Home / Blog January 11, 2024

6 min read

How to Clean Stuffed Animals: Keeping Your Plush Toys Their Beary Best!

Here are our best tips for keeping your plush toys clean, comfy, and huggable as can be!

How to Clean Stuffed Animals


It’s always important to check your stuffed animal’s care tag before washing!

Many stuffed animals are machine washable, but some can only be machine washed or spot cleaned

It’s a good idea to select a gentle detergent, and color test the plush fabric before fully washing 

Did you know?
You can keep stuffed animals fresh in between washes using a vacuum, lint roller, or soft bristle brush!

Stuffed animals might not be at the top of your weekly laundry list, but if you keep plush toys around the house, plush cleaning may be an overlooked aspect of keeping your space clean and comfortable.

But how do you wash stuffed animals without ruining them? The good news is, it isn’t as complicated as you may think! By following a few simple steps, you can determine whether your stuffed animal should be spot cleaned, hand washed, or machine washed, and keep your plushies as neat and fresh as the rest of your bedding.

Preparing to Wash Your Stuffed Animal

Before you jump into the washing process, you’ll want to take a moment to gather your materials and get your stuffed animal ready for cleaning.

Since frequent washing and drying can wear down your stuffed animal’s soft fur and even impact their overall shape, it’s a good idea to take a moment to check your stuffie’s care label and assess the level of dirt before you jump into washing.

For extra delicate or fragile stuffed animals, you may want to explore alternative cleaning methods, such as placing them in a plastic bag and keeping them in the freezer overnight. This freezing process actually kills germs and bacteria, fully sanitizing your stuffed animal.

Preparing to Wash Your Stuffed Animal

Best materials for cleaning a stuffed animal

If you’re planning to clean multiple stuffed animals at once, there are a few materials that will be useful to keep handy for each animal’s unique needs.

For pre-washing care, you can keep a lint roller, soft-bristled brush, or vacuum close at hand to remove excess dust or dirt from your stuffie before washing. If you’re wondering how to clean dusty stuffed animals, these tools are a great place to start!

In fact, in some cases this dust removal might be all that’s needed to freshen up your stuffed animal. Just remember, this won’t fully eliminate any germs or bacteria that might be sticking around your plushie.

For your stuffed animals that can be machine washed, you’ll want to have a laundry bag, a mild detergent, and a gentle stain remover if your stuffies need some extra cleaning. It’s also helpful to keep a towel and a fan at the ready to aid in the drying process.

For stuffed animals that need to be washed by hand, you’ll also need a large bucket, basin, or container that can hold plenty of soapy water (and that can be refilled with clean water later on).

How to Wash Stuffed Animals By Hand

If your stuffed animal’s care label says hand wash only, that means you’ll need to skip the washing machine altogether! Luckily, hand washing isn’t as time consuming as it might sound.

The most important part of how to clean a stuffed animal by hand is to use plenty of water. Start by filling a large container with cold or lukewarm water and adding a small amount of mild laundry detergent (you might only need a drop).

Next, place your stuffed animal in the water solution, fully submerging it. Use your hands and an extra towel to spread the detergent mixture through the stuffie’s fur, breaking up any marks or stains.

While you do want to submerge your stuffed animal fully in the detergent mixture, you don’t want to leave them to soak any longer than an hour. After carefully scrubbing the stuffie, remove it from the mixture and rinse it in clean, soap-free water to remove all traces of detergent from the stuffie’s fur.

Once the stuffed animal is free of soapy residue, you’ll want to dry them with a fresh towel to remove excess moisture. You can then leave the toy to air dry, or place it in front of a fan to speed along the process.

We don’t recommend using a hair dryer to dry your plushie’s fur, because depending on the material your stuffed animal is made of, a hair dryer could melt or otherwise damage the fabric.

How to remove stain from stuffed animal

If you’re wondering how to clean a plushie with stains, it isn’t much different from removing stains from clothing — just keep in mind the properties of the fabric that your stuffed animal is made of.

You can select an appropriate, mild stain remover based on the composition of your plushie, and spot treat the stained area with this stain remover as needed. Be sure to fully wash the plushie after treating the stain, to ensure that all of the stain remover is washed away.

There’s even a tried-and-true method for how to remove stains from stuffed animals without stain remover: simply mix up a concentrated solution of water and mild detergent, and break out a soft bristle toothbrush.

Dip the toothbrush in your detergent solution, and use it to gently scrub the stained area until the stain begins to loosen. Once the stain is gone, dampen a fresh towel with clean water and use it to remove the excess soap from your stuffed animal’s fur. Dry the area with a towel, then leave to fully air dry.

How to remove stain from stuffed animal

When should you spot clean a stuffed animal?

