Cleaning Sticky Rubber

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July 28, 2021

An umbrella with a sticky handle.With time, some plastic and rubber can get a sticky, gummy feel. I had an umbrella like this. I made a paste of baking soda and water, rubbed it over the affected area with my hands, rinsed and dried. It worked so well and now I don't need to replace the umbrella.


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June 14, 2018

I have scoured the internet looking for the answer to this dilemma. Most sites say use baking soda or talcum powder. I didn't think that would be good for my camera so I experimented with a sticky pen. The unbelievable solution is baby oil! My camera has been sticky free for over a year. A very small amount will do the trick.

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September 29, 2010

I have a doll from the 1950's who's rubber legs have become a little sticky. Is there a way to correct this problem?

By Tricia from Alexandria, VA


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October 11, 20100 found this helpful
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This is the break down of the rubber used in making the doll. It is not plastic, I presume, but the old fashioned rubber baby doll. You can smell the rubber and if you have a latex allergy, this should be sealed in a bag.


Scary what we got when we were little! The cleaning is not something to be done with a chemical. Try using regular baby power with corn starch in it. Rub into the doll to help absorb the stickiness.

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November 15, 20150 found this helpful
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Clean the Doll with a Mild Soap and dust with body Powder

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April 26, 20170 found this helpful
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I was told by someone at a doll hospital to use Dawn dish soap. It will get sticky again, so wash it again. Rubbing is needed.

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April 13, 20180 found this helpful
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My Chatty Cathy's face was getting sticky so I went to the store and purchased a bottle of 91% rubbing alcohol. I applied some alcohol to a paper towel rubbed the paper towel on her face and the sticky was gone.


This is not a permanent solution. You will have to do this maybe once a year or as needed

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August 14, 20180 found this helpful
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Vinyl dolls in the process of breaking down will leak plasticizer.. Respondents are correct.....doll is no longer a toy....treasured likely but not a toy. Clean with NOT use cornstarch as it will encourage growth of microbes and fungi. Do not store in closed cabinets with other dolls. Let the poor thing breathe and not infect other dolls. Be prepared to clean regularly. There are other reasons vintage dolls are not proper toys for children as they begin to break down and it comes down to things like lead and cadmium.


See article for
You do not want children who yet put their hands in their mouth or kiss their babies to be handling these treasures. Wait till they are older....Such is why vintage and antique dolls must be marketed as for adult collectors. Put them in a bonny bonnet and kiss the bonnet. lynn

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September 15, 2021

I have an old Arne Hasle elf doll that has sticky latex legs, face, and hands. How do I clean them? Is it toxic?

A elf doll with a red hat.


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September 15, 20210 found this helpful
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WebMD has a good article about this and from being in the medical industry for 19 years, it is one of the trusted sources that provides facts to allow consumers to make up their own minds of their risk--which for some people appears to be minimal, and for others it could be of concern.


They talk about the chemical changes and who may be at risk, and they do make a comment somethign to the effect that for most people it is not like rat poison, which is toxic to people and rats.

If you are highly sensitive chemicals, then yes, you may want to avoid contact with the dolls and even remove them from your home. But if you don't feel you are at risk, you can work to keep the issue away with regular cleanings with Dawn dish soap (only use the blue--avoid the red, pink, yellow, green color versions as they may stain the doll). Use a white cloth (clean, cotton) and few drops of the soap straight up--test on a place no one can see to make sure your doll does not react. Rub the areas in a circular method to remove the sticky. You can use another cloth that is DAMP--NOT wet--and only use cool water to remove the soap if you feel it is leaving a residue.


Some people find baby powder dusted over them (or corn starch) after they are clean helps keep the "sticky" away...but I am sensitive to those things (so I do not use them).

Knowledge is key and then make up your own mind about your risk.

One caveat I have is if you ever go to sell the dolls, common courtesy is to tell the buyer you have treated them for the stickiness and let THEM decide of they want to buy. Some people don't care, but those who are sensitive do!

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February 22, 2020

I have a Sun Rubber vintage doll from the 1940s/50s and the rubber is getting hard and starting to get brittle in areas such as his hands, a spot on the back of his head, and one of his arms. I have cleaned him with soft non-abrasive soap, but I was wondering if there is some sort of emollient I could use to soften the rubber. Anyone have any ideas?

Rubber on a Vintage Doll Is Breaking Down - old doll
Rubber on a Vintage Doll Is Breaking Down


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February 23, 20200 found this helpful

Poor dolly! These rubber babies are surprisingly fragile. Never use any kind of emmoliant or grease or Petro on them. The only thing doll experts say is dust them annually in cornstarch. Gently massage it into the doll,shake off excess .

A professional doll hospital may be able to more. Home remedies are just not useful. Sadly the rubber will continue to deteriorating. Handle it with cotton gloves, keep it in a climate controlled room, keep it out of direct light, and that will help also.

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