How to Make a Stuffed Animal Soft Again

Over time, stuffed animals that have been cherished through countless hugs and adventures may lose their initial softness, leaving their owners longing for the comforting touch they once provided. Whether it’s due to frequent washing, exposure to the elements, or simple wear and tear, the quest to restore a stuffed animal’s softness becomes a mission of love.

How to Make a Stuffed Animal Soft Again

In this guide, we will explore various techniques and methods on how to make a stuffed animal soft again, ensuring that these cuddly companions not only retain their original plushness but also continue to bring comfort and joy to those who hold them dear.

From gentle cleaning and strategic maintenance to creative tricks, these methods are designed to rejuvenate the softness of your cherished stuffed animals, allowing them to once again be the perfect snuggle partners for both children and adults alike.

Importance of Stuffed Animals for Children’s Memories

Stuffed animals form an integral part of childhood, serving not just as toys, but as symbols of comfort, security, and companionship. For many children, these plush companions are the first friends they make, playing a crucial role in their emotional development.

They become repositories of countless memories, each hug and playful moment leaving an indelible mark on a child’s heart. These cuddly figures often become the silent witnesses to a child’s growth, adventures, and dreams, offering a sense of stability and reassurance throughout various stages of childhood.

Thus, revitalizing their softness is more than just a cosmetic fix—it’s a way to preserve the tangible links to a child’s cherished memories and milestones, ensuring that the comfort they provide remains unaltered over time.

Why Stuffed Animals Lose Their Softness Over Time

Through their life-span, stuffed animals undergo a transformation, gradually losing the plush softness that defines their comforting essence. This deterioration can be attributed to several factors that contribute to the wear and tear of these beloved toys.

Frequent washing, necessary for hygiene, often leads to the breakdown of fibers, making the fur less fluffy and more matted. Exposure to the sun and the elements can fade and damage the material, affecting its feel and overall integrity.

Additionally, the natural oils from human skin, coupled with the dust and dirt that accumulate from regular play, can further diminish a stuffed animal’s softness, embedding grime that hardens the fur. The collective impact of these conditions results in a less cuddly and comforting toy, prompting the need for tender restorative care.

Identifying Signs of Wear and Tear

Effectively Restore the Softness

To effectively restore the softness of a stuffed animal, it is crucial to first identify the signs of wear and tear that have compromised its plush texture. These signs can vary, ranging from visible matting and pilling of the fur, to more subtle changes in the feel and volume of the stuffing.

Discoloration and fading of the fabric, especially in well-loved areas, indicate prolonged use and exposure to environmental elements.

Additionally, stiffness in the animal’s body may suggest that dirt and oils have penetrated deep into the fibers, hardening them over time. Observing these indicators helps in determining the extent of wear and provides insight into the methods that will be most effective in rejuvenating your stuffed companion’s softness. Recognizing these signs early on is key to preserving the quality and comfort of stuffed animals, ensuring they continue to serve as cherished keepsakes.

Factors Contributing to Loss of Softness

Stuffed animals can lose their softness due to multiple factors, often related to their use and care. One primary factor is the method and frequency of washing. Using harsh detergents or hot water can speed up the deterioration of delicate fibers, while frequent washes can wear out the material, leading to a rough texture.

Another critical factor is improper drying techniques; high heat from dryers can cause the fibers to become brittle and stiff, diminishing the plush feel of the toy. Environmental factors, including prolonged exposure to sunlight, can fade and damage the material, affecting not only the visual appeal but also the tactile quality of the stuffed animal.

Lastly, the natural accumulation of dust, oils, and sweat over time can embed into the fabric, making it hard and less cuddly. Each of these factors plays a significant role in the reduction of softness over time, highlighting the need for attentive care and maintenance to prolong the life and comfort of stuffed toys.

10 Methods How to Make a Stuffed Animal Soft Again

1. Gentle Washing a nd Drying:

Checking the Care Label of the Stuffed Animal

Begin by checking the care label of the stuffed animal. If it’s machine washable, use a gentle cycle with a mild detergent. After washing, air-dry the toy rather than using a dryer, as excessive heat can affect the material and compromise its softness. Placing it in a pillowcase or mesh bag during washing protects delicate parts. If the label states that it is not machine washable, you can spot clean it with a damp cloth and mild soap.

