A stuffed animal and bottle of laundry detergent on top of a washing machine.

Cleaning & Caring for Your Handmade Plush

Cleaning & Caring for Your Handmade Plush

I often get asked about how to clean and take care of handmade plushies. If you're like me, then you know the fun and enjoyment a plush stuffed animal can bring! Your plush is sure to accompany you on many adventures, and as such it's possible for it to get a bit dirty, or simply need some disinfecting from time to time. When your plush gets dirty, it's important to know how to properly clean it to freshen it up without causing any damage. This guide is applicable to handmade plushies, as well as store-bought plushies!

In this article, we'll cover the following:
  1. How to determine if you can machine wash your plush
  2. Washing Machine method
  3. Hand Wash Method
  4. Baking Soda Method
  5. Drying Your Plush
  6. Removing Dust, Hairs, etc.
  7. Handling Your Plush

 

How to Determine if you can machine wash your stuffed animal.

    Typically I do not recommend placing plush stuffed animals in the washing machine, especially handmade and custom plush. Washers are pretty rough on plushies, even store-bought ones. But some can hold up in a washing machine. And, sometimes, you may just want to place it in the washer, just for thoroughness and disinfecting.

    Again, I usually recommend refraining from machine washing your plush, but here are some "rules" to go by when determining if you can or should wash your plush pal:

    When NOT to machine wash:

    Handmade custom Snorunt Pokemon plush.
    • There is a music box or other electrical or battery-operated component inside (music box, lights, etc)
    • Your plush is extremely old
    • Super delicate/fragile plushies (like ones with an excess amount of hand-sewing or less sturdy parts). Handmade and custom fall into this category.
    • There are items glued onto your plush (sequins, gems, eyes, etc).
    • Your plush has delicate features or accessories (fragile appendages, tulle or net-type fabric, glitter, glued-on accents, etc.)
    • There are loose parts on your plush (like Snorunt's loose blanket) that aren't completely sewn down
    • Your plush has small foam balls inside (like Beanie Babies) or scented or weighted beads.
    When it’s OK to machine wash:
    • Crocheted animals (these are much more durable than sewn plushies).
      Handmade Mothman plushie.
    • Simple plushies with minimal parts/attachments.

       

      Honestly, use your best judgement! Washing your stuffed animal shouldn't be a huge task or rocket science; so use your best judgement when determining if your plushie needs to be put in the washing machine.

      That being said, I personally prefer to hand wash all plush stuffed animals, particularly custom and handmade plushies. It's always better to be safe than sorry!

       

      Machine Washing Method

      If you are determined to wash your plushies in a washing machine, here are some steps to minimize the wear on your plush pal.

      • Place your plush in a large pillow case to minimize the amount of water and detergent that saturates the filling inside. You can also place a few towels or blankets in the load to help “pad” the plush as it goes through the wash.
      • Choose the gentlest cycle on your machine.
      • Use cold or cool water.
      • NO fabric softener should be added. Fabric softener can alter and ruin the texture and feel of minky.
      • Use a tiny bit of mild detergent.

        ❋  proceed to Drying Your Plush below.

         

        Hand Wash Method

          There are two methods you can use to hand wash your plush— Immersing your plush in a tub of soapy water, or spot cleaning. Which method you choose will be dependent on the needs of your plush and how dirty it is.

          Tub Immersion, or Soaking:

          • Fill a container or large bowl with lukewarm water and a tiny bit of detergent (baby shampoo can also work). 
          • Immerse your stuffed animal in the soapy water and gently massage the plush to remove any dirt or bacteria. 
          • Drain the water and refill with clean water. Re-submerge your plush and massage all the soap out.
          • Take your plushie out of the water and gently pat/press dry with clean towels to get as much water out as possible. NEVER twist or wring your handmade plush out, as this will most likely damage it.
            Spot Cleaning:
            • Use a damp cloth or toothbrush with warm water and detergent, and lightly scrub the soiled parts of your plush clean.
              Other than soap you can also use rubbing alcohol or alcohol cleaning wipes. Alcohol does nothing to the fluffiness of the minky fabric, it leaves no residue, it sanitizes and removes stains. The alcohol smell is strong for a little while, but after leaving them to air the smell goes away with nothing left but super soft and clean minky!

                You can also try stain removers for particularly tough stains, but first try it on an inconspicuous spot on your plush to make sure it won't affect your plushie's color or fabric texture.

                ❋  proceed to Drying Your Plush below.

                 

                Baking Soda Method

                Baking soda is great for removing oils from plushies. Using baking soda is also a great way to reinvigorate your plush’s smell as the powder lifts odors and various stains, leaving behind a clean, fresh-smelling plush!

                • Sprinkle a light layer of baking soda on the full surface of your stuffed animal and place it in a large pillow case.
                • Shake the pillow case vigorously for a few minutes and then let it sit for about a half hour so the baking soda can absorb all of the oils.
                • After you have waited for the baking soda to do its work, remove your plushie and shake out all of the baking soda.
                • Place your plush back into the pillowcase and toss it in the dryer for a few minutes to further clean it and fluff it up. Be sure to use a gentle cycle and lowest heat setting.

                ❋  proceed to Drying Your Plush below.

                 

                Drying Your Plush

                When it comes to drying your plush, there are a few different methods, outlined below:

                • Air dry by laying your freshly washed plush on a clean towel, and then wait! Avoid placing it near a heater or in direct sunlight, as these can damage the plushie’s color and fur.
                • Dry your plush using a hair dryer on low heat and low speed to fluff up its fur.
                • Machine dry your plush in the dryer, using your machine's lowest heat setting (delicate if your machine has it), and do NOT use dryer sheets.
                If the fabric nap or fur on your plushie seems a bit tangly or matted after, gently brush it with a clean brush to fluff it up again.

                   

                  Removing Dust, Hairs, etc from Your Plush

                  If your plush gets dusty or if you have a furry pet and your pet’s hair gets on your plush, you can simply use a lint roller to remove any dust or other debris. Sticky lint rollers are cheap, quick, and easy to use, and they don’t leave any sticky residue!

                   

                  Handling Your Plush

                  Our handmade plushies are made using a combination of machine sewing and hand sewing. Most of our plushies’ parts are machine sewn, however they also contain some hand sewn areas too. These hand sewn areas can be a bit more delicate. Because of this, we do not recommend them for rough play. Our plushies can definitely be cuddled and handled a lot, but aren’t intended for small children who will drool/chew on or handle roughly. They aren't suitable for rough play, nor are they safety tested, so please take care when giving it to a child.

                  Remember, the key to taking care of your plush pal and having it last many years, is to use your best judgment when cleaning and handling your plushies.

                  Comments

                  • Thank you so much 😊

                    Sarah on

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