Cleaning Porcelain Dolls

April 14, 2015

I just purchased 2 musical porcelain dolls from eBay and they were very smoky and had what appears to be water stains. I opened the seams and removed the music box. I also removed the hands, feet and head. Basically they are glued on. I basted the open seams and arm and leg openings and put in the clothes washer, low temperature and on delicate. I have a very gentle HE washer. They came out beautiful. I even put them in the dryer on low heat and gentle.


These are Collector Choice dolls and the clothes are sewn onto the body. Previously, I purchased a lot of 9 porcelain dolls. I removed all the clothes and washed the same way in my washer using a small amount of Wisk laundry soap. Dried in dryer in same manner as above, they also turned out beautiful. The bodies of this group, I put in a closed bedroom with an air ionizer turned on high and left for 3 days. The smoke and musty small was removed.

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September 29, 2010

My daughter has a collection of porcelain dolls from all over the world (about 50 of all different sizes) and they are really dusty. I was wondering if anyone has any ideas as to how to clean them.

The clothes are also smokey (we used to smoke in the apt. before buying a new house and no longer smoke in the house. We are working on quitting permanently.) I would really like to get the smell and dust off of them before we put them up on shelves again. Any and all suggestions greatly appreciated.

By sandy from MI


January 5, 20090 found this helpful
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I believe you can use white bread, like an eraser. You tear the bread (not the crust) and squish it into a ball, then rub the surface of the dolls face. It will pick up any dust dirt/grime without any damage to the porcelain. It is an old fashioned tip, but I believe it will do the trick. Good Luck

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February 23, 20090 found this helpful
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I use rubbing alcohol. Use a container large enough to immerse the entire doll. Soak a few minutes and then swish or dunk a few times to remove any solids. Drain until dry. This removes nicotine stains too.

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February 23, 20090 found this helpful
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I just did a major cleaning of porcelain dolls that had nicotine stains using rubbing alcohol. Put a lot of it in a pitcher big enough to hold the entire doll. Soaked it for a few minutes then swished and let drain. Doll hair was clean but not damaged and the smell was gone.


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September 28, 20090 found this helpful
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I like to dust my delicate items with an appropriately sized paint brush - it works quite nicely!

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September 29, 20090 found this helpful
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Wrap the dolls carefully and securely in nylon net and then use your vacuum cleaner to suck the dust through the net. The net will hold the hair and feathers in place while the holes in the net will allow the dust to be removed. A similar method can be used to remove dust/dirt from antique clothing. Lay the garment on a flat surface and cover the garment with a window screen. Then vacuum the window screen.

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May 24, 2014

I bought this awesome porcelain doll from a thrift store for a couple dollars, but her hair is in horrible condition and so is her outfit. Does anyone know how to fix her hair and clothes?

By Lauren F


April 6, 20150 found this helpful

For the hair: Gently spray water on the hair. You can use Dry shampoo from Dove and spray it on the hair and rub it in good. Spray leave in conditioner in hair and using a small wide toothed comb gently comb out hair. Style hair while it is wet.

For Clothes: Take clothes off of the doll and carefully inspect them for rips and tears. If there are no tears place them in a pillow case and tie the top of the pillow case in a knot. Wash clothes on the gentle cycle using baby shampoo. If there are tears and rips you may need to do a little sewing.

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How do I clean porcelain doll hair?


May 31, 20170 found this helpful

From Buddington's Use a hair conditioner, such as Clairol, or a liquid fabric softener, such as Downey. Rinse again. Now comb the doll's hair with a pet hair brush. The metal tines of the pet brush better penetrate the hair mass and exert less destructive pressure on the wig base.

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June 2, 20170 found this helpful

You should be very careful with how you clean your doll's hair and try not to get anything on the porcelain as the doll's face may be "painted" (makeup). Most cleaners will wash the paint off so go gently and test it in smaller areas before using cleaning products.

Is this a doll that is valuable (money wise or personal)? Be sure you know that any type of doll cleaning has its hazards and may not always turn out as expected.

There is a lot of information on the Internet about how to clean and care for dolls but a lot of it is not for porcelain but for other types of dolls, so be careful when you are seeking information.

Doll wigs can be made out of different materials also and most wigs are glued on so be sure to take this into account before you begin.

Here are a couple of links that have a lot of information about cleaning doll's hair and other parts of your doll. Remember, go slow and be patient and enjoy your doll.

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April 26, 2016

We recently had a house fire and my dolls were smoke damaged. Some have sooty faces and their clothes are smelly and dirty. Is there any way to clean the soot off their little faces?


April 27, 20160 found this helpful

Have you considered asking professional doll collectors / historians?

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April 27, 20160 found this helpful

TSP or Tri Sodium Phosphate is the best thing for cleaning smoky apartments, it will most likely work for smaller jobs, too. Also this link might help.

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December 27, 2015

My mother-in-law recently passed. She had several porcelain dolls we would like to clean up from years of dust, smoke, etc. Any ideas that won't cost a lot and won't wreck them?


December 27, 20150 found this helpful

This depends. If the dolls are valuable and you intent for them to keep their value, you shouldn't even be touching them now. They will need a doll repair specialist or "doll doctor."
If you are keeping them for sentimental value, try this link for ideas:

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How do I remove black marks from a porcelain doll's face?



June 23, 20160 found this helpful

I would use nail polish remover thats how we got our dolls clean

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December 30, 2013

I inherited many dolls that are one of a kind. They are porcelain with a cloth body. The clothes are stained yellow and smell of cats and cigarettes I tried washing with Dawn and peroxide. It took out the dirt, but not the yellow stains or smell. Any suggestions are worth a try. Some of the clothing can not be washed, but the dolls stink on their hair and body. Help please.

By Ruth B

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September 21, 2013

I collect porcelain dolls; I have about 27 porcelain dolls in my collection. And I want to know the right way to clean them. I am not sure what materials I would need, if anything, to keep my dolls looking their best. I would appreciate it if someone can get back to me in regards to my question of cleaning porcelain dolls. I hope to hear from someone soon.

Thank you.

By Regina C from Queens, NY

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September 4, 2013

How do I clean my porcelain angel praying hands, arms move, and the clothes do not come off. It is a musical doll.

By Jeannie C

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I have some porcelain Indian dolls. How do I clean the feathers?

By Barb M.

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March 24, 2009

I have porcelain dolls that smell like mold and some have mold on them. How can I clean their bodies?

By Rhonda from Uhrichsville, OH

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August 10, 2018

Care should be taken when trying to remove stains such as ink from a porcelain doll. This page contains several suggestions for how to remove ink from a porcelain doll.

Face of an old porcelain doll.

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

December 23, 2008

I collect porcelain dolls as well as many of my family members. There are a couple different techniques that actually work very well. One is to get some "Static Guard", and hold it about 4-6in. from dolls clothing and hair and spray them down. Next take a vacuum hose and vacuum the dolls.

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