4 Steps to Keeping Your Plush Toys Clean

Soft toys like teddy bears need careful handling and cleaning in order to maintain their colour and soft texture. Many have a care label with laundering instructions depending on what the toys is made from. Most plush toys should be washed with mild detergent, whether by hand or machine. Be careful to follow instructions to avoid ruining the toy. The following are general care tips to follow:

Step 1: Sorting

Sort the toys according to the indications on the care label – hand-wash toys apart from machine wash toys, dark toys apart from light toys etc. If you have a very dirty toy, you can prepare by using a vacuum cleaner to remove particles and dirt on its surface before washing. Wrapping old pantyhose around the brush can help protect the toy's fabric. Do this also for toys that don't need washing.

If there isn't a care label, examine the toy to find out if you can throw in the washer. Do not machine-wash any toys like the following:

  • toys that are old and/or fragile
  • toys with removable or stuck-on parts e.g. ribbons, sequins etc.
  • toys with electronic parts
  • toys with delicate items e.g. clothing you can't remove
  • toys with any stuffing other than polyester/acrylic fibre e.g. foam beads or beans 
  • toys that have rayon plush, alpaca fur, mohair or wool

Step 2: Preparation

For every pile, go through each toy looking out for damage like rips, loose buttons and other parts. Sew or glue back depending on what's needed so that the toy is in the best condition for washing. You can do this with your child so that they can learn to care for their own toys as they grow older.

Step 3: Washing

Put your machine-wash toys in a mesh bag or pillowcase for extra protection. Add a little detergent and fabric softener as needed. Set the machine to delicate or hand-wash cycles, which are much gentler than regular washing. Use warm or cold water, but never hot. Do not wash with anything that could stain/damage the toys.

For handwashing, start by spot cleaning any trouble-sites such as stains using a soft cloth and water with mild detergent. Be careful to use a little detergent so that the suds will be easy to rinse off completely. Before washing, put toys in a bag with baking soda and shake vigorously – baking soda absorbs any odours. Finally, place the toys in water and rub surface softly with a piece of cloth or just your hands. Do not use brushes or other abrasive materials that could ruin the fabric. Rinse until all suds are removed.

Step 4: Drying

Squeeze excess water gently from hand-washed toys, but do not wring. Hang under a shade and allow to dry naturally. You can hasten the process by blowing with a warm hair dryer.