Vinyl dolls, as well as cloth dolls, can be special friends; particularly to the youngest doll lovers. These are also the dolls most likely to be handled, dressed and loved, even by their adult owners. This makes regular cleaning a necessity!
First, see if your doll is all vinyl or a combination of cloth and vinyl.
Dolls which are all vinyl can be bathed in the kitchen sink. If you keep up a regular cleaning schedule, all that should be needed is warm water on a soft cloth. If it has been a while since your doll's last bath, add some baby shampoo or mild dish detergent to the wash cloth. Using small, circular motions, gently bathe your doll. If you are unsure whether the water or soap might harm the finish or paint on the doll start with a small area on the back of the doll body.
As you wash each section, rinse thoroughly and dry as you go. I like to set up my kitchen counter and sink at doll bath time as if I was bathing a baby, that way all the supplies I need are close at hand.
If your doll has a glued on wig be very careful to avoid getting the hair wet, as the glue may be damaged by the water. For rooted hair wet the hair and carefully squeeze gentle shampoo through it. Rinse very carefully to remove all shampoo residue from the hair. You may also use a little conditioner after the shampoo, but rinse it very thoroughly, as well. Blot the hair with a towel and allow to air dry before styling the hair again. If the hair is very tangled, after rinsing the conditioner, use a wide toothed comb and gently start at the ends and comb out the tangles, before the hair dries. You might also try combing the hair while the conditioner is still in it if it is badly tangled. After combing rinse carefully, to avoid retangling the hair but to remove all residue.
For a doll that has vinyl arms, legs and head, but a cloth body, do not put the doll in the sink as you would with a doll that is all vinyl. Set the doll on a towel next to the sink and wash the vinyl parts, one at a time, with a cloth and dry carefully. Do not wet the cloth body. If a small amount of water gets on the cloth parts, let the doll air dry, but try to avoid this as it may take a while for the cloth and stuffing to dry.
If your doll is heavily soiled, such as a flea market or attic find, these measures may not be enough to get it really clean. At this point you have to decide if the value of the doll is worth more extreme measures or not. It may be advisable for a vintage doll to be taken to a professional restorer for care.
I have a flea market treasure that I wanted only as a doll to dress and display, not as an investment. She was beyond dirty and the gentle cleaners did not work. I tried a little scrubbing liquid and she came clean and beautiful. But I was lucky, scrubbing liquid will ruin the pretty finish on most dolls, so I don't recommend it for any but the most extreme cases, where the decreased value of the doll is not an issue. When in doubt, consult a doll restoration professional or use the gentle method and accept that your doll may not look like new but will retain her value.
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.