If your stuffed animal is especially delicate, or comes with electronic parts such as a battery pack, it’s best to spot clean it instead of submerging it in water.

Spot cleaning is like a more delicate, less water intensive version of hand washing. To spot clean your plushie, follow a similar process to the stain removal procedure above.

First, remove any dirt or dust from your stuffed animal’s fur using a lint roller or vacuum cleaner.

Next, create a solution with water and mild laundry detergent. Use a rag or a soft bristle brush to apply the solution to any stained or less-than-fresh parts of the stuffed animal.

Using small circular motions, clean off any stains or dirt marks from your stuffie, but avoid applying so much water that it soaks through any part of the stuffed animal.

Once the marks have been removed, use a fresh cloth and clean water to gently remove the soapy solution from, leaving no soapy residue behind. After spot cleaning, you can towel dry your stuffed animal or leave them to air dry.

How to Machine Wash Stuffed Animals

Cleaning by hand is usually the safest option, but if push comes to shove, can you put stuffed animals in the washer?

If your stuffed animal’s care label says it’s machine washable, chances are you can trust that it will stay in good condition after washing. But before you jump straight to the washing machine, it’s always safest to start with a color test.

How to color test stuffed animals

To make sure that your stuffed animal isn’t going to lose its signature look in the wash, you can test your detergent ahead of time on a small section of the plushie’s fur.

Simply dilute a small amount of your detergent, and rub it onto a section of the stuffed animal that is easily hidden, such as the underside of an arm. You should be looking to see if any color or dye comes off with the detergent.

If the color test fails, and you end up with dye on your hand, don’t worry! You should still be able to wash the stuffed animal — you’ll just want to wash it by hand with only water (and no detergent) to avoid damaging the animal’s appearance.

If the color test is successful, and no color comes off of your stuffed animal, you should be ready for machine washing. To retain your stuffed animal’s snugglable shape and appearance, be sure to carefully tuck them in a laundry bag or pillowcase before putting them in the washer.

Select a gentle cycle with cool water, and don’t overdo it on the detergent. Your stuffed animal should be squeaky clean in no time!

Can you dry a stuffed animal in the dryer?

Even if your stuffed animal is machine washable, that doesn’t necessarily mean it should be dried in a dryer. Read your stuffie’s care label carefully before machine drying, and when in doubt, air dry!

If you’re machine washing your stuffed animal, chances are it will soak up quite a bit of water, so you might want to soak up excess water with a clean towel before leaving the stuffie to air dry.

You can even leave your stuffed animal to dry in front of a fan in order to speed up the air drying process.

How to clean white stuffed animals

Bleach should be a last resort when it comes to cleaning stuffed animals, as it can be very harsh on the soft material of your plushie.

If your white stuffed animal is machine washable, try thoroughly vacuuming it before washing it to remove the dust and dirt. Then, you can start by trying an ordinary cycle of washing and drying to return it to its usual clean white color.

White stuffed animals might require a few extra cycles of washing and drying to regain their bright white hue, but it’s better to stick with mild detergents and stain removers instead of bleach — unless their care label specifically indicates that bleach is okay.

How to wash stuffed animals and keep them soft

It might sound counterintuitive, but if you want your stuffed animals to stay soft after washing, don’t use fabric softener! Fabric softener typically leaves an unwanted residue on stuffed animal fur, causing it to feel less soft than before.

The best way to keep your stuffed animal’s fur soft through the cleaning process is to use only water and mild detergent, and be sure to follow the correct drying instructions to return your stuffed animal to its usual cuddly texture.

How to Clean Bearabuddies

Our weighted stuffed animals are fully machine washable! We recommend machine washing them cold inside of a laundry bag to keep them in tip-top shape. Be sure to use a mild, eco-friendly detergent, and skip the bleach, too!

After washing, we recommend tumble drying your Bearabuddy on low for warm, fresh from the dryer hugs.


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How often should I wash a weighted stuffed animal?

It’s best to clean your weighted stuffed animal regularly if you sleep with it every night — a good rule of thumb is to consider washing it as often as you’d wash a favorite pillow.

Additionally, if you come down with a cold or get sick, it’s a good idea to wash all of your bedding (including your stuffie) for a fresh start after you recover.

If your weighted stuffed animal is more of a stress relieving couch companion, you can wash it as needed, or whenever it starts to feel less-than-fresh. 


Stuffed animals come in all different shapes and sizes, so there’s no one-size-fits-all cleaning process. But once you get a little more familiar with your stuffed animal’s material and care instructions, it’s relatively simple to return your plushie to a clean, snuggable state.

Our Bearabuddy weighted stuffed animals are designed to be easy to machine wash and dry, so that you can curl up with them for comforting calm as often as you need without worrying about how to keep them fresh.