Help me clean my cuddly friend, please!
June 26, 2014 1:17 AM   Subscribe

I have a huge plush turtle I like to cuddle when I sleep. I think I should probably clean that turtle once in a while, but how do you wash a stuffed animal?

I like to cuddle a big stuffed turtle at night, and I sometimes rest my face on it, too. If it was a pillowcase, I'd wash it frequently, but how can I clean a big turtle? It won't fit into the washing machine (and I'd be too scared to ruin it anyway), and just hanging it out to air doesn't seem enough. The side of my face I usually put onto the turtle is breaking out a little lately, which might be a coincidence, but I really feel like I want to clean the thing.
Could I just handwash it? Shampoo it?
Please tell me the best way to do this with the lowest risk of ruining my beloved turtle. Thanks!
posted by LoonyLovegood to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (20 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It all depends on what it's stuffed with. If it's those weird little Styrofoam beads, the best you could do is wash the outside with a not-too-wet soapy cloth, then 'rinse' with a not-too-wet cloth and leave it outside to air dry. If it's stuffed with foam, you can wash it in cold water in the tub and wring it out the best you can then air dry it outside. Seeing as you have it by your face, I would avoid any harsh chemical cleaners, and to preserve the plush, only use a very mild soap. Good luck!
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 1:34 AM on June 26, 2014

The best way to do it for the long term might be to turn it into a kind of "pillow case" - trace the shapes and make a copy of your turtle out of plain fabric, slit the turtle down the middle or all along a seam, transfer the filling and sew up the plain turtle - voila turtle shaped pillow - then sew snap fasteners along the opening in the original. Then you could wash the "cover" in the machine fairly normally/frequently.
It's kind of a major operation on the poor creature though!

Or use dry shampoo? Or carpet freshener then wet comb then hoover?
posted by runincircles at 1:54 AM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'd take it to the dry cleaner's.
posted by third word on a random page at 2:00 AM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I suggest spot/surface cleaning with a washcloth and a solution of just a tiny bit of "delicates" or "fine fabric" laundry soap (the kind I use has been discontinued, but I've heard good things about this one) with warm water, then a damp cloth after, and tumble dry (on "no heat", definitely!) if your turtle fits in the dryer - or find a spot in the sun for careful drying.

If you go the dryer route, your turtle may need lots of aggressive hugging and flattening to get back into proper shape, but a good healthy cuddle is the key to a full recovery (in turtle-washing as in all things).

Good luck. I didn't know there were other adults out there who slept next to a giant plush turtle - we are members of an elite club!
posted by myrrh at 2:12 AM on June 26, 2014 [14 favorites]

I've always machine washed and dried my stuffed animals, including the dolphin that I've been sleeping with for more than 20 years (!). Could you perhaps take it to a laundromat and stuff it in the extra big machines, the ones you would use for duvets? Or as third word said, the dry cleaner's could help you.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 3:56 AM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would unpick a few inches of a longer seam, remove the stuffing, and wash the outside part thoroughly. But then I'm fairly sure I could make a good job of sewing it back up again. (I would avoid dry cleaning something I'm actually breathing against for long periods - I always wash pillows, and never dry clean them).
posted by Azara at 3:57 AM on June 26, 2014

Response by poster: Thank you!
I'd really rather not operate on the poor thing...
posted by LoonyLovegood at 4:01 AM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: God, washing stuffed toys. If it can fit in the washing machine I put it in there on gentle in a lingerie bag. If not? Well...

Recently my daughter bought an enormous stuffed My Little Pony. By enormous I mean it stands waist high on me and she (an average five year old) can curl up against Minty's belly to read and be almost completely encapsulated by it. It's bigger than some Shetlands I have met.

However, she bought it for $3 from a flea market and the thing was filthy.

I started with a dishwashing liquid + water spray, and a cloth. This was sufficient for some of the surface grime. The bigger stains though? I start washing it under the sink in the kitchen. Given one of Minty's hooves fills the sink, this plan fails. I have knocked my daughter over once with Minty's rear end. I get the biggest bowl I have. It fits one and a half pony hooves.

