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Monday, March 27, 2006 articles--for Lenci doll collectors

12 Tips for Cleaning and Care of Lenci Dolls

  1.  To “freshen-up” a Lenci doll, and remove odors and destroy dust mites/bugs , place your newly acquired vintage Lenci/cloth doll in plastic bag and pop it in the freezer for a week or more before introducing it into your collection.
    When you take her out of the freezer, remove from the bag and any plastic wrapping to avoid condensation buildup and leave at room temperature out of direct sunlight to thaw out. (Direct sunlight fades the colors irreversiblly so store and display out of direct sunlight - in a north facing room ideally and protect from dust and moisture).

  2.  Cleaning is best left to a doll professional, remember that a doll in its original state is of more value and more highly prized by collectors.

  3. A light dusting should be sufficient for most dolls (after removing it from the freezer), or some recommend a light vacuuming, covering the nozzle with a piece if stocking/nylon tights (I have not personally tried this ), I prefer to carefully blow away the surface dust using a manual air pump, such as used for inflatable football / or a bicycle pump may do as well.

  4. Above all do NOT use water; the face of a lenci doll is made from felt molded by steam, which has been set under pressure, facial features will be flattened if they get wet. A artist's dry cleaning pad is useful for picking up surface dust, I use an Opaline Eraso-Pad Dry cleaning pad by Martin, gently and carefully avoiding painted areas, this soft cloth pad contains soft rubber-like granules which catch the surface dust, if you cannot find one, an alternative is white bread gently rubbed over the surface of the felt to produce breadcrumbs, which will pick up the surface dust.

  5.  When attempting to spot clean small areas of the arms and legs of a very stained lenci doll, I have had some success using tiny amount of “Woolite Oxydeep”, a non-bleach oxygen based carpet spot cleaner, to spot clean the limbs of an old lenci doll by gently dabbing small areas at a time, and then blotting dry, letting it air-dry out of direct sunlight.

  6. NEVER use bleach, or chlorine based cleaner on vintage doll clothing.

  7. If badly stained, non felt clothes such as and lenci socks and cotton/organdie underwear may be gently soaked in cold water with Oxiclean (

  8. The colorful felt patchwork Lenci clothing is better off not being washed as the colors will most likely bleed with disastrous results. Bear in mind also that some shrinkage will likely result.

  9.  Plain felt clothing may be gently hand washed in cold water and mild washing soap. Be aware that some shrinking will occur and the felt will lose some of it's original appearance if washed.

  10. Adding generous amount of salt to the washing water may help to control the color loss when washing felt.

  11. Store your lenci dolls in a dust and damp and moth free environment out of direct light. A pillow case makes a good dust cover for storage. Cedar blocks help to keep moths at bay.( DO NOT use old fashioned Moth Balls the chemicals are hazardous to your health and the odour is difficult to remove)

  12. - also minimize handling to protect the old materials - some collectors even wear white cotton gloves when handling rare items
  13. When selling your lenci doll be sure to mention any changes or renovation applied to the doll while in your care.

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