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Cleaning an Old Doll

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Before you try to clean your old doll you will want to first determine the doll's composition. That information will help determine the best cleaners to use to prevent damage. This is a guide about cleaning an old doll.


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April 2, 2018

How do I clean a 1950s Horseman doll without making it sticky. It's not sticky now and I do not want to clean it with anything that will make it sticky. Also another problem is that it smells like mold coming from tiny silver hole in back. The outside looks great, but I know mold is dangerous. The head is the only joint on the body. Is it possible to take the head off and remove fibers from inside and maybe wipe it out with vinegar on a piece of cotton? This is a special gift for my mom. When she was little her brothers stretched the arms off her doll, and for years I heard the story of this. I decided to surprise her with this one, but don't want to ruin the doll. I feel I can fix this problem. The doll is in very good shape and as I said not sticky. I just need to know how to clean it. Help?


April 9, 20181 found this helpful
Best Answer

Many doll sellers and collectors like to find these baby dolls that can be placed in a tub and washed so that dirt and grime can be removed from inside the head, arms, legs but I do not believe you can do this with your doll.


  • It looks like your doll has a "stuffing" inside her vinyl(?) body and if this is the case, you cannot afford to let that get wet.
  • Removing and replacing a doll's head can be a very tricky undertaking because the head is usually attached with "wire" inside the head that attaches to some type of wire/rod in the body and doll repairers have special tools that can fit inside the body to reattach the two pieces.
  • But - some dolls have heads that just slip/fit inside a special groove in the body and yours may be like that.
  • I cannot tell if your doll has movable eyes but if she does, that may also present some problems if the head is removed.
  • Have you tried cleaning the "hole" with q-tips dipped in alcohol? You may be able to reach some areas and see if it is mold or maybe just dirt.
  • If your doll is clean (as you say) on the outside then just try to figure out how to wipe around inside the hole to remove as much grim as possible.
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  • After doing this you might want to stuff a part of a hand or baby wipe around inside. You could maybe wrap it around something that will fit inside the hole but hold on to the wipe.
  • Maybe leave it inside for a day or so.
  • You might try sprinkling baby/talcum power inside the hole.

Here is a link to history of Horsman (not Horseman) dolls from the 1950's but I did not see your doll.

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By 0 found this helpful
February 23, 2010

I bought two old dolls. They have glass eyes and there is a white powder on them. They open and close and have eye lashes. How do I clean them without damaging them? They were made in the 30's.

By Sharon from AR


February 26, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

I am a doll collector. Wash the dolls eyes with dish soap and water. Then, put sewing machine oil on the eyes.


When you put the doll away to store, put her face down, to protect her eyes. I have learned this from antique doll dealers.

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

February 23, 20100 found this helpful

I have ball point pen on a vintage doll's face. How do I remove it?

By Christine from Alberta


Cleaning an Old Doll

I just read and noted the following. I believe it was on this site. To remove ink from vinyl dolls, spread acne cream on the ink and put it the sun. The ink will vanish. I hope it works for you. (09/01/2009)

By Gailya Illsley

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August 31, 20090 found this helpful

I have a 30 year old doll that was my mom's and she passed a few months ago. The doll's face is real sticky and blotchy and there are some spots on her hands. Please help me clean it.




Cleaning an Old Doll

The doll is probably rubber. You can use something like 409, and then rinse it off. Rubbing alcohol takes off ink, also. (09/15/2005)


Cleaning an Old Doll

Contact a doll collector's club. They should know, or be able to find out, about your doll and its composition (what it's made of). Best of all they should be able to tell you how to clean and restore it without ruining it. Best of luck with your special treasure. (09/16/2005)

By kidsNclutter

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