Handy hints for washing dolls and their clothes

A collector's doll may bear a hefty price tag, but a child's beloved baby doll — no matter how bedraggled — is priceless for the memories it carries. Careful cleaning and maintenance are critical for saving a prized baby doll for future offspring or for maintaining the value of an expensive collector's item.

Handy hints for washing dolls and their clothes

1. Wash the doll's clothing

  • Begin by stripping the doll.
  • Then make sure its clothes can be washed — do a test on an inconspicuous spot on the clothing. Using an eye-dropper, put a drop of liquid laundry detergent where it won't easily be seen, such as on a seam or a hem. If you can't see the detergent after it dries, you're in the clear.
  • Place the doll's clothing in a lingerie bag and put it in the washing machine with the laundry detergent in cold water on the delicate setting.
  • Don't dry the clothes in the dryer, however. If the clothes shrink, you can't expect your doll to go on a diet.
  • If the weather is good, hang them to dry on an outside clothesline for a fresh smell. If the weather is bad, lay the pieces on a towel to dry.

2. Clean the doll

  • A damp cloth will remove a lot of the grime a doll picks up in the garden, in the sandbox or just from being loved.
  • If the doll needs a bath, fill a sink with warm water and mix in 30 ml (2 tbs of lemon) extract (available from supermarkets).
  • If the doll's body is all plastic or rubber, dunk the doll, much as you would a real baby. You might even invite your child to give the doll a scrub with a cloth made soapy with a little dishwashing liquid.
  • Saliva mixed with anything — dirt, rolled oats, sugar — can set like cement, so to remove that extra-tough dirt a gentle scrub with a soft toothbrush does the trick.
  • If you need a little extra cleaning power, dip the toothbrush in a solution of 15 ml (1 tbsp) of hydrogen peroxide and 500 ml (2 cups) of water.
  • Make sure you rinse everything well before handing the doll back to the child.

3. To clean a collector's doll

  • Also begin by stripping the doll.
  • Never use a damp cloth on a porcelain collector's doll, because it might etch the paint. Instead, use a dry, soft cloth to remove surface dirt from the 'flesh' surfaces.
  • For detailed areas — around the eyes or fingers, for instance — use a natural bristle artist's paintbrush to remove trapped dirt and dust. This should be all you need to do, because, luckily, collectors' dolls don't tend to pick up serious stains.
  • If the clothing is old or delicate, you can remove the musty smell that comes with age by simply hanging the clothes out in fresh air.
  • If the clothing is not fragile, you might want to consider washing it using the method described for regular doll clothes — but be sure to do the eye-dropper test first.
  • For clothing stains that you don't want to wash, a household spot remover might get them out. Check the label for the best application procedure.
  • Or, try a solution of 10 ml (2 tsp) of lemon juice mixed with 500 ml (2 cups) of water.
  • Dip an absorbent cloth or a paper towel into the solution and dab — don't rub — at the stain. It should lighten up right away.
The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
Close menu