Cleaning antique dolls requires care, identifying materials, and a few special products. Most antique dolls are made from bisque or porcelain, although they can include a variety of materials. A few quick tips include using a soft toothbrush, cotton swabs, and a damp cloth with warm water and a mild detergent to clean the dolls' parts. Fill in missing doll pieces with Darwi air-dry modeling compound. Try washing doll hair with conditioner or fabric softener.
It is easy to damage porcelain and bisque dolls, so use care when handling them. Lay a few layers of towels on the work surface for padding. Bisque is a porous material that absorbs oils from the skin. Be sure to wear gloves or wash up to avoid staining before beginning.
Start by removing surface dirt with the damp cloth. Use a dry cloth immediately after to avoid over saturation of the porous material. Repeat the wet-dry process until the dirt is removed. Use the cotton swabs and toothbrush to clean the most intricate pieces of the doll.
Renaissance wax is another good product useful in the restoration and cleaning of antique dolls. Use it to clean cloudy doll eyes. Machine oil, nail polish or clock oil are also good for use on eyes, but be careful not to get the oils on the bisque or porcelain surfaces.