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Play Doll Basic Care and Storage - Article 2

Our first article was devoted to the care and preservation of the collectible Gotz dolls. This article will pertain to the play dolls, in particular the Gotz Play or Handcrafted dolls made specifically for "playing or collecting". The dolls I am referring to have rooted hair, not a wig. They may have an all vinyl body or they may be soft bodied, similar to the body type of the American Girl doll.

First of all, please refer to any and all of the information provided by Gotz that came with your doll when you first purchased it. The following hints and information are only suggestions and opinions from our customers based on their actual experience. Please do not misconstrue the following information as being an authoritative source, for that, please consult a professional doll repair or restoration service.

Cleaning The Doll

In the paragraph titled CARE INSTRUCTIONS the Gotz Collection 2003 printed catalog says the following information:

"The vinyl body can be hand washed with mild soap and warm water. Soft body dolls can be placed in a knotted or zippered pillowcase and are machine washable in the gentle cycle with warm water. Following the spin cycle, be sure all the water drains from the head through the eyes, and let the doll air dry.

Clothing should be gently hand washed in a very mild soap and ironed at the lowest possible setting."

Vinyl Body

This body type of doll was more often given to an older child. Obviously, the all vinyl dolls are much easier than the soft body dolls to keep clean. Most dirt from normal play will come off with just a damp cloth.

Soft Body

This type doll is popular among all age groups including small children. To name just a few of the dolls, there were the Mini Muffins, Muffins, Maxi Muffins and the 18 inch Precious Day series plus other 18 inch Gotz play dolls and many of their handcrafted dolls.

These dolls usually receive a lot of play. As you read above, Gotz suggests washing the doll in the washing machine although I have never known anyone to have done that. They usually just spot clean the body and wipe clean the vinyl parts.

Stubborn Stains

So what do you do when artistic inspiration motivates the child to use crayons on the vinyl face, arms or legs? It will NOT come off with mild soap and water! Some of our customers have said they successfully used "Magic Eraser", by "Mr. Clean" to remove crayon and other stubborn stains. Remember, these are just suggestions and experiences from customers, not from doll repair experts! If in doubt, BEFORE proceeding with any cleaning method other than the manufacturers suggestions, please consult a doll repair professional.

I did have the occasion to see a before and after of a Kinderland Terry. The face was completely covered with crayon, it looked hopeless. I thought that doll was history for sure. A few days later I saw the doll again and all the crayon was gone! They used that Magic Eraser to remove the crayon.

Hair Care

The dolls with rooted hair are a breeze to keep clean. Wash it with a mild soap and rinse until all traces of the soap are gone. I use a natural soap made from olive oil (I also use that olive oil soap on the hair of our "My Little Pony" collection). After shampoo time, make sure all the water gets drained from the doll's head. You can either let the doll's hair dry hanging natural or if you have doll hair curlers, you can put the curlers in.

Although some tell us that they use a hair dryer on a low setting to blow dry the hair, I have never done that. Some also use a curling iron. That is too risky for me. I recommend letting the hair dry natural.


Take care in the purchase of clothing for your doll, especially if you are buying doll clothes made by anyone other than the doll manufacturer. Doll clothes that are not colorfast can ruin the vinyl on the doll. This problem happens much too frequently. If the fabric used in the construction of the doll clothes is not colorfast, the dye can come off of the fabric and be absorbed by the doll's vinyl. This is seen frequently around the arms and neck area. That dye will not come out, not even with the Magic Eraser! The only recourse at that stage is to have the effected limb(s) replaced.

If you are sewing the doll clothes prewash the fabric to make sure the excess dye is removed.

Child Has Outgrown The Doll - Time To Put It Away

Her favorite doll is laying there in the closet and she hasn't picked it up in quite some time. You remember all the years the doll was always by her side and you can't bring yourself to throw it out or give it away. You don't have to, you can get the doll ready for storage and save it for the next generation. Time to clean it, hair, body, clothes, shoes and whatever else will go into storage.

When the doll is all clean and dry (very dry - no traces of dampness) it is time to wrap it. Leave the doll undressed, no jewelry on the doll or rubber bands in the hair. Wrap it in several layers of acid free, non-buffered, lignin free tissue paper. Separately wrap any clothes or accessories that you also want to store. Place the treasured doll together with the clothes and accessories in a box and put the box in a safe place. The attic and basement are really not safe places for preservation. You can refer to the last paragraph of the previous article in choosing a safe place for storage.

Part 2 in a Series of Articles on Doll Care and Preservation
© 2004 Heirloom Sewing For Children