How to Clean a Vintage Barbie

Written by jessica kolifrath
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Collecting vintage dolls often requires a collector to become knowledgeable with cleaning and restoration methods. Cleaning stains and dirt from a doll and restoring it to it's original quality requires a variety of different products and techniques, depending on the material the doll is made from. Vintage Barbie dolls are made from soft vinyl, which must be cleaned carefully to avoid damage. The synthetic hair of a vintage Barbie can also become easily tangled by cleaning.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Benzoyl peroxide paste
  • Dish soap
  • Wash cloth
  • Tooth brush
  • Vinyl-safe hard surface cleaner
  • Calcium, lime and rust remover
  • Hair conditioner
  • Vinyl protection spray

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  1. 1

    Undress the doll and wash it with a gentle dish soap and warm water. The experts at A Dolly's World say that a washcloth or toothbrush can loosen dirt and grime, but care should be taken not to damage any painted areas of the doll.

  2. 2

    Spray on and wipe off a vinyl-safe cleaner, such as an orange oil-based surface cleaner, on vintage Barbie dolls that are heavily soiled. The experts at Krista's Doll Restoration say that this method is also best for dolls with painted legs or faces that could be damaged by water or soap.

  3. 3

    Apply a paste or gel containing benzoyl peroxide to stains. Set the doll in sunlight and give the benzoyl peroxide a day to fade stains, say the experts at Krista's Doll Restoration.

  4. 4

    Clean green ears on vintage Barbies with a calcium, lime, and rust remover. The experts at Vintage Barbie Dolls say this results from metal earrings discolouring the vinyl. Apply the calcium, lime and rust remover to the ear every day for a few weeks, until the green is faded.

  5. 5

    Wash the Barbie's hair with warm water and gentle dish washing liquid. The experts at Krista's Doll Restoration recommend using a small amount of hair conditioner to remove tangles, and then styling the doll's hair as it dries.

  6. 6

    Hand wash the clothes that came with the vintage Barbie doll. These doll clothes can be fragile and should come clean with a mild dish detergent.

  7. 7

    Spray a vinyl protection product on the doll to condition and renew the vinyl. The experts at A Dolly's World say that vinyl conditioner designed for car interiors should work fine, but to avoid getting it on painted areas.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a toothpick to clean out grime stuck between the doll's toes, fingers and other crevices.
  • All cleaning products could damage or discolour a vintage Barbie doll, so products should be tested on an inconspicuous location on the doll first.

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