The Era of Goofy
When my daughter was about 18 months old she fell totally in love with a little guy my husband picked up at a truck stop.
His name was Goofy.
For a long time, I actually felt like Goofy was my second child. We took him everywhere. Most days he even had his own place set at the dinner table.
Goofy came on trips to the beach, outings, walks, grocery shopping, absolutely everywhere. I got used to checking we had him literally every time I came or went anywhere. Any time we had to leave Goofy behind was a traumatic event.
My daughter kept up a running conversation with Goofy throughout the day. She would talk herself to sleep each night recapping their adventures out loud to Goofy. Mom and Dad were always instructed not to listen when Ellie and Goofy were having a chat.
It was the purest love I’ve ever witnessed.
The truth is my husband and I came to love Goofy too. We both have felt a sense of loss since my daughter stopped carrying him around with quite so much regularity.
These days there are other beloved stuffed animals in the daily play time mix. But Goofy will always have a special place in my daughter’s heart and in our family.
When Friends Need to be Washed
If your little one has a beloved stuffed friend, you know how sweet it can be to see. And how comforting it is for a child. You also know that those little stuffed critters pick up some germs on their travels. Nevermind the everyday abuses of being dragged around by a toddler. Love is no safeguard against dirt and germs.
I love Goofy, but seeing his dirty little face snuggled up next to my daughter each night, inspired me to do some research and creative thinking on how to get that little guy clean. Here is what I came up with.
1. Get a Backup Friend
I do not mean encourage your child to love another friend equal to their favorite. I mean get an exact replica of their most special buddy. There are some tricks to this. You need to swap out the identical twin every once in awhile so they maintain an equally well-loved and grubby appearance. Also to make sure they have the same comforting smell. You may even have to recreate a stain or two to keep them identical. Yes, really. I once added a Sharpie mark to Goofy’s face so our two Goofys matched.
A backup can be helpful for swapping out a friend that needs cleaning, but it becomes an absolute necessity when you have a friend that needs to be tossed out completely or gets lost or puked or pottied on past the point of being saved.
During the phase of nap time diaper removal my daughter went through around age two, the original Goofy got poop smeared on his face. Yes, poop. I’m willing to clean most things off of stuffed animals. But poop is my point of no return. I’m telling you, moms and dads, get a backup.
2. Machine Wash Whatever You Can
Some stuffed toys are machine washable. If you’re lucky enough your little one fell in love with one of those, obviously, this is the way to go when sanitizing is needed. But if your child’s beloved friend is not machine washable you may still be able to use your machine for a partial clean up. If the stuffed animal is wearing an outfit or cloth hat or anything that can go in the wash, I would put it in at least occasionally.
Our Goofy is not machine washable, but Ellie dresses him in various doll and baby clothes that make frequent trips through the wash. This helps me feel he gets at least some of the germs off.
There have been times I’ve thrown stuffed toys in the laundry without really knowing if they’re machine washable. Honestly, it has usually worked out ok. But I never tried it with Goofy and I don’t recommend it with any toy whose loss would be considered a catastrophic event.
3. Spot Clean and Freeze
This is a three step process. Take a damp washcloth and wipe down your child’s stuffed friend. If possible, allow them to dry in the sun. Then put the stuffed animal in a Ziploc plastic bag. Squeeze all the air out and seal it. Place the bag in the freezer for about three days. This will kill most of the germs.
This was the method of sanitizing I used most often with Goofy. Obviously, Ellie could not spend three days without Goofy. This is where having a back-up is so vital. Do a quick swap of the stuffies when your child is distracted. Hide the one you need to clean and wait until after bedtime to spot clean and dry. Obviously drying in the sun would require major sneaky ninja skills. I didn’t usually manage that. I just hide it somewhere to dry, then place in the freezer.
4. Refresh and De-Stink
If your child’s stuffed animal is starting to smell, you can give them a little refresh with baking soda. Sprinkle baking soda on the toy. Wait a few hours then vacuum the baking soda away. It should absorb any odors. This works well with musical or talking toys if they can’t safely get damp or go in the freezer.
Goofy and many other beloved stuffed friends have survived these de-germing tricks. I hope they work for your child’s friends as well. We want our kids to get all the love and comfort they need from their stuffed little buddies. Not so much the cold germs and sweat smell.
And be careful swapping those stuffie back-ups! Don’t get caught!