How to Get Smell Out of Stuffed Animals

Stuffed animals often become cherished companions for individuals of all ages, offering comfort and companionship. However, over time, these beloved plush toys can start to harbor unpleasant odors due to factors like spills, exposure to moisture, or extended use.

How to Get Smell Out of Stuffed Animals

The challenge lies in rejuvenating these huggable friends without compromising their softness or structure. In this guide, we’ll explore effective methods on how to get smell out of stuffed animals, ensuring that your cuddly companions not only look appealing but also exude a fresh and inviting fragrance.

From gentle cleaning techniques to odor-absorbing solutions, these strategies aim to revive your stuffed animals, providing a clean and delightful experience for both children and adults who cherish these cuddly creatures. Say goodbye to unwanted odors and embrace the joy of snuggling with a sweet-smelling, well-preserved stuffed animal once again.

Significance of Stuffed Animals in Childhood and Beyond

Stuffed animals hold a unique place in the hearts of many, transcending beyond mere toys to become symbols of comfort, security, and friendship. In childhood, they serve as companions in play and sleep, often becoming a child’s first friend.

They play a critical role in childhood development, aiding in the exploration of emotions, communication skills, and social bonds. These plush companions also act as transitional objects, helping children cope with separations and changes, providing a sense of stability in a rapidly evolving world.

Beyond childhood, stuffed animals can evoke a sense of nostalgia, bringing back cherished memories and serving as keepsakes that preserve moments of joy, love, and comfort. Their enduring presence in our lives underscores the timeless bond we form with these soft, comforting figures.

Common Reasons Why Stuffed Animals May Develop Odors

Stuffed Animals Are Loved by Children

Stuffed animals can become less than fresh-smelling for several reasons, primarily due to their constant use and the environments in which they exist.

Firstly, spills and accidents are common, especially when stuffed animals are loved by children who may be eating or drinking near them. Milk, juice, or food residue can seep into the fabric, leading to unpleasant smells if not cleaned promptly.

Secondly, moisture exposure can be a culprit, whether from being left outside overnight, taken into the bath, or caught in the rain. This moisture can create a breeding ground for mildew or mold inside the stuffing, emitting a musty odor.

Additionally, extended cuddling and handling transfer body oils, sweat, and even saliva onto the stuffed animal, which can attract dirt and bacteria, further contributing to odors.

Regular washing and airing out can help prevent these issues, but understanding these common causes is the first step in maintaining the freshness and longevity of these cherished companions.

Importance of Maintaining Cleanliness

Maintaining the cleanliness of stuffed animals is not just about preserving their aesthetic appeal; it’s essential for health reasons as well. Plush toys tend to collect dust mites, allergens, and potentially harmful microbes over time, especially when they’re frequently used or left in areas prone to such contaminants.

For individuals with allergies, asthma, or sensitive immune systems, this can trigger allergic reactions or exacerbate existing health conditions.

Regularly cleaning stuffed animals helps to minimize these risks, ensuring they remain safe and hygienic companions for both children and adults. Additionally, by keeping these cherished toys clean, you’re also extending their lifespan, allowing them to remain a source of comfort and joy for years to come.

Identifying the Source of The Odor

Eliminate an Odor From a Stuffed Animal

Before you can effectively eliminate an odor from a stuffed animal, it is crucial to identify where the smell is coming from, as this will dictate the best cleaning approach.

Begin by conducting a thorough examination of the stuffed toy. Check for visible stains that could be harboring bacteria and producing unpleasant smells. Feel the plush for any areas that may be unusually damp or show signs of mold or mildew, as these are common sources of musty odors.

Additionally, consider the environment where the stuffed animal is usually kept; if it’s often in a damp or poorly ventilated area, the overall moisture might be the culprit. Remember that body oils and sweat absorbed over time can also contribute to odors, especially in areas that come into frequent contact with skin.

By pinpointing the origin of the smell, you can choose the most effective method for making your stuffed animal fresh and clean once again.

10 Methods How to Get Smell out Of Stuffed Animals

1. Spot-Cleaning with Mild Soap:

Begin by spot-cleaning the stuffed animal with a mild soap and water solution. Use a clean cloth or sponge to gently wipe down the surface. Ensure the soap is suitable for the material, and avoid saturating the toy to prevent damage. This method is effective for removing surface-level odors caused by spills or light soiling.

To make the solution, mix a few drops of mild soap with warm water in a bowl or bucket. Stir until suds form.

Dip the cloth or sponge into the solution and wring out any excess liquid. Gently blot the affected areas on the stuffed animal, avoiding any delicate details or embellishments.

