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Refurbishing Stuffed Animals

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Stuffed animals can be cleaned up and refurbished for a new life with a loving child. This is a guide about refurbishing stuffed animals.


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Debra Frick0 found this helpful
March 20, 2008

This year, a lot of us will be shopping the thrift stores and yard sales for Bunnies to fill our Easter Baskets. There is nothing in the world like seeing a child on Easter morning hugging that sweet Easter bunny. So I am going to give you some ideas on how to clean up those Easter Rabbits that you find at your favorite thrift store or yard sale.

As any one of you knows that read my articles regularly, I am a big fan of helping others in need. Again at this time of year, there will be a lot of kids that won't be getting an Easter basket. I firmly believe that our teenagers should be taught about community service young and that helping out should be a habit, not just something we do on special occasions like Christmas and Easter, but this would be a great project for a Girl Scout group or a church youth group to do. Everyone loves Easter baskets and Easter baskets could even be made up for a senior center or community center. There is nothing like spreading the joy, believe me. Also this is the time to contact your local community center or Senior Center about making up baskets, They will be able to tell you just how many to make and you will have enough time to make them.


Light Cleaning

I try to buy bunnies that won't need much rehab so that it makes my job easier. If your bunny just needs a light cleaning, then here are some ways to clean them without putting them in the washer. You can clean spots of your bunnies with a little dish soap and water. Wet a washcloth and scrub the spot and then just air dry. For smells that you can smell like cigarette smoke, a little Febreeze can work wonders. I then take a look at the over all look of the bunny. If it looks just a little tired, I replace bows and decorate it some. You can add hats to the bunnies that you can buy at Michael's very cheaply or I dress her up with a dress and a necklace that I string from old beads or just use an old necklace that I picked up at the thrift store. I buy old necklaces all the time as I love to bead but sometimes, in my rush, I have been known to buy beads that the beads are fused to the string and can not be restrung. These are the ones I use to decorate my bunnies and other stuffed animals.

For boy bunnies, I try to find a newborn tee shirt that has a cute saying on it and dress him in this. You can also find the little newborn baseball caps that can be hot glued right on. Now with 8 grandsons, finding newborn baby clothes is not a problem but if you explain what you are doing to some new moms, I bet they would be will to give you a shirt or two for your special project.

Machine Washing

If you plan on washing your bunny in the washer you will need to get a sweater bag for your washer. You can find these at Walmart for about $3.00. These bags help to keep the more furry bunnies from matting up. All stuff animals should be washed in COLD water as this will also help in not shrinking the fibers that our bunnies are made of. I use Gain detergent when the bunnies are really dirty but, most of the times, I can get by with something a lot gentler, like Woolite. I use only the gentlest cycle. Before washing, I remove ribbons and bows if I can. Sometimes the bunnies are completely washable but are decorated with ribbons and bows that are not safe to wash as they will bleed color onto white or colored bunnies. So I don't take any chances, I just remove them. If the ribbon bows are dirty and can not be washed, I replace them. Wired ribbon is pretty cheap at the Walmart and it makes wonderful bows.


When it comes to drying the bunnies, I will dry them in my dryer only if I can do so safely. I start them off in the dryer and then check on them to see if the heat is affecting the fibers. If the bunnies are plush, usually I can dry them completely in the dryer. If they are furry with the longer hair, I have to pull them out of the dryer about halfway through. I dry them in the same sweater bag that I washed them in and I do sometimes throw an old tennis ball in the dry with them just as I would if I was drying something that was made with down. This helps to dry them more quickly as it beats out some of the water.

I hope this gives you some great ideas on how you can save money on your bunnies. I wish you all a wonderful Easter with lots of egg hunts and beautiful weather.

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August 26, 20160 found this helpful

This is a guide about removing mildew from a stuffed toy. Stuffies can get wet and if left that way, begin to grow mildew that needs to be removed for the health of your child.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

July 27, 20070 found this helpful

Where can I take an old stuffed monkey that I want to get "reclothed"? The cloth is old, and he needs to be patched up.

