A cloth doll can be different things to different people. To a young child it is a soft, cuddly friend that may be a constant companion. To an older doll lover, a cloth doll may be a valuable addition to a collection of vintage dolls or a lovely part of a country home decor scheme. Whatever your cloth doll means to you, at some point you will want to clean it.
The first step is to determine what materials your doll is made from. If the doll has a label on it, this is a good place to start. Most doll makers are happy to tell you what materials they used in construction of their dolls. When you buy a cloth doll it is a good idea to ask the doll maker and keep a record of what the doll is made of. Even if you make your own dolls, after a time you may forget what you used, so write it down.
If you are unable to find out what the doll is made from it is time to do a little experimenting. On the back of the doll body, where it is less likely to be seen, dab a little water on the doll to see if the color of the fabric bleeds. If it does, go no further, keep your doll dry. Also check the fibers used for the hair and facial features to make sure the colors won't run.
Once you have determined that the surface of your doll can be washed, check what it is stuffed with. Any stuffing other than polyester stuffing should be carefully removed. Do this by opening a tiny section of the seam, with a seam ripper, and carefully removing the stuffing. After the outside of the doll is clean and dry replace the stuffing inside the doll and close the seam.
After determining that your doll and stuffing are washable proceed with a gentle cleaner, such as baby shampoo or Woolite. Squeeze and squish the soapy water into and out of the doll. Rinse thoroughly, in fact plan to spend twice the amount of time you spend washing, on rinsing, to make sure no residue is left in the fabric.
Squeeze as much water as possible out of the doll and place on a drying rack to allow air to circulate around the doll.
Most of my dolls are made with cotton fabric, polyester stuffing and acrylic yarn for hair. If this is the case with your dolls they are safe to wash in the clothes washer. I have also dried some of mine in the dryer on low heat, but be very cautious if you try this, it is usually better to allow them to air dry.
Making and Dressing Cloth Dolls
Ebook with patterns and instructions to make 5 cloth dolls as well as chapters on general doll making techniques.The book includes 21 inch Lalena Doll, 21 inch David Doll, Bear Dolls, 9 inch Destiny Doll and 15 inch Annie Doll, all together in one handy book. 53 pages.Making and Dressing Cloth Dolls.