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How long should you keep stuffed animals?

As much as we like to deny it, adults need some comforting too. For some people, it might be through a pet, while for others it could be in form of stuffed animals – yes, you read that correctly.

Many people assume that part of the rite of passage when you become an adult means that you must change so many things about yourself so that you can be taken more seriously as a member of society. However, this leads to unfortunate casualties along the way, For instance, you are implored to stop watching cartoons, stop listening to certain kinds of music, and stop keeping stuffed animals.

This raises an important question though – how long should you even keep these animals? If you have a child, will you start telling them to abandon the idea of keeping these toys when they reach a certain age? What if you are not ready to let them go?

The truth is, you do not need to let go of these stuffed toys at a certain age. As a general rule though, you should aim to keep them for a maximum of 10 years – anything beyond that, and you will need to think about whether to dispose all of them, keep some of them, or give them away.

Should you get rid of them?

The answer to this question is not really a ‘yes’ or ‘no’, and we will outline some considerations you should make before deciding on that.

Do not feel pressure to remove them from your life if you are not ready to do it. This is particularly important for the stuffed toys that have stuck with you from when you were younger, and you feel an emotional attachment to them that has not gone away – they are your toys anyway. However, keep in mind that they might cause some issues if they begin to take over your living space, which means you will need to let go of some of them.

Keeping the memories alive through photos or videos is important. If the memory of these toys is very important to you, you can consider creating final memories with them through a creative venture like a stuffed toy fashion show, taking a photo collage, or a video documenting them before giving them away.

It is great to always have a plan, in case you decide to get rid of them or some of them. This applies to everyone, regardless of whether you are removing all of them or letting them go gradually. After all, you will remember a lot in the midst of disposing them – like seeing a stuffed bear that was a souvenir from a family member when you were young, one which you won as a present for winning a competition, and so on. As you dispose them, know how many you want to keep so that the final number you hold is not above those limits.

Donating them is still another option, as long as they are in good condition. Allow another kid to create memories with them, and you can also entrust a close person in your life to deliver them if you feel the goodbyes are too much to handle.

Tips to maintain the stuffed toys

If you do decide to keep your toys, it is important to know the best ways of maintaining them and keep them in their best condition. Here are some tips to help with that goal.

Repair tears and rips when they happen

Long periods can sometimes result in the deterioration of your toys, so it is important to promote their best condition – by cleaning them. However, the first thing to do before cleaning them is to repair any tears, ripping, or parts that are falling out, in order to prevent damage to the toy when you clean it up.

Vacuum them

Stuffed toys carry a lot of pathogens. In order to remove these pathogens – including allergens, mites, lice, and other impurities like dirt and dust, you will need to do some vacuuming on the toys, and also always do it before keeping them in storage.

Note that you might need to re-stuff the animal if it loses shape after the vacuuming sessions. If the toy is smaller, you can use the vacuum’s nozzle attachment that fits its size to suck up the dust.

Clean the toys regularly

The method you use to clean them (whether hand washing or machine cleaning) will depend on how delicate or old the toy is, or you can clean them up by soaking them in baking soda solution. Make sure to check the care label on the toy to guide you on the cleaning method you use.

If you will machine-wash them, place each toy in a mesh laundry bag to protect it from snagging in the machine. Wash the on the hand wash or delicate setting, and use cold water and a mild detergent. In fact, one of our favorite washing machines is the Kenmore Elite Top-Load laundry washing machine. The method is the same for baking soda, although you will cover the toy with a light dusting of 15-60 grams of the baking soda, depending on the toy’s size.

If you want to hand wash them, fill a sink with some cold water and 15ml of mild detergent. Soak the toy, and agitate the fur gently to remove dirt, then rinse afterwards.

Drying the toys

Instead of wringing them, use a towel to wrap them and squeeze the water out, and reshape them if they have lost their form. There are three drying methods you can use in this case:

  • Putting them in a dryer (only applies to dryer-safe animals). Always use a low-heat setting and wrap the toys in towels to prevent tumbling. You can check out our favorite dryer, the Amana 6.5 Cu Electric dryer, as it is among the best value for money.
  • Hang them on clotheslines. This is great for all stuffed toys, and particularly essential for older toys that cannot go in the dryer or are flammable.
  • Air-drying on a towel. If you are using this method, make sure to turn them periodically for thorough drying.

Wrapping them

This can protect your stuffed animals if you are keeping them in storage for a long time, especially they are antique toys. Wrap them using acid-free tissue paper, which you can buy easily and cheaply in most stores.


Just because you are sorting out your collection of toys, it does not mean you must dump away all of them – especially if you do not want to. It is a choice you make, but you need to remember to take care of them if you decide to have them around.

About Mary Crane

Mary Crane
Mary Crane is a businesswoman and her passion for kids is so immense that she came up with a small fun place filled with bouncing castles, small trains with racks, and all the fun things just for kids to have some fun over the holidays and during the weekends. She is a strong advocate of developmental play and understands the effects of the lack of play in the growth of a child. According to Crane, encouraging play in a child helps them grow, and teaches them how to interact with other people at a young age; they also learn to share and make decisions as they grow. Mary Crane is a freelance writer and a mother of one.

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