Your Kids' Stuffed Animals Are Germier Than You Think—Here's How to Disinfect Them

Don't touch that teddy bear until you follow this cleaning guide!

When's the last time you disinfected your kids' favorite stuffed animal? If you can't recall, there's a good chance your little one's beloved teddy bear, bunny, or polar bear is crawling with germs. And if your kids carry their fuzzy friend around with them everywhere they go, then they're also spreading the germs and bacteria all around your house—on the couch, on the kitchen counter, in their bed. Especially if your child has been sick recently, their go-to toys are likely breeding grounds for germs and could continue to reinfect your household. The only solution: Learn how to clean stuffed animals the right way, so they remain germ-free.

Follow the steps below to disinfect your kids' stuffed animals, then commit to washing them regularly. So you won't forget, get in the habit of tossing your little one's teddy bear into the washing machine when you clean their bed sheets. Both the stuffed animal and the bed sheets can benefit from the disinfecting tips below.

What You'll Need

Follow These Steps:

1. First, check the label on the stuffed animal for care instructions. Some stuffed animals should not be machine-washed, such as those stuffed with plastic pellets rather than cotton batting. If the animal is very old or falling apart, a delicate hand wash is the way to go. But if it's safe to machine-wash the toy, it's the best option as it will get rid of more germs and bacteria than a hand wash can.

2. To machine-wash the stuffed animal: If the stuffed animal is small enough, place it inside of a mesh laundry bag to protect it. Instead of using the sanitizing setting on your washing machine, make a delicate cycle super-sanitizing by using both your regular laundry detergent and boosting it with Lysol Laundry Sanitizer, which kills 99.9 percent of bacteria in your wash. You'll be sure the stuffed animal is bacteria-free, and your little one won't have to wait to be reunited with their teddy bear during the never-ending sanitizing cycle.

3. To hand-wash the stuffed animal: Fill a basin with cool water and a drop of mild detergent. Submerge the stuffed animal, spot cleaning any stains. Rinse off any soap before drying the toy. Hand-washing won't disinfect as well as the washing machine can, but it's the best alternative for toys that are too fragile to survive a run through the machine.

4. Dry the stuffed animal: To prevent glue or plastic parts from melting, it's best to air-dry the stuffed animal. Remove all excess water first and dry with a towel, then place in a well-ventilated area to prevent the growth of mold and mildew. To speed up the process and get your child reunited with their favorite toy sooner, use a hair dryer on the cool setting.

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