The Stuffed Animals that Germs Are Made On...

Updated: Jun 4

When you get them, they are plush and soft and silky and your kid just wants to cuddle next to them. But unlike real animals, stuffed animals don't lick themselves clean and over time they do get very, very germy and dirty. Some toys are machine washable (and should have a tag affirming this is so), but older, vintage, and more specialized toys (with leather or suede spots on them or parts made of plastic) might not do so well in the rinse cycle or spinning dry.


Aside from usual dust and dirt, it's actually imperative to clean a stuffed animal after the child has been sick and possibly coughing and sneezing all over their best real imaginary friend. Otherwise it becomes an incubator for germs.


If the toy is machine-washable, you can both surround it with towels to protect it or buy a mesh bag so that if the eyes come out they don't go down the path of lost socks. The dryer can be dicey for toys with plastic parts since the heat of the dryer can cause those parts to melt. Also not great for your appliance and that's not a repair bill anyone yearns to pay.


Be judicious with soap. Woolite is perfect. The milder the better. Too much soap leaves residue and stickiness. Less is more. Less is more. Less is more.


If you are washing a stuffed animal by hand, find a big bucket or sink where you can submerge the animal entirely (and bonus, unlike real animals, they don't claw their way out, shake water all over you, or squirm). Spot test your cleaner first to make sure it doesn't damage the toy. Add a bit of very mild detergent like Woolite, Soak, or even baby shampoo to the bucket, and saturate the animal for 15-60 minutes (start with the shorter duration of time and see how that particular toy does first before longer dunking sessions, especially for very delicate animals). Rinse the animal under running water to fully remove detergent and gently squeeze to remove the soap. Push out as much excess water as you can.


Then air dry like a real pet, preferably in a warm, dry, sunlit place.


This probably shouldn't need to be said, but for toys that have mechanical or electronic parts, do NOT submerge these in water. Use a wet cloth and mild soap. Then rinse with a clean wet cloth. Keep the electronic parts from shorting out.


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