How to Clean Barbie Hair


Sandy asked: How do I clean Barbie hair? My three year old has a way of destroying her Barbie’s hair. I tried to clean one with soap and water, and it became worse. Our hair conditioner…failed. Any tips or tricks for Barbie hair? Thanks!

Barbie hair can quickly become dried and tangled if not cared for properly. Whether it’s a collector’s item or a child’s toy, the hair should be cleaned carefully to keep it moisturized and beautiful. Here are the steps to clean the hair without turning it into a frizzy mess.

You Will Need:

  • Gentle shampoo (baby shampoo works well)
  • Conditioner
  • Comb
  • Water
  • Towels or washcloths
  • Leave-in conditioner spray

Steps to Clean Barbie Hair:

  1. It is helpful to begin with a good combing to remove any snags or tangles in the hair.
  2. Work from the bottom to the roots to comb out tangles and remove any loose debris from the hair.
  3. In order to keep Barbie’s hair looking smooth and soft, it needs lots of conditioning. Start by applying a conditioner to the hair. Allow it to set on the hair for several minutes.
  4. Rinse the conditioner out under running water.
  5. Pat dry by wrapping the hair in a towel or washcloth and squeezing gently.
  6. Next, apply a small amount of gentle shampoo to the hair.
  7. Work the shampoo into the hair to remove any dirt.
  8. Rinse with running water.
  9. Another round of conditioner will help to restore any moisture that was taken out by the shampoo. Work a good amount of conditioner into the doll’s hair and allow it to set for several minutes.
  10. Rinse under running water and pat dry as before.
  11. Spray a leave-in conditioner on Barbie’s hair to keep it from drying out.
  12. Comb the hair to remove any tangles and allow it to air dry. If you would like to style the hair, it is best to do while wet so it will dry in the desired style. Braids can be added to produce waves or doll rollers can be used to make curls.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • The hair on Barbie dolls will come loose if too much pressure is applied. Comb through it gently to avoid pulling any strands loose from her head.
  • Storing the doll in a case or holder when not in use will help to minimize the amount of dirt and dust that gets in her hair.
  • To keep hair under control, consider keeping it in braids or pulled back in a ponytail.
  • Do not use laundry products such as detergents or fabric softeners on the hair. It is best to use baby shampoo and regular conditioning products.


  1. Trish says:

    Believe it or not, you can use a curling iron to fix the hair. When my daughter was little, her Barbie dolls’ hair would end up matted and just awful looking. Comb the hair out as best as you can, and then use the smallest barrel-size curling you can find. Place a section of the hair (starting from the scalp) into the curling iron (do NOT wrap the hair around the barrel) and then quickly run the iron down to the ends. The heat will smooth the hair out beautifully.

  2. Kia says:

    Clean the hair with only water or baby shampoo if there is something in it. Any harsh detergents will be damaging to the hair. Comb and let dry, remembering that how it lays is how it is going to dry (so if there are bumps or anything, those will show after it dries). To restore the appearance and softness of the hair, the best thing I have found is to use oil. Silk Infusion by CHI, or Super Skinny Serum by Paul Mitchell if you want “actual hair products,” or what I do: Just use PAM cooking spray or olive oil. Comb that through the hair, leave it in for a while, and you can rinse it out if you don’t like the oily look of the hair. I just leave it in, since my kids are hard on their Barbies. It absorbs into the hair in a couple days. Regarding the above comment: you need to be very careful applying heat to the Barbies’ hair. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend it at all. Barbie’s hair is synthetic, so you can easily fry the hair if you have too much heat, or do not work quick enough, and even if you do this quickly, over time the heat will permanently damage the hair beyond repair.

  3. Merry says:

    Thank you so much for this article, I just bought a used life-size Barbie for my grand-daughter, and her hair needs a little TLC. Thanks for the tips!

  4. Chelsea says:

    This helped me a lot! However, don’t use heat for a Barbie’s hair because it will melt.
    Also, don’t use normal shampoo because I did and Barbie’s hair became very curly. Use baby shampoo – it will work and the hair will be exactly how it looked originally.
    Also remember that I do not recommend washing a Barbie’s hair!

