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How to Clean Stuffed Animals, Electronic Toys, and Dolls

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As my kid get older, they still have many toys that they have held on to. The more years those toys are around, the more dirty they become. Is there an easy way to clean some of the most common toys?

1. Stuffed Animals

Lightly Soiled

Stuffed animals are often a comfort item for children, which means these toys get a lot of love and a lot of dirt. For lightly soiled stuffed animals, spot washing can usually do the trick. Dampen a microfiber cloth or cleaning sponge and gently rub soiled areas in a circular motion. Allow the item to dry thoroughly. For tougher problems, you may have to risk hand or machine washing.

Machine Washing or Wash By Hand?

Hand washing gives you more control and reduces the risk that damage will occur, but I have also used machine washing successfully on many of my kids' stuffed animals. If I am particularly worried, I sometimes wash the animals inside a pillocase that has been loosely tied shut. I usually try to let the stuffed animals air dry, before popping them into the dryer on an air fluff setting. Otherwise, many people have success drying them on low in their clothes dryers.

Piling

If your stuffed animals aren't really dirty, but have piling, you can use a lint brush/roller to even out the surface of the fabric.

2. Electronic Toys

Lightly Soiled

A lot of kid toys today beep, show lights, or display pictures. Occasionally even these fun toys need to be cleaned. For lightly dirty toys a dry microfiber rag will do the trick of dusting them off and wiping them down.

Deep Cleaning

For electronic toys that need a deeper clean, remove the batteries and replace the battery cover. If your toy does not have a screen like a computer, dampen a microfiber rag slightly with water to wipe down the entire toy. Rarely will you need more than water. But, if you are concerned with disinfecting the toys, an antibacterial all-purpose cleaner is a great choice. Try spraying the solution on the rag instead of the toy to make sure you don't use too much ot get cleaner into the inner workings of the toy.

Cleaning Screens

For electronic toys with screens or touch screens, you should read the manufacturer's instructions to know how to clean. If that isn't possible, and a dry rag, or a water dampened rag aren't working, you can make a cleaning solution of 1/2 water and 1/2 rubbing alcohol. Lightly dampen a corner of a rag to use to clean the screen. The alcohol will help the solution evaporate quickly, leaving the screen streak and smudge free.

3. Dolls

Light Cleaning

For most dolls, a gentle washing with a little bit of warm water and a mild dish soap is usually enough. Cotton swabs can be great cleaning tools for cleaning dolls because they are able to clean in tight places. I've also had success using all purpose cleaners to clean doll skin that has gotten grimy, but my favorite is a mix of 1 part water to 2 parts baking soda.

Stains and Marks

If your doll has more permanent marks or stains, you may have to try something else. Be sure to test any of these solutions on a hidden area of the doll to make sure there are no drastic color changes. For ink stains a little rubbing alcohol mixed with water may be able to fix the problem. If that doesn't work, you may want to try nail polish remover. Dab a small amount onto a clean white cloth and dab it onto the stain. It's always a good idea to test this first in a hidden spot on the doll's skin.

Doll Hair

For doll hair, you first need to know if the hair is rooted or sewn through the top of the head or a glued on wig. For dolls with rooted hair, you can carefully wash the hair with either dish soap or a shampoo. Be careful about getting water into open spots on the face. Water trapped inside the head can mildew and cause the doll to smell. If the hair is severely tangled, you can slather it in conditioner and gently comb through the hair.

For dolls with a glued on wig, you'll need to be more careful. I would only use a little water to make the hair damp and easier to work with. There are doll hair kits that come with wire brushes, but you can purchase something similar in a pet supply store. The key is to work through small sections starting at the bottom and working your way up.

Professional Help

It is possible to send your dolls to a doll hospital, many will even give a quote based on emailed or uploaded photos. This is a great option for a treasured doll that you don't feel confident cleaning up on your own.

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