How to Clean a Cloth Doll Body [Step By Step Guide]

Published by Hala Zaqqout on March 13, 2022 | Last updated on May 15, 2023

Whether you’re a vintage doll collector or your child has a cloth doll, chances are she takes it with her everywhere.

And now that your own tot is the one clutching onto the doll, as adorable as it is to see her show affection, but at some point, the doll will eventually become dirty. You might be concerned about the germs and bacteria she’s cuddling up to on that cloth doll’s surface.

Yuck! You may want to wash your doll’s cloth body if it is stained or smells bad.

The good news? The cloth doll is fairly easy to clean. Keeping that special doll clean and safe by applying a variety of cleaning techniques that limit your child’s exposure to potentially harmful agents is important.

You may be looking for an answer to your question “how to clean a cloth doll body?”; you’ve come to the right place.

In this Cleaners Advisor article, we’ll go through the methods and steps you can follow to clean this doll. This guide below will help you clean your doll and allow it to last longer. At the end of this article, you’ll find some tips and instructions to follow during this process.

But we recommend you check any available care instructions for your specific doll to see if there are any instructions you can follow.

How to Wash a Doll’s Hair?

Use liquid fabric softener as a shampoo for mohair wigs or regular shampoo for human hair to wash the doll’s hair. Be VERY careful not to get any water on your face or head. It is possible that you will need to brush your hair before washing it.

When detangling mohair, use a bamboo skewer or toothpick as you would a hair pick. Mohair will become matted over time, and this will remove the mats. Use a wire wig brush on human and synthetic wigs.

You will experience some hair loss, so brush only sparingly. While the hair is still damp, place it on foam rollers, home perm rollers, or pipe cleaners cut into rag rollers for very small dolls.

How to Clean a Cloth Doll Body?

1. Hand Washing

doll bathing1
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It’s best if you wash your doll by hand rather than throw it in the washing machine, so it’s time to immerse the cloth body in water.

Tools and Materials Needed

  • Water
  • A Towel
  • A Bowl or Tub

Here’re the steps you can follow to clean the cloth doll:

a. Take the doll’s head off, unstuff her, then examine the doll to see if there are any stains. Pre-treat any stains with a Shout stain stick. Allow the Shout to penetrate the doll and work on the stain for at least 1 hour before washing the doll.

b. Hand-clean the doll or stuffed animal with baking soda. It will be a great opportunity for your child to clean and bathe their own doll.

c. Fill a bowl or tub halfway with water and sprinkle with baking soda or you can add 1 teaspoon of Woolite. A bin can also be used to make a better simulation of a small bathtub. You can let your child place their toy into the water and wash them with the water.

d. Extra baking soda can be rubbed into any areas that are particularly filthy.

e. Squeeze the doll a few times to work the soap inside. To help remove any stubborn dirt and stains, use your fingers and a toothbrush.

f. After cleaning the doll, thoroughly rinse it with clean water to remove all of the baking soda.

g. Fill the dishpan with warm water after it has been emptied. Squeeze the doll repeatedly until all of the soap has been extracted. To get all of the soap out of the doll, you may need to drain the water and refill it several times.

h. Wrap a towel around the toy and squeeze it to remove any excess water. Wringing the toy may cause it to be damaged.

i. Wring your doll out and allow the doll to air dry.

2. Washing Machine

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Machine washing sounds intimidating, and there is a small risk of getting water into the hollow limbs or saturating the body stuffing so much that it does not dry properly. Here’s how to clean a cloth doll body if you prefer not to hand wash the doll.

Tools and Material Needed

  • Washing Machine
  • Old Panty Hose
  • Pillow Case
  • Woolite or Laundry Detergent
  • Rubber Band or String

The following are the steps you can follow:

a. Firstly, take off any removable clothes and accessories before washing your doll; you’ll be able to wash your doll much more easily if it’s not dressed, so take a moment to remove whatever you can. Set everything to the side so you don’t lose track of what you’re doing.

Many doll clothes can be washed in the washing machine, but some dolls cannot. Just plan on tackling these things separately to keep your doll in the best possible condition.

b. Then wipe away spots and dirt on hard-bodied dolls with soapy water. Just fill a small bowl halfway with warm water and a few drops of dish soap. Dip a clean sponge or cloth into the water and gently rub any dirt off your doll.

When cleaning your doll’s face, be gentle—scrubbing too hard can sometimes remove paint—and dry it with a clean towel rather than putting it in the dryer. The tumbling and heat could really damage it.

c. Wash soft-bodied dolls in the washing machine on a delicate cycle. Dolls that are completely soft, similar to stuffed animals, can usually be washed. Wrap it in a pillowcase for extra protection, wash it on the delicate cycle, and remove it from the washer as soon as it’s finished.

