Wednesday, December 21, 2011

how to clean a waldorf doll

I would like to share with you how we here Under Rainbows clean our Waldorf dolls.

Waldorf dolls are stuffed with sheep's wool. It is a gorgeous material to work with and I love the qualities it brings to the doll. It brings weight: it is heavier than cotton and also synthetic stuffing which lends the doll itself a good weight. Wool holds warmth: imagine all of the body heat from the little person holding it being absorbed into the doll. Imagine how lovely it is to wake up in the night looking for your special and they are warm to the touch, as if they were living themselves. I also love that the wool holds smell. Eventually, after lots of love, the natural smell of your child will be absorbed into the dolls wool and the doll will smell very familiar and comforting. I know that smell for me was so important as a child and I needed my special to smell just right for it to be of true comfort. So, that's some of the why behind using wool in making a Waldorf doll, the only thing is, they take a little more caring for than a wipe-clean plastic dolly does.
I really recommend that Waldorf dolls are spot cleaned for as long as possible. Spot cleaning means cleaning only those little bits that really need it rather than immersing the whole doll in water. This is because the wool stuffing can felt making the doll bumpy and hard.

To spot clean you need some warm water, an old, soft tooth brush and some mild soap. I like using baby soap or shampoo or a castel soap.

Wet the tooth brush and rub a tiny bit of soap onto it.
Very gently, in small circles, brush the soapy toothbrush over the spots (dirty bits).

Rinse the brush in clean warm (but not hot) water.

Brush over the skin in one direction. Try to follow the knit of the fabric. Repeat this until all of the soap has been rinsed off. Leave your doll to dry flat and naturally.

If the dolly is very dirty or has been saturated with...something ;-) then this is what we do to give them a full wash.

**If you are washing a doll with hair I recommend that you keep the hair dry if at all possible, tie it up in a pony tail or invent a dolly shower cap, tie a small plastic bag over her hair perhaps.**

Fill a basin with warm, not hot, water. Add a little soap; a very mild detergent or a pure soap or again baby shampoo or soap.

Immerse the doll in the water and very gently wash. You can slowly allow the water to seep through the wool, but try not to agitate it too much. For the worst bits you can use the old toothbrush trick mentioned above.
When the doll is clean refill the sink with warm clean water and repeat the process to rinse.

While the doll is still wet make sure that her skin is still in the right place. Smooth the little face out, position the arms and legs to their natural place.

Allow to dry naturally and flat until they are completely dry.

To re-blush the cheeks (when the doll is completely dry) I warm my fingers up by rubbing them together.

When they are good and warm I rub a red wax crayon over them. A little of the wax comes off onto my finger.

I rub my finger in a gentle circular motion over the apple of the cheek. I repeat this until the cheek is as red as I desire it. It is a good way of doing it as it builds up layers of red and is very forgiving.
And there they; are ready to be loved and played with again :-)

Oh one last little tip: If smell/ warmth is very important to your child stuff the clean doll up your top next to your skin and wear it for as long as you can manage. This way some of your special smell and warmth will be absorbed into the doll taking some of the strangeness of the clean and newly washed smell away. I remember my poor mum walking around for hours with one or other of our specials up her vest. She'd be like an oven baking cakes, we'd take it out, have a cuddle...nope not ready yet and shove it back up there for a while longer.

I hope this is of help, if you have any questions please do ask and I will do my best to answer them.


  1. Your oven comparison is too funny. What a lovely mother you must have! (:

    Thanks for this post. I'm hoping to get dolls for my boys this year (or at least a doll for them to share for a while) - all cleaning tips will likely be needed.

  2. eidolons, my mum is one in a million, she really is, I am very lucky! Yes, I was a little intimidated by cleaning the dolls when we first had them, but because they are so played with we had to learn lol! I hope you have fun picking out a doll for your boys :-) thanks for the comment, Laura x

  3. Thanks for sharing lovely Laura:) Jane

  4. I love the idea of your mother walking around with a doll up her top!! I've often done it when resuscitating kittens :-)

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