Stuffed animals, or plushies as they are also known, are some of the most popular toys and collectables in the world. You can walk into just about any home, and the chances of seeing at least one plushie somewhere in the home is pretty good. The basics of restoring plushies are something that everyone who has one should learn. This way, you can help keep your, and your children's favorite plushie looking great.
- Unstuff. Have you ever noticed how, when you wash something, it becomes water logged? Normally this isn't a problem, but when cleaning a plushie it can be a major problem Leaving the stuffing in prior to you either washing it in a machine, or by hand, can end up causing the stuffing to get wet, clumped up, and have bacteria or mold grow on it. Prior to any cleaning, remove the stuffing from your plushie.
- Machine wash. Unless you have a particularly delicate plushie, machine washing should be OK. Simply make sure that you have removed the stuffing, and that you have placed the stuffed animal into a pillow case. Then, set your machine onto the delicate cycle and allow it to wash. The pillow case is to help protect not only the fur of your stuffed friend, but also the hard plastic eyes and other odds and ends from any potential damage.
- Hand wash. There is a trade off with hand washing a plushie. While it is less likely that you will damage your stuffed animal, it is going to be more labor intensive. When hand washing a plushie, be sure that you use a mild detergent, and that you do not wring the stuffed animal for fear of stretching or damaging it. Hand wash your plushie just like you would any other piece of delicate clothing.
- Dry it. Drying a plushie can be a little tricky since you don't want to leave it out to air dry only. Rather, you should first run it through the spin cycle of your washing machine. This will get the vast majority of the water out of the plushie, and can speed up the drying process immensely. After letting it go through the spin cycle, you can safely let it air dry. If you insist on drying the plushie in a dryer, then first place it into a pillow case, and then set the heat to its lowest setting. The combination of pillow case and low heat will help protect the fur from getting damaged.
- Use commercial cleaners. Many toy and cleanser companies do manufacture some cleaners that have been specifically designed for cleaning plush stuffed animals. One example of this is the Siege Teddy Bear Cleaner made by the Siege Chemical Company. Selling at around $10 a bottle, it is a little more expensive than many other cleaners that you may use around your home. The plus side is that these cleaners have been specially formulated to work on a plush toy, and not harm it. Simply follow the directions as posted by the manufacturer.
- Dealing with matted fur. Matted fur is one of the most common problems that a plushie can experience. Unfortunately, there is no permanent solution to matted fur, except to never handle your stuffed animal again. The reason is that the oils and dirt that are inherent in our hands cause the fur to matt over time. One way that you can temporarily fix the problem is through cleaning and using an ultra fine pet brush on the plushie's fur. However, if you are not careful, this can also pull out the fur from your stuffed animal, leading to bald spots.