It’s important to note that even if a stuffed animal is labeled as machine washable, it’s best to err on the side of caution and use a gentle cycle. This will help prevent any potential damage to the toy.

In addition, it’s important to thoroughly dry the stuffed animal after washing. Any remaining moisture can lead to mold or mildew growth, which can be harmful to both the toy and anyone who cuddles with it.

If the stuffed animal has electronic parts or battery compartments, check the care label for specific instructions on how to clean these areas. In most cases, you should not submerge these parts in water and should instead wipe them down with a damp cloth.

Furthermore, avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach when cleaning stuffed animals. These can damage the material and potentially irritate the skin of whoever comes in contact with it.

2. Spot-Cleaning with Fabric Softener:

For smaller stains or areas needing a softness boost, create a mixture of water and a mild fabric softener. Dab the solution onto the stuffed animal using a clean cloth or sponge, focusing on the areas that need attention. Allow it to air dry, and the fabric softener will help restore the plushness. Avoid using too much fabric softener as it can leave a residue and attract more dirt.

Adding a few drops of essential oils to the mixture can also help give the stuffed animal a fresh scent. Lavender, lemon, or peppermint are great options that not only add a pleasant aroma but also have natural cleaning properties.

For tougher stains or odors, spot-cleaning with a mixture of equal parts water and white vinegar can be effective. Vinegar is known for its disinfectant properties and can help break down tough stains and eliminate odors. However, it is important to spot-test this solution on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure that it does not cause any discoloration.

Remember to always read the care instructions on the stuffed animal’s label before attempting any cleaning method. If the stuffed animal is particularly delicate or has electronic components, it may be best to take it to a professional cleaner.

3. Fluffing and Brushing:

Gently Fluff and Redistribute the Stuffing

Over time, the stuffing inside a stuffed animal can become compressed. Gently fluff and redistribute the stuffing by kneading and manipulating the toy. For longer plush, use a soft brush to untangle and fluff the fibers, restoring the original soft texture.

In addition to regular fluffing, brushing your stuffed animals can also help keep them clean and looking new. Using a gentle brush, remove any dirt or debris that may have accumulated on the surface of the toy. This will help prevent stains and discoloration, as well as maintain the overall appearance of the stuffed animal.

It is important to note that not all stuffed animals can be washed in a washing machine. Some may have delicate features or materials that could get damaged during the washing process. In these cases, it is best to spot clean the toy using a damp cloth and mild soap.

For stuffed animals that are safe to wash, it is recommended to use a gentle cycle with cold water and mild detergent. Place the toy in a mesh laundry bag to protect it from getting tangled or damaged by other items in the washing machine. After washing, let the stuffed animal air dry completely before fluffing and brushing.

4. Dryer with Tennis Balls:

For larger stuffed animals, a gentle alternative to air-drying is placing them in the dryer with a couple of clean tennis balls. The balls help fluff the toy while it dries, preventing the stuffing from clumping and resulting in a softer texture. Use a low heat setting to avoid damaging the fabric.

Tennis balls are not just for the court anymore!

These versatile little balls have many uses outside of sports, including in our laundry routine. Beyond being used as a replacement for dryer sheets, they can be paired with stuffed animals to help maintain their plushiness and prevent clumping of the stuffing.

In addition to using tennis balls in the dryer, there are other ways to incorporate them into your laundry routine. They can be added to the washing machine with towels or linens to help fluff and soften them, and even used as a natural alternative to fabric softener.

5. Freezer Method:

Place the stuffed animal in a sealed plastic bag and leave it in the freezer for a few hours. The cold temperature can help fluff up the fibers, making the toy feel softer. Ensure the toy is fully dry before returning it to its owner to prevent any discomfort.

This method may not work for all stuffed animals, so it is best to double-check the care instructions before attempting this method.

There are a few other methods you can try to make your child’s favorite stuffed animal feel as good as new. One of them is using fabric softener and a gentle cycle on your washing machine.

Simply place the stuffed animal in a mesh laundry bag and add a small amount of fabric softener before running the gentle cycle. Once done, let it air dry or use a low heat setting on your dryer to prevent any damage to the toy.

