How to Disinfect Children's Stuffed Toys After a Sickness

Young girl embracing teddy bear on sofa
Wash her comfort item so she can play without the risk of getting sick. (Image: altrendo images/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

A sick child often clings to his favorite comfort items to help him feel better. While stuffed toys help your child feel safer and more comfortable, the germs and bacteria that he transfers to those toys are anything but comforting. In fact, flu germs can live up to 48 hours on some surfaces, increasing the risk of reinfection. Avoid the threat of reinfection and ensure longevity by washing your child's stuffed toys after being sick by checking the laundering instructions found on the toy tag.

Machine Washable

Step 1

Wash stuffed animals weekly during the flu and cold season, especially after your child had an illness. Remove any clothing or accessories on the stuffed toy. If the toy is too large to fit in the washing machine, use a seam ripper to open the toy along the back seam and remove the stuffing.

Step 2

Place the stuffed toy or the casing from the soft toy into a pillowcase or mesh bag. Place it in the washing machine.

Step 3

Set the washing machine to hot water or run on a hot water cycle.

Step 4

Remove the toys from the washing machine and place in the dryer on hot for 30 minutes. Once 30 minutes have passed, remove the toys and place them on a towel to finish drying.

Step 5

Replace the stuffing in larger toys; sew the back seam once again to close.

Hand Wash

Step 1

Mix one gallon of water with 1/4 cup household bleach.

Step 2

Use the bleach solution to scrub the outside of your child's stuffed toys by hand. Scrub with a brush or use a clean cloth.

Step 3

Scrub the stuffed toys with cool, clean water, suggests the Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services. Then allow each of the toys to air dry completely.

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