What is a
A plushie is a stuffed toy animal. The most common and most
popular type is the teddy bear, however, plushies come is all
shapes and sizes. I personally prefer mouse and bunny plushies.
What is a
A plushophile is a person who loves plushies. This can range
from simply being a collector, to those who like to cuddle and sleep with their
plush, and every
Why not? Plushies are soft and
cuddly, and are made to be loved! A plushie will never lie to you, will never betray you. A
plushie will never complain if you get home late, and will never
nag you about not taking out the garbage. A plushie is always
faithful to you, and can always be trusted to keep secrets. They
are always there for you, and will never turn you away when you need a hug.
How do I clean a
Over time, even a plush that has just sat on a shelf all its life can become
dirty and/or musty. A plush that has been well loved can pick up oils and
sweat from the body which will not only make the plush dirty, but can harbor
bacteria which can cause an odor.
There are many
ways to clean a plushie, depending on how much you value the
plushie, and what condition it is in. Here is a list of some of
the ways to clean a dirty plushie:
- Machine washing. Most plushies, unless they are very
delicate, can withstand a machine washing. It is a good
idea to place the plushies in a pillowcase, so that the
eyes and what not don't get banged up too much. Don't use
bleach or laundry bluing, as these may be too harsh and
damage the fur. Any form of immersion washing is not
recommended for plushies that are stuffed with paper products or
excelsior. Unless the plushie is very dirty, Woolite is
the detergent of choice. The main problem is that the
stuffing is going to get very water-logged. Wet stuffing
is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and fungi.
- Hand washing. Less likely to damage a plushie that
machine washing, but a lot more labor intensive. Again,
the stuffing is going to get water-logged, so don't attempt this with
paper or excelsior stuffed plush.
- Unstuffing and Machine washing. By removing the stuffing,
you can solve several problems at once. The old stuffing
is likely to be dirty, and washing is probably not going
to remove all the dirt, germs, and odor. Also, with no
stuffing, the plushie will be limp, and less likely to be
damaged in the washing machine. It will also dry much
faster without the stuffing to hold all the water in. The
main problem is that you will need to know how to sew.
When you restuff the plushie, use new poly-fill.
- Unstuffing and Hand Washing. Again, this is better for
very delicate plushies or plushies with very high
sentimental value. Of the immersion cleaning techniques,
this is the least likely to damage the plushies.
- Bubble Gund. This is a commercial product, made by Gund,
specifically for cleaning plush toys. You spray it on the
surface of the plushie, then wipe with a clean cloth.
Since the cleaner doesn't soak into the stuffing, you
don't have to worry about drying or fungal growth. It is
a bit on the expensive side, at about $7 per bottle, and
is rather hard to find. (Unfortunately, it appears Gund no
longer manufactures Bubble Gund)
- Siege Teddy Bear Cleaner. This is a commercial product that
appears to be very similar to Bubble Gund. It's a bit more
expensive, however, at about $10 per bottle. It is made by Siege
- Other substances you can use for
surface cleaning include Windex (the clear colorless
type), soap suds, and shaving cream, though these are not
specifically designed for plushies like Bubble Gund or Siege Teddy Bear
Cleaner. Be sure to test on a small, hidden area first.
- Dry Cleaning. Since the solvents used in dry cleaning
evaporate at low temperature, the stuffing will dry out
very quickly. However, the solvents can be harsh on
certain types of fur, so be sure to ask if the cleaners
has any experience in cleaning plushies. If they don't,
try someone else.
- Steam Cleaning. There are steam cleaning units designed
specifically for cleaning plush, however these are quite expensive, so
unless you have a lot of valuable plush, this is probably not an option.
- If the plush merely smells bad, try using Fabreeze or another of the new
fabric freshening sprays. These appear to be harmless to most plush
materials, and will be especially helpful in eliminating musty or smoky
odors. Be sure to test it on a small, hidden area first.
