How to Wash a Doll’s Hair – The Step-By-Step Guide

Is your doll starting to get dirty? Fear not—this guide will teach you how to wash a doll’s hair and bring it back to the way it was before. 

However, washing your doll’s hair is easier said than done. To avoid damaging your doll’s hair, you need to note the following before you start. 

Different Types of Doll Hair

First of all, there are different types of doll hair. Each of these types has peculiarities that you should consider before washing:

Human Hair

Just like the name suggests, human hair for dolls is human hair repurposed to make doll hair. The manufacturers wove the hair into a “wig” for the doll and attached it with glue to the scalp.

Although human hair is resistant to heat, avoid washing your doll’s human hair with warm or hot water, since that could melt the glue.

You should also avoid massaging or lathering shampoo into your doll’s human hair wig since it could cause the glue to weaken. 

Synthetic Hair

The most common type of doll hair, synthetic hair, consists of plastic-based fibers that resemble human hair. Synthetic hair is sensitive to heat, so avoid using hot or warm water to rinse synthetic hair.

This is the type of hair on Barbie dolls. 

Yarn Hair

Some older dolls have yarn hair, particularly those from the 1970s. Yarn hair is usually glued or sewn into the doll’s head.

Depending on how it’s attached, you may need to wash it differently to avoid melting the glue.

Caracul and Wool

This type of hair is usually glued directly to your doll’s head. You need to be very careful when washing this kind of doll hair since water can weaken the glue and cause the wool to tangle.

It’s best to use cornstarch or talcum to clean this type of hair and use a toothbrush to remove the powder from the hair. 

Things to Avoid When Washing a Doll’s Hair

There are a number of things to avoid when washing your doll’s hair:

  • Avoid submerging the whole doll underwater when washing her hair. Water can get inside the doll’s joints or stuffing (if it is a stuffed doll, like the American Girl dolls) and make your doll moldy. If you have a porcelain doll, water can penetrate the finish and dissolve your doll from the inside. 
  • Never use a hairdryer to dry your doll’s hair! It will melt your doll’s hair (if it is synthetic hair), as well as the glue on her scalp.
  • If your doll has movable eyes, close her eyes before washing her hair. Moisture can enter your doll’s eyes and cause them to become moldy. 
  • Avoid using too much conditioner on your doll’s hair. It will make her hair greasy and hard to manage. 
  • Never use warm or hot water to wash your doll’s hair. Only use lukewarm or cold water. The hotter the water, the more likely the hair will melt or tangle. 
  • Do not brush your doll’s hair with a hairbrush that you or another person has used. Otherwise, human hair oil will get into the doll’s hair. Try using a small, unused hairbrush instead.

How to Wash a Doll’s Hair, Step-by-Step

You can follow along with this video.

However, remember to follow the guidance offered in Step 1 below, and use a plastic bag to protect your doll’s body before you start!

Step 1

Place a plastic bag around your doll’s body and face to keep the water off her. The bag should be up to her hairline. 

Even if she is a plastic doll with no stuffing, it’s a good idea to wrap her body and hair with plastic so her eyes, lips, and other parts won’t come into contact with water.

American Girl dolls’ eyes can go rusty from water and Barbie dolls’ painted-on lips, eyes, and other features may fade when in contact with water. 

Step 2

Make sure her hair is free and there are no clips or hair ties. 

Step 3

Lay her on the counter of your sink. Her hair should be in the sink.

Step 4

Start rinsing her hair under the water faucet. Keep the water about one-inch away from her scalp. 

Step 5

Try not to get her scalp wet since that can damage the glue holding her hair in place. Water can also get trapped in her scalp, leading to mold.

Step 6

Use a dime-sized amount of mild shampoo on your doll’s hair. Run it through the hair and rinse out once you’re done lathering. As in the previous step, avoid lathering more than one-inch away from the scalp.

You can use wig shampoo, regular mild shampoo, or baby shampoo.

Get all the debris and tangles out of your doll’s hair during this stage. 

Step 7

After you’re done with the shampoo, run a dime-sized amount of conditioner through her hair. Similar to the previous step, avoid lathering more than one-inch away from her scalp. 

You may want to avoid using a conditioner if your doll has curly hair. Conditioner can straighten her hair. 

Step 8

Leave the conditioner in for five minutes.

Step 9

 Rinse her hair with lukewarm or cold water until all of the conditioner is gone. 

Step 10

Dry her hair with a towel by gently petting her hair. You should spread her hair under her head while you are drying it. 

Step 11

Brush her hair with a wire brush until her hair is flat and smooth. You should remove all tangles during this stage. 

This is the best time to restyle her hair if you want to. 

Your doll’s hair will be frizzy if you brush her hair after her hair has completely dried. This is the perfect time for brushing. 

Step 12

Finally, leave your doll’s hair to dry by leaving her in an open area. Do not use a hairdryer. It will damage your doll.

Related Questions

Here are some common questions about doll’s hair. 

How do you get frizz out of a doll’s hair? 

You can try using a hair conditioner to get the frizz out of your doll’s hair. Using conditioner will make your doll’s hair smoother. 

On the other hand, too much conditioner may make your doll’s hair greasy. Try to use around a dime-sized amount of conditioner.

How can I make my American Girl doll’s hair soft again?

You can make your American Girl doll’s hair soft again and remove all tangles and frizz by following these steps:

  1. Soak the hair in a bit of fabric softener. 
  2. Let her hair sit in fabric softener for around 10 hours.
  3. The next day, wash and rinse her hair. Use mild shampoo while rinsing and take care not to get any water in her eyes or wig cap. You can use a plastic bag to protect your American Girl doll from the water.
  4. Dip a section of your doll’s hair into boiling water for no more than five seconds. After the five seconds are over, immediately remove the hair and put it into the ice water—this prevents the hair from melting. Let your doll’s hair sit for a few seconds and brush through it until it is free of tangles. 
  5. Repeat for all sections of the doll’s hair until you have done all of her hair.  
  6. Let your doll’s hair air dry.

You can follow along with this video.

We do not advise using this on dolls with textured or curly hair. For these hair types, you should consider using braid spray and a wire wig brush. Curly hair can easily lose its luster and spring if put through this process. 

Can you wash a doll’s hair with shampoo?

Yes, you can. However, you should use mild shampoo, baby shampoo, or wig shampoo.