For tougher stains, you can gently scrub the area with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Be careful not to scrub too hard or use harsh cleaning products as this can cause damage to the toy.

After spot-cleaning, rinse the area with a clean cloth dipped in plain water and wring out any excess liquid. Then, blot the area again with a dry towel to remove any remaining soap residue.

2. Freeze the Stuffed Animal:

In the Freezer for Several Hours

Place the stuffed animal in a large plastic bag and seal it tightly. Put the bag in the freezer for several hours or overnight. Freezing helps kill odor-causing bacteria and can be particularly useful for stuffed animals that cannot be washed.

Once removed, allow the toy to return to room temperature before giving it back to your child. While freezing does not remove dirt or stains, it can help freshen up the stuffed animal and make it smell better.

3. Sun and Fresh Air Exposure:

Take advantage of natural elements by exposing the stuffed animal to sunlight and fresh air. Sunlight has natural antibacterial properties, and airing out the toy helps eliminate trapped odors. Ensure the toy is placed in a well-ventilated area, and rotate it periodically to expose all sides to the sun. This method is particularly effective for plush toys that are not machine washable.

In addition to the benefits mentioned above, exposing stuffed animals to sunlight and fresh air can also help maintain their vibrant colors. Sunlight helps prevent fading and keeps the toy looking bright and new.

Furthermore, spending time outdoors in the sun can improve overall mood and well-being for both children and adults. Taking a favorite stuffed animal outside for some sun exposure can be a fun and therapeutic activity for all ages.

Be sure to monitor the stuffed animal while it is outside, as excessive sunlight exposure can cause damage or fading over time. It is also important to bring the toy indoors if there is any rain or extreme weather conditions.

4. Baking Soda Odor Absorption:

Lightly sprinkle baking soda over the surface of the stuffed animal and let it sit for a few hours or overnight. Baking soda is renowned for its odor-absorbing properties. Afterward, brush or vacuum off the baking soda residue. This method is particularly effective for absorbing lingering smells.

Additionally, baking soda can also be used to eliminate odors in other household items such as shoes, refrigerators, and carpets. Simply sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda onto the surface and let it sit for a few hours before vacuuming or wiping it away.

Furthermore, mixing baking soda with water can create a paste that can be used as a natural deodorizer for smelly trash cans, litter boxes, and even as a gentle scrub for dirty dishes.

Baking soda is also known to be an effective ingredient in homemade air fresheners. You can mix it with essential oils or herbs to create a personalized scent that will not only absorb odors but also leave a pleasant fragrance in the room.

5. Activated Charcoal Sachets:

Place Activated Charcoal Sachets Inside

Place activated charcoal sachets inside a plastic bag with the stuffed animal. Activated charcoal is known for its ability to absorb and neutralize odors. Ensure the charcoal doesn’t come in direct contact with the toy to prevent any transfer of charcoal dust. Leave the sachets in the bag for a day or two.

Activated charcoal is a natural and non-toxic alternative to chemical-based deodorizers. It works by trapping odors, rather than simply masking them. This makes it an ideal solution for eliminating musty or stale smells from stuffed animals.

Aside from using sachets, activated charcoal can also be used in powder form. Simply sprinkle some over the toy and leave it for a few hours before brushing off any excess. This method is particularly effective for eliminating strong odors such as smoke or pet smells.

In addition to deodorizing stuffed animals, activated charcoal can also help absorb moisture and prevent mold growth. This is especially important for toys that are stored in damp environments or those that have been recently cleaned.

6. Lavender or Essential Oil Spritz:

Create a gentle homemade spritz by mixing water with a few drops of lavender or other essential oils. Lightly spray the mixture on the stuffed animal, allowing it to air dry. Essential oils not only add a pleasant fragrance but also possess natural antibacterial properties, helping to eliminate odors.

You can also create a calming lavender spray by adding a few drops of lavender essential oil to a small spray bottle filled with water. This can be used on both stuffed animals and pillows for a soothing and relaxing bedtime routine.

Another way to incorporate the benefits of essential oils is by using them in your laundry routine. Add a few drops of lavender or other essential oils to a load of laundry before washing to freshen up stuffed animals and other items.

Additionally, you can create a sachet with dried lavender and place it inside the stuffed animal or near it while storing to keep it smelling fresh.

7. Use Odor Eliminating Sprays:

Odor-eliminating Sprays Designed for Fabrics

Commercially available odor-eliminating sprays designed for fabrics can be used on stuffed animals. Ensure the spray is safe for the material of the toy and follow the instructions provided. These sprays often neutralize odors without leaving behind residue.

Additionally, many sprays have pleasant scents that can freshen up the toy. However, be cautious when using these sprays around young children or individuals with sensitivities to strong scents.

