This is a funny old dog I found at the same sale yesterday. I love his old sewn in googly eyes with wool felt backing. He's in really good shape despite his age although it looks like he may have lost his nose at some point! I think he's stuffed with kapok because he has a nice heavy feel and is soft but dense. My friend Tammy brought up a valid concern about vintage toys of the plush variety: bugs. I'm not even going to name the kind of bugs she mentioned for fear of unleashing something vile (I've been reading Harry Potter- sorry). Here are some steps I take to help ensure I don't bring anything scary (or evil!) into my house:
1. The first line of defense: I don't buy anything that looks suspicious or smells suspicious. Well loved is okay, but dirty or smelly is not.
2. Washing: Some toys are washable. I've washed vintage toys (and new toys for that matter) to varying degrees of success. A crochet or knit toy made of wool and stuffed with wool, or kapok would wash up quite well. Synthetic fur or toys stuffed with foam or rags...maybe not. I've ruined a few old toys this way but I figured it was worth a shot. By the way, mohair (my favorite material for toys) washes very very well.
3. Open it up: If you are worried about what's inside a toy just have a look. Find the seam where the toy was sewn up and cut the toy open. If you poke around and the stuffing looks nice and clean sew it back up. If not, throw it out or remove the stuffing completely (looking carefully for invaders) and stuff with nice new wool, cotton etc.
4. Freeze it: Because I live in a part of the world where it's freezing cold much of the time I do this one a lot. I put the toy in a plastic bag and put it on my porch for a couple weeks. It has to be really cold to work. If you have room in your freezer that works too. A very hot dryer for an extended period will work for some pests too.
Do you have any tips to share???