TEDDY BEARS – FAMILY HEIRLOOMS, KEEPSAKES, INVESTMENTS OR SIMPLY YOUR PASSION – it is important to realise that, while the effects of time cannot be entirely stopped – it is possible, through proper care and preventative methods – to greatly slow the process of ageing and stop progressive damage to your beloved bears and their friends.

Here are a few general guidelines:

Dirt. Everybody has it, nobody wants it. Our homes can be loaded with dust, pollen, spores and other pollutant particles. Dirt and dust particles are abrasive and can damage every type of fabric and attract bugs. Surface clean whenever possible with a light vacuum clean or gentle brush over – otherwise residual organic matter may attract harmful pests.
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We hear the expression Play-Wear but those tiny hands have already had their effect adding dirt and acid. Matted fur may be visible, not forgetting what can be hidden under the surface. If your bears are showing signs of ageing and deterioration through dirt and wear then consider having them professionally cleaned to prevent further damage – some might claim that cleaning takes away the character of the bear but will they continue to say that when their bear deteriorates so much that expensive restoration is required. Not forgetting that dirt attracts dirt making all bears vulnerable.

When possible wash your hands before handling your bears – the natural oils our skin produce are acidic and when transferred to the fabric can cause harm and in addition attract and hold dust and dirt – which will cause further staining and eventual deterioration due to the ‘shredding’ effect of the dust and dirt particles on the fabric. Hand creams and lotions can do the same thing.

Keep your collection out of direct sunlight and away from radiators – your bear could be suffering from not only premature ageing and discolouration but also having all its natural oils dried out of the fabric making it brittle. – Reasonable ambient light is fine. When considering display areas avoid very bright rooms and areas opposite south, east or west facing windows. UV protected lighting is recommended if you wish to light a display – halogen spots are a good choice.

Be mindful of the possibility of insect damage – but do not use poisonous mothballs. Besides the fact that the odour is repugnant and they are dangerous for children and pets – they also kill – rather than repel the clothes moth. This may seem to be something we do not need to concern ourselves with – but the clothes moth is – in fact – a very large member of the planet’s food chain. Herbal repellents containing lavender in have been shown to be very effective repellents – and they have the added benefit of adding lovely fragrance and freshness.

Keep temperatures fairly steady – avoid the basement, the garage, the attic and self-storage units. Temperature fluctuation not only creates the possibility of moisture damage due to condensation – but also actually weakens fibers through the expansion and contraction caused by alternate heating and cooling.

Protect your bear hug from airborne dust and dirt with some sort of barrier. Frames, glass display cabinets and collectible boxes and cases are all good ideas. Dust particles are like tiny knives, shredding fibers; airborne cooking oils and other substances can also cause damage and discolouration.

When preparing for extended storage – remove all pins, buttons or other ornaments made of metal and store with instructions for reattaching. This obviously does not apply in the case of some collectibles – leave the button in the ear of Steiff teddies, for example – this will help avoid the possibility of oxidation damage if the metal were to age while in contact your bear.

Inspect your collection visually – ideally four times a year. Season’s change is a good reminder. This careful examination is your best protection – it will give you early warning of trouble and allow you to take the necessary action if needed.

We hope you find this simple advice useful and that you and your family continue enjoy your bears for a very long time to come.