How to Clean a Build-A-Bear

A Build-A-Bear might be your child’s best friend, but it’s also a home for bacteria and other unappealing material that sticks to its fur and fibers. Luckily, you can clean your Build-A-Bear either in the washing machine or by hand, depending on the stain and type of Build-A-Bear.

This article will detail how to clean a Build-A-Bear, the precautions you need to take to preserve its form, and how to properly dry the bear after cleaning. Make sure your child is cuddling with a comfy and clean teddy bear today.

By Washing Machine

Most Build-A-Bears are machine-washable, giving a deeper clean for the stuffed animals that have seen better days.

Before washing, we recommend putting your Build-A-Bear into a cotton pillowcase or laundry bag, such as a lingerie bag. These bags allow water in and out while protecting the animal’s fur from possible damage. Ensure that the bag is closed or tied, securing the bear inside for the duration of the wash cycle.

It’s important to wash your Build-A-Bear in cold water and on a gentle cycle with only mild detergent. Some gentle cycles will be labeled “delicate” or “hand-wash”. All of these options are acceptable so long as the water temperature is low. You can also add a fabric softener to the rinse cycle for your bear.

Hot water or heavy-duty detergent can ruin your Build-A-Bear’s form and fur, also fading its color.

If you want to get rid of dust mites, instead of washing it in hot water you can put the Build-A-Bear in a freezer bag in your freezer for at least one full day to kill the mites.


Just as with the washing machine, it is dangerous to put your Build-A-Bear in a dryer on a hot cycle. The heat of a full dry cycle will damage your Build-A-Bear, potentially leaving it unrecognizable.

Instead, opt for hanging your Build-A-Bear onto a clothing line with clothespins. If you don’t have a clothesline, use a thin coat hanger and clip your bear onto it instead. Then, hang the bear from the shower rod or in an area with direct sunlight for drying.

Once your bear is completely dry, you can pop it into the dryer for a maximum of 10 minutes. Set the dryer to a delicate or air fluff mode with low heat. Do not use high heat!


If your Build-A-Bear includes any electronic devices, such as a pre-recorded soundbox or batteries, you cannot put it inside of the washing machine or dryer without risking damage.

If you do not want to spot-clean your Build-A-Bear or if it is too dirty to spot clean, you can take it to a Build-A-Bear Workshop to have its electronic parts temporarily removed. Once washed, you can return to the Workshop to have them reinstalled.  

You should also avoid putting your Velvet Bear and Velvet Puppy Build-A-Bears into the dryer, as this may fray or destroy the threads on these particular stuffed animals’ fur.

By Hand

Whether you are targeting a smaller stain or prefer a more delicate form of washing your Build-A-Bear, there are two options for hand-cleaning your furry friend.

Spot Cleaning

Perhaps your child’s Build-A-Bear has one unsightly stain or has recently become the victim of a spilled drink. For smaller stains, you can spot clean the Build-A-Bear.

There are two options for spot cleaning your Build-A-Bear. First, there is the official Build-A-Bear Cleaner. This mild mix of detergents is specifically made for cleaning Build-A-Bears and can be bought online or in-store for less than $10.

If you prefer to use your own cleaner, you can dilute a mild soap or detergent in warm water and put it into a spray bottle.

If your Build-A-Bear has a voice box, mix a quarter capful of oxygen stain remover with a bowl of warm water and add that to the spray bottle instead.

Spray the cleaning solution on the stains, allowing it to absorb over 5-10 minutes. Do not let the solution dry.

Then, blot the area with a microfiber cloth. You can also use small, circular motions to rub the solution in with your cloth. Lint-free microfiber clothes are the best cloth option to avoid distressing the bear’s fur fibers.

If the spot is very dirty, you can run some cold water over it after blotting. Then, wipe off any of the remaining cleaner and water with a new cloth and follow the steps below to dry your Build-A-Bear.

Total Cleaning

Wipe down your kitchen or bathroom sink, later filling it with cold water. While the water is running, mix in a mild laundry detergent. Baby detergents are a great option for this process.

Put your Build-A-Bear into the sink, submerging it completely. Swirl it around the sink and lightly scrub the bear with your hands, allowing the solution to clean between the bear’s fibers.

Be sure you are scrubbing lightly, especially around the stitching.

Remove the bear from the sink and drain the sink. Then, rinse your Build-A-Bear under fresh cold water until no suds are left.

Lay the Build-A-Bear on a clean towel. Dab it with another towel, removing excess moisture.

Brush your Build-A-Bear’s fur with a soft brush to prevent matting and follow the drying steps below.


After hand-cleaning your Build-A-Bear, set the stuffed animal in a dry place in the sun or, preferably, hang it from a clothesline to dry. If you set it down, you may have to flip it over after a few hours so that it dries thoroughly.

After air-drying, you can fluff the Build-A-Bear with a soft-bristled brush. Make sure the bear is fully dried out before returning it to your child.

If you want to speed up the drying process, you may also use a hair-dryer on your Build-A-Bear for a few minutes.

Fixing Matted Fur

If your Build-A-Bear comes out of the wash with matted or tangled fur, no worries. You can fix this with a wire brush or dog grooming brush.

These thin wires can be brushed through the matted fur to detangle and fluff the Build-A-Bear. Move your brush over the bear from left to right, followed by up and down for best results and top softness.

Use these techniques above and your Build-A-Bear will look great for years to come!

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