How can I wash a furry toy without ruining it?
December 15, 2007 11:46 AM   Subscribe

My daughter has a stuffed kitten ("soft kitty") and lo, the whiteness and furriness of it is surpassing. When I washed its predecessor ("matted kitty") its fur became less-white and the fibres less separate. How can I wash the new one (whose odor doth verily surpass an outhouse) while retaining its new appearance? The fur is synthetic and the animal is a white "Animal Alley" kitten, if that helps.
posted by Joe in Australia to Home & Garden (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Put the kitty in a pillowcase and tie it off, then wash the whole ensemble. Drying in a machine is up to you (I've had good luck and bad luck with using the dryer in the case of stuffed animals), but if you do, use the pillowcase there as well.
posted by cooker girl at 11:55 AM on December 15, 2007

Febreze works on stuffed toys.
posted by cmgonzalez at 12:06 PM on December 15, 2007

Cold water and woolite.
I've never tried the pillowcase trick, but I imagine it would make the process more... disturbing.
In the 'I'm putting a kitten in a sack and submerging it in water' kind of way.

But maybe it helps!

Dry it in the machine. Cold as possible, as much airflow as possible.

Or [I swear I've never done this] use a hairdryer on the 'cool' setting and a soft brush.
posted by Acari at 12:57 PM on December 15, 2007

Swap it out with a new soft kitty and proclaim you got it very, very clean in the washer.
posted by bh at 1:01 PM on December 15, 2007

Don't use the washer. Hand wash it in the sink with shampoo like you were shampooing a pet. Rinse well. Roll it up in a towel and squeeze out the excess water. If you are having trouble getting the water out, you can put it in the washer for the spin cycle only. Air dry. Machinery is not your friend.
posted by happyturtle at 1:02 PM on December 15, 2007

Shampoo... seriously. It shouldn't leave behind the residue which causes the hairs to become matted or clumpy. I can't promise it won't affect the whiteness, but neither can I imagine why it would.

A young cousin of mine has a stuffed horse with a rather luxuriant mane, and her mom keeps in clean this way. In the case of a furry-all-over kitty, I'm not if you could manage this without soaking the entire critter, which means you may have use cooker girl's suggestion about drying it in a pillowcase.
posted by chudmonkey at 1:05 PM on December 15, 2007

Shampoo in the sink. Roll in towel to get most of the water out. Fluff (no heat) cycle in a pillowcase to re-fluffen.
posted by desuetude at 1:17 PM on December 15, 2007

Dry clean?
posted by Thorzdad at 1:33 PM on December 15, 2007

Dry clean it! And never, never ever swap it out with a new kitty. Your daughter and I would never forgive you if we found out.
posted by thebrokenmuse at 1:40 PM on December 15, 2007

I don't have a helpful answer Joe but I just have to say I love how you wrote your question :) (whose odor doth verily surpass an outhouse)
posted by katala at 2:22 PM on December 15, 2007

You may also want to try brushing, with a soft bristled brush, afterwards to reduce the clumping.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:33 PM on December 15, 2007

Don't use the washer w/ the pillowcase trick. I didn't know that and my teddy dog ended up headless and the washer full of orange stuffing.
posted by beautifulcheese at 3:22 PM on December 15, 2007

Gently hand wash as per happyturtle, but no dryer. Rubbing plus soap turns fibers into felt.
posted by ottereroticist at 3:54 PM on December 15, 2007

ottereroticist: But the OP said the fur was synthetic, and synthetics don't felt.
posted by dipping_sauce at 4:46 PM on December 15, 2007

it might help to wash it in a lingerie bag and comb it periodically during drying.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:50 PM on December 15, 2007

But the OP said the fur was synthetic, and synthetics don't felt

They may not felt in the traditional sense of the word but they do get all matted and clumpy, hence the question.
posted by cabingirl at 6:54 PM on December 15, 2007

I haven't washed stuffed animals but I did have a tragedy trying to "fluff" some teddy bears. Put em in the dryer with hot air and it kind of burnt or curled their "fur" making them no longer soft. So, uh, caution with hot air and fibers.
posted by amanda at 8:21 PM on December 15, 2007

This does sound ridiculous, but when fake fur gets matted that way you can brush it out with a stiff-bristled brush. However I agree that handwashing with a thorough towel-drying is the best method here.
posted by Miko at 9:35 PM on December 15, 2007

Handwashing is probably okay, but stick with woolite not shampoo. Shampoo is designed to make lots of suds -- if you don't get it completely out it will be a sticky residue making the toy a bigger grime magnet.

A safer option is to "dry shampoo" using cornstarch and (in a separate pass; order doesn't matter) baking soda. Rub in, making sure to get down to the undercoat and fabric; leave on for a while to absorb the grunginess; brush out as if grooming a regular animal. Repeat with 2nd powder. The corn starch is great at absorbing oils and dirt. The baking soda absorbs and neutralizes odors.

Whatever method you use, be prepared for your daughter to react disfavorably to her "new" friend. She may not find it as comforting once its familiar old stank suddenly vanishes.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 11:23 PM on December 15, 2007

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