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How to Wash Plush Toys

A while ago, I came across a very simple and inexpensive way of cleaning plush toys.

Everyone loves a good plush toy animal!

Everyone loves a good plush toy animal!

How to Clean Plush Toys

Sweaters, blankets, and comfort foods are ever-present each holiday season, but many people also break out, or are gifted, slippers and nostalgic stuffed toys. Maybe it’s time you wash your kid's favorite stuffed animal. A while ago, I came across a straightforward and inexpensive way of cleaning plush toys.

Since I wear my Killer Rabbit slippers all the time, they tend to get a little dingy. Recently, I washed them using this method. However, I had also used it with great success on a much-loved hand-knit doll my grandmother had made for me when I was five years old.

What You Need

  • The dirty toys
  • A pillowcase big enough to hold said toys
  • Laundry detergent
  • Washer/dryer

A Guide to Washing Plush Toys

Step 1

Gather the toys and any other laundry that may need washing. If the toys' fabrics have any special needs, be sure to keep them with clothing made up of similar materials. I suggest washing them with clothing because it provides better agitation. As a bonus, doing this saves on water and energy.

They do look a bit unnerved.

They do look a bit unnerved.

Step 2

Put the toys in the pillowcase, then tie the top. The pillowcase will minimize possible snags and help the toys keep their shape in the wash.

Feel free to ignore any cries for mercy. These bunnies might seem a little claustrophobic, but a little time in an enclosed space won’t hurt them, promise.

Step 3

Put the toys in the washing machine with the laundry and continue as usual. If there are any stubborn stains, they can be pretreated.

Because my bunnies are white, I stuck them in with my whites. I already knew the type of fabric the mouth is made up of wouldn’t bleed, so I wasn’t worried about turning anything pink. No one sees my husband’s socks, anyway.

These are not made of anything overly exotic, so I just washed them on warm/cold, regular cycle, single rinse. If there’s any question about the delicacy of the toys' materials, opt for cold water on the gentle cycle.

They're ready for the wash.

They're ready for the wash.

Step 4

In this case, I can just toss the slippers into the dryer while still in their pillowcase. My rabbits have a habit of escaping their casing sometime during the drying cycle. Although they’re a little tricky like that, they’ve never suffered for it.

Don’t worry if the toys are still a little damp. Just let them air dry the rest of the way. So long as they’re not soaked for long periods of time, there’s no need to worry about mold growth.

Some toys may do better when dried flat. If you’d like to speed up the drying process, you can put most toys into the dryer for a little while to partially dry them, then either hang them up or keep them flat to keep the shape. Another option would be to put them at a safe distance in front of a space heater.

If using the space heater, be sure to read the cautions which come with it and adhere to the provided directions. When using propane run heaters, be sure your carbon monoxide detector is working, and the area is well ventilated. Safety first!

Step 5

Enjoy the clean toys or slippers!

No bunnies, killer or otherwise, were harmed in the making of this Hub.

No bunnies, killer or otherwise, were harmed in the making of this Hub.

Other Things to Consider

Since there are so many types of plush toys, remember to do the following things before throwing them in the wash:

  • Remove loose ribbons
  • Take off any removable clothing items and wash them separately
  • Tighten loose buttons or sewn on parts, so they don't come loose while in the wash

Buttons and other small, hard parts can damage the dryer and may tear the toy's fabric. Taking precautions before washing, you'll avoid ruined treasures and expensive dryer repair.


Emilie S Peck (author) from Minneapolis, MN on October 18, 2012:

Good deal! I hope it helps them out. Thank you!

Deborah from Las Vegas on October 18, 2012:

Hello ESPeck, I am sharing this with my GFs that have kids, or just like stuffed toys (they won't admit it though). I am sure this will help a lot of people. Great hub!