Teddy Bear Cleaning and Care

Many people ask us how best to clean and care for their treasured toys. We offer a surface cleaning service, and have experience tackling even the grimiest of teddies! There’s also a lot you can do at home to clean and properly store your toys. Proper teddy bear cleaning and care will greatly prolong the life of your precious antique or child’s favourite toy!


PLEASE DON’T throw your antique teddy bear in the washing machine! Jointed mohair or sheepskin bears should only ever be surface cleaned. Older delicate fabrics will disintegrate in the washing machine. Some older toys are often stuffed with wood wool, which will rot if it gets too wet. Colour can also seep from the filling and stain the outer fabric.


  • For most teddy bear cleaning, we recommend a surface clean. 
  • The best way to do this is with carpet foam or a mild shampoo and warm water solution. 
  • Do not get your toy very wet – just enough water to loosen the dirt. A steam cleaner is helpful if you have one.
  • Apply the foam or suds with a toothbrush and wipe down with a clean cloth to remove dirt. You may need to do this for several hours if the toy is very dirty. 
  • Starting with a soft, wide brush, gently brush out your toy’s fur. You can gradually build up to finer wire brushes to fluff up the fur. Make sure to brush very gently to avoid pulling out any fur. 
  • If you don’t fancy surface cleaning yourself, contact us – we can certainly do this for you. There are some pricing guidelines here.
Teddy bear cleaning - a dirty ted on one side and a clean one on the other!


  • Modern stuffed toys won’t be destroyed if you put them in the washing machine, but the stuffing will all clump together. It’s best to remove the stuffing first and replace it when the toy is dry. 
  • The toy should be placed in a pillowcase to protect it and washed on a gentle cycle. 
  • You can also soak it in warm water with some gentle soap instead.
  • If you don’t want to restuff it yourself after washing, we can do this for you – give us a shout! There are some pricing guidelines here.

Toys Stuffed with Foam

Often teddies from the 1960s and 70s are stuffed with foam which degrades over time, and can work through to the surface as a sticky dust. In these cases the foam can be replaced with a modern polyfil after a thorough cleaning.


  • Like any textiles, cuddly toys are vulnerable to damage from excess sunlight, extremes of temperature and humidity, and insects. Try to keep these factors in mind when storing and displaying them.
  • Teddy bears on display should be dusted regularly. Give them a gentle brushing, or carefully hoover, with a stocking or other material placed over the end of the vacuum.
  • It’s best to keep soft toys out of the reach of pets. We get a lot of dog-related injuries at the toy hospital!
  • If you put a teddy in storage, a cardboard box and acid-free tissue paper is the ideal container. A plain cotton bag is also a good option. Long-term storage in plastic is not recommended.


If your teddy is in storage, here are some things you can do to help keep the moths away.

  • Keep your toys in a dry and well ventilated area. Moths love warm, dark and musty places, such as attics and the back of cupboards.
  • Use a natural moth repellent such as cedar wood balls.
  • Learn to spot moths around your house: Look out for the brown house moth (8mm long with bronze, black-flecked wings) and the common clothes moth (6-7mm long with paler, beige wings). 
  • Learn to spot moth eggs on your toy. They look a bit like sand.
  • If your toy has had any moth damage or you spot moth eggs on it, the toy should be placed in a plastic bag and frozen for two weeks before being thoroughly cleaned. We can help if you do not have space to freeze your teddy, just get in touch.
  • If your teddy has moth holes and you would like them repaired, get in touch.


  • You can clean your doll with dish soap or a special formula, using a soft cloth and cotton buds.
  • Store your hard bodied doll in a well ventilated place, out of direct sunlight. This is to help avoid Sad Doll Disease – find out more about sad doll disease here.
  • Fabric dolls and clothing are susceptible to the same sorts of damage as soft toys. 

Or in Case of Emergency…

If all this sounds daunting, or you don’t want to risk your antique doll or teddy bear cleaning it yourself, we are happy to undertake the task. We offer surface cleaning as part of a repair job, or on its own. The cost ranges from £20 depending on the size of the toy and how dirty it is.

Find out more about our repair services here.