Libby from Colorado Springs, Colorado


By Robbie (Guest Post)
July 30, 20070 found this helpful

get a hold of a clothing tailor in your area.. I am sure they can fix it.. look in the phone book for seamstress..

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July 31, 20070 found this helpful

Look online for a doll hospital.

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July 31, 20070 found this helpful

Those of us who watch Antiques Roadshow know you shouldn't try to fix up a possible antique before you get a professional opinion on its value as is. If the toy is old and/or collectible, it might be worth more just the way it is. Just a thought.

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August 5, 20070 found this helpful

Try a tailor or a dressmaker. If it's an antique, leave it alone because the value will drop significantly if it is altered.


If it's just an old favorite stuffed toy whose only value is sentimental, then you could always go to a cloth shop and peruse the pattern books.

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By 0 found this helpful
February 11, 2010

I have a stuffed bear that when the paw is pressed it sang a song. This no longer works. The batteries have been changed and tested so it is not the batteries. I would like to find someone who can fix this musical feature of the bear. This is not the only one that I have that is broken.

By Barbara from Lakewood Ranch, FL


February 14, 20100 found this helpful

Hi Barbara,
You might try a jewelry store that does watch repair. We once had a watch repairman at a jewelry store repair a very expensive music box.


I hope you can find someone to help you. All the best, Julia in Boca Raton, FL

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February 15, 20100 found this helpful

At craft stores carry the individual musical devices that can be placed in stuffed animals. They come in different tunes. And can be put into the paw of your bear. It might not be the same musical tune as the original, but it would be music.

The device has a little raised button on its top side. When you press the paw of the animal, it activates the music, then it plays the tune.

Sorry I cannot think of the exact name of this little device. But your craft store will know what you are talking about. These little devices are also found in the catalogs for crocheters and knitters. They are designed to go in the little animals, or puppets or whatever. They are not terribly expensive either.

Hope this helps you.

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February 19, 20100 found this helpful

Does the bear still have the makers tag on it? If you can locate the company they may be able to give you a solution to it or send you a replacement. My niece had a talking doll that stopped talking and the company that made it replaced it for free.

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By 0 found this helpful
April 16, 2008

How do I remove the mini music box from a stuffed animal? (I can't get the wind-up key disconnected from the actual box)

rkay82 from Indiana


April 16, 20080 found this helpful

There should be a seam on the back of the stuffed animal. Carefully open the seam and remove music box and hand sew closed. If there isn't a seam make a small slit in the material, remove box and stitch it closed by hand sewing.

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By Mary (Guest Post)
April 22, 20080 found this helpful

Try unscrewing the key BACKWARDS. Some of them go on that way
so you don't unwind while using it!

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By 0 found this helpful
June 29, 2015

I was wondering if you could tell me where I could get a stuffed dog's back legs, both. This dog has "hard jointed bone" under his stuffing. The legs use to bend and he could stand up. I am trying to fix my daughter's favorite "friend" and his legs are broken and about to fall off. I can not send it to a doll hospital to be fixed she cannot be without him.
Do you know where to purchase them?
Thank you.


June 30, 20150 found this helpful

You may have to find a similar toy and perform a transplant operation.

If you can find a brand new version of the exact same animal, this could work as well, if you have the right story. When I was little, my mom purchased more than one copy of my favorite stuffed toy, unbeknownst to me. When she wanted to switch out my old, faded, worn toy, she'd tell me that Kitten was going to the spa and she'd come back as good as new.
She'd take the old toy and later the same day introduce the new one.
If your child is not familiar with the miraculous properties of the health spa, you could use the term "hospital."

Good luck.

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

November 2, 20100 found this helpful

How do you clean large stuffed animals?

