Tips and Tricks: Refurbishing a Doll

I am a mother of boys. My hobby of refurbishing dolls may seem alittle out of place. It’s just that when I see an interesting doll at the thrift store, especially vintage, I can’t resist ‘rescuing’ it and restoring its’ original beauty.

It’s not a big professional thing with me. I don’t reattach limbs, reroot hair, and all that jazz. Here’s my tips for simple restoring.



Magic Glow Cabbage Patch Kid

The two major things I remedy in doll restoring are messy hair and marks on the body. The best tools for simple doll restoring are; A spray bottle of liquid laundry softener, a small pair of hair cutting scissors, a comb, and a magic eraser.



Modern Madame Alexander

Generally, the first thing I do with messy doll hair is wash and condition it. I use whatever type of shampoo/conditioner I happen to have in my home at the time. (If the doll came with a dress, it usually needs a cleaning, so this is the point where I will hand wash the dress with mild soap and lay it flat to dry.)

My next move is to get out a good comb. Medium to wide width teeth are better for getting out tangles. This is there the liquid laundry softener is useful. Spray it on the tangles and continue combing. If the doll has a cloth body, cover the body with a towel before spraying. When tangles are gone, rinse out the laundry softener and dry.



Vintage 1980’s Cabbage Patch Kid with silky hair

If the ‘rescued’ doll’s hair has been cropped, or if there are unsightly ends, I use the scissors to give the doll a trim. I usually do most of the trimming while the doll’s hair is still wet.

Once the hair is dry, I use the magic eraser to take off any marks that the doll received from playmates in a previous life. When the magic eraser is a little damp it is the most effective. Almost everything comes off of vinyl limbs with this method.


2013-07-13 17.41.16

Old style Alexander Doll with cropped cut

Ink usually does not come off with the magic eraser. I have used acne cream on ink before and wrapped the doll in plastic wrap. It look days, even weeks, but the marks did lighten quite a bit. I have also heard putting the doll out in the sun on a very hot day with the acne cream/plastic wrap duo increases the removal power. (Something to keep in mind for summer.)

My boys have other things they enjoy playing with more, so what do I do with an old doll after I refurbish it? I find someone that will enjoy it!

Turning trash to treasure is such a pleasure.




2 responses to “Tips and Tricks: Refurbishing a Doll

  1. Pingback: Dolls on Parade | Upcycle Shed·

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