Doll Cleaning Tips!
Body Washing
What is "VDS"?
Hair Styling
Removing Spots
Drying the Doll
Tips from Other Collectors
Cleaning Clothes
Hi! We can't stand dieighed your options. Thanks and good luck! :)

Take the doll's clothes off and set them aside. Get an old, soft-bristled toothbrush, a bar of hand soap which is not heavily scented (Ivory is a good choice), and run warm water over the dolls. Apply a soapy lather with a toothbrush to the doll's face, being careful not to scratch the face paint. DO NOT get an excess of water on the head, as moisture dripping into the hair plugs could breed fungus.

Go over the entire body with the toothbrush, looking for dark flakes or white, green, purple, blue, or black spots, which is fungus. (Read below for tips on how to deal with this after drying.) If you are satisfied with the clean-ness of the doll, rinse thoroughly and move on to hair washing. If not:

If you have an especially stinky or dirty doll, more washing may be needed. Submerging dolls is often not recommended by other collectors. However, we have soaked many of ours and have had no problems. If you plan to store the dolls in a good environment..that is at 58 to 78 degrees F. in a non-humid area, OUT of plastic..the dolls will most likely NOT have problems.

To submerge, run a sink of cool water and drop the dolls in. The dirt will loosen up and the doll's smell will be refreshed. Wash with a toothbrush as mentioned above, rinse throughly, and move on to the hair.


If your doll has shiny, clean, curly, sweet smelling hair, we would recommend leaving it alone. However, if the doll's hair is matted, tangled, stuck down, dull, stinky or grimey, here's a trick to get the doll refreshed. (Note: Collectors who refuse to wash/comb hair invariably will have a few dolls which have permanent bedhead. To make a doll fresh again:)

Determine the messiness of the the hair and decide whether the doll has its scent. If it does and you choose to not have any other scent anywhere near it, run cool water over the hair and comb out with a man's hair comb. You'll want to shape the hair as it dries.

However, if your doll needs help and you don't mind an initial smell of conditioner (the original smell comes back, slightly altered, after drying) here's a great tip which also worked wonders for our My Little Ponies and Sea Wees: Use a good-quality hair conditioner such as Pantene deep conditioning on your doll. By working the conditioner through, it works as a lubricant while you comb.

Run warm water over the hair and apply a quarter sized amount of conditioner. Leave on for a couple minutes and begin to comb out the hair:roots to ends. Be careful not to pull out hair plugs and note that some roots have loops that will grab (avoid these). It may look like matted fur at the ends; continue to work it through. Some hair will come out at the tips--that's okay. Just use repetitive combing motions to make it smooth.

Once the conditioner is combed to the ends, it will be squeezed onto the comb, as doll hair does not absorb it. Reapply the excess and comb more until you are happy with the results. Once the hair is straight and untangled, rinse thoroughly with warm water: roots to ends. Use a clean comb to continue combing while you dry with a towel. (See further instructions.)

Note: If you would like to get rid of the strands which pulled a little longer during combing, lay out the hair in your hands and use scissors to trim the longer ones. CAUTION: It's really easy to cut too much or unevenly, so be extremely careful. Move on to drying


1.  Once you have washed and combed the doll's hair, hold it in a towel and lightly dab dry. Continue combing its hair and shape hair as you would like it to look when it's dry.

2. Most importantly, stand the doll up in an area where air circulates and let it dry completely before storing. If you decide to store the doll in plastic, the doll should be extremely dry. Be sure to add a dessicant (the silica packets that come in shipping boxes that your parents always told you not to eat.)  


This is a tricky subject, as some dyes are seemingly unstable and they easily run when you wash the clothes--especially the tights. We recommend bar hand soap for clothes cleaning, but, if you choose use detergent (like Tide), make sure that it doesn't have bleach in it. (It may not hurt your clothes but it does damage ssc stuff.) Other collectors have told me that they like to use Woolite because it's more gentle. We would advise against using a dish soap, as many brands do bleach fabrics somewhat.

*The most important thing to remember when washing clothes is to be gentle with them.* And, if your doll's clothes look mint, consider NOTwashing them at this time.

Washing dresses: Run some lukewarm water and dampen the fabric. With your toothbrush, lather up with bar soap on the bristles and lightly rub at stains. The best time to do this is at the same time that you're washing your dolls. Do not over-wet and rub too hard, as the threads will weaken.

