How to: Restore a TLC Doll!


(As you can see, I’m posting this first…check back Monday for Winston’s first photo shoot.)

So, I recently purchased a TLC doll, who ended up as Winston. While I didn’t take many (okay, any, actually) pictures during the process, I would like to share with you the things I’ve learned.

Hopefully some of this information will be useful to you if you ever attempt something similar!

NOTE: I am not responsible for any damage that may result to your doll due to these tips. Please check with an adult before attempting anything dramatic. 🙂

Also, if it’s written in RED I do not have personal experience using it.

Okay, here we go:


Be sure to keep all skin cleaning solutions away from your doll’s eyes, hair and cloth body!

*Baking Soda:

For very light surface stains, American Girl advises this:

  • Dampen a soft washcloth with
    lukewarm water.
  • Make a paste of baking soda and lukewarm water.
  • Rub the vinyl gently in a circular motion with the paste.
  • Wipe with a wet washcloth to remove residue, and rinse washcloth frequently with lukewarm water.
  • Towel dry your doll.

*Magic Eraser:

If you have an older doll that’s been on lots of play dates, try using a Magic Eraser. This truly can work magic–by removing surface grime and wear, it can brighten face paint and remove some shine marks, giving your doll a new lease on life. If you use this on your doll’s face, please try by the edge of her face paint first. While the magic eraser did not remove any of my dolls’ paint, I’ve heard some report that it has. So please exercise appropriate caution!

*Non-Acetone Nail Polish:

This will remove nail polish and surface paint spots.

DO NOT use the stuff with acetone. It can melt doll vinyl!  Don’t use near doll eyebrows, lips, or blush.



To calm frizzy hair, I used a handheld portable clothes steamer. I brushed through lightly misted hair, before trying this. Make sure you cover the doll’s eyes to prevent them from getting damp, and don’t do it too near the wig cap, as this could cause mold. (Since I was planning on removing the wig anyway, I didn’t worry too much about that.) This will make the hair straight, so don’t do this if you aren’t okay with that! (You could probably try it with some type of curlers in to keep permanent curls.)

More Major Stuff:

*To remove a wig:

Please don’t do this without parental permission/help! 

While there are many methods to remove AG doll wigs, this is the one that works best for me, and, with a little practice, removes the wig with the least amount of damage.

You’ll need:
*Q-Tips, Non-Acetone Nail Polish, Bent Needle-Nose Pliers, and a good supply of Patience

Tie the doll’s hair back from her face. Feel around the edge of the wig for slightly looser spots–these are usually on the sides of the head, just in front of or behind the ears.  When you find one, rub a Q-Tip with a little nail-polish remover there.

Now, take your pliers and get as close to the edge of the wig as you can. Pull gently at first. The beginning is the hardest part, and you don’t want to rip off the hair wefts along the edge if you can help it! Rub the Q-Tip along the edge more as needed, pulling the wig loose with the pliers.

Once you get the edges all loose, you’ll find it’s also glued down in the center. Rub another nail polish remover dipped Q-Tip along here, working it loose with your hands. Ta-Da! The wig is off!

I usually try to rinse out the nail polish remover from the wig at this point.
(Warning: With the exception of AG’s special dolls without hair, normal AG dolls look pretty creepy without a wig… 😉 )


So…any TLC doll tips that you’d like to add?

About ThePolkaDotPatriot

A Patriotic American. An American Girl Fan.
This entry was posted in Tutorials. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to How to: Restore a TLC Doll!

  1. You seem to have gotten most of it! Any experience in restringing/limb tightening? That’s what I’m having the most problems with in my doll fam XD

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hannah says:

    Great tips! I recently had to remove the head and stuffing of one of my dolls to fix her leg!

    Liked by 1 person

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