In 2015 Dettol launched a 'Care for your Bear' campaign in which they discovered the following:
- 66% of teddy bears contained staphylococcus aureus, a microbe linked to skin infections, respiratory disease and food poisoning
- Nearly half of parents mistakenly put teddy bears in the wash with contaminated items such as dirty underwear and tea towels
- 1 in 5 teddy bears have never been washed
- Almost 25% of teddy bears contained bacteria linked to faeces
- 3/4 of teddies are not washed after a child is ill
It's all bit icky, isn't it! Follow these tips to keep all your snuggly pals healthy, smelling fresh and feeling soft.
Generally speaking most modern soft toys are stuffed with a washable polyester and can be machine washed on a gentle cycle - but always check the care label! If possible, it's better to wash soft toys in a front-loader rather than a top-loader because the top-loader agitator can cause the stuffing to clump up.
1. Place the item in a laundry bag or pillow case (tied at the end) to avoid snagging on other pieces. It's always important to wash items with like colours to avoid bleeding issues and as their own load, separate from the family and general household items too.
2. Choose cold water and a gentle cycle. Whilst heat is better at killing germs, the high temperature may shrink or damage your beloved toy. Instead, consider adding an antibacterial rinse aid like Dettol Laundry Sanitiser, which works even at low temperatures. If you wish to use washing powder, opt for a sensitive + fragrance free option.
3. Once the cycle has finished you may need to smush the stuffing around a bit to evenly fill up the limbs again.
4. Dry + pamper (keep reading)
If there isn’t a label with care instructions, your safest bet is to hand wash the toy.
1. Pour a couple of drops of gentle detergent into a sink with cool water and massage the cleaning solution into the furry fabric. You can also use a cloth to gently remove the caked on who-knows-what.
2. Rinse with cool water until it’s soaking and squeeze out the excess - avoid any wringing. Repeat the rinse until the water runs clear.
3. Dry + pamper (keep reading)
Wrap the toy in a large, clean towel and press as much excess water out as you can. Place the toy on a drying rack in a well ventilated area - outside is best, away from direct sunlight to avoid fading. If you must put a stuffed toy in the dryer, do so for a minimum amount of time and use the no-heat or low-heat setting.
Treat your stuffed toy to a lovely massage, puffing up the stuffing ready for lots of squishy cuddles. Fur can be made fluffy again by brushing it gently with a soft-bristled brush.
It is recommended that stuffed toys are washed at least once a month!
If the item is vintage, has electronic components, sequins, glued-on eyes, clothing and other delicate decorations you may need to seek out a specialist to do the job.
Tania of LMB