15 answers

"Sanitizing" Used Stuffed Animals, Etc.

I recently bought a few things used and am wondering how to sanitize the things that can't be wiped down or put in the washing machine. For instance, there's a Tickle Me Elmo doll and a fabric covered co-sleeper that I don't know what to do with. Spray them? Bag them?

I vaguely recall that when you're trying to rid your house of lice, you put stuffed animals, etc. in a bag. But I don't know how long you keep them there, what kind of bag, how airtight it has to be, etc. I also don't know if that's useful for any kind of "sanitizing" or just lice.

To be crystal clear, I do not suspect these items have lice or I wouldn't have brought them into my house. They also look relatively clean, I'm just a tad OCD and would just feel better knowing I did something to "sanitize" them "just in case" since they're gently used and I don't know their history.

I'm curious to know what others do, but I don't like to use anything like Lysol spray especially for children's items...the smell even bothers me and I wouldn't want the residue getting in the baby's mouth. I've been using vinegar and friction (wiping) to clean the board books and other items that can be wiped down.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I use my steamer for such things. We got it at Target. You can steam floors, windows, toys, anything with it with its various attachments.

More Answers

In our nursery at church we put a capful of bleach into a spray bottle of water. We spray a light mist over the toys, tables, dolls, chairs and just anything we can see. The bleach will sanitize and in a short time - everything is dry and ready for the next time anyone wants to use them.


hey P. i to am a bit ocd i would bAG ELMO in a small trash bag and put the trash bag in the warmest place in the house rule of thumb is two week but i do three that my ocd thene with the co sleeoer i would wipe it down with blech water then when it dryes spray it with lice spray again that my ocd better safe then sorry good luck hope i helped

I know moms today are reluctant to spray with Lysol and stuff like that, but I've always done that and then put the items in the sun if that's feasible for several hours. I use vinegar around my house more now but my kids all grew up with Lysol and were none the worse for it.

A great trick is to spray them down with something that is ok for the kids, then put them in a garbage bag, and with the hose of your vacuum, suck all the air out of the bag. This helps eliminate odors, and extra dust, etc. This also works great for pillows that can't be put into the wash or couch cushions.

Tie them up in a pillow case and run them through the wash machine. Works like a charm!!! You can even dry most stuffed animals. Daycares do this as well. This cleans them all the way through and not just the surface.

I'm not sure if this is the most effective way to sanitize or not, but I normally wash what can be wiped down with mild bleach water ...like a dolls face or plastic toys, and then spray lysol to disenfect the entire object. I'm curious what other moms have to say.

M. M.

I use my steamer for such things. We got it at Target. You can steam floors, windows, toys, anything with it with its various attachments.

you mention Lysol but I have used Clorox anywhere dissinfectant, they say it is safe to use around kids,pets and I think even food and there really isn't an odor. I have found it work good and for the bag I have found large Zip Lock Big Bags. I use them to store the kids out of season clothing that they probably won't outgrow and toys that can't part with so after you use them for the sanitizing they can be used for other stuff too. Good luck

Don't buy things like that second hand. Think about it. There are probably things on or in them that you can't see, like vomit, feces, urine, pet 'fluids' etc. Sick.

Stuff animals can be washed in the machine (even though they say not to), just remove the "mechanial" parts like the noise box on Tickle Me Elmo.

I personally wouldn't buy these types of things secondhand because there is no good way to clean them. I don't think the freezer method kills anything, it just slows or stops its growth while it is in the freezer.

Hi. I would recommend spraying rubbing alcohol on anything that has parts that would be affected by water. The alchol kills the germs and them evaporates and it's safe for them after it does. No perfumes and no residue. Hope that helps.


Hi P. K,
There is a company called PureWorks that has skin products to protect from germs, viruses, bacteria, and is also antiseptic. They also have a hard surface disinfectant that kills even the avian flu virus. You can use it on your stuffed animals, too! It's been used on other fabrics, so that probably won't be a problem. The difference with PureWorks is that they protect your skin 3-4 hours and they have no alcohol (non-flammable). The alchohol gels that are out now only protect you for 3 seconds! and it evaporates and you're not protected anymore; and of course, they're flammable. If you're interested, please respond back to me
You can also learn more at protectedbypureworks.com

The bagging only works with lice b/c it deprives them of oxygen and kills them.

I would wipe down with an ivory/water solution if possible and put outside to dry.

P. -

I have a toy from several years ago that was a hand-me-down, a blue hippo that is weighted on the bottom and makes a chiming noise when you move it around. A friend of mine suggested cleaning the fur with Woolite and a toothbrush, and it worked great! It took about an hour to brush from head to toe, then after it dried I took plain water and used the same toothbrush to "rinse" the fur. I rinsed it twice because I'm a bit OCD myself, so I totally get where you're coming from. Now if it happens to get dirty I just spot clean it with the Woolite and toothbrush.

Hope this helps!

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