Meet Kitty. That is a photo from about five years ago when Kitty joined Katie’s family as Jack’s stuffed feline companion. Look how pristine he is! Needless to say, after all these years and much smother love, Kitty has become a little worse for the wear.
Calvin, Jack’s younger brother, claimed Kitty for his own which was fine by Jack; he had latched on to other stuffed friends. In spite of his bright eyes, Kitty’s fur is now matted and he’s turned from bright white to dingy beige. And, well, he also smells a bit, um, ripe. Oh, but he’s never been more content in Calvin’s loving embrace.
It was high time Kitty had a bath. I researched options for washing fragile stuffed animals and came up with two choices:
- Put Kitty in a pillow case and wash him in the sink with gentle detergent. Immerse and squeeze. Wrap him in a towel, squish, and then repeat until he is almost completely dry. Then, let him air dry.
- Use a gentle soap diluted in warm water and surface scrub him with a brush all over his body.
Worried a full immersion might damage Kitty, Katie chose option two. I bought a sample size of Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap with orange oil, which is a gentle natural soap. Katie diluted about 20 drops of the soap in a bowl of warm water.
Katie and Calvin took turns scrubbing Kitty’s fur, both the black and the beige bits.
After Kitty was thoroughly scrubbed (although not bright white again and probably never to be again, let’s be honest), Katie dried Kitty with a blow dryer, being careful not to get the heat too close to the fur for fear of burning his sensitive skin.
Calvin thought it was hilarious to blow dry Kitty’s unmentionables.
And look how proud he is with Kitty’s spa treatment.
But, even though we felt pretty good about Kitty’s cleanliness factor, Kitty still unfortunately smelled a bit off. So, Katie took things to the next level. She sprinkled baking soda all over him, rubbed it in, and let it sit for a good while.
After that, Kitty’s odor still lingered. Our final option was to mist Kitty with a combination of water, vinegar, and lemon oil — all natural, odor-busting ingredients that will not hurt Calvin when he kisses and snuggles Kitty.
And, after a good mist, Katie was happy to report that Kitty now smells good as (almost) new!
If your child has a well-loved stuffed animal in need of a good wash, here are some other ways to clean and remove invisible dust mites.
Cleaning in the Washing Machine: Put stuffed animals in a mesh laundry bag so they don’t get tangled up in the agitator. Use the most gentle cycle with warm or cool water. Hang to dry.
Getting Rid of Dust Mites: You may not think your kids’ toys will have dust mites, but believe me, they are ubiquitous, and also microscopic. Dust mites can worsen allergies and asthma, even if your kids don’t suffer from either condition. Simply put all of the stuffed toys in the dryer on hot for 20 minutes. If you’re worried about hurting a fragile stuffed animal, you can also put them in a plastic bag and into the freezer for 24 hours to achieve the same result. Some super vigilant parents may do both steps.
Have you cleaned any precious stuffed animals? Have you tried surface cleaning or full immersion? If so, how’d it go?