When it comes to your little one’s favorite stuffed pals, chances are they’ve been through the ringer. They get chewed on, dragged through the dirt, and left behind at the playground. Let’s face it – stuffed animals take a beating. Before tossing your child’s favorite furry friend into the trash, try these do-it-yourself tricks that’ll breathe new life into teddy.
Keep Them Fresh There are actually plenty of ways to wash stuffed animals without ruining them. Be proactive by attending to spots and stains as soon as you notice them. Spot cleaners like OxiClean can be used to remove everything from grape juice to grass stains. (Spray directly onto a washcloth, then blot the stain.) If surface cleaning simply won’t do the trick, it may need a run through the washing machine. Be sure to check the label beforehand, as some toys are too delicate for a regular wash cycle. To be safe, stick your cuddly guys in a pillowcase. Then wash on the gentle cycle and use the air-dry setting on the dryer. (This will protect them from heat damage.) Lifehacker also suggests shaking your stuffed animals in a bag of baking soda to remove funky odors.
Fix Rips and Tears If worn out seams have your stuffed dogs looking a little shabby, pick up some matching thread at your local crafts store. Closing up rips and tears is an easy fix that will prevent the toy from losing its stuffing. If some of the stuffing has already gone missing, replacement stuffing is easy to find. Have a hole that’s too big to repair? Opt for a cool patch. Your child will likely get a kick out of choosing a “Band-Aid” for their favorite pal.
Replace Damaged or Missing Accessories Missing or damaged parts give stuffed animals a rundown look. (They can also pose a safety risk for little ones.) Luckily, you can find a wide assortment of buttons at any nearby fabric store. Just be sure to replace them with matching thread. If finding an exact match for those button eyes proves difficult, gently cut off the “good” one and sew on two new ones that match. If you do choose to sew on a new button, parents should remember to do so with extra care. Unlike manufactured eyes that usually have an effective locking mechanism, sewn-on buttons may easily pop off again. This represents a very real safety hazard for small children, who are susceptible to choking. If you do sew accessories on by hand, be sure they’re secure and make a habit out of checking them regularly. If this leaves some parents uneasy, it may be a safer bet to toss teddy and buy a new one.
Give Them a Makeover Have your toy’s clothes seen better days? If hand washing them isn’t enough, consider buying it a new outfit. Clothes, shoes and accessories for stuffed animals represent an upward trend that’s taken the Internet and malls by storm. Make a day out of sprucing up teddy by designating the styling duties to your child.
Store Stuffed Animals Properly for the Long Term Many parents hold on to special stuffed animals long after their children are grown. But dumping them in a cardboard box in the attic will only invite dust and other allergens. To prevent your favorite plush toys from getting stale, opt for vacuum-sealed storage bags. The trick? Place a fabric softener sheet in the bag to keep them fresh. Alternatively, store stuffed animals in an open basket on the top shelf of a linen closet or other well-ventilated area. If refurbishing your child’s stuffed animals becomes tiresome, it’s probably time to retire teddy. Plus, having a backup is always a wise idea in the likely event that they get lost –any parent who’s been up consoling a child who can’t sleep without their favorite furry friend will attest to this.