  5. Deborah says:

    Thanks for the above hints.
    I’m dying to know if any of this will also work on my little one’s “My Little Pony” collection. I feel terrible that I made her wash all of their hair (about 10 of them) with me when she got them dirty by playing with them outside. Once shampooed, the hair became impossible and seemed to be ruined as we couldn’t comb it or brush it out, etc. Please tell me if your methods or something else can help? I’m feeling guilty and desperate here and can’t wait for your emails.
    Thank you,

  6. Melanie says:

    Barbie usually has saran hair, whereas My Little Pony hair is usually nylon (likely because saran hair is better for straight hair like most Barbies have, whereas nylon hair is better to hold the curls and waves that My Little Ponies have). According to, “Some kinds of nylon hair gets so squeaky clean that it is hard to brush. For these dolls you can use a spray-on human hair conditioner and brush it through the hair, it contains lubricants that help with tangles. Don’t use very much, just enough to make the hair manageable, and spray it only on damp or wet hair. It will wash out at the next shampoo.”
    You can also use a drop of regular conditioner. Hubpages recommends that you “Make sure the conditioner is run all through the hair, and then brush or comb it with the conditioner still in it. The hair should be slick and easier to remove the tangles. Avoid pulling too hard, and start at the ends of the hair and work your way to the roots.”
    Since My Little Pony hair is different from Barbie hair, another option is to use’s method of liquid fabric softener to restore the hair.
    As a last resort, you can order replacement hair online.

    Source: The Manor – Doll Hair 101 – Nylon, Seran and Acetate
    Source: Sher’s Doll Doctor – Customizing and Repairing Tips and Hints
    Source: – My Little Pony Nylon Hair Ordering Page
    Source: – Self-Help Care for Sasha Dolls
    Source: HubPages – How to Wash, Clean and Curl My Little Pony Hair
    Source: – DIY Photo Tutorial – How to Make My Little Pony (Ponies) Hair Like New!!

  7. Lisa Ann says:

    What if your dolls’ hair is greasy and stringy looking and feeling? Three of my Monster High Dolls have that problem and I’ve tried regular shampoo and conditioner first and just yesterday, I tried using Dawn dish soap, then baby shampoo right after it, and that didn’t work either. I really need help to get the greasiness and stringiness gone from their hair. It’s driving me crazy that I can’t fix it. :( I also tried hand soap and that didn’t work either. What do I do?

  8. Melanie says:

    Lisa Ann,
    According to Wikipedia, Monster High dolls have saran hair. Saran doll hair is often somewhat greasy to give it a shiny appearance, however, there are reports online that the Monster High dolls are prone to greasiness due to the specific type of glue used for the plugs, which may be seeping onto the hair.
    When oil or grease is spilled on concrete, carpet, leather, etc., you can cover it with an absorbent powder like baking soda, corn starch or baby powder, and the powder will soak up the oil. You can try the same principal on the doll hair: cover it with an absorbent powder. An hour might be enough, but overnight would probably be better. In the morning, simply brush out the powder. (Absorbent powders can also be used as a dry shampoo for humans. :) If needed, you can rinse the doll hair to remove any remaining powder residue and/or repeat the powder soak, but try not to get the scalp of the doll wet, as that may bring more glue residue. It may be easier if you use powders that are closer in color to the hair of the doll (baking soda on white hair, cornmeal on blonde hair and bran on darker hair).
    Source: Wikipedia – Monster High
    Source: Nocturna Fangor – Solutions to the Monster High Greasy Hair / Glue Seepage Problem
    Source: – Greasy hair remedy?
    Source: Surviving the Stores – Using Baking Soda as a Dry Shampoo
    Source: HowToCleanStuff – How to Clean Faux Fur

  9. Deborah says:

    This article is WORKING! I am now going to curl the hair of my Barbie doll. This article was helpful! Aahhh! At first, the hair was was difficult to comb and tie. But now, the soft and smooth hair makes me want to make her hair curly. Thank you. (:

  10. Lisa says:

    Thank you! I actually managed to fix two of my Monster High dolls’ hair, not with the powder method, but by a simple rewashing with baby shampoo. But, just one still is greasy/stringy and I just got an Ariel doll yesterday and her hair is worse than the Monster High dolls… there is something really sticky/greasy and I tried the same method as with my Monster High dolls to no avail. Could it also be a glue problem? It’s going into the rest of her hair too, not just the roots. I looked up a possible solution, and someone I found said to use Goo-Gone and it had worked on her Barbies.

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