Jolie Kerr is a cleaning expert, advice columnist and author of the New York Times bestselling book, My Boyfriend Barfed In My Handbag ... And Other Things You Can’t Ask Martha. Her flagship column, “Ask a Clean Person”, debuted in 2011. Here on Lifehacker, we’ve launched a new iteration of it, focusing on parenting and all the messes it brings.
My daughter uses her favourite stuffed animal (a monkey) as a teether — she chews on/sucks the tail. It gets crusty when it dries. Usually it comes out of the wash fine (we have two toys that we rotate between), but recently it hasn’t ... it stays crusty. I tried soaking it in Eucalan and OxiClean and it got slightly better, but still not great. Any ideas? Or are we stuck?
I don’t think you’re stuck, no! I for sure have some ideas of different products you can try that will, hopefully, restore Monkey’s tail to its former glory.
Before we get into it, though, here’s a pat on the back for you: You did everything right. Regularly washing the stuffed animal will go a long way in keeping it in good working order, and your instinct to give it a long soak when the buildup got to a point where simply machine washing the toy wasn’t enough was good.
I mention that partly because sometimes it’s nice to be told we’ve done everything right, partly to recap the good moves you made for the folks reading this, and partly to say this: Sometimes things just don’t work. Sometimes things that once worked, stop working.
That’s frustrating! But also, at least with cleaning, there’s usually some other approach out there that will do the trick.
Now, it’s my job to suggest what those other approaches are, but also I thought it would be worth saying that because it can be dispiriting, sometimes, when you the outcome you’re expecting doesn’t materialise. And I hate the idea of you feeling down.
OK! With that little pep talk out of the way, let’s get into what I think will do the trick on Monkey.
My first instinct is that, because drool is a protein, an enzyme-based laundry product will do the trick to break down that crusty buildup. There are laundry pretreatment sprays, such as Puracy Natural Stain Remover that will help to eliminate that clingy drool.
Because it’s so, um, crusted on, give Monkey a fairly heavy spray with the stuff and let it penetrate for 15-30 minutes prior to re-washing the stuffed animal.
Quick aside: I’m leaving an older column about how to wash stuffed animals here as a reference with a reminder that both machine- and hand-washing are good options, and that there are instructions on how best to do both within.
I think switching the product up in this scenario will go a long way, but there’s one other thing to suggest in terms of scrubbing poor Monkey’s tail free of crust: Try hitting it with a toothbrush to work the pretreatment and/or detergent into the fibres.
That will help to reverse the matting that’s going on, which may be contributing to the problem if the products you’re using can’t fully penetrate poor Monkey’s drool-encrusted tail.