Cleaning Tips, Guides & Resources

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Surface Clean Stuffed Animals

how to surface clean stuffed animals custom graphic

A baby’s first toys are those soft, warm, and cozy plush toys that are with them in their crib and by their side when they sleep. As time wears on, old and new stuffed animals come and go but one thing is for certain, your child isn’t going to outgrow these cuddly toys in a hurry! In fact, many children struggle to break the attachment they have to their teddy bears which means you, the parent, must ensure that the toys are clean and sanitary for your children to hold and play with.

Stuffed animals are made from various materials that are porous and known to trap dirt and dust between the fibres. This can cause allergies, rashes, and respiratory problems in babies and young children who often hug these toys close to their bodies and faces. Even worse, some (or many) children have a habit of putting their toys in their mouths, thus making it all the more important to keep their stuffed animals clean (and to keep a close watch on your kids, too!) Bear in mind that if plush toys are exposed to saliva, they will accumulate bacteria far quicker.

So, now that we’ve established the importance of cleaning kids’ stuffed animals, it’s time to learn how to clean them. 

What You Should Know Before Cleaning Stuffed Animals

sideview of a washed stuffed animal hung with wooden pegs on a clothesline

In order to clean stuffed animals safely, you must know what kind of cleaning method is appropriate for the toy. Depending on the material and/or other features such as embellishments like buttons and beads, or electronic fittings for music and lights, you will have to be extra cautious when cleaning certain types of stuffed animals. On the other hand, some plush toys are machine washable, making cleaning and sanitising easy and effortless.

So, before you apply any cleaning method to your children’s stuffed animals, check the label on the toy for special washing instructions. If the toy is not suitable for cleaning in a washing machine or being soaked in water, worry not because we’ve got just the cleaning method you need. Read on!

Steps to Surface Clean Stuffed Animals

yellow stuffed bear hung with pegs on a clothesline after having being washed

It’s a common misconception that surface cleaning stuffed animals by hand isn’t nearly as effective as washing them in the machine. Well, the only time this is true is when you take shortcuts and skip out on a few necessary steps to clean your child’s plush toys thoroughly. 

Today, MaidForYou is sharing a simple, step-by-step guide to surface clean plush toys that will ensure squeaky clean results! Let’s begin!

Step One: Vacuum

For this, you will need to use an upholstery attachment and a low suction power. If you are using a conventional vacuum cleaner, it is helpful to make it a two-person job – one holds the vacuum head in place while the other moves the teddy around to vacuum different parts of the material. Of course, using a handheld vacuum cleaner is a much more convenient option, especially if you are working alone. While it is important to vacuum every inch of the plush toy, avoid going over embellishments that are glued on such as beads, button eyes, noses, etc.

Step Two: Make the Cleaning Solution

Using any baby-safe cleaning product such as mild laundry soap or baby shampoo, make a cleaning solution in a bowl that consists of room temperature water and your chosen product. Be sure to make a mild cleaner because you don’t want the material to get too soapy (this will be harder to rinse off without the help of running water or a soaking method). Typically, half a teaspoon of the cleaning product in 2 cups of water should suffice.

Step Three: Clean Gently

Grab a clean, soft white cloth and dip it in the cleaning solution; wring it well so that the cloth is damp and not dripping wet. Use this to gently wipe the plush toy thoroughly by starting from the top (the head) and working your way downward. Keep a check on the cloth as dirt gets transferred; rinse it off when needed or simply use a fresh side of the cloth and continue. Particularly dirty areas may require excess cleaner and more elbow grease to remove, however, it is important to avoid saturating the material at all costs. If stubborn stains do not come out in one go, allow the material to dry completely before gently scrubbing with a damp cloth again. When it appears as if there is no more dirt being transferred to the cloth, you can move on to the next step.

Step Four: Wipe Over

Take a fresh cloth or towel (preferably white to avoid colour transfer), dampen it with clean water, and wring it thoroughly; then wipe over the stuffed animal to remove all traces of the cleaning solution. This may require a few wipes with intervals of rinsing the cloth in between until the cleaner is removed. Again, be sure to use a merely damp cloth/towel and not one that is dripping wet. 

Step Five: Dry

After cleaning the stuffed toy by hand, the last and simplest step is to dry it. While air-drying for some hours or overnight is the best option, if your child wants to play with his or her favourite plush toy right away, you can speed up the drying process with a hairdryer. Use a low-heat setting for this and avoid holding the appliance too close to the stuffed toy. 

So, if all those machine-washable teddy bears have been sitting alongside dirty plush toys simply because you didn’t know how to surface clean stuffed animals, you are now privy to MaidForYou’s simple, safe, and effective cleaning method to make them squeaky clean again! Make sure to clean your children’s stuffed animals regularly using the steps above to ensure good teddy bear hygiene!

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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