I wrote an article on Waldorf doll care on my blog previously. You can read it here. But since many people who own natural dolls may have these questions I wanted to make a renewed effort at giving directions for cleaning your doll babies and clothing.
Question #1: Can I wash my doll?
If you are the proud owner of a natural Waldorf style doll, no matter who the maker is, your doll should be stuffed with sheep's wool. If you are not sure about your doll's stuffing you should ask the maker to be absolutely certain of it. My dolls are ALL stuffed with clean carded wool.
Being stuffed with real wool is of great advantage! Not only does the wool give warmth and softness, these benefits aside, sheep's wool has natural antibactirial properties. Wool is less likely to pick up germs and dust to begin with. Wool stuffing means your doll is washable and that it is okay to fully soak your baby in water and give her/him a complete bath!
Unlike polyester filled dolls that will matt down and flatten, Wool stuffed natural dolls will NOT lose their loft. Though spotcleaning is preferable and less hard on the doll if there should be an accident (bad fall in the dinner plate or puddle) your doll can go take a bath! Here are a few points you need to remember when giving your doll a bath:
- make sure the water is lukewarm and NOT hot. Just as giving a bath to a sweet babe.
- Don't use harsh detergents or cleaning agents. Best is a product you would use for a wool sweater such Woolite or a gentle shampoo.
- You may even want to give your doll and your child a bath at the same time. Just make sure that the soap used at bathtime is colorless and a mild one. You can apply mild soap directly to a bad spot and gently massage that area. Then rinse out the doll until all the soap suds are gone.
- After the bath you must gently squeeze the dolls' limbs and mid-section to get most of the water out. Don't sqeeze the head! Since it is formed and shaped with string it should not be squeezed or treated too roughly! Too much squeezing might damage the shape of it.
- Set your doll on thick bathtowel for drying. If it's summer time or you live in a warm climate you can put it outside. In the winter I dry my dolls on the radiator. Depending on the climate you live in drying time may vary. Where I live (Colorado) it's really dry and my dolls dry within a day. In a humid climate you may have to wait a couple of days...
Question # 2. What about haircare? Can my child brush the dolls' hair?
A Waldorf dolls' hair is usually made of worsted wool, mohair yarns, or combinations theiroff. Sometimes dollmakers use the loopy curly kind known as boucle yarn. You should NEVER EVER brush your doll's hair with a real hairbrush. It should only be styled using fingers. Rough brushing of the hair will thin the hair out or destroy the loops of the mohair.
Maybe this has already happened to your dolls' precious tresses. Don't get too upset. It is fixable! The great thing about Waldorf dolls is that you can repair them!
Dollmamkers use varying techniques to sew on dollhair. It kind of depends on the make of your doll. My dolls usually have a crocheted wig. If the doll has long hair the hair is sewn onto this wig. If the hair is damaged you can remove the layers of damaged hair and sew on a new layer. Just search for the tiny stitches and gently undo them. You could even get creative and give your doll a whole new look and different haircolor.
I will write another article on this topic to help you out! So keep watching my blog!
Question #3 What about the doll clothing? Can it be washed?
I recommend hand washing all little doll clothes. Why? Because most US washing machines I have come across are quite violent and have ripped my own clothing - even when set on a gentle cycle - to shreds. If you absolutely don't have the time and energy you could put your dolls' clothes in a protective net and wash them on cold in a machine.
I would never do this to items made of felt though. Felt might pill or react in some funny unexpected way...
General tips and Suggestions:
If the blush on your dolls' cheeks has faded, a wee bit of red beeswax crayon can be applied. If you don't own such a crayon you can use a non-toxic red pencil to gently rub some new blush on the cheeks. Don't overdo it though! But also don't be afraid. I believe the true beauty of these dolls lies in the fact that they can take some loving and still be adorable.
My daughter has a Hispanic doll I made her long time ago. The dolls' hair is matted, and she got some spots from "eating strawberries" but my child would not have me change a thing about her. I'll never forget the trauma when her American girl doll lost an arm a while ago. How do you put a plastic arm back on? My clothdolls have never lost a limb...
But since natural dolls are made of cloth, small holes or tears can be fixed. Don't be afraid to take a needle to your doll! You may even find you enjoy it and decide to make a doll of your own!
Please, let me know if you have any other questions about doll care. I'd be glad to share my kwowledge to help you keep your baby clean and pretty looking! If you are a dollmaker I would love to get some of your cleaning tips and suggestions, too!