Restoring Barbie To Her Former Glory Part 2 (A How To Guide To Barbie Doll Restoration)

We discussed how to properly comb and shampoo Barbie’s hair to restore her locks to their previous glory. In this section, we’ll discuss how to properly remove Barbie’s limbs to replace pieces if necessary, how to wash Barbie’s clothes, and how to properly wash her up without causing any damage.

Don't Lose Your Head! (But Barbie May Have To...)

barbie in a bubble bath

If Barbie is missing limbs, it may be necessary to use some of your other dolls to find suitable limb replacements. You may even find it necessary to replace Barbie’s head if there is significant cosmetic damage. Again, you can clean the head as well, but then you’ll have to undertake giving Barbie all new makeup. There are tons of great tutorials on the net that detail the intricacies of restoring makeup to your doll if necessary. I know, it seems completely barbaric! The horror! Poor Midge! Unfortunately, not every doll can be saved. Before you start your cleaning process, you should review all the dolls that you've won, and make any necessary replacements or changes. Try to match up the limbs with the skin tone of the doll’s body as much as possible. Sometimes, it can be impossible to find exact matches as the dolls can suffer weathering and sun damage, making them all slightly different shades.

Removing and replacing Barbie’s limbs is usually a simple process of popping them out of place and then popping them back into the new doll. However, removing Barbie’s head can be a bit tricky, so I've included a quick how to guide on this as well.

To remove Barbie’s head you’ll need the following items:

  • Hair Dryer
  • Knitting Needle/Scissors
  • Nail Clippers

1. Hold the blow dryer against the back of Barbie’s neck. The heat is necessary to make the plastic and vinyl more pliable and will allow you to remove the head easier and without damaging the inner neck knob that is necessary to hold on the doll’s new head.

2. Once the plastic has heated up, you can gently pull the head upwards, you should be able to feel a slight popping, as Barbie’s head dislodges from the base of the neck bracket. (You can use the kneedle here if you prefer to get to the same outcome.)

3. Use the edge of the scissors or the knitting needle, and insert between Barbie’s neck and her head. You should be able to feel the neck bracket, that is shaped like the letter T, but with the arms of the T bent downwards. You will use the need to hold this bracket in place, while working the soft plastic of Barbie’s head around one side of the prongs.

4. Once you’ve removed the head, you can use the nail clippers to clip down the two “arms” of the bracket. They aren’t necessary to then replace the doll’s head and they actually make it more difficult.

5. Replace the doll’s head with the new head and you’re done!

What is Barbie Without Her Fabulous Clothes?

Depending on the condition of Barbie’s ensemble, you may want to simply remove the clothes before working on her hair and cleaning her up. If the clothing looks older or in bad shape, you may want to completely replace, or you may plan to sell her in these clothes. If that’s the case, you’ll want to avoid washing them because they could fall apart.

However, if you’ve examined the outfit and feel like it can withstand a quick wash, you can simply hand wash the items in your sink, using lukewarm water and a detergent that is for delicate fabrics. Rinse the items by placing them in a bowl of clean, lukewarm water.

Once you’ve rinsed them, you can simply lay them out to dry on a towel, and pat dry.

So Fresh and So Clean

After working on Barbie’s hair, you can focus on cleaning her body to remove any marks or discolorations. Like all girls, Barbie loves having a day at the spa!
What you’ll need:

  • Washcloth
  • Soft bristle toothbrush
  • Rubbing Alcohol/Acne Cream
  • Tissue Paper
  • Dryer Sheets
  • Shoe Box
  • Rubber Bands

clean barbie

1. While instinct may lead you to let Barbie soak up the suds, this should be avoided, otherwise, water can seep in through the joint sockets and can eventually cause Barbie to mold and rot. Instead, you should give Barbie a once over with gentle, mild hand soap and warm water. Avoid wiping down her face, or you can remove her makup. If this does happen, you can always help her to paint her face back on, but this will add an additional step for you. During this step you can use a soft bristled toothbrush to gently give Barbie a scrub in her nooks and crannies that the wash cloth might not be able to hit as well.

2. If Barbie’s legs show any sign of crooking, or bending awkwardly, you can use rubber bands at her thights, knees, and ankles, and then hold her under the tap, with the water running hot. (As you’ll only be putting the water on her legs and not submerging her, you avoid the risk of water logging her.) You may need to repeat several times, but eventually this will help to get her legs straightened back to normal.

3. If Barbie still has marks and discoloration after her initial scrub down, you can use your washcloth to gently rub the alcohol over these spots. You can also try dabbing acne cream instead, and then leaving Barbie to sunbathe. You can repeat either of these methods until the stains are gone! However, some stains may simply be too strong to remove, but at the very least you will have helped to lighten them!

4. If you’ve acquired a doll who already smells like she may have mold, or has picked up other bad smells from sitting in storage, you can give Barbie the complete spa experience, akin to a mud wrap! Wrap your doll in tissue paper, and place her in a shoe box filled with dryer sheets. Barbie will be smelling wonderful in just a few days!

5. If Barbie has and damage to her skin, such as the splitting of the plastic at the feet, you can dab a toothpick with Super Glue over these spot with a toothpick. Be sure to use only a very small amount and that the glue doesn’t get everywhere!

Barbie is now washed, with a hair do, and dressed for success and ready to be sold!

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