Today we will be discussing on the topic of cooling stuffed toys. What it is, and where it comes from.
The cooling feeling
Cooling feeling in a soft toy is typically described as the feeling of the soft toy being cooler than the general environment. This typically occurs in no fur stuffed toys, while furry soft toys tends to be described as warm instead.
This can range from the plush not being able to retain body heat as much, or from direct sensation of coolness, also known as contact cooling.
So how does this happen? A "cooling" fabric will have the following characteristics
- High breath ability
- Good thermal conductivity (able to absorb heat and move it away)
- Fast evaporation (as heat dissipates through evaporation)
Polyester tends to have a stronger "cooling" effect as compared to cotton. But this only occurs when the fabric is
- Thin, woven in light or low density or built as a mesh
- Non furry
As polyester is made of plastic, it has a hydrophobic nature and has a low moisture content. It does not hold water well, and dries quickly. Which can provide a refreshing effect when our sweat evaporates from it. This rapid evaporation also helps to maintain a lower temperature on the soft toy as heat is lost through evaporation.
Do note however, that many soft toys have thicker or furry polyester that holds heat and moisture due to the structure of the fabric, and thus, this behavior does not occur in all polyester made stuffies.
Other similar fibers under this category includes: Nylon, Jacquard
Cotton that is made light and cool can also achieve a certain level of cooling through breath ability, as this is a natural fiber.
It can be great at wicking away moisture, and mercerized cotton can make this effect even more prominent as it is smoother and feels silky smooth against your skin.
Do note however, that standard weight mercerized cotton may not have the cooling effect due to the density, and a lack of density (low density) is a strong factor in the "cooling" effect.
Other popular cooling options within this category includes Linen, Bamboo and Tencel (Cellulose)
The International Standard
The international standard for this is the International Coolness Test Standard (FTTS-FA-019), which tests for the degree of contact cooling sensation that a given cloth provides.
This is typically found in sports wear and rarely seen in standard textiles and soft toys. Hence, as standard textiles would not be graded to this standard, there is no guarantee that a replacement fabric would feel exactly the same as the original.
Care and Maintenance
These stuffed toys typically have a short lifespan and do not last very long. Repairs also have a short durability time and your plush will continue to degrade quickly after the repair.
Why does this happen?
- First, the low density of the fibers means that there aren't as many fibers to break or deteriorate before the entire soft toy falls apart. This results in a much lower friction and use resistance
- Polyester is very sensitive to heat, especially in light densities like those found in lighter polyester fabrics. This means that it melts easily under high heat. A dryer or a sun that is too hot can cause damage
- The lack of fibers means that the fabric is not strong enough to withstand most repairs, as there is simply not enough strength within the fibers itself to hold itself together against the sewing thread. There is also not enough fibers to hide any fiber separation caused by general degradation
So what can I do?
If your cooling plush starts to degrade. There is very little we can offer other than replacement or an overlay/underlay.
But due to the poor durability and low weave of the fabric type,
- Repairs do not tend to last long
- Have short lifespans if handled or loved frequently
- Typically do not have a finish as nice as their denser counterparts
Options to upgrade or change the fabric type should be considered if you wish for your soft toy to last for many more years ahead.
Usage of the same type of fabric for repairs should be considered in depth while weighting in pros and cons.
Read on about our methods of fabric repair here.