Soft toys may be cute, cuddly and filled with the love of your child, but they can also be breeding grounds for bacteria and germs. More to the point, the love received by stuffed toys can result in them being more than slightly ‘on the nose’! Many of us approach the cleaning of adored stuffed toys with hesitation; no one wants to damage something that brings joy, comfort and fun. Fortunately, there are some simple steps that can be taken to keep toys hygienically clean and smelling sweet, and these tips range from managing the lightly soiled to the positively filthy! You don’t have to do this alone! Why not involve your child in the process of giving their favourite toys ‘a bath’? This is a great way to engage your child in understanding concepts of hygiene and even grooming! Is just a wipe over necessary?
- If the stuffed toy is just a little dusty, this can be overcome by wiping them over with a damp cloth. It is also possible to use the hose attachment on a vacuum cleaner or a lint roller and finish the process by brushing the toy with a brush that is not used on human hair. You could also try using cornmeal, as a dry shampoo. After this has been left to sit for an hour, the toy can be dusted off.
Using the washing machine:
- The washing machine is also useful for giving sprucing up some stuffed toys. Always check the care label to check for any laundering recommendations and inspect the toy for any rips or tears to the seams. Any stains on the toy can be pre-treated with a mild laundry detergent, provided that the detergent is tested on an inconspicuous part of the toy to avoid discolouration or bleaching.
- When you are ready and have determined that the stuffed toy is able to be machine washed, it can be placed in a pillowcase (ideally one with a zip) and included with the rest of the laundry. Given the precious cargo of the washing machine, it is advisable to use a delicate cycle. Fabric softener could also be included to maximize the softness and cuddliness of the toy.
- Following laundering in the machine, allow the toy to air dry; do not use the clothes dryer. The wet toy can be hung out on the clothesline but be careful to keep it out of direct sunlight to avoid fading. When dry, a good brushing will help the toy to stay plush and cuddly.
Take care! A word of warning about very old or very delicate stuffed toys…do not use the washing machine! This also applies to large toys, too big to fit in the machine and those filled with beans. Instead, place the toy and some baking soda in a paper bag and give it a good shake until the toy is coated in the baking soda. After 30 minutes, brush the baking soda off with a towel.
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To keep them hygienic, wash any stuffed toys that children may sleep with on a fortnightly basis and dust and brush them regularly. Try to clean up spills as they occur but make sure they are not rubbed – this will only embed them further into the fur. A damp sponge followed by a dry towel should be used to blot a stain. So, as you can see, there are some simple steps that can be taken to keep stuffed toys looking and smelling fresh and hygienically prepared for years of cuddles with children. These steps use materials and devices readily available around the home and involve minimal effort and time to carry out. Children will love the new, improved and sweet smelling versions of their favourite toys!
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