Here are a few hints that I have accumulated from working with my dolls, and I thought that you might want to read through
them and see if any would work for you.
First, the worst enemy that you have with your doll is dirt. The years of
dirt sit in the doll's hair, and fabric of their clothes and rubs against each other, breaking down the fibers of the fabrics.
The first thing that happens to my dolls, is bath time at the house.
My doll's clothes have been washed in a strong
solution of Era in the kitchen sink or a dishpan,
EXCEPT FOR ITEMS THAT ARE MADE OF PROTEIN, SUCH AS SILK, LEATHER, ETC.
Era likes to eat silk blouses, trust me. The dirt rolls out of the older dolls clothes, even when they look clean. Some of
the dresses looked grey when they came in, and lo and behold, they were actually blue. I have switched some of the outfits
to washing in Tide. I really like the way they seem to brighten up. It leaves a sticky film on your hands when you swish them
around, so really rinse well.
I use anything on the clothes that was available when the fabric was made, including a weak
solution of bleach. Some of those creamy looking outfits, really are White! If your dress is really dirty, I just let it sit
for a while to try and loosen up the dirt, and just swish it around every 5 minutes or so. I just press the water out. Trust
me, the first rinse is going to scare you, with all the dirt flowing out of the lace or fabric. When I take the dresses out,
I just press out as much as I can after the last rinse, and then roll it in a towel to absorb the rest of the moisture out.
Let it sit for 10 minutes or so.
For the doll's hair, I usually spray it with De-Solv-it, which I find in the cleaning
isle at Walmart. It is a citrus solution, seems to loosen up any sticky residues, and gets the dirt ready to roll. It really
makes the girl's hair shine when you are done. I rinse off, and then out comes my cleaner. I use Dow's Scrubbing Bubbles.
It makes the dirt roll off, but make sure that you are not using it on older dolls that are not vinyl. I used it on one of
my non-vinyl doll's faces, and it sure took away some of her face paint. I haven't run into that problem with the vinyl dolls,
such as I collect on this web page. I dig out an old tooth brush and go for it.
Just remember when you are done, to blow
out the eyes of the dolls. I call it making them cry. First they have some of the citrus cleaner still in their eyes, and
then they should have a good flush from the bubbles. In the winter I stick them over the register from the forced air furnace
and make sure they are good and dry.
Foggy eyes are hard to undo once they have formed. There are a lot of remedies out
there, but I recently found out that if you take your hair dryer and blow it at her eyes, within 5 minutes, you should have
crystal clear eyes. Watch the eyelashes, as you don't want to melt them. I tried it on three so-so dolls first, and when I
was satisfied with them, I headed for a real mess of a doll. It worked on her also, and I had replaced her eyelashes with
glue on ones. It didn't seem to bother even those eyelashes. Sometimes it takes several trys to get it done. One thing,
it can't get worse, and can only get better.
Another hint was to use sewing machine oil. I had not found that it worked
well, but I figured since those eyes were already warm from the hair dryer, what would it hurt to add it and see if it would
help to maintain them.
I received this hint from Gail:
. A few weeks ago there was an article in the paper about cleaning major works of art with
saliva. Yep, the restorer worked with q-tips and spit. So I tried it to get a tough smudge off Sue's cheek and it's
pretty much gone - without removing the paint. Kind of what mothers have known all along, huh?
Well, it's worth a try.
If your doll has marks on her "skin", I have found that Clearasil works on it just
fine. It takes a while, and needs several applications, but if you put it on and just forget it for a week or so, and then
reapply, it comes off eventually. I had one doll in treatment for a long time to get the faded red from her dress off her,
but she's ok now. If you use the tinted version, you don't notice it as readily, and she can still sit on display, but I've
had several people say that the colored version fades into their skin...so maybe the white version is better.
One thing I do know...do not mix two different types of acne medication on the doll...weird stuff happens...the
skin on one of my Revlon dolls, right around the mouth, turned darker. Now I don't have a clue how to fix that...trying
to fade it back down doesn't seem to be an option at this point of time.
Now for the ironing tips:
a tip in Hints to Heloise one day, where the mother was using the soft scrubbers that we use to replace wash-cloths in the
bathroom, to stuff the sleeves of her toddler's cute dresses. That way when it came out of the dryer, they were already pressed
from the dryer. Well, I applied this application to the steam iron and those small little puffed sleeves, or the long sleeves
on the bride dresses. I have a long piece of tulle, maybe a yard long, sitting beside my ironing board. When I get to the
sleeve, I grab that piece of tulle and stuff it tight into the sleeve, and hit the burst of steam into the sleeve. When it
is cooled down, pull the tulle out, and the sleeve is perfect. It also works on those long sleeves, no more crease down the
I have found that ironing the dress while it is still damp, on top of a damp towel, cuts my ironing time a bit,
because it is steaming from both sides. I keep the iron just as cool as I can, and still get steam, some of those old fabrics
are heat sensitive, trust me. Those pretty full circle skirts are cut on a bias, and if you pull sideways you can get two
long sections, instead of the circle that you started out with. The bias stretch part is right in the right and left hand
sides of the dress. So if you pull and iron on it, you will have two long sides.
The way that I have found that works
best on them, is to take and fold the dress in half, with the back seam. Align it together so that it is laying on your ironing
board in a fairly accurate half circle. Then just press the underskirt portion with up and down motions, not pulling on it.
When you get to the front of the dress, where you don't want a press seam showing, just open it up and press as normal. Then
I go back with a shot of sizing or spray starch and repress it. That way it doesn't have as great a chance of stretching out.
The lace is the fun part. Just do row after row, one at a time, just pulling it out and ironing it. Iron the back of the bodice
first, you will see there are marks from the overlay lace, and then iron it on the top, to smooth it all back out.
that is how I do it, if you have any hints, just let me know.