Wash and Care Tips for Plush Toys

No matter how many times I sort out my kids’ rooms, reorganise shelves and put everything in its place, I always seem to land up drowning in a sea of soft toys and teddy bears. I’m of the belief that when a child is born, so are twenty teddy bears that seem to follow them around until they’ve reached that ‘I don’t play with baby toys anymore’ pre-teen phase.

But while they’re still in the adoration and hoarding phase of soft toys, it’s helpful to keep them clean and smelling great. What’s more, before the teddies start looking a bit worse-for- wear, they are already breeding tons of dust mites which can aggravate allergies and cause other health problems. This is why regular care such as gentle vacuuming and the use of a lint-roller on a weekly basis is important.

Light ‘dusting’ (regular care)

How often? Once a month should do.

Because they seem to crawl under beds, hide behind pillows and creep into the crevices of toy boxes, it’s easy to forget that soft toys also need some TLC. Luckily, a bit of love here and there helps to prevent the need for frequent, deeper cleaning. Here’s how I successfully maintain clean teddies without too much effort:

1. Fill a small bucket with some room-temperature water and a touch of clothing softener.

2. Using either a soft-bristle brush or a cloth, dip into the solution and lightly brush/wipe the surface of the bear.

3. Once done, use a hairdryer to gently dry the teddy and restore that clean fluffiness.

Gentle wash

How often? Once every three months, or when the toy is visibly soiled.

1. Fill a sink (or bath, depending on the size of the toy) with cold water.

2. Place the toy in the water and squeeze gently. You should see dirt coming out. When the water starts to become clear, then remove the teddy.

3. Empty the sink and fill up with new cold water once again. In the meantime, put the teddy in a plastic bag and dust with baking soda. Shake the bag so the teddy is coated entirely. Leave for about 30 minutes.

4. Take the teddy out of the bag and submerge in the water again. Squeeze repeatedly until the baking soda has been removed.

5. You can then do a final rinse in cold water with a spot of fabric conditioner in a fragrant baby-fresh scent. After this, squeeze numerous times to remove excess water then leave the toy to dry – sometimes for up to 24 hours. Once dried, I usually use a hairdryer on a gentle setting to fluff the toy back up again.

Deep clean

How often? When really needed, like when Mr. Bear has been left in the garden or landed up in the dog’s basket covered in love bites.

I avoid this kind of wash if the toy is delicate or old. I’ve often done ‘emergency surgery’ on much-loved toys that are coming apart at the seams or are losing their lifeblood (stuffing). If your little creature needs some surgery, it needs to be done before this wash!

1. Place the toy in a mesh laundry bag. The nice thing about this is that you can put more than one teddy in their own laundry bag and get a few cleaned at the same time.

2. Put the bags in the washing machine on a gentle cycle with a very mild detergent and baby fabric softener.

3. Once done, hang to dry and, once dry, use a hairdryer and a brush to fluff them up.

There you have it! Now you can keep your kids’ precious bedtime buddies clean, fresh and smelling great.