Depending on how dirty the doll is, you may only need a sponge and some soapy water to remove stains and spots.

This may not work for every type of doll, depending on how it is made. Check the instructions or the care guide first to ensure that it is safe. If you don’t have that information, look up the doll’s brand online.

d. Finally, let your doll air dry to prevent damaging it in the dryer. Regardless of the type of doll you’re cleaning, it’s best to let it air dry. If the weather is nice, lay it out on a clean towel and let it dry in the sun.

Otherwise, you can lay the doll out or place it against a wall until it is completely dry, which could take 24 to 48 hours. And NEVER use a hairdryer or space heater to dry your doll. You could damage them or even accidentally set them on fire.

And here’s how to use the washing machine in the cleaning process of the cloth doll body.

3. Cleaning Without Water

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Courtesy of “”

Here’s how to clean a cloth doll body If you prefer not to use water, this method can be effective in cleaning your doll’s body.

Tools and Materials Needed

  • Towel
  • Large Bag
  • A Sock
  • Sunlight
  • Vacuum Hose
  • An Absorbent Powder:
  • Baking Soda or Flour for White or Colored Toys
  • Corn Meal for Beige Toys
  • Wheat Germ for Brown or Black Toys

And here’re the steps to follow:

a. If you want to clean a stuffed animal without getting it wet, get a large bag that the toy can fit into if possible. (If the toy is large enough, the powder can be sprinkled directly onto it rather than using a bag).

b. Place the toy in the bag and add a generous amount of absorbent powder. Enough powder is needed to completely coat the toy. It’s best to use a powder that matches the color of the toy as closely as possible.

c. Seal the bag and vigorously shake it to distribute the powder onto the toy.

d. Allow it to sit for at least an hour. Any dirt or oils on the toy will be absorbed by the powder.

e. To remove the powder and dirt, gently wipe the fur with a towel or soft cloth.

f. If the powder does not come off easily with a towel, use a vacuum hose. To avoid any damage, keep the hose several inches away from the toy. To reduce suction, cover the hose with a sock or another airy fabric like a cheesecloth or a jersey.

g. This process can be repeated as many times as needed.

h. If the toy requires additional cleaning, place it in the sun for an hour. Sunlight is useful for deodorizing the toy as well as killing any bacteria on its surface. However, if you leave the toy out for too long, the fabric dye may lighten.

Top Tips on How to Clean a Cloth Doll Body

Here’re some tips and instructions below on how to clean a cloth doll body:

1. Place the doll or stuff animal near a dehumidifier to speed up the drying process.

2. Some toys can withstand dryer heat or can be dried in a no-heat setting. Toss in a clean pair of shoes to help toss the toy around and “beat” out any dirt.

3. Before and after cleaning, inspect the seams for any weak or torn areas.

4. To remove dirt buildup on stuffed animals, brush them clean. This is best done with suede or bristle brush. Put it in the sun for an hour to clean it up a little more.

Sunlight is useful for deodorizing the toy as well as killing any bacteria on its surface. However, if you leave the toy out for too long, the fabric dye may lighten.

5. Before donating or throwing away a doll that looks a little dirty or scruffy, try cleaning it. You’ll be surprised at how simple it is to give new life to an old doll!

6. Always use caution when working with boiling water. Before using the stove, ask a parent for help if you are under the age of 18.

7. Some types of cloth cannot be dried because the fabric will shrink. Allowing your doll to dry naturally is the best option.

8. You can open the back of the doll and remove the stuffing. This will allow you to wash and dry the doll much faster. This will make it much easier to wash and dry the doll. The only drawback is that you’ll have to re-sew the doll when you’re done with it.

For more tips on how to clean a cloth doll body, you can watch this video below.

How to Clean a Cloth Doll Body FAQ

To Wrap Up

And that you know how to clean a cloth doll body when it is stained or it smells bad in order to prevent germs and bacteria she’s cuddling up to on that cloth doll’s surface.

But always make sure to check any available care instructions for your doll to see if there are any recommendations you can follow.

If you have more tips and tricks you apply on how to clean a cloth doll body, then leave us a comment below.

1 thought on “How to Clean a Cloth Doll Body [Step By Step Guide]”

  1. I have a large fully clothed doll with hair
    made with yarn about 100 yrs old or more
    arms & legs attached are hand sewn
    She’s been stored in an attic. Not sure how to clean her of dust & dirt

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