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How to Wash Rag Dolls

Keeping rag dolls, or toys in general, clean at all times is really important to keep your little one from any bacteria, germs and moulds.

origin of rag dolls

Rag dolls differ in various cultures. Some are hand sewn from old clothes worn by members of the family. Whilst there are some that are filled with traditional rags only and some a mix of fabric scraps, materials and cotton.

For example, Amish rag dolls are popularly known to have no face and hair. Their clothing is somewhat similar to what Amish children are wearing. Because they do not have enough toys, both little girls and boys can play with an Amish Rag doll. Back in the day when amish dolls became too dirty or badly worn, the head, the arms and the legs would be completely covered with fresh cloths instead of washing them. Itís a tradition and part of their culture.

In todayís generation, rag dolls have already been mass produced and commercially made. Our little ones would regard these dolls as their comfort object. Rag dolls have become their companion and everyday buddy. Children latch to their dolls without any care in the world.

Most definitely, these rag dolls get all the love and play. Little grubby hands, dirty floors, stains, etc. Technically, we canít just cover them with fresh pieces of fabric. Itís just not hygienic and could pose a serious threat to our childrenís health. It would ruin the appearance of the doll and could be strenuous work especially if youíre a busy momma.

So hereís how you wash your childís rag dolls.

Prepare and Repair

The first thing to do is to prepare the rag doll. Check for minor repairs. Loose stitches can sometimes lead to major breaks. Things like a needle and a thread will come in handy. The buttons could sometimes loosen so itís better to check them.

Since rag dolls are made differently, read the labels and care instructions. Rag dolls often come in fabrics that can shrink, wrinkle and change in shape. Synthetic fabrics, on the other hand, are the easiest to clean and wash.

Next, remove the dress and other accessories. Bind the hair. If the hair is made from yarn, do not attempt to brush it. It would only ruin it. Finally, hand wash or machine wash the doll.

Wipe With A Clean Damp Cloth

As mentioned, rag dolls have washing instructions attached to them or printed on the box. Once you have carefully gone through it, you may have encountered an instruction that reads, ďWipe with a clean damp cloth.Ē

In this case, rag dolls with the same instruction are the easiest to maintain and clean. Most stains and dirt that may have collected on the doll can be easily wiped off with a clean damp cloth. Apparently, this works the same way as cleaning wooden blocks. However, these types of dolls could not be popped in the washing machine.

Machine Wash

Popping rag dolls in the washing machine makes them so easy to clean. If these dolls can be machine washed, toss them inside on a gentle cycle, warm water and mild laundry detergent.

You can even secure the doll in a net bag and remove the other accessories such as clothes. Rinse and sundry. Sun drying can potentially kill bacteria and germs.


Not all rag dolls can sustain months of being machine washed. So alternatives like hand washing can be very ideal. Handwashing rag dolls is the same as washing your babyís clothes. Check for stains and treat them with stain remover. Soak the doll in a mild detergent and cold water. Rinse and hang to dry. Baby shampoos can also be a substitute for mild detergent.

In case of shrinking of dollís accessories, lay or roll them flat on a towel to dry. In most cases where awful odor could be present, you can soak the accessories or the doll for a few minutes with baking soda. Tools such as toothbrush or simply covering your finger with a small towel can help remove stains. You can also remove the stuffings inside prior to washing. Once the doll is clean and dry, you can sew them back again.

RELATED: Why Your Child Should Play With Rag Dolls