Can You Wash American Girl Doll Hair?

Washing American Girl Doll Hair Is Easy as Apple Pie

Washing an American Girl doll's hair is simple once you have the right tools, the right supplies and the right little helpers.

American Girl dolls are more than just your child's favorite friend—they're an investment and a beloved heirloom to be passed down to the next generation of doll lovers. Constant handling, no matter how loving, can take the sleek shine out of an American Girl doll's hair, leaving it frizzy, tangled and dull. The American Girl Company offers a doll salon where they can restore those glorious tresses, but it's much more practical, and more fun, to wash and style the doll's hair at home.

Setting Up

American Girl dolls have soft cloth bodies that should not get wet or they run the risk of developing mold. The first step in washing your doll's hair is to undress the doll. Little hands can do this. Then wrap the cloth body in plastic cling wrap to protect it from getting wet. If the kids involved are old enough to reach the bathroom or kitchen sink, place a folded hand towel at the edge of the sink. Lay the doll face up on the towel so that her head is hanging over the sink's edge and her hair is in the sink. Smaller kids may need their salon set up with a basin on the kitchen table, where they can kneel on a chair to help. Place a washcloth across the doll's face to protect her eyes, which will rust if they get wet. This is a good moment to talk about any fears small children might have about having their own faces covered while their hair is being washed.

Lathering Up

While it looks and feels startlingly like human hair, all American Girl doll hair is made of Kanekalon, a wig fiber that is sewn onto a mesh wig cap very much like the way people's wigs are made. This cap is then glued onto the doll's head.

If you're having a group doll spa experience, less expensive dolls have their hair attached directly to their heads, so you can wash their hair from the scalp down. Those with plastic bodies don't need them covered by a towel, but it makes the salon aspect feel more real. Older children can carefully wet each doll's hair with lukewarm water while you hold the washcloth over the face. Smaller kids might need these roles reversed.

Wash the doll's hair with fragrance-free baby shampoo. Lather along the length of the hair, working from an inch or two away from the scalp down to the ends. Be careful not to get the wig cap wet on your American Girl doll, because water can then seep into her head. Rinse with lukewarm water, again working from near the head down to the ends.

Drying Off

Squeeze out any excess moisture with a soft, clean towel. Older kids can fashion a towel turban just like grown-up ladies wear at the spa. Once the doll's hair is mostly dry, brush it out carefully with an American Girl hairbrush created for the dolls. Never use a human hairbrush on your doll's hair, because it can transfer hair oils or styling products. Being encouraged to take the time to gently tease out any snarls rather than just yanking on them is a good lesson in patience and compassion. It will also result in smoother, shinier hair.

Finishing Up

Braid or style the doll's hair, but don't use any kind of styling product such as mousse, gel or hairspray, because this will only make the doll's hair dull again and can actually damage it. Create curls by wrapping small sections of hair around a finger or a pencil. Don't use a curling iron, flat iron or blow dryer, unless it is blowing cool air, because heat can also damage the doll's hair.


Invest in wig shampoo and conditioner if your child's American Girl doll regularly receives an enthusiastic overabundance of love.

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