Cabbage Patch Treasures
Home of my XR Original Soft Sculpture Cabbage Patch Kids
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A few hints and tips on how to clean and restore rescued Coleco or Jesmar Cabbage Patch Kids!

New Page Added: Things To Look Out For When Buying Jesmar CPKs

The magic of these little dolls is amazing. It's often said that you either love them or hate them! Well, that maybe true enough but there's no doubt about the magnetic attraction these little sweeties send out. You only have to see one at a car boot sale looking dirty, bedraggled and oh so lost and lonely and that cabbie magic kicks in every time. Walk on by if you can :) I've never managed to yet!

The original Coleco and Jesmar CPK's were so well made that even after more than twenty years they can be restored and given a whole new lease of life. For most of us, that cleaning and making better process is a big part of the Cabbage Patch appeal. Mint in box dolls are easy enough to find but for me it's the little lost souls who need some love that pull at my heartstrings. Even the dirtiest and smelliest doll isn't beyond hope.
The girl seen in the picture here arrived a few days ago and was absolutely filthy, but I was aware of that when I bought her. I was looking forward to bringing her home and giving her back a little dignity and some renewed zest for life.




There are many Cabbage Patch collector sites that give information into every aspect of cleaning, restoring and even giving new heads of hair (re rooting) for these dollies. The hints and tips shown here are not aimed at expert CPK restorers who know all the tricks of the trade. These cleaning suggestions are aimed at people, most especially younger collectors, who are trying to restore and clean up a Cabbage Patch Kid for the first time for personal enjoyment or to pass on to a child.
I enjoy the 'hands on' way of cleaning up the latest mass market arrivals rather than the 'put them in the in the washer' method...the washing machine has a role to play but with the smaller vinyl head CPK's I prefer to do the main job of work by hand. This is completely opposite to the large, all cloth soft sculpture Cabbage Patch XR Originals where the doll absorbs much more water and is really heavy to handle so jeopardising the integrity of the fibre fill to a much greater extent.

A sink full of hand warm water with a little Ariel or other bio washing powder - immerse the doll and let it soak for 10 minutes or so. Next gently squeeze the doll all over to make sure you've got all the fibre fill cleaned through. Use a toothbrush to brush off any stubborn stains that are on the body fabric. A little Ciff bathroom cleaner dabbed onto a soft damp cloth and gently applied to the face will usually get most marks and dirt off the vinyl face. Clean the whole face rather than just dirty areas to make sure you don't get a blotchy complexion. Once the doll is well rinsed and no sign of dirty water or soap, try adding a little of your favourite fabric conditioner to the final rinse to make your sweetie smell delicious.
Some folk put the doll right into the washing machine and give a full delicate wash cycle. I tried that once and it didn't go too well. In most cases the fibre fill will already be tired and maybe even a little lumpy. A wash cycle won't help that and could do more damage. But its a personal choice
Next wrap a thick duster or cloth of some kind around the vinyl face and head and secure with an elastic band or tie with string or whatever, anything will do as long as it keeps the cloth secure around the face and head area. You want to protect the vinyl from scuffs and damage during the spin cycle. The little nose tips are particularly prone to getting damaged. Keeping the yarn hair smoothed out and tidy helps to keep it from fraying and makes restyling much easier. Put the doll into a pillowcase and tie the end of the pillowcase, then the dolly can go for a fast spin in the machine to get all the liquid out of her/him. Some people will add dry towels to the spin cycle or put the doll in with other washing. I prefer not to do that - if the doll face is well protected there is no reason why the CPK can't have the spin cycle to itself! :)

Leave the doll to dry in an airing cupboard or outside in the shade if the weather is good. Tumble drying a vinyl faced doll can be a little risky.
Trim off any fuzzy bits from the yarn hair once it is dry. It's amazing what a difference it makes and brings the hair up almost like new.


Here, for example is a little girl who has just been washed and had her final rinse, you can clearly see how the fibre fill has 'settled' leaving the dolls head unsupported and the fibre fill in the neck/torso area limp and lumpy. A full wash cycle would have made this infinitely worse. At least with a hand wash you can support the doll and make sure the weight of the water does as little damage as possible. After over twenty years of play you can expect some wear and tear signs but this particular problem is very easy to solve.
Removing the head and adding extra fibre fill to the neck and chest area will make a vast difference to the whole posture of this little dolly.

