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How to clean a teddy bear

Keep your teddy bears looking and feeling their best with the following tips and tricks for how to clean stuffed toys.


Reading Time: 5 minutes

Written by Eunice Samson

a teddy bear outdoors on a clothesline

Key steps to begin teddy bear cleaning:

  • Check the care label on your child’s teddy bear for washing guidelines.

  • Avoid hot washes, as this could damage the fabric of the soft toy.

  • Wash your teddy bear in a net laundry bag or pillowcase for extra protection in the washing machine.

  • It’s best to let the teddy bear dry naturally, especially if it’s a dry, warm day. Lay them outside for a little ‘sunbathing!’

There are so many ways your child’s favorite toy can get grubby. Babies and toddlers love to suck on soft ears and hands, teddy bear picnics often end with sticky paws, and if your son or daughter has fallen ill, you will need to know how to disinfect toys to clean them of germs. But beloved bears are more than stuffed toys to your child, so understanding how to clean a teddy bear with care is a must.

For those curious about how to clean a big teddy bear or how to clean plush toys in general, remember to be gentle! Always read the label and use laundry detergent to protect your teddy bear.

Your child's teddy bear should be washed with care to prevent damage and to keep the fur soft! We can help with these tips on how to wash a teddy bear.

How to clean teddy bear fur

Sometimes all your teddy bear needs is a little spot cleaning – particularly if it’s only a drop or two of ice cream or honey that he’s got on his paws. The best way to do this is to:

  1. Read the care label for any cleaning advice.

  2. If the care label says that spot cleaning is ok, lightly dampen the stained area – you don’t want to soak it!

  3. Apply a small amount of Breeze liquid detergent to a microfiber cloth. Remember to read the label on the product first and test on a small area of your teddy first before cleaning the whole bear.

  4. Gently dab the stain away.

  5. Rinse the area by using a clean, damp cloth. You could also rinse the area under running water but be careful not to let the toy get too saturated.

  6. Let the clean teddy bear air dry.

In general, the faster you’re able to wash your child’s favorite toy, the better, so be sure to check the bear’s care label to find out if it can be washed in the machine and tumble dried.

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How to wash teddy bear in the washing machine

Curious how to clean stuffed toys in the washing machine? Some teddy bears and soft toys should not be machine washed, even on a delicate cycle – teddy bears made from natural fibers like wool, those stuffed with foam beads, and those that are old, fragile, or embellished with buttons, sequins, or glued-on eyes. For those soft toys that are safe to put in the machine, follow these instructions:

  1. Remove any items of clothing the bear may be wearing, so they don’t get tangled in the wash.

  2. Repair any holes and remove any hanging threads.

  3. Place the bear in a net bag designed for washing delicate items or a pillowcase.

  4. Wash in warm to cool water on a delicate or hand-wash cycle with a Breeze bio or color liquid detergent.

Avoid hot water washes, as these can damage the fabric of your bear, and be careful to wash the bear with similar colors to avoid color run.

If you’re air-drying the teddy, use a towel to squeeze the excess water out and lay it flat in the sun. Some bears should not be hung on a line to dry, as this could be damaging. Use a clean brush or comb to fluff up dried fur.

How to clean old teddy bears

Now that you understand how to clean stuffed animals, you may be wondering what’s the best way to wash an old, fragile teddy bear. If you still have your childhood teddy bear and you want to spruce him up before passing him on to your child, you’ll need to know how to best clean an old teddy bear. Old teddy bears are fragile and ideally should be spot cleaned or taken to a cleaning specialist.

If you think your old teddy bear is safe to be hand-washed, follow these guidelines on how to wash stuffed toys at home:

  1. Put on a pair of rubber gloves.

  2. Fill a washing up bowl or sink with warm to cool water and add a Breeze bio or color liquid detergent (read the instructions on the label).

  3. Place teddy in the water and allow him to soak. Gently agitate.

  4. Drain the soapy water and rinse teddy until no more suds come out.

  5. Squeeze out excess water and towel dry, before placing the teddy bear flat in the sun.

Do you want to learn which household cleaning tasks cause the most stress?  Then read our Heated Household data analysis. 

Frequently asked questions on how to clean a teddy bear

How to clean teddy bear without washing

The easiest choice when it comes to how to clean teddy bear without washing, is to use a clean, damp cloth. This can be used to wipe down the surface of the bear to remove dust or to gently rub away more stubborn dirty marks.

Can you dry clean a teddy bear?

If you want to dry clean a teddy bear, you will need to check the care label of the bear. For the majority of soft toys, it is unlikely you will be able to use a dry clean process as the heat during the process could cause any glue or plastic to melt and the bear to become matted and sticky.

Can I put my giant teddy bear in the washing machine?

Giant teddy bears are unlikely to fit in a standard washing machine that you have in your home – but don't despair! Your local laundromat may have industrial size machines which you use. Follow the usual steps for washing a teddy bear in a washing machine or hand wash at home if you don't have a laundromat with big enough machines.

How do you surface wash a teddy bear?

The steps for how to surface wash a teddy bear are simple. You need to mix a solution of warm water and mild shampoo then use a toothbrush to gently work the solution into the bear, taking care not to get the bear too wet in the process. Brush out your bear’s fur with a wider brush before allowing it to air dry.

Originally published