At this point I begin to curse the whole endeavour.

I drag the now wet and dripping pony up my twisty stairs to the bathtub. My daughter helpfully holding up the tail, managing to avoid being knocked down the stairs and only suffering minor bruising from the doorway. I heave Minty into the tub and stare because now I have to decide - bath or shower? I start with a bath but she is too big for the fucking bathtub and cannot lay down.

So with a regretful sigh, I stripped down to my underwear and showered with a life-sized stuffed My Little Pony. Soap and water worked well for everything but the black marker and rust stains. I even used shampoo and conditioner on her mane and tail, which worked very well. But my trial was not over. The completely soaked pony now weighs as much as a real pony and I have to wrestle her back down the stairs and out into our courtyard to dry in the sun. It took two days but she dried and now has pride of place on the end of my daughter's bed.

So I would say a gentle hand wash, dry in the sun, if it can't fit in the machine.
posted by geek anachronism at 4:03 AM on June 26, 2014 [386 favorites]

Best answer: There are specific cleaning products for plushy dolls that can be used. I clean dolls by putting them in a lingerie bag and put in the washer and dryer at delicate setting, if they fit. For something as large as your turtle than Gund will do.
posted by jadepearl at 4:16 AM on June 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

I like Soak scentless which is another delicates washing liquid (non-rinse!, just spot clean and leave it to air dry).
posted by anaelith at 5:01 AM on June 26, 2014

Best answer: Do you have a steam cleaner or know anyone who could lend you one? Possibly overkill, but if other options fail a steam cleaner might lessen the risk of turtle losing shape in the washing machine.

If it were my turtle I'd be tempted to make (or have made) a collection of machine-washable turtle costumes that could be removed and changed whenever needed. A sailor suit in cool cotton, or one of those old-fashioned stripey bathing suits. Like pillow cases, only better because Turtle Costumes!
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 6:14 AM on June 26, 2014 [8 favorites]

Best answer: The Squishable brand, which specializes in 15" plushes, recommends in their FAQ this blog's cleaning method. Basically, the low risk method is surface cleaning only--don't soak it through.
posted by serelliya at 6:47 AM on June 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great (and funny!) answers!
I would love to make costumes, but a) I suck at it and b) it would have to cover her head as well, which usually aligns with my face, and that would be weird... (Should I post a picture?)
posted by LoonyLovegood at 7:01 AM on June 26, 2014

Best answer: This is a bit of a left-field (but serious) suggestion, and is also applicable to large dogs and other unwieldy (actually alive) animals that need washing, but this Amazon review (NSFW) illustrates a useful alternative use for um specialist equipment.
posted by Wordshore at 7:06 AM on June 26, 2014 [8 favorites]

It's amazing just how big a toy you can wedge into a washing machine if the only thing you're using it for is to give your stuffed buddy a scary ride on spin cycle.

This is what I'll generally do after rescuing one of ours from the bath, because otherwise it takes long enough for damp to make its way out from the middle of the stuffing - even outside in the breezes - that I fear his innards will end up mouldy. Five minutes at 1000rpm helps a great deal, and simple spinning without agitation isn't going to beat a stuffed toy up any worse than the kids can.
posted by flabdablet at 7:15 AM on June 26, 2014

Best answer: The answer to "Should I post a picture?" is almost always yes.
posted by Specklet at 7:18 AM on June 26, 2014 [11 favorites]

Response by poster: I hope this works:
posted by LoonyLovegood at 7:34 AM on June 26, 2014 [7 favorites]

Oh my gosh. So cute, so cute!
posted by anitanita at 7:57 AM on June 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you!
There's a type of sweet bread in Japan called kameronpan (from kame = turtle and meronpan = melon bread) that she has a striking resemblance to, so much that my Japanese friend commented on it. :D
posted by LoonyLovegood at 7:59 AM on June 26, 2014

Aw, that's an adorable turtle. So, to be on the safe side (and since it's not too grimy) I'd go with a handwash in the sink.
posted by geek anachronism at 11:12 PM on June 26, 2014

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