How to care for your dolls


Fantastic display items, antique dolls represent a treasured treasure for many collectors, for other people, however, are invaluable objects from a sentimental point of view. Over the years, the shine off their clothes, the bright colors of their small faces and hair, are ingrained and opaque, losing all their natural beauty. Like all the things in the house, they are subject to dirt and dust. In this short guide I will illustrate how to properly clean a doll and bring back its splendor.


· Water

· Neutral soap

· Softener

· Shampoo and conditioner

· Non-abrasive sponge or microfiber cloth

· Cottoned sticks

· Compressed air manifold

The easiest to clean vintage dolls are those made with just one type of material, so it’s easier to find the right method to wash them in the optimum way. These fabrics can be hand-wiped with a solution of warm water and flaky soap. Before rinsing, you can add a few drops of softener to make the fabric softer and more fragrant. The simplest models to treat can be washed in a washing machine, preferably inside a lining, so as not to risk irretrievably damaging them.

As for vintage plastic or rubber dolls, which often have stitches and scabs, they can be washed in a solution of water and shampoo or delicate detergent; for a better result let it bathe in the cleaning solution for a few hours, so to dissolve all the dirt present. Other dolls, especially the old ones, may have inside electronic devices or particularly delicate mechanisms that could be damaged with water, so, in order to avoid damage, I advise you to clean only the outside with isopropyl alcohol or with of the detergent diluted in water.

Hair cleansing is one of the toughest tasks, as they often show off and curl up: try to clear the knots with your fingers, then rinse them with lukewarm water and unspoken with shampoo or delicate detergent. Continue to rub gently until all the dirt and dust are removed, then rinse your hair and use the balm to make them silky and shiny. After rinsing them for the last time, wipe them with a phone reminding them to stay away: a high temperature could ruin them.

You should keep old dolls in their condition if possible, even if wigs and clothes show signs of age. If it is inevitable to replace wigs or clothes, do not throw away the old parts. You can keep them together with the doll (maybe under clothing). New clothing reduces the value of your doll. Cleaning should be kept to a minimum. Dust can be removed with a soft brush or a brush.

Body should never come into contact with water due to the thin and delicate varnish layer. I never clean up composition bodies. Also for leather bodies there is no effective cleaner that does not harm at the same time. Dirt and stains are in this old toy in my opinion to accept, better than by wrong attempts to clean irreparable damages.

Porcelain pots can be carefully cleaned with liquid soap and very little water, as well as a soft cloth of dirt. Never use brushing or rough cloth. Care should be taken especially to avoid moisture penetrating the gypsum deposit. I personally have had good experiences with the use of shaving foam with porcelain heads.

When reselling the doll to collectors, they prefer a dirty than a broken doll. I also advise against washing fabric, which could affect the stabilizing wires and the old filling material. Waxed or wax-coated heads belong in the hands of a restorer.



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