Saturday, October 18, 2008

Cleaning mold off of a hard plastic strung doll

I recently blogged about a Nancy Ann Style Show doll we are selling. Dash of Spice is made of painted hard plastic, a type of doll that seems to be rather susceptible to mold problems.

Basically, a fine, almost powdery mold grows on the painted surface of the plastic — I'm assuming only on dolls that are stored in humid climates, as Colorado (where we live) is too dry for that type of thing. The mold can be cleaned off but tends to leave pale discolorations where it grew.

My mom bought Dash of Spice fairly early in our years of collecting and acquiring dolls. We're not sure if we just didn't notice then, or if it has gotten worse over the years, but when we were getting ready to take her picture we noticed that she had a powdery-like white residue on her clothes. We stripped her, and found splotches of mold on her arms, chest, back, and legs.

At the same time, I realized that the doll was filthy: She had a thin shadow of dirt over every bit of exposed plastic. I immediately set out to clean her up.

I like to use Cathie Lee doll cleaner, which you can buy on eBay, for cleaning hard plastic dolls. Rather than applying it with a rag, I cut into thirds those red scrubby pads that are made to clean glass cooktop surfaces without scratching, and use that. It's gentle enough not to remove paint from the plastic, but scrubby enough to help remove caked-on dirt — like what was on my mom's Nancy Ann Style Show doll.

Here is a nice before-and-after demonstration: a picture of the dolls legs after only one of them had been cleaned. The focus is a little soft, but you can still tell that the leg on the left (your left) looks a little more grey than the other. That's not a shadow that makes the leg look darker — it's dirt!

This ought to demonstrate how much you can improve a hard plastic doll's appearance by cleaning it — if you have a good doll cleaner and are careful not to take off any paint, of course!

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