Another method that can help revive a stuffed animal is using baking soda. Simply mix some baking soda with water until it forms a paste and gently rub it onto the toy’s surface. Allow it to sit for a few minutes before wiping it off with a damp cloth. This method can help remove any odors or stains from the stuffed animal.

6. Use of Fabric Softener Sheets:

Tossing a Few Fabric Softener Sheets

Tossing a few fabric softener sheets into the dryer or placing them inside the stuffed animal before fluffing can add a pleasant scent and contribute to the softness of the toy. This method is particularly useful for combating static and maintaining a plush feel.

Adding a few drops of essential oils to the dryer sheets can also enhance the scent and provide additional aromatherapy benefits. Lavender, chamomile, and eucalyptus are popular choices for their calming properties.

In addition to using fabric softener sheets in the dryer, they can also be utilized throughout the house. Placing them in drawers or closets can keep clothes smelling fresh, and even tucking them under sofa cushions can help eliminate lingering odors.

7. DIY Fabric Softener Spray:

Create a DIY fabric softener spray by mixing water with a small amount of fabric softener. Lightly mist the solution over the stuffed animal and allow it to air dry. The fabric softener will help soften the fibers, leaving the toy feeling fresh and plush. You can also add a few drops of essential oils for a pleasant scent.

Fabric softener sheets are a popular way to soften and freshen up laundry, but they can also be used for more than just clothes. One creative use is to make a fabric softener spray that can be spritzed onto items like stuffed animals, pillows, and even carpets.

Not only does this DIY solution save money, but it also allows you to customize the scent and avoid any harsh chemicals.

8. Application of Cornstarch:

Sprinkle a Small Amount of Cornstarch

For plush toys that have lost their softness due to moisture or spills, sprinkle a small amount of cornstarch on the surface. Let it sit for a few hours, then brush or vacuum off the excess. Cornstarch helps absorb moisture and can contribute to restoring the softness of the fabric.

In addition to plush toys, cornstarch can also be useful in other applications such as removing grease stains from clothing and freshening up smelly shoes. Simply sprinkle some cornstarch on the affected area, let it sit for a couple of hours, then brush or shake off the excess.

Cornstarch can also act as a natural dry shampoo for those with oily hair. Sprinkle a small amount onto the scalp, then brush or massage it in before brushing it out. This can help absorb excess oils and give hair a refreshed look.

Moreover, cornstarch can be used as an alternative to talcum powder for babies. Its natural properties make it gentle on the skin and can help prevent diaper rash by absorbing moisture.

9. Use of Fabric Renewal Sprays:

Fabric renewal sprays, designed specifically for soft surfaces, can be applied to stuffed animals to revitalize their plush feel. Follow the product instructions and allow the toy to air out before returning it to its owner.

When it comes to cleaning and refreshing stuffed animals, fabric renewal sprays can be a game changer. These sprays are specifically designed for soft surfaces and can work wonders in reviving the plush feel of a well-loved toy.

Not only do these sprays clean and disinfect the surface of the toys, but they also help eliminate any unpleasant odors that may have accumulated over time.

10. Inserting New Stuffing:

Adding New Hypoallergenic Stuffing

If a stuffed animal has lost significant stuffing or appears flattened, consider opening a seam and adding new, hypoallergenic stuffing. Be cautious not to overstuff, and securely sew the seam afterward to ensure the toy retains its original shape and softness. With proper care and maintenance, stuffed animals can last for years with minimal wear and tear.

Stuffed animals offer more than just comfort and cuddles. They can also serve as a source of creativity and imagination for children, allowing them to role play and create their own stories with their beloved toy companions.


In conclusion, revitalizing the softness of stuffed animals is a simple yet rewarding process that restores comfort and enjoyment for children. By employing gentle cleaning techniques, such as surface wiping and spot-treating stains, caregivers can remove dirt and grime that contribute to stiffness.

Washing plush toys according to care labels and drying them thoroughly with care ensures optimal softness and freshness.

Additionally, incorporating fabric softeners and fluffing techniques helps to enhance plushness and restore texture. Implementing preventive measures, such as regular cleaning and proper storage, prolongs the softness and lifespan of beloved toys.

Follow these simple instructions outlined in this blog post about how to make a stuffed animal soft again, 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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