How to Wash Stuffed Animals Without Ruining Them

Find out how to wash stuffed animals, including hand washing and machine washing. We also show you how to keep stuffed animals fluffy after washing.

We all know this: stuffed animals hold a special place in the hearts of our children and often accompany them on countless adventures. This means that they get dirty and need proper cleaning to ensure that they remain in good condition.

In this article, we show you how to wash stuffed animals without ruining them. We’ll help you determine when to machine wash or hand wash those stuffed animals, explain how to go about each method, and answer other questions you may have. Let’s get to it!

What you’ll need 

  • Mild detergent
  • A basin or sink
  • Clean towels
  • A soft brush or cloth
  • A drying rack or clothesline
  • A mesh laundry bag
  • White towels


How to wash stuffed animals 

How to wash a stuffed animal (by hand or machine washing) depends on the care label and the toy's fragility. Hand washing is best for delicate toys or those with embellishments or made of fragile materials, while machine washing on a gentle cycle is suitable for durable stuffed animals with a machine-washable label. 

How to hand wash stuffed animals

When hand washing is necessary, follow these steps to clean a stuffed animal.

Step 1: Check the care label and gather supplies

Before starting, check the care label on your stuffed animal for cleaning instructions and gather the necessary supplies. You'll need mild detergent, a basin or sink, clean towels, a soft brush or cloth, and a drying rack or clothesline.

Step 2: Fill a basin with lukewarm water and add detergent

Fill a basin or sink with lukewarm water, and add a small amount of mild detergent, mixing it gently to create suds.

Step 3: Submerge and clean the stuffed animal

Place the stuffed animal in the soapy water and ensure that it is fully submerged. Then, use a soft brush or cloth to gently scrub the surface, focusing on any stained or soiled areas.

Step 4: Rinse and remove excess water

After cleaning, rinse the stuffed animal under lukewarm water until all detergent has been washed away. Then, press it gently between clean towels to remove excess water. Avoid wringing or twisting.

Step 5: Air dry and reshape

Lastly, place the stuffed animal on a drying rack or clothesline, allowing it to air dry completely. A pro tip is to avoid direct sunlight when air-drying as it can cause fading or damage to the fabric. 

Once dry, gently fluff and reshape it as needed to restore its original appearance.

How to wash stuffed animals in a washing machine

It’s generally fine to wash more durable stuffed animals in the washing machine. Here’s how.

Gather supplies and prepare the stuffed animal

You'll need a few supplies for this method: a mild laundry detergent, a mesh laundry bag, and some white towels. 

Place the stuffed animal inside the mesh laundry bag to protect it during the wash cycle. If the stuffed animal has any removable parts like clothing or accessories, be sure to remove them first.

Load the washing machine

Put the mesh laundry bag containing the stuffed animal in the washer, along with some white towels. The towels will help balance the load and provide extra cushioning to protect the toy from any rough spinning.

Choose the right settings

For the best results, set your washing machine to a gentle cycle with cold water. This will help preserve the stuffed animal's colors and fabric. Also, add a small amount of mild laundry detergent to the washer, just enough for a small load.

Now, go ahead and start the washing machine.

Air dry the stuffed animal

Once the wash cycle is complete, remove the stuffed animal from the mesh laundry bag and gently squeeze out any excess water. To dry, place the toy on a clean, flat surface or hang it on a clothesline, making sure to avoid direct sunlight. Let it air dry completely before fluffing. 

Fluff and reshape (optional)

When the stuffed animal is dry, give it a good fluff to help restore its original shape. To do this, hold it by its body or head and gently shake it back and forth, allowing the filling inside to redistribute evenly. Use your hands to massage and reshape any areas that may have been compressed.

Learn more: If you need to get paint out of clothes or need a cleaning checklist for your kids’ room, we’ve got you covered.

FAQs for washing stuffed animals

Quick answers to all your questions about washing stuffed animals. 

Can you put a stuffed animal in the dryer?

It's not recommended to put stuffed animals in the dryer, as the heat can damage the delicate fabric and cause it to lose shape. However, if the care label allows it, place the stuffed animal in a pillowcase and use a low-heat or air-dry setting to prevent damage. 

How do you keep stuffed animals fluffy after washing?

To keep stuffed animals fluffy after washing them:

  • Gently squeeze out excess water 
  • Air dry completely
  • Shake the stuffed animal gently to even out the stuffing inside, restoring its original shape and fluffiness
  • Massage and reshape compressed areas with your hands
  • Give a few final shakes to settle the filling 

How do you sanitize stuffed animals that can't be washed?

To sanitize a stuffed animal that can’t be washed, spot clean any stains with a damp cloth and mild detergent. Next, mix equal parts rubbing alcohol and water in a spray bottle and spray it on the stuffed animal. Let the toy air dry completely. Lastly, fluff and reshape as needed to maintain appearance.

Should you machine wash stuffed animals?

You can machine wash your stuffed animal, but only if the care label permits it. If it does, follow these steps:

  • Use a gentle cycle with cold water and mild detergent
  • Place the toy in a mesh laundry bag for protection
  • Add white towels for cushioning
  • Air dry and fluff the toy after washing

Easily clean your child’s stuffed animal

Proper care and cleaning of stuffed animals are essential for maintaining their appearance, hygiene, and longevity. So, you don’t have to wait until your child’s toy is extremely dirty and smelly before cleaning it up. Simply follow any of the methods we’ve talked about in this article.

Remember to always check the care label for instructions and take the necessary precautions when washing and drying. 

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