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How to clean teddy bears

Know a teddy bear in dire need of a wash? Don't worry – keep him soft, safe & smelling fresh with this guide on how to clean a teddy.


how to clean teddy bears

There are so many ways your child’s favourite 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, their lovey will need to be cleaned of germs. But beloved bears are more than stuffed toys to your child, so they will need to be washed with care.

If you need to clean teddy bear fur – or wash an entire teddy bear or soft toy – the important thing is to remember to be gentle! Always read the label, and use a laundry detergent like OMO Ultra or OMO Auto liquid detergent to protect your teddy bear.

Has your lifestyle during the Covid-19 lockdown affected the type of stains you get on your clothes?


How to clean teddy bear fur

Sometimes all you really need to do is spot clean teddy – particularly if it’s only a dab or two of ice-cream or honey that he’s got on his paws. The best way to do this is to:

  1. First, read the care label to find out any cleaning advice.
  2. If the care label says that spot cleaning is ok, then lightly dampen the stained area – you don’t want to soak it!
  3. Apply a small amount of liquid OMO detergent to a microfiber cloth.
  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 favourite 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.

How do you clean a teddy bear in the washing machine?

Knowing how to clean teddy bears in the washing machine won’t be enough, you’ll also need to know how to separate the bear from its owner first! Our advice:

  • Make sure you have an identical spare soft toy right from the start to swap in or out whenever one needs to be washed (or goes missing).
  • Or try to explain to your child that their teddy needs to ‘go on holiday’ or ‘have a hair wash’!

Some teddy bears and soft toys should not be machine washed, even on a delicate cycle – like 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 delicates, or a pillowcase.
  4. Wash in warm to cool water on a delicate or hand-wash cycle with a OMO Ultra or Auto liquid detergent.

Avoid hot water washes as these can damage the fabric of your bear, and be careful to wash the bear with like colours to avoid colour run.

If you’re air-drying 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 spare, clean hairbrush or comb to fluff up dried fur.

How to clean an old teddy bear

If you still have your childhood teddy bear and you want to spruce him up before passing him to your child, you’ll need to know how to 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:

  1. Put on a pair of rubber gloves.
  2. Fill a washing up bowl or sink with warm to cool water and add OMO Ultra or OMO Auto 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 laying flat in the sun.

Originally published