How to Make an American Girl Doll Look New Again
American Girl dolls are so lovely, but they're very expensive. If you don't have the small fortune it costs to spend to bring your daughter's doll to the American Girl store for a full beauty treatment, do it yourself at home for a fraction of the cost.
You can make an American Girl doll look like new again for the cost of a wide metal bristle brush and some things you already have around the house.
Clean Your American Girl Doll's Skin
First, undress the doll completely. Lay the clothes aside to deal with later.
Take a small bowl and put a tablespoon or two of baking soda in it. Add water to make a thin paste. Dip a damp washcloth into the baking soda mixture. Gently rub any dirty or stained spots on the soft vinyl parts of the doll and the dirt should wipe right off. Use a clean, damp washcloth to wipe off any remaining baking soda paste. Then towel the doll dry.
- Take care not to wet the cloth body or the eyes of the doll. The eyes can rust.
- Do not use any chemical cleansers, or you may strip the paint right off the doll's facial features!
Tips for Styling Doll Hair
- Do not ever brush the doll's hair dry, because it will frizz up and become unmanageable almost immediately.
- Don't get water in your doll's eyes; they may get discolored.
- Don't use human styling products; they're not meant for doll hair!
- Don't pull too hard on tangled hair; you can pull out the hair or even loosen the doll's head.
Brush Your American Girl Doll's Hair
Start with a brush with widely-spaced metal bristles (or a pick, for curly styles) and a spray bottle filled with tap water. Spray your American Girl doll's hair lightly with water before brushing it, just enough to help the brush slide through. Don't soak the doll's hair, or waves and curls may disappear.
For dolls with straight hair, once the hair is damp, brush carefully until any frizziness or tangles are gone. You can put your doll's hair into a ponytail or braid while it is still damp. You can use your own hair accessories or elastics to style her hair, but never use rubberbands; they'll pull out your doll's hair just as they pull out yours! Let the hair dry overnight.
For dolls with curls, skip the brush entirely. Use a pick with metal tines to separate and detangle her hair after spraying it lightly with water. Start at the bottom to separate the worst tangles first, but be gentle. Once the tangles are gone, wrap each ringlet around a finger to help them regain their shape. Don't use hot rollers or a curling iron; you will melt your doll's hair!
Wash Your American Girl Doll's Clothes
Most of the American Girl doll clothing should be washed by hand in cold water, and then hung to dry. Use your judgement for spot treatments if necessary; a little Woolite in the wash will probably be sufficient for everyday dirt, but you can try a bleach pen to get out stubborn stains. (Try it on a hidden hem first to make sure it doesn't damage the fabric!)
If you hang the clothes to dry right away, they shouldn't need to be ironed. If they are very wrinkled, try using your iron on the coolest setting, and always use a press cloth between the doll's outfit and your iron, so any schmutz on your iron doesn't transfer back to the clean clothes.
Put It All Together
Once your doll's skin is shiny and clean again, and her hair is beautifully styled, It's time to make her look like new again. First, put on her original outfit that you have cleaned and ironed (if necessary). Make sure you have all her accessories! Then touch up her hair, in case it got messy while putting on her clothes.
There you have it; a beautiful American Girl doll that looks like new!