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Best techniques for keeping stuffed animals clean and intact.

How to wash stuffed animals without ruining them

  Reading time 6 minutes

Stuffed animals are more than just toys; they are cherished companions that often hold sentimental value. Proper cleaning is essential to maintain their beloved appearance and prolong their lifespan. In this article, we will explore comprehensive methods to wash stuffed animals without causing damage, ensuring they remain huggable for years to come.

Read the Care Instructions

The first step in cleaning stuffed animals is to check the care label. This tag often provides valuable information about the materials and safe cleaning methods. For example, some stuffed animals can be machine washed, while others may require hand washing or surface cleaning. Ignoring these guidelines can lead to irreversible damage.

Ensure to read and follow these instructions:

  • Machine washable: Use gentle cycles and mild detergents.
  • Hand washable: Use warm water and a gentle soap.
  • Surface washable: Employ a damp cloth and spot cleaning methods.

Understanding these instructions will guide you in selecting the appropriate cleaning technique to protect your stuffed friend.

Gather Necessary Supplies

Before beginning the cleaning process, gather all the necessary supplies. This preparation helps streamline the task and ensures you have everything at your disposal.

Essential supplies include:

  • Mild detergent or baby shampoo.
  • A clean, soft cloth or sponge.
  • A bucket or basin for hand washing.
  • A soft-bristled brush for stubborn dirt.
  • Towels for drying.

By having these items ready, you can efficiently clean the stuffed animals while minimizing any potential damage.

Machine Washing Tips

If the care label indicates that the stuffed animal is machine washable, follow these steps:

  1. Place the stuffed animal in a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase to protect its fabric.
  2. Use a gentle cycle and cold water to prevent colors from fading.
  3. Add a small amount of mild detergent, avoiding bleach and harsh chemicals.
  4. Run an additional rinse cycle to ensure all soap residues are removed.
  5. Allow the stuffed animal to air dry or use a low heat setting in the dryer with dryer balls or clean tennis balls to fluff it up.

Following these machine washing tips will help maintain the integrity of the stuffed animal while ensuring it is thoroughly cleaned.

Hand Washing Techniques

For stuffed animals that require hand washing, follow these detailed steps:

  • Fill a basin or sink with lukewarm water and add a small amount of mild detergent or baby shampoo.
  • Submerge the stuffed animal and gently agitate the water to loosen dirt.
  • Use a soft cloth or sponge to scrub any dirty areas, paying special attention to stains or spots.
  • Rinse the toy thoroughly with clean water to remove soap residue.
  • Press the stuffed animal gently to remove excess water, but avoid wringing or twisting it.

Lay the toy flat on a clean towel and shape it back to its original form. Allow it to air dry completely before returning it to its rightful owner.

Guide to safely washing and preserving your plush toys.

Surface Cleaning and Spot Treatment

Some stuffed animals may only need surface cleaning or spot treatment, especially those with sensitive components such as electronic parts or delicate fabrics. Here’s how to do it effectively:

Use a damp cloth or sponge, dampened with a mixture of water and mild detergent, to gently wipe the surface of the stuffed animal. For spot treatments, target specific stains by applying a small amount of the detergent solution directly onto the spot. Use a soft-bristled brush to work the solution into the stain, and then blot it with a clean, dry cloth until the stain is lifted.

After cleaning, allow the stuffed animal to air dry thoroughly. Avoid using a dryer or applying direct heat, which can damage the fabric or other materials of the toy.


Properly washing stuffed animals without ruining them requires some care and attention to detail. By adhering to the care instructions, gathering the necessary supplies, and choosing the right washing method, you can keep these beloved companions clean and cuddly for years to come. Whether machine washing, hand washing, or surface cleaning, gentle handling is key to preserving the stuffed animal’s appearance and integrity. Happy cleaning!


1. Can all stuffed animals be machine washed?

No, not all stuffed animals are machine washable. Always check the care label for specific washing instructions to ensure you do not damage the toy.

2. What should I do if the stuffed animal has electronic components?

For stuffed animals with electronic parts, surface cleaning is recommended. Avoid submerging these toys in water.

3. How often should I wash stuffed animals?

This depends on usage. Toys that are frequently handled or become visibly dirty should be cleaned more often, whereas decorative stuffed animals need less frequent cleaning.

4. Can I use a hairdryer to speed up the drying process?

It is best to avoid using direct heat on stuffed animals. Air drying is recommended to prevent damage to the fabric and stuffing.

5. What if the stuffed animal’s fur becomes matted after washing?

Use a soft-bristled brush to gently fluff the fur back into shape once the toy is dry. Avoid aggressive brushing, as it can damage the fabric.