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How to Clean Stuffed Animals Without a Washing Machine

Stuffed animals bring so much comfort and joy to our little ones. From the moment they are gifted to a child they become best friends- going everywhere with them and sleeping together in the same bed every night.  

Stuffed animals live busy lives filled with fun and adventure, so of course, they get dirty. Stuffed animals collect and carry germs just like children, so it’s important to keep them clean to keep your child clean and healthy.  

Can you wash stuffed animals? 

The short answer is yes- youmust wash stuffed animals, especially if the stuffed animal is second-hand. 

If your child has allergies or asthma, it’s important to clean their stuffed animals regularly to get rid of dust or other irritants. Your children’s stuffed animals should also be washed if your child gets sick or contracts lice. And of course, if you have pets, it’s a good idea to wash your child’s stuffed toys regularly (like every month or so).     

When your children’s stuffed animals start to smell or look grimy, it’s definitely time to give their favorite comfort toy a good wash. 

How should I wash stuffed animals? 

If the stuffed animal has a tag with washing instructions on it, then follow them. Some stuffed animals can be thrown in the washer with a small load, but other higher-quality stuffed toys, or toys with mechanical parts, should be washed with more care by hand. 

Luckily there are tried and tested techniques for cleaning stuffed animals without a washing machine! 

Using a clothing steamer 


The heat from a garment steamer is strong enough to kill germs or viruses that may be clinging onto the stuffed toy- but be careful not to hold the steamer too close to the toy as it could damage the fur. This method works well for toys with short compact fur, like Jellycats.

Similarly, you could put the stuffed toy in the dryer on medium-high heat for ten minutes, or use a hair dryer.  

Baking soda and a plastic bag 

Place your child’s stuffed toy in a plastic bag that can be properly sealed. Depending on the size of the toy, this could range from a zip lock bag to a garbage bag. Add half a cup of aluminum-free baking soda. Remove any excess air, then coat the stuffed animal in baking soda by gently shaking the bag for about two minutes. 



To deodorize the toy, let it sit in the baking soda for at least 15 minutes. Then take it out of the bag and remove the baking soda from the toy with a handheld vacuum cleaner and by combing it with a soft-bristled brush. 

To ensure all of the baking soda is removed, place it in the dryer for five minutes. Now your child’s favorite toy is germ-free! 

Child-friendly soap and warm water  

Sanitizing your child’s stuffed animal by hand with soap and water is a great alternative to machine washing. If you choose this method, be sure to use a hypoallergenic child-friendly soap, likeSallyeAnder’s Pure Mild Baby Soap

Simply fill a bucket or your sink with warm water and your soap of choice. Submerge the toy, then gently squeeze the water through it, using your fingers to clean any noticeably dirty spots. Make sure not to ring it as it could bunch up the stuffing. Instead, continue running warm water over the stuffed toy and gently squeezing it to rinse. 

To try the stuffed animal you can put it in the dryer on low heat for a couple of minutes, or better yet, hang it on the line to dry. 


It is possible to clean stuffed animals without a washing machine if you use one of these tried and tested methods. If your child’s stuffed toy is able to be cleaned in a washing machine, be sure to place the toy in a mesh bag or pillowcase before you put it in the machine. 

For natural, child-safe soaps to disinfect your children’s toys by hand, check out Zinnia’s Gift Boutique's curated collection of home and baby essentials.