Stuffed Animal Care And Cleaning

Stuffed animals or other fabric toys should be cleaned and mended to make them safe for children's play and help them last.

Whether you win them as prizes at the county fair or receive them as baby shower gifts, stuffed animals make welcome additions to the children's playroom or an adult's bedroom. Fluffy, snuggly, and cute, fabric bears, puppies, or fish can serve as great travel toys or home decor accents, as well as toy box additions.

But even these adorable little creatures can get dirty or become odorous with time. Sticky fingers, dusty vents, or rough handling can leave your family's cuddly playthings looking bedraggled and unhygienic. Here are a few easy tips to restore your fabric favorites to health:

1. Wipe away stains immediately. If your toddler spills grape juice on his stuffed spotted pup, blot it promptly with a paper towel, napkin, or washcloth. Then follow cleaning directions located on the toy's tag to treat and remove the stain. Do the same for any substance that ends up on a plush animal, from mud to blood or anything in between. Check the instructions before applying chemical spot removers like bleach.



2. Vacuum them periodically. The next time you're running the sweeper in a room with stuffed toys, use the furniture attachment to run it over them for surface dust. Be careful not to inadvertently pull off small pieces, like buttons, eyes, or ribbons with the sweeper's suction action. Vacuum the surrounding area where the toy normally sits to make it dust-free as well.

3. Mend small rips and tears. Check the toys on a regular basis for minor injuries. A loosened ear or tail, as well as hair that is falling out, can be repaired sometimes with the help of needle and thread. If the toy has sentimental or economic value, take it to a seamstress for professional help. Replace lost buttons or find similar parts for missing pieces or parts. A craft or fabric store may have just what you're looking for.

4. Remove sharp pieces or edges. A broken collar, partial tag or tab, or obtruding pin or staple should be broken off or cut out to keep it from harming your child. Sew any resulting tears or gaps before they get bigger. Significantly damaged toys like those with loose stuffing, which can pose a choking hazard, or a broken glass eye that can scratch someone, should be discarded or mended professionally.

5. Wash those that can tolerate machine-washing every six months or so. Tie them into a pillowcase and use the delicate setting on both washer and dryer, with warm rather than hot water or air to avoid shrinkage. If the toy isn't machine-washable, use a damp cloth to wipe it off by hand instead. If you plan to store rather than display stuffed animals, place them in plastic bags or airtight storage containers until you are ready to use them. Don't apply mothballs or other chemicals, as they may leave a toxic residue that could hurt your children later.

Properly caring for plush toys will help them look better and last longer. Start working on yours today!

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