By Jackie from London, Canada


Cleaning Stuffed Animals

I put them in a laundry bag and wash on gentle in the machine. Then I reset the washer to do a HI spin. This doesn't hurt it, but removes as much water as possible. Then I put it in the dryer with a large towel and set it for low and just dry it a short time (still wet, but not as wet). I take it out of the dryer and bag and put it somewhere to finish drying. When it's almost totally dry I put it back in the dryer for a fluffing. (05/09/2009)

By Judi

Cleaning Stuffed Animals

I treat them like furniture and wash them the way I wash upholstery. I have a vacuum machine for wet pickup and after I suds up and rinse I pick up the water with that. (05/12/2009)

By Kim Churchman

Cleaning Stuffed Animals

If they'll fit in the washer and dryer, I put mine in. If not, I take them outside in a big tub and wash them by hand and let them air dry outside. Once they are dry, I toss them in the dryer and let them go for about 15 minutes or so to puff them back up. (05/13/2009)

By Cricket

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May 5, 20090 found this helpful

Stuffed Animals can be nice, but do get dusty. Years ago when my kids were small and had stuffed animals, I received this tip on an easy way to clean them & it works great. I since have passed this on for my kids to clean the grand kid's animals. Place the animal in a paper bag, add corn meal, and shake the bag for a minute or so. Let stand for several hours. Brush the corn meal off. This absorbs the oils and grease. Repeat if necessary.

Source: Tip: Received from a friend.

By Carolyn from Floral Park, NY


Cleaning Stuffed Animals

I put them in pillow cases, either zip or pin them shut and wash away. Any animals not meant for the washer are not meant to be in the house anyway (filler content). But be careful when drying them. Some stuffed toys have hair like furry, etc. Air dry those, the fibers will melt in the dryer. Found out the hard way as well as my winter coat had a hood with the similar fur on it. Melted like I had held a candle match to it! (11/25/2008)

By Grandma J

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November 24, 20080 found this helpful

Does anyone have any tips for cleaning stuffed toys? I have some toys that I would like to give to friends that have children but would like to spiff them up before I do.

Debbie from Little Rock, AK


Cleaning Stuffed Animals

Pop them right in your washing machine with normal amount of detergent. I try to remember to add a bath towel or two to help even out the load. Air dry or use your dryer to get them started. I help clean several hundred donated stuffed animals for our "Share Your Christmas" program and have great luck with this method. Just check to make sure the seams are good and tight, and also that items such as sewn on eyes are still secure. (04/03/2006)

By Ronsan

Cleaning Stuffed Animals

I buy them at garage sales, so I have to clean those up! What I do is: put them into a pillowcase or lingerie bag. Seal it shut and wash on the delicate cycle in the washer. Then I either air dry or put in the dryer on tumble dry. They look nice and smell great! Hope this helps! :) (04/03/2006)

By melinda

Cleaning Stuffed Animals

Hi, I wash them with the towels, and then throw them in the dryer. They look new. Loretta (04/03/2006)

Cleaning Stuffed Animals

DON'T PUT THEM IN THE DRYER! Most stuffed animals have fur that will mat very easily if even a little over-dried. I always wash them and spin them at least two times. Then hang them by ears or something. I also always use a little fabric softener -- makes them smell great and fur stays soft. (04/03/2006)

By sueey

Cleaning Stuffed Animals

We have always left our in the pillow case and just put it in the dryer and never had any problems. (04/04/2006)

By IMAQT1962

Cleaning Stuffed Animals

If they're dusty, put them in a plastic trash bag, insert your vacuum wand, close bag around wand, and suck out dust. (04/04/2006)

By Dotty L

Cleaning Stuffed Animals

I place stuffed animals in the leg of an old panty hose. I dry some in dryer and others I hang to dry. (04/06/2006)

By Jan

Cleaning Stuffed Animals

If the animal is too large for the washing machine, take a soft brush and use the suds of a detergent as a "dry cleaning" method. (04/21/2006)

By jeanne

Cleaning Stuffed Animals

Hello, My tip is for the smaller stuffed ones, Take the animal, put it into hot water *not BOILING* and wash with dawn and/or fabric softener. then put them out to dry. I don't put them in the dryer because in reality it can mess up their fur and it isn't good fro them. then nice it's dry. you can snuggle! :) (07/16/2007)

By Ellia

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