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Doll Cleaning Tips
Doll Cleaning Tips

doll cleaning tips
General and basic doll cleaning tips for hard plastic and vinyl dolls. Cleaning, Stain removal and other helpful tips. This category also features a list of basic supplies needed.

The tips on the page are for Hard plastic, and vinyl doll. These are the type of dolls I collect and have been cleaning for several years. I do not collect Antique and composition dolls at this time so I can NOT recommend these cleaning methods for those type dolls.

When I first started out I would buy cheap dolls at gargage sales, flea markets, local auctions and ebay...

These are great for practice and if you ruin them you are not out much money. I was able to sell many of these dolls for a small profit and use the money to invest in more dolls, doll books, repair materials, ect.

** For some of us cleaning and restoring dolls can be just as much fun as collecting ! I know for me this is true :o)

I hope you find these tips useful and Happy dolly hunting.


Here is a list of supplies I keep on hand and find very useful.

** Cotton Balls

** Q-Tips: for cleaning eyes, eyelids ears and lips.

** Tooth Picks- I use these for removing grime from fingers & toes, eyes, mouths ears and other detailed areas. I also use these for mixing paint.

** Tooth Brush: Use old brushes for cleaning

** Clean White Towels and Wash Cloths: for wiping and drying.

** Dawn Dish Soap

** Doll Cleaner

** Vaseline: for darkened vinyl and some stains

** Oxy-10 (acne Medicine): For stains
** Vinegar: for setting dye, cleaning eyes and for killing mold

** Removezit (Made by Twin Pines): Stain remover. Works on vinyl dolls

** STP Son of a Gun: use on doll hair and bodies.


Storage and Misc. Tips

I always hand clean vintage garments. After cleaning and rinsing completly, let drip dry in the sink for several minutes. You can then place garment on a white towel. Blot dry or roll in towel to soak up excess water.

You can let air dry or blow-dry with a hair dryer set on cool setting. For either of these methods you can hand manipulate the piece, fingerblocking and coaxing it into shape. This way only a minimum of ironing is needed if at all.

To clean blood stains on clothes, just pour a little peroxide on a cloth and proceed to wipe off the blood. To remove marker or ink on vinyl dolls (if the mark is fresh) use rubbing alcohol on a paper towel. Crayon marks on boxes will come off with a damp rag dipped in baking soda. To clean artificial flowers, pour some salt into a paper bag and add the flowers. Shake vigorously as the salt will absorb all the dust and dirt and leave your atrificial flowers looking like new!

Never store your dolls in plastic bags. This can cause condensation. The best way to store dolls is to remove the clothing and jewelry so that is doesn't stain. Put these items in baggies and mark the baggies and store with doll if possible. Always mark baggies so you know who they go with.

Wrap the doll in Acid Free tissue paper and put them in a box or container standing up (this helps to keep the sleep eyes working properly)A doll that has eyes that open or close should never be stored, or laid down on its back. Dolls with such eyes should be stored standing up or laid on their faces.

Dolls need to be stored in a climate controlled area. Avoid direct sunlight, or heating and cooling vents. Storing in a basement or attic can cause serious problems unless the rooms have heating/cooling with no moisture or humidity problems.

Smelly Dolls

This can be a tricky. It depends on what is causing the smell, and what type of material the doll is made.

For vinyl dolls there are several methods you can try. Cleaning the doll really good, and airing it outside for awhile will sometimes work.

You can buy a product like Lysol, Fabreeze or others to spray on them to speed up the process.

You can also put the doll in a bag with baking soda, kitty litter or charcoal. This will help extract the odors (make sure to protect the doll if using charcoal).

If the small is coming from inside then you can either clean the inside of the doll or spray inside and try the methods above.

If it is a stuffed cloth doll then replacing the stuffing will help. If the doll is stuffed vinyl then it is more difficult to replace the stuffing. I have NEVER tried this so not sure of the result.

For hard plastic dolls that smell like soured milk or puke then I have found there is not much that can be done. This is called leaching and is actually coming from a breakdown in the plastic. Several doll collectors have been experiementing with methods to fix this. I will add these tips as I do more research.

Doll Cleaning Tips

Since I collect vinyl, rubber and hard plastic dolls these are the cleaning methods I use.

I cannot recommend these tips for Antique, Bisque and composition dolls and do not have any experience restoring these types of dolls.

I prefer to use "my cleaner" for most ALL plastic, vinyl and rubber dolls but you can use Scubbing bubbles, Windex, Fantastic, Dawn dish soap or any SAFE cleaner of your choice. I avoid Bleach or other harsh chemicals.

Cleaning vinyl dolls: I completly dampen the doll or wet and apply the cleaner. Let set for about 5 minutes. Then I scrub them with a tooth brush being very careful on the face and painted facial features. Rinse and repeat if neccessary.

For hard plastic and rubber dolls I follow the same method only I use cotton balls and do NOT wet the doll. Sometime I use a toothbrush but always test the doll first. I do not rinse them in water but instead wipe with a damp cloth to remove the soap residue and grime.

Once you have the doll clean then you can access if there are any stains or problems areas.

I always spray on some

STP Son-of-A-Gun

and wipe into the vinyl. This product is Great for conditioning bodies and helps to restore doll hair. It will also give the doll a shine and NEW doll smell. If you can't find the STP Son of a Gun then you can use ANY spray on vinyl protectant (such as Armour All)!! These products are found in the Automotive section of most retail stores, grocery store, dollar stores and Auto stores.


OXY-10 (the acne medicine): Apply to stain and let set for a couple days. I find it works better if you can set the doll in direct sun or in window. I change the cream about every (2) days. This methods can take several weeks and I have had mixed results.... so the other product I prefer is:

** "Removezit" made by Twin Pines. They specialize in products for vinyl dolls and have been in the business for 40 years. Use the same method and steps as for the Oxy-10 applying every couple days. This products works much faster and works better on most stains. Deep stains may still require several weeks of treatment. The only problem I have found is it will sometimes lightens the vinyl.

VASELINE for DARKENED VINYL: This treatment works best in the Spring/Summer months and is a little messy but works GREAT. I do not know if it will work on blackened magic skin dolls.

Get a jar of vaseline and apply a even layer to the areas being treated then set out in direct sun. I bring the doll back in at night and remove the vaseline with paper towels. If the doll is going back out the next day I do not try to get all of off. This treatment can take a few days to a few weeks but if you can do this on several bright days in a row you will be amazed at the results... Sometimes the dolls get a little blothcy looking but this will even out as you continue.

Once you are done you will need to completey remove the vaseline. Get, most of it off with paper towels and then use a cleaner that will cut through grease to clean the rest.

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