Drying the plushie is even more difficult. Too much heat can
melt the fabric. Taking too long to dry allows time for molds
and fungi to grow in the stuffing. Here are some of the various
ways to dry a plushie:
- Air Drying. Not recommended, unless you have unstuffed
the plushie. It would take far too long for the stuffing
to dry otherwise. The time it takes to dry can be reduced
by using a fan, or a hair dryer set on low heat (high heat might melt
- Damp Drying, then Air Drying. This seems to work best for
stuffed plushies. You first place the wet plushie in the
washing machine and set it on it's last cycle, "damp
dry". In most machines, this simply spins the
contents at high speed, acting like a centrifuge and
slinging most of the water out. If the plushie is large
or heavy, you may need to place something on the opposite
side of the machine to balance it. After the plushie
comes out, it should be almost dry. It can then be air
- Machine Drying. This can be very rough on a plushie,
especially if it is still stuffed. If the plushie has
been unstuffed, it should be safe to dry it, if you place
the plushie in a pillowcase, and set the heat on low. Too
much heat could melt the fur, so be careful.
My plushie's fur has become
matted, how do I correct this?
Whenever a plush is handled, the individual hairs that make up the fur become
damaged. Much like a human hair that has been mistreated, plush hairs will
crack, split, fray, twist and tangle. Unfortunately, while a human hair
will regrow and replace the damaged sections, once a plush hair is damaged, it's
permanent. The more a plush is handled, the more extensive the damage.
Oil and dirt can increase the effects of matting, so giving your plush a good
cleaning can help restore some of it's original fluffiness. One can also gently
brush the fur with an ultra fine pet brush, however, this runs the risk of
actually pulling out the hairs, so don't do this everyday, and don't try it on
Unfortunately, there is no way to permanently reverse the matting, and the
only way to prevent it is to never touch the plushie. But then,
what's the point of having them?
I smoke, how can I protect my
Seriously, cigarette smoke is the absolute worst thing for a
plush. It will soak into the stuffing, and into the fur, and the
nicotine and tar will cause the fur to become yellow and sticky. You will never
be able to get the plush clean, or remove the odor. Even a single hour of exposure
will taint fabric with the smell of smoke. Plastic bags or display cases
won't do any good, as smoke can penetrate plastic quite easily, and only a
hermetically sealed glass case has any hope of keeping out the smoke.
What are plushies stuffed with?
Plush can be stuffed with literally almost anything. But the most
common stuffing materials are:
- Poly-fill. This is the most common stuffing today. It is a
cheap polyester fiber. It is water resistant, mold resistant, and ages
well. This is probably the best material the stuff a plush with, and
is very easy to work with.
- Styrofoam. The second most common stuffing today, especially among
"beanbag" plush. Styrofoam pellets can be fairly hard, which
the plush a bean-filled feeling. Styrofoam is water and mold
resistant, and appears to age quite well. Styrofoam is
electrically charged, which means it sticks to everything, making it extremely
messy to remove.
- Foam rubber. Also fairly common today, though more common in the
recent past. It is a firmer material than poly-fill. It is mold
resistant, but does not age well. Over time, the foam will break
down and turn into a terrible mess. It is very difficult to work with.
- Cotton. Not commonly used anymore, as poly-fill is cheaper.
Cotton is not mold resistant, so care should be taken to keep the plush
dry. Cotton ages reasonably well, as long as it is kept dry.
- Shredded paper. Almost never used anymore. It was mostly
used in cheaper plush in the past. Extremely vulnerable to water
and mold damage. Paper does not age well, either, and the acids
produced by the paper can ruin the fabric. The stuffing should be
replaced with poly-fill.
- Excelsior. A wood fiber stuffing. Commonly used in
the past, but only rarely used today. Vulnerable to water and mold
damage. Ages better than paper. Difficult to work with, and
- Wire. Most large studio plush have a wire skeleton to maintain the
shape, and many smaller plush use wires to maintain the shape of certain
parts such as ears. If carbon steel or iron wire is used, it can rust
if exposed to water. Most modern plush use stainless steel or other
non-rusting alloys, but exposure to water should still be avoided just in
case. Wire skeletons generally cannot be removed without major
disassembly of the plush. One must also take care not to flex the
metal too much, as the skeleton might become permanently damaged.
- PVC pipe. Some tall plush contain a PVC plastic pipe down the
center to keep the plush upright. The pipe is water and mold
resistant. The pipe can sometimes be removed, but this will cause the
plush to fall over or sag, and replacement can be difficult unless the
stuffing is also being replaced. PVC can become brittle over time, so
care should be taken not to flex the pipe or it might crack.
(Note that even though some stuffing materials are impervious to damage from
mold, mold can still infest the stuffing, causing bad odors and aggravating