How to Take Care of a Teddy Bear
Caring for Your Teddy Bear
Getting a teddy bear in your life, whether it is a gift, or one that you fell in love with and bought for yourself means taking care of the teddy bear so that you have it to enjoy for years to come.
Teddy bears are generally stuffed animals covered in plush fur. Although there are other types, this is the kind that I will be talking about today.
When you first get a new teddy bear, there should be a care tag on the bear. Generally the care instructions are on the reverse side of the manufacturers label.
On the bears that I own, they all have the same care instructions, which I will share with you.
"Do not machine wash. Wipe with a damp cloth on surface only. Do not use cleaners."
With my bears, I don't sleep with them, but they hold a great deal of sentiment for me. I would not like if anything happened to them. Most of the major bear manufacturers have a web site, and if you have questions, the customer service department is only an email away to answer specific questions that you may have.
Don't use harsh cleaners and detergents on your stuffed animals. It can ruin the dyes used, affect the way that the stuffing settles and even worse, cause uneven shrinkage and pulling of your teddy bear's fur.
Where to Place Bears So They Are Safe
The plush fabric that is your bear is like any other fabric. It will fade in the sun, mildew if left in water or wet, and rot if the fabric dries out or gets constant exposure to the elements.
When I was looking for a place to sit my bears, I chose a location with no direct sunlight. I did not want to have faded spots on my beloved teddies! I also made sure that there was nothing near the bears to spill on them, catch them on fire, or anything else that could cause harm. Even sitting them near an automatic room fragrance spray dispenser proved to be problematic as the spray left stains that I was forced to get professionally removed.
When you are selecting a place to display your bears, think of the activities that happen on or around where you are choosing to display them. If you have pets that like playing with other stuffed animals, then on your bed or anywhere else accessible by pets is a poor location choice. The same goes with children. If your children are still in the stage of their life where you have to tell them no all the time, on your bed or anywhere they are able to reach is not a good place to store teddy bears for a display.
It took me a long time to find where to put my bears before I settled on the perfect spot for me. I considered a really cute shelf in the bathroom, but I was afraid that the bears would mold from the constant mist and humidity of the shower.
On the breakfast bar seemed cute until the very morning that I was going to move them there, my nephew spilled a glass of milk along the entire counter. Think about the place you choose to display them, and the hazards.
Caring for Older and Fragile Bears
I once got a very old mohair bear that was once the property of a great grandparent. Years of love, poor storage and age left the bear bald in places. I stupidly believed at my young age that I could throw the bear in the washing machine and at least clean the bear.
The bear was ruined. There was not even enough left to take somewhere and have repaired or stuffed. It was a blow that left a huge dent in my heart.
If you have a bear that is older, special care precautions are needed. Here is my advice:
- Don't attempt the repair yourself. Leave it to a professional.
- Look for doll repair hospitals or doll hospitals. Be honest and truthful about the condition of the bear, and be willing to send any parts and pieces that complete the bear.
- Ask for experience and references
- Ask for a timeline and the costs of repairing the bear. You may be told that you cannot get an estimate until they get the bear in hand and are able to completely assess the bear.
- Ask about insurance on the bear during transit
Sending a bear off can be nerve wracking. If there is someone in your area that does the same repairs, follow the same instructions. When you pick up your bear, you may be told special care instructions for the bear. I once got a bear back with the strict instructions to move his freshly replaced joints once a week for six months. I set a calendar reminder and now have a great bear that moves freely.
Your bear may be too fragile to repair within your budget. When this happens, you have a choice to make, which is to store the bear carefully, or to display the bear safely. I chose to store my grandfathers small teddy in acid free paper in a small acid free box until I had enough money to complete the repair that the bear needed. The lady who repaired my bear said that I made the very best choice, because the bear did not degrade further.
If you have a damaged bear, at least call to determine the costs of repair. It may not be as expensive as you think.
Caring for the Plush Fur of a Teddy Bear
Your teddy bear, plush fur and all is a delight to look at. Soft and cuddly, warm and inviting, everyone loves a teddy bear.
Daily care involves doing mostly nothing. Occasional care is a damp cloth wet only with water. Wipe the entire surface of the bear and then take a towel and gently dry the entire bear.
If you find places on your bear with spots or discoloration, do wipe them with the damp cloth, but if that does not resolve the issue, consult a professional.
My niece once dumped a cup of apple juice on her favorite bear. My sister plunged the bear into cold water and let the bear dry in the sun in the sink. Unfortunately, the bear was never shaped the same afterwards.
Most bears designed for use by children are machine washable, line dry, but if you are buying a bear as a gift for a child, if it is machine washable could make it much easier to care for in the long run.
Knowing When to Say Goodbye to Your Teddy
There comes a time when a teddy bear is no longer practical to have around, no matter what the sentimental reasons are for liking the stuffed toy. Here are some reasons that you may have to choose to say farewell to your stuffed animal friend:
- Advise of pediatrician or other doctor due to bug or mite infestation
- Bear is no longer able to be repaired or restored
- Bear contains loose parts that could pose a hazard to a child or animal
- Bear was made with questionable stuffing or dyes
- Bear was exposed to waste or spill and cannot be restored
- Bear was exposed to medical waste
If these or other circumstances happen to you, the best thing that you can do is to double bag the bear and discard it in an approved waste receptacle.
Donating a Teddy Bear to Charity
Sometimes, a teddy bear is not right for you. It could be from a former relationship, it could be a duplicate of one that you have already, or one that you do not have the space to store or care for properly.
When this happens, you can donate your bear to a hospital or charity. Some of these organizations have rules that the toy must be new, while others, such as thrift and resale shops sell items and then donate the money to charity only insist that it be in good and clean condition.
If you do decide to donate to a charity, make sure that you get a receipt for your donations to deduct off your taxes. If you are going to donate, follow these rules:
- Call ahead and get donation rules and guidelines
- Learn where you take donations
- What hours are donations accepted
- What is the procedure for getting a receipt
Do you have a teddy bear?
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