Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Care and Cleaning of Your Dolls

I had a request from Debbie in New Zealand to talk about cleaning and maintaining dolls without damaging them.

What I use is a Magic Eraser to clean the vinyl. It requires very little pressure and elbow grease, I have removed pen markings, dirt, grime, makeup, jelly and white scuffs. Be careful not to apply too much pressure or you can remove the face paint.

Always be mindful of your dolls eyes! Never ever get water, snow, rain in them and keep the dolls out of direct sunlight. 

When Nellie arrived from eBay, she had a retractable eyelash. I had to get the tweezers to pull them back out, then re-set them with eyelash glue. (They have held.)

Your doll's hair does not need washed that often. If you buy an older doll second hand that is over 10-15 years, you will want to wash the hair as well as the body and clothes. Be careful not to wet the wig cap. You can find shampoo for synthetic hair/wigs at beauty supply stores. There are chemicals and sulfates in shampoos and conditioners found in your bathroom that don't belong on doll hair. Be sure to always rinse any product out completely, allow to air dry.

Your doll's hair will avoid frizzing if you brush and style while the hair is damp. A spray bottle comes in handy, sometimes just water on your fingers is enough. Do not tug or pull on the hair and always start from the bottom then brush upwards to remove tangles. 

A good wig brush or loop brush is best to use on your dolls hair. I bought two at Sally's Beauty Supply $4 each. Also an anti-frizz wig spray helps calm hair and keep it smooth and smelling wonderful. Clear or black elastic hair ties won't damage your doll's hair. Avoid regular office rubber bands! If a doll rescue or a second hand doll arrives in rubber bands - cut them out with small scissors. Do not attempt to pull them out. 

If a second hand doll smells of smoke or musty from being stored in an attic, you can remove the doll's head and stuffing, then wash the cloth body with a mild cleanser in the sink. You may want to add baking soda to a sink filled with water and allow it to soak. Be sure to rinse the body well, (you can not harm the limbs). Allow to air dry then stuff with NEW stuffing.

Saige and Ivy are the only dolls I have that came with earrings. I prefer dolls without earrings because they can tangle in the doll's hair and second there's always a risk of green ear.

For destroyed hair, fried hair and unevenly chopped hair or bangs, you can re-wig your doll.

For bigger issues like loose limbs, you can tighten them yourself or in extreme cases such as permanent marker, you can try an Oxy treatment. There are many YouTube tutorial videos. If it were my doll, I would send her into the doll hospital. AG will not accept custom dolls in their hospital. For custom dolls, boy dolls, and other brands like Gotz you may have to contact an independent hospital.


  1. to prevent green ear coat the stem of earring with clear nail polish.this workedmy barbies

  2. Pre-Magic Erasers (what did we do without them?) I use to use a very tiny bit of baking soda on a damp wash cloth to gently remove dirt. I would still do this on limbs but it's tricky on faces no matter what you do!

  3. Does this green ear thing happens even if you only use AG earings!?? My daugther likes to have her doll ears pierced.. The only doll (out of 5) without earings is going to nyc with us just to get ears pierced!! And she wants Grace with earings as well... My husband once dropped a full (huge) glass of water right on this doll face... She is still visible fine but i fear for her future.. Do you have any tip for when this happen?

  4. I am 99% sure AG dolls cannot get green-ear. Older Barbies use to get green ear from the metal earrings reacting with the vinyl. AG earrings are plastic and their vinyl is harder.

    1. A friend of mine mentioned that Ivy has had green ear. I will see If I can get her to comment on the green ear issue.

  5. What a very informative post! I have much to learn about caring for my doll but I am eager to learn. The doll hospital can get expensive and I hope to use it as a last resort. My little girl has Kit. She has shine marks and a dirty face, which seems easy enough to fix. My daughter has taken very good care of her, which makes me very happy!.

  6. Thank you for this! Melody will need to be tightened in the future (she still poses well, but some days it seems more challenging than others and she will shift to the side and fall). I have been hesitant to send her to the AG hospital (her head is marked Pleasant Company and a retired color combination) because of some horror stories I have read. Having the link to an independent hospital is nice.

  7. I use Twin Pines Formula 911 to clean the dolls' faces. It is expensive, but you use such a small amount each time, that it lasts a very long time. I get it from their website. Madelon