How to Clean Mold and Mildew from Plastic Barbie Dolls

Deni asked: How do I remove mold and mildew from plastic Barbie dolls? I have recently found some of my old Barbie dolls and have tried cleaning them when I found mold/mildew on their legs and bodies, but nothing I have tried so far has worked. I would really enjoy passing down these dolls to my niece. Can you help me find a solution? Thank you for your time.

To clean and sanitize Barbie dolls, follow this multi-step process. With a little bit of time and patience, the dolls will look good as new! If you are working with collectible or valuable dolls, consult with a professional for restoration advice to keep their value from being affected.

You Will Need:

  • Water
  • Color safe bleach
  • Hair dryer
  • Towels
  • Cloth scouring pad
  • Wash tub or sink
  • Baby shampoo
  • Rubber gloves

Steps to Remove the Mold and Mildew:

  1. Fill a wash tub or sink with a solution of ¼ cup color safe bleach for every gallon of water. This is considered the minimal strength determined to safely sanitize toys.
  2. If desired, remove the heads of the dolls. Although it is considered safe to submerge the entire doll in color safe bleach, you may want to clean the heads separately. To make it easier to remove the head, blow hot air from a hair dryer on the doll for a couple of minutes to soften the plastic.
  3. Submerge the Barbies in the cleaning solution.
  4. Allow the Barbies to soak for at least two minutes.
  5. Scrub them with a cloth scouring pad and the bleach solution. Use rubber gloves to protect your skin.
  6. Clean the skin portion of the heads with the same solution and a clean cloth or towel. Use care not to remove Barbie’s facial features. The features are painted on, and the paint can be easily removed with scrubbing. To be safe, avoid using the scouring pad on the head.
  7. Once the dolls are clean, remove them from the solution. Rinse well with clean water.
  8. Wash the doll’s hair with baby shampoo. Even if you soaked the head in bleach, the hair should be washed to remove the chemical from the cleaning solution.
  9. Spread the dolls out on a clean folded towel to dry for at least 12 hours. Adjust their position periodically to allow them to dry thoroughly.
  10. Reattach the heads.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • If desired, clean one doll to start with as a test. If the results are acceptable, continue with the rest of them.
  • If the head doesn’t come off easily, don’t force it. Although most Barbies do have removable heads, time or storage conditions may lead to unseen damage under certain circumstances.

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