As many of you know (and can feel), allergy season is in full affect. Today, I want to discuss one source of allergens that may not come to mind when considering our children’s allergies… Stuffed Animals! If you have children with stuffed animals, those cute and cuddly toys may be harboring dust mites. Those mites and their waste (Ewwww) can be a terrible allergen for your children. Fortunately, there are several options for removing these nasty critters from your child’s favorite Teddy.
This is my preferred method for keeping stuffed animals dust mite free. Put the stuffed animal in a sealed bag (to keep the dead mites contained) and freeze it for two days. Freezing kills mites without damaging the stuffed animal. Once the animal has thawed out, vacuum the animal thoroughly (see instructions below) to remove the dead mites and waste they leave behind. It is most often the waste of the mites which causes allergy symptoms.
Vacuuming stuffed animals thoroughly once a week can remove many of the dust mites, other allergens, and dirt that collect on the animal. Plus, this will fluff the fir of the animal to limit matting and keep Teddy looking cuddly as can be. Make sure, when considering vacuuming as your means for removing allergens, that your vacuum is equipped with a HEPA filter that will capture the allergens once vacuumed.
I only recommend machine washing stuffed animals that have a care tag showing the animal can be washed in such a manor. Many stuffed animals can be washed just as one washes her or her clothes. However, washing animals can often cause them to lose their cute and cuddly appearance and feel. Even worse, some stuffed animals will completely disintegrate in the washer. Another challenge with ONLY washing stuffed animals is that the water temperature necessary to kill mites is between 130-140ºF. As a safety precaution, most home water heaters are set to between 105-108ºF; therefore, the water in most washers will not get warm enough to truly kill the mites. When choosing washing as a preferred method, I recommend using a De-mite laundry additive in the load. This can effectively kill mites when the water temperature is not high enough to do so.
Again, check the stuffed animal’s care tag before throwing it in the dryer. Just as with washing, many animals can lose their fluffiness or even fall apart in the dryer. If it is safe to dry the animal, either set the dryer to high heat or many new washers actually have an “Allergy” setting. Dry the stuffed animal for 20 minutes. Remove and vacuum.
I hope this information is helpful and spares your family a few stuffy noses!
For a similar article with information for reducing allergens in your bedding and mattress, click here.