Sorting Through the Stuffies: How to Clean Out Your Child’s Stuffed Animals


My son has a considerable mass of stuffed animals. The majority of them have names, personalities and voices. They have been to parties, on spy missions, and many sleepovers. Some even have changeable superhero outfits. We keep a collapsible hamper in my son’s closet where most of these live, except for the extra large great white shark and massive leopard who cohabit on a closet shelf with a dragon who morphs into a pillow.

When time comes to clean out the stuffies, how can we decide who stays and who moves on to a new home?  My son never wants to part with anyone, not even the ridiculous stuffed $100 bill he got at the fair. Consider these tips the next time you sort out the plushy pals:

  • Who does your child play with and sleep with the most? Keep these guys for sure! Separate the animals into two piles: die hard friends and lesser known acquaintances. Put the BFF’s safely back in the stuffie bin, and assure your child that they’ll always be around.
  • Consider the acquaintances. Do any of them have sentimental value? Were any gifts from a special person? Were any given for a special birthday or achievement? You may want to hold onto those guys, or place them in a special keepsake box.
  • Remember: You can always temporarily move stuffies to a bag in the basement or closet to see if your child misses them before donating them to a new family.
  • If any of the animals are damaged or have any loose eyes, noses, etc., it is time to get rid of them. This prevent our kids and pets from ingesting small parts. If they have any holes that are too large for surgery with a needle and thread, it’s time to move them on. 
  • From what is left, allow your child to recuse one more animal. Donate the rest. Frame it as if they are going onto another family, have to move for a new job opportunity or are heading off to college. Invite these guys to one last party with your child before moving day.

Donations of stuffed animals are accepted at Goodwill, the ARC, and the Salvation Army. Consider donating them to your daycare or church. There are two other places in Colorado Springs that accept gently used stuffed animals; Stuffed Animals for Emergencies and the Family Attachment Center. Be sure to hug your plushy friends before they move on to their next adventure!

Spunky, my son’s stuffie BFF for nine years.



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Gretchen has lived in Colorado since she was 12 and never wants to leave. She has a 13-year-old son who is into having a good time, especially with sports and Fortnite. Together, they are navigating the teen world of puberty and growing up. She has a wonderful husband, having been surprised and blessed with a second chance at love. Their family enjoys playing board games, watching Avengers movies, and sharing dumb jokes over good food. In her free time, she loves to read, shop for purses, play games, watch football, laugh with her family, cook delicious food, and dream of the next home improvement project.