I recently got a message in my tumblr about cleaning Rilakkuma plushies, and that became the inspiration for my next photo!
Anyway, I posted my response on tumblr, but this ask got me thinking about cleaning and maintenance of Rilakkuma plushies, so I thought I would pass on a few tips:
Keeping a Rilakkuma plushie pristine is generally based on limiting its exposure to air to avoid collecting dust.
The Rilakkuma I use for Lifestyle photos is very mobile and active so this is somewhat out of the question, but the plushies in my collection stay in their plastic bags for the most part. They look kind of sad in their bags, so I would like to eventually get a display case or something to that effect in the future.
Protecting Rilakkuma from dust 100% of the time is difficult (especially if y’all just wanna hang out), so regularly keeping your Rilakkuma clean will suffice. Using light duty lint rollers is pretty effective because adhesive is very mild. If you’re cheap like me, you can also use tape – I use packing tape because its wider, and can cover more surface. Just quickly stick the tape and lift all over to easily pick up dust, dirt, and other loose particles.
You might also consider using a hand vacuum with a clean nozzle (preferably a smaller one). Just make sure to be careful and test the distances to make sure your vacuum isn’t too strong to suck in any of the costume parts.
I’ve also read that wrapping your plushie in plastic wrap and sticking it the freezer overnight followed by vacuum will kill dust mites. Seems like Rilakkuma would be sad in the freezer so I haven’t tried this, but maybe he’ll be happy to dust mite-free.
For small dirt spots and specks, I use hot water and a soft cloth (or sponge) and gently dab. I also follow up by brushing a clean comb in the direction of the fur to maintain the original texture. The biggest key to cleaning plushies is being gentle – you don’t want to scrub vigorously or use heavy duty detergents that’ll destroy the plushie.
In the past, I’ve also used clear antibacterial hand sanitizer for stains on the costume bits, like Marine Rilakkuma’s sailor hat, which are a less fragile than the main plushie and can withstand more force. Not sure if I’d recommend using it all the time, but it did the trick when I didn’t have other materials available. Generally, those parts can withstand harsher cleanings because they aren’t furry.
For the most part, this should all be more than sufficient for maintenance, but in more severe cases…
Generally, you shouldn’t really need to surface wash your plushies ever unless they’re particularly dirty. Rilakkuma plushies who’ve experienced a degree of use or play will show a few signs of aging such as lighter fur color and a slight change in texture due to wear and friction – this is normal, and it is difficult (and unnecessary) to reverse by surface washing.
But if a more thorough washing is needed, the most powerful cleaning method used for Rilakkuma plushies should be surface cleaning. I’ve used this on my bigger Rilakkuma, since he’s out and about a lot. For this, the method is similar to spot cleaning: I use hot soft water (bottled water works too) and a very small bit of mild detergent, and wash the entire plushie gently – dab, don’t rub/scrub. I then follow immediately with just water to ensure that there is no soap residue left behind. Afterwards, I dry him completely with a hairdryer on the cool setting – drying plushies as much as possible is important to prevent mildew from growing! Like spot cleaning, afterwards I make sure to use a clean comb to even out his fur since it’s directional.
I’ve seen Rilakkuma plushies survive the washing machine using cold water and the pillowcase method, but I wouldn’t recommend it for all Rilakkuma plushies, especially those with props and stuff.
Gund makes a solvent especially formulated for plushies called Teddy Bear Bath® – Plush Toy Stain Remover; I haven’t tried it myself, but I seen a few good reviews, so it may be worth a shot.
I found this website from Stuffe and Nonsense Lore to be pretty helpful when I was first researching plushie maintenance – maybe it will help you!