Thursday, August 14, 2008

Saving Daisy Zara/ Repairing doll hair

When the tornado hit, my family managed to save more of my childhood mementos than I would have thought possibly. Because they were in the toy box in the hall, my homemade Cabbage Patch, baby; Siamese Kitty and Angry Kitty were in good condition and easily cleaned and moved into the house. My other favorite toys were in my bedroom, and took on a lot more debris. Mom alerted me that I needed to either clean them up or let them go. I was on the fence until Grandma Staker (usually the throw-them-out type) cleaned up Grandma B’s doll.

I went online at and looked up the proper procedure, but grandma charged along and did it her own way. Grandma and I are both over achievers, but her lack of perfectionism is how she manages to get so much more done.

Anyway, I decided to clean up a few favorite toys (Cabbage Patch doll Daisy Zara, Pound Puppy Alice and Reese’s Bear) using the suggestions I found. First I took Dad’s sheep blowdryer and used it to blow the worst of the debris off the toys. Then I used the shop vac to suck debris out of the toys. I used a damp rag to surface-wash all the toys. (Note: none of this is guaranteed to remove all glass or fiberglass, so I can’t let kids snuggle with them. It’s just nice to have the toys.)

Next, I took q-tips dipped in water and used it to remove dirt from Daisy’s face. I used rubbing alcohol in especially tough spots, but rubbed very carefully, because alcohol can remove some pigments. Then it was time for the tough part: Cleaning Daisy’s hair.

Some sights recommended Windex or Fantastic. One suggested shampoo for color treated hair (not regular shampoo, as it will make the hair too frizzy). I had the color-safe shampoo, so I used it. I inverted the doll while washing to prevent getting excess water in the doll head. I worked the shampoo in gently, not scrubbing as I would with my own hair. (It would have worsened tangles.)

After rinsing thoroughly, but without getting too much water in the roots, I put in a ton of conditioner (fabric softener is also recommended) and began to comb the hair. The most important thing is to use a pet brush, because metal tines better penetrate the hair, and human hair brushes will carry the oil from our hair to the doll, attracting dirt.

I combed carefully, supporting any matted areas with my fingers to prevent stretching or uprooting the hair. It took quite a while, but once I was done, I carefully rinsed out the conditioner and set her hair on rollers. The hardest part of setting the hair was arranging the rollers so the curls would hide all root-lines.

Some experts recommend quickly dipping the hair in nearly-boiling water, but that sounded too risky and dangerous for me (please Google the details if you decide to try it). I just waited a few days for the curls to dry and took out the rollers. Ta-da! Daisy looks amazingly better, if I do say so myself.

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