Washing tights: Use cold water when doing this. The green dye in some pairs is highly suspectible to fading and can go from emerald green to lime green very quickly. (Note: If your doll has lime and white tights, they're faded.) Try not to rub very much while brushing with your toothbrush; lather them up with your hands. Rinse with cold water.

Rinsing and Drying: Rinse with cold water and roll clothes in a towel. Squeeze dry as much as possible then shape clothes into the approximate shape which they'll take on once on the doll. we air-dry, but are told that drying with a hairdryer speeds up the process and helps protect against fading and color-running.

Scrub shoes: Use your toothbrush to go inside and out of the shoes, taking care to air dry them thoroughly upside down.  


Please read Strawberry Bonker's article

Your Strawberry Shortcake dolls are made with a combination of pvc and "plasticizer," which softens the material. Over time, this plasticizer migrates to the surface and oozes out of the doll. The condition is made worse if exposed to heat or moisture, leaving the items sticky.

Common, everyday fungus thrives on this stickiness and causes spots which are white, green, purple, blue, or black on your dolls and minis. The spots will appear on the "soft" portions of the doll: the head, arms, legs, and shoes. (The torso is made of a harder plastic.)

To avoid this condition, place your dolls in a well ventilated area, add dissicants (the little packets that you get in shoe boxes), and DO NOT store them in plastic bags. This traps moisture, which is bad. You may want to keep baggied dolls with the tops open, with tissue paper added to soak up any condensation. Also, keep them in a cool, dry area.


This condition is dubbed VDS--Vinyl Deterioration Syndrome. While this is an official sounding 'infliction,' it is as common as a mildewed shower curtain. And as you can understand how a shower curtain gets yucky, the same applies for dolls.

This condition is NOT contagious. No more than you "catch" mold on you by standing by a yucky bathtub, the dolls do not catch "VDS." You will read many testimonies to the contrary, but our personal experience alone tells us the opposite. Our non-inflicted dolls have not had any contamination from some spotty girls that we bought.

Additionally, the foremost authority that we've found on the web (Jenn Bowles) has actually asked a chemist who created the most effective spot remover for dolls to comment on the fungus. We highly recommend that you read his response. Click here to read the article.

If the conditions are right: Yes, ALL of your dolls will  get moldy. However, if you change their environment and clean them up, don't bother with separating "good" from "bad"--it just IS NOT necessary. Additionally, they can share clean clothes, as it is the stickiness that is feeding the spores. It is not a virus.


Clean the stickiness off of the dolls. You can use soap and water, or a solvent made for this condition. We're told that FORMULA 9-1-1 cleans dolls well and REMOVE-ZIT, applied carefully, will remove spots. Both items can be purchased only on-line at

Our Remove-Zit is in the mail and we will report back later our results on a newly purchased spotty Apricot. Please note that we're told that it is most effective on faces, whereas it leaves white spots arms, legs, and shoes. Also note that it DOES remove paint, so you may have difficulty if the spot is on a mini or a doll cheek. Read all directions carefully.

Another cure that we've heard about is OXY-10, which is for human blemishes (where-as, though Remove-Zit has "zit" in the title, is not for actual zits. LoL.) The benzine in Oxy-10 eats aways at the fungus, though we've been told that it takes a long time.


AT YOUR OWN RISK: If you have NRFB, MIB, and MOC dolls/minis and see substanial stickiness and/or spots, we have been advised to  remove the items in order to clean them, as the damage later will be substantial.

This DOES NOT mean that you should remove these valuable items: We are simply passing on this tip. Remember,  most of these dolls have been in their boxes for 20+ years and the lack of air circulation could be a breeding ground in the migrating plasticizer. Simply take care to keep them in a COOL spot in your home.  Good luck and we'll answer or pass on any questions that you might have to others who can answer them. E-mail :)

More references:


Please give us your cleaning tips!
Thank you

Tips from other collectors:

Soft Scrub can be used to give your doll a "mini-facial."
Woolite softens hair and washes clothing.
Dish soap works well in scrubbing the doll's body.
Baby conditioner untangles hair.
Soak super-frizzy hair in Dawn overnight. Brush through and rinse.

Updated on 9/25/03
**This site is is for informational/collector purposes only and is in no way associated with American Greetings, Kenner, or Those Characters From Cleveland. Strawberry Shortcake is copyrighted and trademarked by those aforementioned companies, all rights reserved.**

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