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How to Clean Soft Toys

For a child, there is nothing more comforting than cozying next to a soft teddy bear or cloth doll. While that soft, plush toy may offer a nice hug when your child needs it the most, it can also pass on germs and bacteria to your little one. When that toy can't be thrown in the washing machine, don't worry. Alternatives to machine-washing his treasured soft toys are not just available, but quick and easy. Make cleaning day fun by teaching your child about cleanliness and care for Tommy the Teddy or Leo the stuffed lizard.

Identifying Instructions

Before washing a tub full of soft toys, it's best to identify the best way to remove the dirt and grime that has built up during playtime. Toys stuffed with styrene foam, foam beads or even firmly stuffed animals usually cannot withstand the pressure of a washing machine. Any soft toys with cardboard, hardboard or metal stiffeners may disintegrate or corrode if not handled delicately. Read the tags carefully for the preferred washing instructions.

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Dusting Off Dirt

For a quick dusting, keep your child's treasured toys in tip-top shape with some vacuum action. Use the vacuum's hose to remove dust and dirt while fluffing the stuffed toy at the same time. A lint roller works in a pinch, too, to remove any dust attached to plush, soft toys.

Steaming Solutions

For delicate soft toys, steam out the dirt and grime with a handheld steamer. The steam will sanitize the toy, making it safe for your child to cuddle with Timmy the turtle well into the night. "The steam cleaner is awesome for cleaning and fluffing toys," says Jennifer Laprade, center director of Kindercare in Sharon, Massachusetts. "It also helps safely deep-clean toys with batteries."

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Wipe and Wash

When your child steps away, wash away those germs from her favorite soft toys with a quick wipe and wash. Treat stains with a clothing stain treatment and wipe down the soft toy with a gentle laundry soap and washcloth. Fluff out stuffed animals and remove dust mites by using a handheld blow dryer once the toy is clean.

Deep Freeze

After a hand wash, let Teddy chill awhile in the freezer to remove excess germs. Sarah Gould, lead curatorial researcher at the Institute of Texan Cultures in San Antonio, Texas, and curator for the Timeless Texas Toys exhibit, recommends spraying the soft toy with Lysol and then freezing in a freezer bag to remove bacteria. After a few hours of a chilling treatment, wipe the toy with a damp cloth to remove the dirt and grime buildup.

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