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How To Repair American Girl Dolls, A Beginners Guilde

Updated on May 3, 2018
I bought this with my sister and mother as a gift for my niece. I repaired her, and my niece loves her.
I bought this with my sister and mother as a gift for my niece. I repaired her, and my niece loves her. | Source

A History Brief Of The American Girl Doll Company

American Girls dolls are some of the most expensive dolls on the market. In the 1980s the brand was made in Germany by a company named The Pleasant Company for 88 dollars. The factories were moved to China and the dolls start at 115 and go up from there. They were bought out by Mattel in 2002, but were marked Pleasant Company until 2008, they are now marked American Girl.

This doll is temporarily dressed as Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas.  It is only makeup on her face and as soon as I shot my Halloween movie, I removed the makeup.
This doll is temporarily dressed as Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas. It is only makeup on her face and as soon as I shot my Halloween movie, I removed the makeup. | Source

Restringing and Tightening Limbs

Restringing is a last resort in repairing dolls, which has to be done in cases where the limbs are missing or unattached.

Tightening up limbs is normally done.

I've tightened limbs three dolls, the first times and a fourth doll is about to be worked on.

First you must loosen the head strings to remove the head, have a bowl to place all the stuffing inside of. A very large bowl. You will be amazed on how much stuffing will come out. Remove all stuffing, place in bowl. There are elastic strings tied to white plastic half ball like joints. Use elastic hair bands wrap around the elastic rope inbetween the tied knot or if it is an older doll, inbetween the metal piece that is supposed to keep the rope tight.

This is a video fixing up a Kit American girl doll

Rewiging Your Doll

In many cases damaged hair can be repaired. However if the hair is burned, cut, dyed or painted, you will probably have to rewig. Wigs can be purchased from a variety of websites. Ebay, Etsy, and Mercari are some of the main sites to buy wigs and eyes.

You can also give them beautiful wigs colors, pinks, blues, purple, or multi colored and rainbow hair, making a custom doll.

To remove the wig use a large soon, round side down. Use this spoon to pry the wig from the head, start in the back or anywhere the wig might be loose. Be careful not to mark to scratch the vinyl as you do this.

Craft glue is generally used to reattach the old wig if you repaired or recondition the old wig or attach a brand new big.

So this doll is an example of a doll with a cut eyelash, it’s actually on the side of the face without the eyepatch.  I used fake lashes to make her look better.
So this doll is an example of a doll with a cut eyelash, it’s actually on the side of the face without the eyepatch. I used fake lashes to make her look better. | Source

Removing Stains From The Cloth Body

You should try not to get the stuffing wet while cleaning it, if you do you can use a hot hair dryer on low to dry the water.

If you have stains on the clothe you should empty out the stuffing before trying to get the stain out. If you get the stuffing wet and it says wet, it can mold, rot or clump up.

I like to use Clorox whips on clothe stains, I've never used it on an American Girl doll, but I've had great success using it on a canvas Coach handbag. I've also used it numerous times on makeup satins on clothes and once a rug.

Others use laundry soap, or the magic eraser again.

This Video Shows How To Foax Fixes A Cut Eyelashes

Removing Stains From The Vinyl

There are three ways to remove stains from the vinyl. You can use a wet magic eraser, which works well to remove dust, dirt and surface stains. The magic eraser works wonders, but it does have some downfalls, it doesn't well with most ink and marker stains.

For nail polish or paint you can use nail polish remover. If you use acetone nail polish remover it can remove the face paint along with the stain. So non-acetone nail polish can used, but it doesn't work as well on stains.

For those tougher stains and I would only use this as a last resort, use Benzoyl Peroxide, yes the cream used on acne always dyes on marker and inks stains on plastic dolls. Be careful of using it on ethnic dolls, because it might lighten the skin color were used. You can dot it on the stain and put the doll up for a couple weeks or dot it on the stain cover it with clear plastic, cover the rest of the doll in a towel and leave the doll in the sun for a couple of days. The stain will be lighter or gone.

These are the sort of eyes that used in American girl dolls.
These are the sort of eyes that used in American girl dolls. | Source

Retracted Eyelashes and Cut Eyelashes

Retracted eyelashes are when the glue breaks down on the eyelash and the lash retracts into the eye. Cut eyeslashes are when they are cut off. You can tell the difference between the two, by checking the sleep eye function. If the eyes still open and close correctly they are retracted, because they are weight correctly. If one eye or both are always open, the eyelashes are cut.

retracted eyelashes happens often to the Kit doll because of the hair style, it often drags across the eye and pulls on the lashes, this is why the doll now comes with a clip.

Shake the doll, if you are luck enough for the lash to come out, tape the eye down. Before not to get glue in the eye or on the doll, when dragging the glue across the eyelash. You need a thin line of glue to keep the lash in place. Place the doll or doll head upright to deduce strain On the eye and eyelash, let the doll dry or at least eight to ten hours.

The American Girl Doll Hospital?

The American Girl Doll Hospital is run by the company that makes the doll. If your doll is broken, even a doll that you purchased second hand can be fixed. They can fix broken eyes, ruined hair, broken limbs, and they even will pierce the dolls ears for you. They actually do many things for free, except for piercing ears. You can them into a flagship store, which they have many. Usually you will have to pay for shipping the doll to the store.

With all these great features, why would you repair the doll yourself? They don't rewig, they don't usually give you a new pair doll of eyes. In most cases they remove the head and give you a new one. This is mortifying to those with a rare, expensive, or vintage doll. In these cases the value of the doll would be dramatically reduced and damaged by repairing the doll.

Also the only customs they do is giving the doll two different colored eyes and making the doll bald. You are unable to get eye or hair colors they don't use.


WellieWishers are part of the American Girl brand, they are slightly smaller, without sleep eyes, but are about half the price. Consider WellieWishers as the American Girl's cheaper smaller little sister.

WellieWishers Dolls

American Girl Mini Dolls

The American Girl Mini Dolls were once of higher quality than the ones today. They had cloth bodies like the real version, but no sleep eyes. Now the dolls are all vinyl with no sleep eye. I have this doll, but she is older and is a little chewed. I bought her used.

On a side note the cheaper less quality Madam Alexander McDonald’s Mini Dolls do actually have eye sleeps.


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