How to wash soft toys
Universally adored by kids and beloved by adults (when no-one is looking), soft toys are cuddly bundles of life and love. To us big kids, they even hit us with the nostalgia of a more innocent time in our life. Sadly, however, they’re also dirt magnets, jam hoarders and drool traps. While kids don’t seem to care, and love their plushy companions regardless, we know that these are the kind of conditions that attract clusters of bacteria. To keep these toys clean and healthy, we need to give them a wash every now and then.
However, we’re all too aware that these toys aren’t just any old toys – they’re often kids’ favourite things in life – so we want to do everything possible to avoid causing any damage. So how do you safely wash soft toys? Thankfully, you’ve come to the right place to find out that answer. Here is Repair Aid’s guide on how to wash soft toys safely and efficiently.
Making the right call
As no soft toy is the same (they all have their own names, after all), it means you have to assess the best way to wash the toy. If there’s a label then just follow the instructions for whether it should be hand-washed or machine washed at a certain temperature. But if there’s no such instruction, you’ll have to make a judgment call. Things like the toy’s condition, how soft/hard it is, its age and other factors can change what method you choose.
Generally, if there’s something a bit vulnerable about the toy such as a part that could become damaged whilst tumbling around in a washing machine (like an elephant’s trunk), then you’ll want to hand-wash instead. If the toy is particularly old, you may also want to consider hand-washing – even if a label says it’s okay to put in the washing machine. Often you can just tell by giving the toy a feel to see how vulnerable it is, or if there’s anything on the inside that could make it vulnerable to a machine wash.
While you’re giving the toy a feel, try and check for any places where there are damage or there may be loose threads. This can be bad as tumbling around the drum of a washing machine rather violently can further unravel threads or expose damaged areas to more wear and tear. If you do detect damage, see if you can fix or sew the damage yourself.
Don’t worry about applying an anaesthetic either – despite their vulnerable appearances, soft toys are mentally tough and can withstand some impromptu surgery! If it’s not possible to fix the problem, and you feel the washing machine could cause possible damage, don’t take the risk as this is a friend (possibly even a best friend) to someone you care about.
If you’re going ahead with a machine wash, but the soft toy is adorned with small delicates such as buttons or thin clothing, you can help protect it from being caught up on other clothes or on the drum by placing it in a laundry bag or a pillow case. The latter may even be better as a button can caught in the net of a laundry bag and possibly pop out. Not only would losing part of their toy upset your child, a small enough button can end up disappearing into the innards of the washing machine – which may lead to you having to get a repair at some point!
If you’re still worried about the toy getting damaged in the pillow case, try attaching the toy and the pillow case together with a few safety pins. This will reduce the amount of tumbling that it does. However, don’t use just one pin as this could led to the toy getting swung around, twisted and damaged; try applying a few pins in different places to secure the soft toy in place.
Time to wash
Now it’s time to move onto the washing part. You’ll want to use a detergent that is good for both toy and child (or adult). A non-bio detergent is often best as this is gentle to our skins and the surface of soft toys. We also heard that, when surveyed, most teddy bears preferred a gentle wash but we seem to have misplaced the source of that information.
What we can definitely tell you is that a gentle wash at lower temperature is good for the overall stability of teddy bears and cuddly toys. You’ll want to use a lower temperature than what you’d usually use to wash your clothes. This is because there are components and adhesives that can become damaged or, worse yet, melt if the temperature is too high (such as glue).
If you’re hand-washing, take it easy and use your best judgment when tackling more sensitive or fragile areas of the cuddly toy. You’ll want to make sure that you rinse out all the detergent before you set it out to dry. And, while we’re on the topic of drying, make sure to air dry. Don’t use a tumble dryer to dry for the same reasons as stated above – heat can often damage a soft toy.
And that’s it! Now that you know how to do it, there’s no reason you can’t make this a regular addition to your cleaning duties. And while we often bemoan having more to do, there’s something very rewarding in ensuring that your child is not only safe from hidden germs, but also gets back a friend who is looking and smelling lovelier than ever.
After all, isn’t it so much better when your friends don’t have 10 day old biscuit crumbs hanging from their chin?