressively gyrated. So how do you help your fluffy friends? We often see three levels of dirty and we recommend you try each in order as they go from the least extreme solution to most.
This level is where most stuffed animals land. They have been loved and have lost their luster. If they sit on a shelf and have gotten a little dusty, we recommend you simply take them down and gently rub them with a damp cloth to remove the gathered dust. If you want a more extreme approach to a minor problem, you can take your vacuum and use the hose to gently remove the dust.
If your stuffed pal feels a little oily gently spoon a tablespoon or two of baking soda onto it’s fur. Toss it into a pillow case and shake gently to coat their glorious fluff. Pull them back out and wipe the powder away with a damp cloth until clean. This will remove all the oils years of petting and hugs built up.
After the gentle clean, its time for refluffification. To give them a bit of their fluff back, gently brush them with a soft brush and you’re good to go.
This is the stuffed animal that has been through the ringer. This tactic is for the teddy who has gone on one too many adventures and been drug through the dirt. Perhaps they got a little too close to lunch and got jelly on their cheek (or perhaps someone tried to feed them at the teddy bear picnic, we don’t judge). For this tougher case you will need to gather a few things.
- A small tub or large bowl depending on size
- White washcloths (at least two)
- High Efficiency Detergent
- A clean toothbrush
Now you’re ready to solve you stuffed toy’s grime problem. Put about a tablespoon of the HE Detergent into the tub and fill it with water. Make sure to stir it up good so the soap is mixed in. Now grab one of your white washcloths–if you choose a colored one that’s on you, the color can rub off on your stuffed buddy and then it’s going to be an even bigger task to get them clean. Get the washcloth wet but not dripping in your soapy water and then start rubbing in circles on the soiled stuffie to loosen the grime. Do this all over, don’t forget the armpits and behind the ears, until it seems clean.
If you have any particularly stubborn areas you can use the toothbrush, but BE GENTLE. Aggressive brushing might be good for your teeth, but stuffed animals don’t appreciate it. It can damage them if you get too excited. Once the last of the stains are free you can put down the soapy cloth.
Grab the clean washcloth and get it wet, but not dripping, and gently rub it in circles across the stuffed animal until you have removed all the soap. You may have to rinse the wash cloth a couple times to get all the soap out, but keep after it. It will be worth it.
Finally gently blot the stuffed animal with a dry towel until most of the dampness is gone and then hang dry. The heat of the dryer can melt the fur, or damage plastic and glue, so hang drying is best. It might look a little silly, but it’s way safer.
When dry, its back to refluffification. Brush gently with that soft brush again until fluffy.
Sometimes no amount of cleaning will remove that sinister smell. You’ve used baking soda, you’ve soaped them up, but nothing has stopped it from smelling. This is a last resort, and one we don’t recommend for the faint of heart. You have to… rip out it’s stuffing. Okay that sounds a lot more gruesome than it really is. We get a little dramatic sometimes.
Get a pair of small scissors and gently cut the side, or back, seam. Pull out all the stuffing and discard it (it smells, it’s not worth saving). Just about every craft store carries fiberfill stuffing, so grab a bag and restuff the toy to be as firm or soft as you desire. Don’t forget to fill the arms and the legs. Now just stitch it closed again (we recommend using a sturdy thread if it’s going back into the hands of a kid), and your treasured stuffed animal should be good as new, ready to enjoy for years to come!