How to recycle stuffed toys

teddy bear image by cegli from

You may wish to keep a cherished stuffed animal as a memento long after your daughter has outgrown her childhood pal. Even the signs of much use, such as a missing eye or a stitched paw, can elicit fond memories.

On the other hand, children often receive more stuffed toys than they can reasonably play with, leaving many of them in like-new or at least very good condition. These lightly used toys can find new life in various ways. Recycle them within your family by passing them to the younger children or donate them to children in need. When a tattered toy reaches the end of its useful life, use the stuffing for craft projects.

Sort the stuffed animals by condition. Identify animals that can find a second life and those that need to be discarded.

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Kill dust mites. Bag each toy in its own freezer bag or garbage bag and place them in the freezer for 24 hours.

Remove the toys from the freezer and discard the unusable toys.

Clean reusable toys. Wipe dusty, hard plastic eyes with a soft damp cloth. Check the care tag. Wash machine-washable toys in the washing machine. To protect them, enclose them in a tied pillow case and use the gentle cycle. Line dry or machine dry them on the mildest setting. For toys labelled "Spot Clean," prepare a solution of one part water to one part laundry soap. Dip a soft cloth in the solution and blot each stain.

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Locate organisations that accept stuffed animal donations. Some thrift stores accept stuffed toys with tags still on them or that are in like-new condition. Other groups distribute directly to those in need. One such organisation, Stuffed Animals for Emergencies, also known as SAFE, distributes stuffed animals to children in traumatic situations. The group has chapters throughout the United States and, as of 2010, in the Dominican Republic.

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Pass the toys down through your family. A younger sibling or cousin might be delighted to receive a toy he remembers playing with at your home, even if it has a stitched foot.

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Create a memory box for a favoured stuffed animal, along with photos from your daughter's childhood, a first tooth and other mementos. Present it to her when she marries or is expecting a child of her own.

Salvage usable parts. Clothing, ears and sometimes limbs can serve to repair another toy.

Make a stuffed toy security blanket. If a teddy bear is worn beyond repair but the front of the bear remains intact, remove the back and sew the bear onto a small blanket. Position the bear so that the corners of the blanket align with the head and arms. A child can use it as a security blanket and as a plaything, by wrapping the blanket around the bear to appear as if she were carrying the bear like a swaddled baby.

Extract the stuffing for use in a craft project, such as stuffing for a pillow.