How to clean a bisque doll

By Jamie Rankin
Bisque is unglazed porcelain, often used to make collectable dolls. Despite its delicacy, bisque is easy to clean.

Dolls are more than just playthings for little girls. Many dolls, particularly those of the porcelain or bisque varieties, are sought after by collectors, as well as by people who simply love them for their elegant hairstyles, finely crafted features, and beautiful clothing. Bisque is unglazed porcelain, a fragile and highly breakable material. Despite their delicacy, bisque dolls are fairly easy to clean.

Put on rubber gloves. If you touch a bisque doll with your bare hands, oils from your skin could damage the finish.

Lay the bisque doll on a layer of thick towels on a flat surface. This will cushion the doll's delicate body and help keep it from falling.

Apply some gentle cleanser, or dish soap mixed into a little warm water, to a paper towel or cloth and gently wipe the bisque surfaces. Wipe the doll dry with a soft cloth.

Clean small areas, like facial features, by applying cleanser to a cotton swab and gently wiping the doll. Dry the doll with the soft cloth.

Spray a bit of glass cleaner on a cotton swab. Many antique bisque dolls have glass eyes, and if this is the case, they can be cleaned by gently swabbing them with the glass cleaner. Take care not to dislodge the eyes.

Keep your doll clean by dusting it carefully every few weeks with a small, soft brush.

Remove the clothing, if you have not already done so. Keep your gloves on, as the oils from your skin could also damage delicate fabrics.

Dissolve some mild laundry powder in warm water in the sink or a small tub. Gently handwash the bisque doll's clothing, letting it soak for up to 30 minutes.

Rinse the clothing thoroughly in cool water and repeat the process if needed.

Hang up the clothing to air-dry. Putting the clothing in a dryer could tear the fabric.

Tip

If the clothing is yellowed but in good shape, adding a little bleach and baking soda to the wash water can help whiten it. Some doll professionals advocate using dry-cleaning solution or other methods to clean your bisque doll's wig. However, cleaning methods depend on the material from which the hair is made. Consult a professional before cleaning your doll's wig. To help keep your bisque dolls clean and in good condition, display them in a glass-front cabinet or case.

Warning

Be careful with especially delicate fabrics, such as satin or velvet. You may want to consult a professional before attempting to launder clothing made from these fabrics. Never lay your bisque doll on newsprint while cleaning. The print could rub off onto the bisque surface. If your doll has a bisque head but a body of cloth or leather, be sure to protect the body by wrapping it in plastic before cleaning the head.

About the Author

Based outside Pittsburgh, Jamie Rankin began her career as a professional writer as a news and sports journalist with the "Daily Courier," a subsidiary of the "Pittsburgh Tribune-Review." Her work has appeared in both publications. Rankin, who holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and communications from Point Park University, has been writing sports and pet-related articles online since 2004.