Getting Out Skin Stains

Your doll's vinyl has marks on it! How did that happen?

Vinyl, oddly enough, is absorbent. I don't know why, go ask a chemist. But, the vinyl your dolls are made from can sometimes soak up dyes from cloth, or dirt stains.

As an aside, this is why you should NEVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, USE A SHARPIE PEN ON YOUR DOLL FOR ANYTHING EVER. The vinyl will soak up the dye and whatever design you've just drawn on your doll will bleed through the vinyl, making it look like she has an odd bruise.

(True story -- I know this from experience. I brought Sara to school one day for a class project. I had written her name in sharpie on a piece of masking tape and stuck it to her leg. Sharpie bled through, and Sara had my name tattooed on her leg for years. It's fading now to look like the aforementioned bruise ... I guess the only good thing about sharpie is that it goes away on its own after a decade or so.)

Anyway. Let's say you've JUST DISCOVERED some sort of discoloration on your doll's skin. For example:

These red stains showed up on Ivy when I took a red dress off her. The dye from the cloth had stained many places on her vinyl. Ivy had been sitting with her hands on her legs, so her thumbs got dye on them!

You need to clean whatever you find off as fast as you can before it soaks into the vinyl and gets stuck! The longer the stain stays, the harder it is to get out.

I'm all about doing things the easy way. 99% of doll stains can be gotten rid of very very easily, thank goodness. Don't reach for the Oxy yet.

Be careful to not get your doll's eyes or cloth body wet when you do this -- you can really mess something up!

Everything we're going to use is a gentle cleaner, so dig in and use some elbow grease! As long as you're not grating on your doll with a fork or coarse grit sand paper, you'll be okay.

First Wave of Attack: Soap and Water

What? It can't hurt. In addition to washing her all regular-like, grab a paper towel and scrub. HARD. Elbow grease is going to be the number one thing to get the doll's stains out.

Second Wave of Attack: Baby Wipes

Baby wipes have special detergents in them that are gentle, and yet clean ... uh, goo out of babies. If they can do that, you know they're a good tool for you. Scrub hard! If your doll isn't complaining, scrub harder.

Third Wave of Attack: Baking Soda

Dump it on, grind it in, scrub it off. Scrub harder, darn it! The baking soda works because it's a coarse scrubbing agent (which is why people use it so much to clean around the house). It's not going to work if you're gentle, though.

Fourth Wave of Attack: Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

I'm a big hippie and I don't like cleaning with chemicals. Try everything else before you use one of these. The regular strength should be fine.

Even though the eraser has cleaning agents in it, it works in a similar fashion to the baking soda. Get your rubber gloves on and scrub!

For Extreme Cases Only: Benzoyl Peroxide

Do NOT do this step unless you've exhausted the other steps. It's hard, it's long, and did I mention it's hard?

Benzoyl peroxide, obviously, contains peroxide. Peroxide sounds familiar, right? It's a very common ingredient in teeth whitening and hair lightening chemicals. Guess what we're about to use it to lighten.

Benzoyl peroxide is also the most common ingredient in acne medications. Go buy a tube of whatever store brand acne cream you can get a hold of. Make sure that the tube says it has a .10% concentration of benzoyl peroxide in it! (It may also say maximum strength, since .10% is the strongest concentration you can sell over the counter in the United States.)

Lay your doll somewhere close to a window. Using a paint brush, paint the only the areas with the stain with the acne cream. No where else, got it? Be generous with the stuff. Get it on there thick.

Take every other area of the doll's body that's not painted and cover it with towels. Get as much of the body as you can.

Cover the painted area with saran wrap. Secure it if you can.

Now, open the blinds and let the sun shine down on your doll. Leave her alone.

Depending on the severity of the stain, the brightness of the sun, and the amount of acne cream you used, this could take between a few hours and many days. Stinks, doesn't it? That's why this is a last resort -- you might not get to see your doll for a week or more! Plus, you run the risk of bleaching your doll's skin out completely.

Change the cream on her every few hours, at the least. Wipe it off with a baby wipe and paint more on.

When she's all clean, get her into her robe. She's probably tired and mad at you for scrubbing so hard.