Being a child’s favorite friend can be a dirty job. Sometimes stuffed toys just need a good bath. Luckily, stuffed toys can easily be cleaned, so long as a few precautions are taken.
Washing Machine Method
Toys stuffed with batting (not foam beads like a Beanie Baby) and toys made of cloth can be washed in the washing machine so long as the toy does not include any kind of electronic components. If a toy makes light, sound, or movement, it can only be spot-cleaned.
Wash the toy on a gentle cycle using cold or warm (not hot) water. You can use your regular laundry soap, though we recommend using something made for sensitive skin and free of fragrance. Laundry detergents are fine for clothing, but the skin on the face is more sensitive. Many stuffed toys, especially the ones regularly taken to bed, tend to get a lot of face-time.
Place the toy into a delicates bag, a pillow protector, or a regular pillowcase before tossing into the wash. This will help to keep any parts from being ripped off. Pillowcases with zip-closures are great, but a regular pillowcase can be held closed with a twist-tie, a zip-tie, a rubber band, a hair-tie, or a simple knot. This is especially important when washing toys in a top-loading washer.
Top-loading washing machines work by agitating the contents within. This motion can be rough on toys, especially ones that have floppy parts like long ears, tails, arms, or legs. Is it possible the toy will be fine if washed without being in a bag? Sure. But why take the chance that someone may lose an eye or limb?
Dry the toy in the dryer on a medium setting, or high if the toy has no plastic parts. The toy has to dry completely in order to keep mold from growing inside the batting. If the toy feels damp at all, just send it through another round of drying. For toys with plastic parts, using a medium heat over a longer period of time is usually best.
Does the toy just need a little touching up? Maybe some juice got spilled on a paw, or a toy was dropped just on the edge of a mudpuddle. When washing the toy in a washing machine seems a little excessive, spot-cleaning can take care of small oopsies.
Spot-cleaning stuffed toys requires only a clean rag, some soapy water, and old fashioned elbow grease. Start by making sure you have brushed off as much of any visible dirt as you can. Be gentle while doing this so you don’t end up grinding the dirt into the fabric. (Very light colored fabrics may best be cleaned in a washing machine because they are more prone to staining.)
Mix a few drops of soap (hand soap or dish soap are both fine) in some warm or hot water. Use the rag and the soapy water to gently remove dirt and grime. When the toy seems clean, use a clean cloth and plain water to rinse away any soap.
Squeeze out any excess water, then leave the toy to air dry, making sure it is not resting in any standing water. Hanging the toy up someplace like a clothes-line or a shower is a good option.
Getting chewing gum out of fur
Children sometimes chew on their stuffed toys. Children sometimes forget to take chewing gum out of their mouth before chewing on their stuffed toys. Chewing gum sometimes ends up stuck on stuffed toys.
There’s a multitude of ways to get chewing gum off of fur and fabric, so we’ve come up with a list of the most popular methods:
-Freezing. Putting the toy into the freezer and waiting a few hours until the gum has become solid allows the gum to be broken into small pieces that can be removed easier. You can also hold a few ice cubes to the gum. If the gum starts to get sticky and stretchy again, it’s thawing out. Refreeze it.
Putting the toy straight into the freeze will also work. This may be the best method for any toy that cannot be washed.
-Peanut Butter. Using a creamy style (not chunky) peanut butter, massage it into the gummed area, until the gum starts to break apart into small, round pieces. These little beads of gum can then be picked up carefully. Peanut butter can leave a stain on fabric, so make sure the toy can be washed before using this method. Of course, peanut butter works because of the oil in it, so really…
-Oil. Just about any oil, such as olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, orange oil, or any other cooking oil can be used in the same way as the peanut butter. Just rub a small amount of the oil into the gum then pick the pieces out. Also just like the peanut butter, oils can leave a stain on fabrics, so make sure the toy can be washed before using this method.
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