Now here are some tips on cleaning yarn dolls. Of course once you have completed you doll, spend that much time and effort into it, you would like to have it kept beautiful.
Of course one can always dry clean it and so usually have never a sorrow about cleaning.
And of course you would choose yarn that is washable by hand or machine, even if you do plan on letting the toy be dry cleaned. Check the yarn wrapper for care instructions BEFORE you start.
If you are making a collectible doll, or one for larger children you could always prevent soiling by applying a spray on fiber protectant such as Scotchgard. Disadvantage is that it might alter the feel of the yarn. Some protections are better than others.
When you made toy for small children it is good not to treat the toy with anything, because they kiss that toy , or suck on it. In my doll direction I use double crochet for the simple reason that it makes a crochet fabric, which is very washable in any detergent. Very suitable to make toys for small children, which have to be washed more to stay hygienically. The loose weave allows the water to flow through the fibers and they come out very nicely. HOWEVER: when making a doll in double crochet, one has to take care to not over stuff it, because the fiber is easily showing through the crochet fabric. My baby doll pattern can be substituted with single crochet or half double crochet, though the doll will be 15″ instead of 18″ tall. It will have all the right proportion as the double crochet stitched doll.
If your crochet fabric is made by single crochet or half double crochet the simple washing might not be very simple, depending on the kind of soiling. Since crocheting is an open fiber, dirt can get in there very deep. The tighter the fabric the harder it is to clean. I have used a dry cleaning spray before successfully like KR2 spray. I have no idea how toxic that is, though. Dishwashing detergent and water gets stains out also, but you might end up having a water rim after it is dried. It needs to be padded dry with paper towels, sopping up most of the water.
For hand washing use mild soap or dish detergent. Make sure you rinse in plenty of clean water and do not rub the fabric, just allow the water to swish through as you gently squeeze the doll a few times. Gently press the water out as much as you can. Let her dry on a towel, just squeeze without rubbing.
Ever since I moved to the USA I use Barnat yarn and it washes up very nicely, regardless if I make a toy or a garment. Before you throw the doll in the wash-machine, check if all the parts are washable and make sure everything is sewed on proper. Use a gentle cycle or hand wash cycle, with none chlorine bleach detergent, machine dry in permanent press cycle of dryer and pray that it will come out alright. That’s what I do.
Before you dry the toy it might need some reshaping. Help yourself, you did it before when you fashioned the doll. So that should not be too hard.
Now here it comes:
How to wash it, if you choose to use WOOL or natural fiber to make a doll or toy?
My jointed teddy bear is made out of natural bulky yarn and he will get a wonderful loving worn look as he gets washed. The fibers will all melt into each other, which really is desirable and gives a cute look.
Fact, if you make a toy with wool or other natural fibers I would recommend that you finish the whole thing and wash it, abuse it , cook it…… BEFORE you sew on any features. That way it will stay just great and you can embroider your best features on the toy that will not alter shape and texture again.
I do not mind, when the toys I make for my grandchildren show wear. That just means they liked them. I am not a collector. The only things I collect is dust and memories.
By the way to remove dust from dolls: a sticky tape works well, especially for the hair.
I hope that covers it, but I would like it, if you add from your own experience. Please contact me.
Here are the other parts of this series: