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Musty smell isn’t the first thing to pop into your mind when you think of Barbie dolls. (Or indeed, any doll.)
But that’s exactly what happens when you purchase a vintage Barbie on eBay or another second hand site. Or when you dig out an old doll from your pile of attic memorabilia. Not the best way to showcase the doll or put a smile on your kid’s face! Moreover, if you have hayfever, get ready for lots of tissues!
Bad news aside, don’t despair!
Giving an old doll a second chance in life is a great way to reuse an item and reduce the purchase of new toys! All we have to do is give it a good clean!
So how to clean it up?
Luckily, with a bit of warm water, baking soda, and fresh air you can get the musty smell out of your collectible barbie clothes.
Step 1: How Fragile Are They?
To do this, you’ll want to conduct a physical check. Take a look at whether or not the seams are intact, how the velcros adhered to the clothing, and whether there are any holes.
It’s also a good idea to read any labels on the clothes. This will tell you what material they’re made out of so that you can determine whether or not the clothes are actually washable.
Anyhow, the first, simplest and totally harmless hack is to just air them out if they are too delicate! In many cases, air can actually get rid of musty smells on its own.
Now, it totally makes sense to seek professional advice if you’re dealing with a valuable vintage doll. You already paid a fortune for it, so you won’t want to risk ruining it just to save a couple hundred bucks! An antiques specialist will be able to appraise your items and determine if you can wash the clothes or not.
Step 2: Test It
You’ll need to find a gentle cleaning agent. I recommend an eco-friendly plant-based cleaning agent such as soapberries as these don’t contain harsh and damaging chemicals.
Alternatively, you can grab some warm water and the good old stench exterminator – baking soda!
Regardless of whether you use laundry detergent and water or baking soda and water, you’ll need to combine the two together. Then gently dab a small amount of the mixture on the back hem of the garment.
If the fabric holds up, you can move on to the next step.
Step 3: Soak the Clothes
Once you’ve determined that the fabric can tolerate your DIY cleaning solution, it’s time to soak the garment. Dunk the barbie clothes in the cleaning solution and gently swish them around.
Depending on how fragile the clothing is, you can allow them to soak for up to 10 minutes. However, for more delicate items you may want to just give them a gentle swish and call it a day.
Step 4: Rinse the Garments and Dry
Once you’ve finished soaking the garment, it’s time to rinse out the cleaning solution. Run the garment under cold water to get rid of the solution. Make sure that you rinse the garment thoroughly.
Then, hang the garments to dry, but not in direct sunlight! The sun can cause bleaching even with just a little bit of exposure. It’s best to find an indoor clothesline and hang the clothes there.
Step 5: If None of the Above Helped…
Sniff, sniff…. It’s STILL there. Is there anything else you can do?
For one, repeat the soaking process. However, this time add a few drops of gentle dish detergent or baby shampoo to the soak.
Then, rinse the garment out and allow it to soak once again, this time in a cleaning solution with a few drops of vinegar added. After you rinse the vinegar out of the clothes, you can once again hang the barbie clothes on the line to dry.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Clean Vintage Barbie Clothes?
If you’ve got vintage barbie clothes on your hands, you want to avoid using harsh chemicals to clean them. Instead, use natural cleaning agents such as baking soda and vinegar to get any dirt out of the item. Sometimes, even the simplest airing will do!
How Do You Get a Musty Smell Out of Dolls?
Baking soda is both gentle AND efficient enough to deal with mildew smell in dolls. But if that’s not enough, a drop or two of gentle baby shampoo with some lukewarm water will do the trick. Just note that you should never put dolls in the dryer as it can melt the plastic and damage them.