Cleaning Rubber Dolls?

February 4, 2006

Old rubber doll of a boy playing a guitar.I would like cleaning tips for Rubber dolls from the 1950's era. Please, If you have any tips, I could use them.

Cheryl from Richmond, VA



By Jean (Guest Post)
February 19, 20060 found this helpful
Best Answer

Try rubbing an art eraser over the doll. If you do not mind getting the doll wet, use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser on it. Just squeeze as dry as possible before you do. Test in an inconspicuous place (bottom of doll's feet) first.

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April 29, 20093 found this helpful
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Rubber dolls from the 50's came with movable arms and legs plus opening and closing eyes. Do not immerse these dolls in water or liquid. The movable parts are old and may deteriorate with time.

Take a soft cloth, fill a bowl or sink with non-bleach detergent (I use Dawn) and wipe the doll. If she is very dirty from years of neglect it may take a while.

To wash the clothes, put them in a lingerie bag and set the washer to silk/gentle. Use a gentle detergent. Do not put in the dryer. Lay on a towel as you would a good sweater to dry.


You may iron the clothing with the lowest steam setting on the iron.

To clean the hair, which is anchored through holes in the head, gently message with mild (possibly Woolite) soapy water and rinse with a wet wash cloth. Do not immerse head in liquid! This will fill the head with liquid and destroy the eyes.

Hope this helps. My dolls are from the 50's. One is hard bodied with rubber arms, legs and head and movable eyes. The other is all rubber with movable arms, legs and eyes. They are from my childhood.

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3 More Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

May 25, 2018

What can I use on a rubber doll where the body has turned brown. How can I get the skin tone back? The doll is over 50 years old. I don't have a picture of it. I'll get one and send it.

Thank you.


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May 25, 20181 found this helpful
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For hard rubber/plastic dolls my first line cleaning tool is to make a paste with a tablespoon of baking soda, a dash of salt, a small drop of Dawn dish soap the simple not any of the xpower ones and just enough white vinegar to make a paste.


It will fizz up then when it settles test on a tiny spot on the foot or neck under the hair just to be sure there are no wonky reactions. I have never had one, but you never know.

If it is ok, use an old soft tooth brush in gently circles to clean. It may take several times to get it back to normal, if it is just dirt causing the discoloration.

To dry, lay the doll on a soft white towel and dry outside in indirect light...preferably where there is a nice cross breeze.

I have used this method to clean many a grimy Barbie, Bratt and like doll.

I have not tried this on the softer plastics. You may want to omit the salt before testing in an inconspicuous place. The salt is for a mild abrasive, which may be too harsh on a softer doll.

Hope this brings your doll back to good health!

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October 11, 2019

I have a vintage Sun rubber doll. I have used all the methods you have suggested in other answers, but nothing has worked, there is no mold visually inside or outside doll, but the smell is extremely strong and there are black marks on the outside of the doll. I've also tried the acne medicine on the stains and that did not work. Any other suggestions? She is so cute. I just want to fix her and preserve this adorable doll. Thanks.

Removing Mold Stains and Odor from a Rubber Doll - vintage doll with molded and painted pink undies
Removing Mold Stains and Odor from a Rubber Doll


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October 11, 20190 found this helpful

Try a solution of one part bleach and 9 parts water.

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October 11, 20190 found this helpful

Put in a pillow case and throw in the was,air dry in the sun!

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October 12, 20190 found this helpful

If you used baking soda, soap and water with no results.You have nothing to lose try soaking the doll in bleach 1 bucket of water to 1 cup of javex.Let soak about one hour.You can also try sos pad and scrub.You could try comet.

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October 12, 20190 found this helpful

Poor dolly. Looks like she has been through a lot.

I am curious that you say there is no mold inside her. There is that hole in the back and my fear is that water got in there and that is causing all of the smell issues. If the body is not hollow, that piece would need to be removed and the damage assessed from there.


The arms and legs look like they do not come off, but the head may come off. If you are comfortable taking the head off, you may be able to see into the body or the head where you may also find hidden mold/mildew.

The outside stains also look like very old mold/mildew stains, which I know from pieces I have had, can be almost impossible to remove from rubber.

If you want to spend the money, I suggest checking her into a doll hospital and see what they can do for her.

My fear is that she is beyond saving (which just breaks my heart to say) because mold and mildew can ruin rubber dolls.

Please post back with updates! So sad for your dolly!!

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October 13, 20190 found this helpful

I live on an island and from time to time if we do not clean our mask and use them regularly they get this same mold on them that you are seeing now. If you do not mind soaking the doll in bleach water to remove the mold then go this way.


it works perfect for diving masks and it is easy to get the mold off of them. You should adjust the bleach in your water and not over do it on the bleach. I normally use 8 cups of water to 1 cup of bleach to clean the masks with.

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November 29, 20210 found this helpful

Ok, I learned some things while looking at how to remove mold/mildew from dryer... it took me all over the place,,,#1. Some spots may not be that! May be a wierd separation of early rubber????
#2. Try lemon juice and try lemon juice with I did this with washer not toy so look for test victim not rare one ok? But if its that messed up ya know it seems that trying anything in small amounts till u find something promising...


For the stinky sun baby I would at least try vinegar and lemon together before pitching...I bet it would clean out the inside...

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August 2, 2019

I bought a rubber (?) vintage (about 1950-1970) doll from a thrift store and she's covered in dirt. How do I clean her properly?

Her hair also needs a decent wash.


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August 3, 20190 found this helpful

Use a mild detergent. You could also use baking soda for tough spots. Use a few drops of hair conditioner to soften the hair and make it easier to comb after you wash it.

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August 3, 20192 found this helpful

Before you do anything it is critical to know what the doll is made of. Rubber, vinyl, composition, porcelain, paper mache, bisque or something else.

Water can, for example, destroy paper mache or composition dolls and detergents and too much water can stain bisque.

Rubber feels squishy, vinyl feels like rubber, but it is not usually squishy. Composition can feel rough and smooth at the same time and have a hollow sound if you tap it lightly. Paper mache has often has a sandy/gritty feel to it (like paper), bisque is cool to the touch, but rough and porcelain is cool to the touch and smooth.

Rubber, vinyl, and porcelain are USUALLY safe to clean with a damp, white cotton (NO COLOR AND NO MAN MADE FIBERS) rag and very little of a very mild detergent, like Dreft, Dawn Simple, or Ivory. Bisque, composition, and paper mache are very tricky and I would suggest if it is really bad, seeking professional help to clean to not risk damaging the doll.

There are lots of good YouTube videos on how to clean various dolls. I do suggest caution and always test any cleaning on the inside of of a leg or under the arm before using it on the entire doll.

Cleaning hair is a whole different story and if you need guidance with that, post back. It is really critical to know what the hair is made of or it also be easily destroyed.

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October 20, 20190 found this helpful

I have a old Terry Lee doll, my Aunt got for me when I was born
(1955) over the years she has gotten very sticky, how do I clean her safely. I love her. But she needs to be cleaned.

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