How To Wash Plushies

How to Wash Plushies: Safe Cleaning Guide

No matter how much we try to preserve our plushies, they will inevitably gather germs, mold, dirt, and odors over time. That's why washing them once every month is highly advisable, making their laundry day an essential part of our routine.

The good news is washing stuffed animals is simpler than you might imagine. 

So here is a guide on how to wash plushies/stuffed animals and ensure that our beloved companions remain fresh and cuddly for years.

How to Wash Plushies: Step-by-Step Guide

1. Check the care label for washing instructions

Checking Plushies Label

First things first, ensure you check your plushie's care instructions. It's like their personal guidebook to cleanliness and will ensure you won't damage your stuffed animals with your cleaning method.

Whether hand-washing, machine-washing, or spot-cleaning only, the care label provides crucial information to help give a child's stuffed animals a longer lifespan.

Learn how to wash Squishmallows here

2. Remove any accessories or detachable parts

However, before we start cleaning stuffed animals, removing detachable parts and any accessories is essential. 

It may cause malfunction of electronic parts, damaged accessories, or tangled parts during cleaning.

For my stuffed animals, I would usually take off bows, clothing, and other attached accessories and hand wash them separately.

3. Spot clean stains with mild detergent

Spot cleaning focuses on treating only the stained area of a garment with appropriate cleaning products to prevent worsening the stain or damaging the fabric [1]

It is the best method, especially with older stuffed animals or plushies with mechanical parts or built-in battery packs. 

In the spot cleaning method, you must first do a spot test using a gentle detergent in a hidden part of the stuffed animal to avoid damaging the fabric.

4. Choose a washing method

Soaking Stuff Toy

Hand wash with mild detergent and cool water

Hand washing is a more gentle approach, allowing you to control the cleaning process.

Submerge the stuffed animal in the water and add dish soap or laundry detergent. Gently scrub the stuffed animal because too much force may damage loose strings/loose parts.  

Machine washes in a mesh bag on a gentle cycle with cold water

Depending on the care label, you can machine wash stuffed animals/stuffed toys. Unless you are removing head lice, use cold water in the washing machine instead of hot water because it can damage glued-on eyes.

It is a more convenient way of washing stuffed animals, especially if you have larger or multiple plushies to clean. 

I use a mesh laundry bag or zippered pillowcase to protect my stuffed animals before putting them in my washing machine. Use a gentle cycle setting because most stuffed animals can't handle a normal wash cycle.

5. Rinse thoroughly to remove all soap

Rinsing Stuff Toy with Running Water

Rinse the detergent by running the stuffed animal under cold running water. A soapy residue left behind can lead to skin irritation or fabric damage, so it's essential to rinse until the water runs clear.

This step ensures that your stuffed animal is free from any potential irritants. In addition, we don't advise using fabric softener.

Check out some funny plushies here

6. Gently squeeze out excess water

Pat Drying Stuff Toy

Once rinsed, squeeze the stuffed animal to remove excess water. I suggest avoiding wringing or twisting your plushies because it could damage the fabric or the stuffing. 

Gently squeeze your plushie with your hands from the top and work your way down. It will help your plushie dry faster and more evenly. 

Remember to be careful with this step and avoid squeezing the stuffed animal too hard.

For more fragile stuffed animals, I usually air dry it or use a clean, dry towel/damp cloth first to remove moisture or soapy water. 

7. Air-dry the plushie in a well-ventilated area

Air Drying Stuff Toy

After the bath, it's time for some fresh air! Lay the plushie flat on a clean towel or hang it up to dry in a well-ventilated area. 

It is essential to air dry your plushie and prevent mold from forming, as it may cause skin irritation. But first, you must return to your care label and see if the plushie suits a low-heat setting.

You can hang your stuffed animals under direct sunlight or in front of a fan to dry them well.

8. Fluff up the plushie once it's completely dry

And for the final step, fluff up your plushie to perfection! You must restore its fluffy appearance by giving it a good shake. 

I use a soft brush or comb to groom the fur or fabric back into place gently. If allowed, a hair dryer can also help restore the fluffiness. 

This step adds the finishing touch, ensuring your plushie looks as good as new and ready for snuggles! 

Check out the best fabrics for plushies here


Can all plushies be machine-washed?

No, not all plushies are machine-washable. It's always best to check the care label for specific cleaning instructions. 

Plushies made of wool, alpaca fur, mohair, and rayon plush should not be washed in a washing machine. Beanie Babies will be more suitable in a hand wash.

How often should I wash my plush toys?

The frequency of washing plushies/stuffed animals depends on various factors. The general rule is to wash or clean stuffed animals once every month or as needed. 

Unforeseen events like being exposed to dirt or spills will require you to wash them again. It is also essential to disinfect the stuffed toys if the child has recently been sick to kill germs.

What detergent should I use for washing plushies?

You should use a gentle laundry detergent for washing plushies. It's free from harsh chemicals to protect your child's skin and maintain the quality of your stuffed animal.

Can I dry plush toys in the dryer?

Yes, you can dry plushies/stuffed animals in the dryer if the care label instructs you. However, air drying your plushies is the best choice to avoid potential damage from heat and tumbling in the dryer.

It will also allow your stuffed animal to maintain its shape and texture, especially if it has plastic parts.

How do I remove stubborn stains from plush toys?

You can remove stubborn stains from plushies/stuffed animals using a gentle stain remover.

Using baking soda can help freshen a stinky teddy bear or stuffed toy.

Key Takeaways

Stuffed animals are comforting companions to help people deal with anxiety, stress, grief, and loneliness, as reported by Time magazine [2]

That's why cleaning stuffed animals isn't just about keeping them clean – it's about keeping them fresh, fluffy, and ready for countless cuddles. 

For a cute, squishy companion during movie nights or long drives for a child, we highly recommend this Squishmallow 8-inch Stackable Plush | Octavia The Hot-Pink Octopus.

And hey, if you want a new stuffed toy/stuffed animal to your collection, check out Squishmallows Plush Toys. We offer free daily shipping in the contiguous US. 



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