Some odor eliminating sprays also come in smaller, travel-sized bottles which can be convenient for use on the go. These can be useful for keeping stuffed animals smelling fresh while traveling or visiting different locations. Always check the ingredients of the spray and make sure they are safe for use on stuffed animals.

It’s important to note that while odor-eliminating sprays can help eliminate unwanted smells, they may not completely remove stains or dirt from the toy. If you are concerned about removing both odors and stains, it may be best to first wash the stuffed animal with a gentle detergent before using an odor eliminating spray.

8. Stuffed Animal Dryer Bags:

Invest in specialized stuffed animal dryer bags, which are designed to freshen and revive plush toys. These bags typically contain odor-neutralizing beads or pouches. Place the stuffed animal inside the bag and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for optimal results. These bags not only remove any musty or dusty smells, but also help to fluff up and restore the softness of the toy’s fur.

You can also make your own stuffed animal dryer bags by using a mesh laundry bag and filling it with baking soda or activated charcoal. Place the stuffed animal inside and tie the bag closed before tossing it in the dryer on a low heat setting. This method is more affordable and can easily be customized with different scents or additives for a personalized touch.

In addition to using specialized dryer bags, there are other steps you can take to keep your child’s stuffed animals clean and fresh. Regularly vacuuming them with a brush attachment can help remove dust and allergens that may have accumulated on the surface.

You can also spot clean any stains with a mild detergent and warm water, being careful not to saturate the toy.

9. Washable Stuffed Animals:

Stuffed Animals Labeled as Washable

For stuffed animals labeled as washable, follow the care instructions provided. Use a gentle detergent and wash the toy in a pillowcase or mesh laundry bag to protect delicate parts. Ensure the toy is thoroughly dried before returning it to its owner.

It is important to follow the recommended care instructions when washing washable stuffed animals. Using a gentle detergent and placing the toy in a pillowcase or mesh laundry bag can protect delicate parts from getting damaged during the wash cycle.

Once the stuffed animal has been washed, it is crucial to make sure it is completely dry before giving it back to its owner. Any remaining moisture can lead to mold or mildew growth, which can be harmful to both the toy and its owner.

It is also important to note that some stuffed animals may have electronic components that are not washable. Always check the care instructions before washing a stuffed animal with any electronic parts.

10. Fabric Freshening Sprays:

Utilize Fabric Freshening Sprays

Utilize fabric freshening sprays designed for use on delicate fabrics. Lightly spray the stuffed animal and let it air dry. These sprays often contain antimicrobial agents that help eliminate bacteria causing odors, leaving the toy smelling fresh.

They are specifically formulated to be gentle on fabrics, making them perfect for use on plush toys. Fabric freshening sprays can also help remove dirt and stains from stuffed animals, restoring them to their original softness and cleanliness.

Another benefit of fabric freshening sprays is their ability to reduce allergens. Dust, pollen, and other allergens can accumulate on stuffed animals over time, causing potential irritation for those with allergies. By using a fabric freshening spray, these allergens can be eliminated from the surface of the toy, creating a healthier and cleaner environment for children.

In addition to refreshing and cleaning stuffed animals, fabric freshening sprays can also be used to protect them from future dirt and stains. By creating a barrier on the surface of the toy, these sprays prevent spills and dirt from penetrating deep into the fabric, making it easier to clean in the future. This is especially useful for children who like to take their favorite stuffed animals everywhere they go.


In conclusion, banishing odors from stuffed animals is essential for maintaining a clean and inviting environment for children. By employing gentle cleaning methods such as surface wiping with mild soap solutions and spot-treating stains, caregivers can effectively address common sources of smells.

Washing plush toys according to care labels and drying them thoroughly with caution helps prevent mold and mildew growth. Natural remedies like baking soda, essential oils, and fresh herbs provide safe and effective ways to refresh stuffed animals without harsh chemicals.

Implementing preventive measures such as regular cleaning and proper storage safeguards against odors and extends the lifespan of beloved toys. Follow these simple instructions outlined in this blog post about how to get smell out of stuffed animals, and you’ll be able to get the job done with ease.

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Loren Jones

Hi, my name is Loren. I live with my husband and 4 lovely kiddos in the Eastern part of San-fransisco. I have a smart beautiful,curious 6 year old daughter, a handsome 11-year-old son, an intelligent and tech geek 15 years old son and a creative, artistic 12-year-old stepson. With each of my kids being five years apart, I feel that I’m now continually phasing in and out of each stage of parenting! I’ve learned a lot about the way children learn and behave, especially in a school setting with regards to curriculum. I enjoy sharing that insight through my writing and hope that it can help others.

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