Unless your Cabbage Patch Kid is a Jesmar (made in Spain) Kid, then the head will be attached to the body with a plastic tie. Jesmar Kids have the head attached by a cord.
To add extra fill, remove the head by either untying the thread or carefully snipping through the plastic tie. Once that is done and the head is removed you will be able to get in there and sort out that fibre fill by either adding more, or pulling out the existing fill and separating it, fluffing it out and replacing it and adding extra if you feel it's needed. Make sure you fill the cavity to just a little above the top of the neck opening - take the filling right across the chest and over toward each shoulder.
Once you are happy that the amount of filling is correct, replace the head and attach either with a new plastic tie or just use strong thread pulled tight enough to secure the head but with enough give for the head to be able to turn.

Human Acne/pimple cream, Oxy for example, smoothed on to any marker pen or ink on the doll's face and the doll then placed outside in direct sunlight will gradually see those marks fade. You may need to apply the cream a few times but it will work. Wipe off the old application of cream with a damp cloth each time you want to apply a new layer. In the absence of sunlight (the sunshine speeds up the bleaching process) pop dolly into a warm airing cupboard. You do need to be patient with this process it takes time but it's worth the effort. Any pimple/spot cream that contains benzoyl peroxide will do, it's the bleach in the cream that does the job and like I say, it's effect is speeded up by direct sunlight.
I recently tried using a piece of Magic Eraser on a cabbie's face and was amazed at the dirt it got off. It also removes minor scuffs and Magic Eraser has reduced the stains caused by marker pen and ink although hasn't got rid of it completely but it's useful to use before applying any Oxy cream. Anyway, it's another useful tool in the fight to restore our Cabbies :)
For dolls with tangled nylon/real hair (cornsilk kids) once the doll is washed and dried, damp the hair through again and apply some human hair conditioner...a thick one for dry and damaged hair is the best sort to use. Smooth the conditioner through the nylon hair with your fingers. Wrap a polythene bag around the dolls head and leave for a couple of days. The warmth of the airing cupboard will keep ! Then, using plenty of tepid - only just warm water, thoroughly rinse the nylon strands of hair untill all the conditioner is rinsed out of the doll's hair. While hair is still damp you can use some small hair rollers to style curls or just pull up into a pony tail or two side bunches. Allow to dry naturally, don't be tempted to use a hair drier. For step by step help see below.

All cleaned up - smelling gorgeous and ready to play..

Cornsilk Hair Kids.
The easiest way to clean a Kid with cornsilk hair to to remove the head and treat as two separate projects. The body can be cleaned in the same way as a regular CPK as shown above. The hair can now be dealt with as a special cleaning task without fear of making greasy stains on the cloth body.

Cleaning Cornsilk hair takes a little longer than just washing yarn hair.
Here's the way I tackle tangled or messy cornsilk hair. You will develop your own best way of doing this but for now here are a few suggestions.

1) Using hand warm water - not too hot - wet the hair throughly. If hair is dirty use a small amount of human hair shampoo for dry / damaged hair. Make sure you rinse off till water runs clear.
2) Pat off excess water with an absorbent cloth or towel. Don't be tempted to rub the fibres dry, it'll make things worse!
3) Using a good quality, thick and creamy human hair conditioner, work the condition into the cornsilk fibres. You will feel the fibres 'relaxing' as you add the conditioner. Leave the conditioner on the hair. Do not rinse off.
4) Take a poly food bag or length of cling film and wrap it around the dolls head. Try to wrap just the hair leaving the face clear. Wipe off any soap or conditioner from the dolls face leaving the poly wrapped aroung the head.Place the doll to one side ( an airing cupboard where there is a gentle warmth is ideal ) and leave her for a couple of days.
5) Next rinse off all traces of conditioner, making sure that you tease through the strands of hair with your fingers as you rinse. Once again - pat hair dry (do not rub dry otherwise you will be back where you started!) remove as much excess water as you can with an absorbent cloth. The hair should now be ready to restyle. If you have some small, old fashioned rollers - the ones that don't need pins to hold them, then they are perfect for putting curls back. Or if the hair is a long style, gently smooth it out and tie into preferred style. Pop dolly back into the airing cupboard so the hair can dry off and set into the style you have created...

 

 

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