Bringing an Old Raggedy Ann Doll Back to Life

Dear Donia,
How should I clean an old Raggedy Ann doll in bad condition?

raggedy ann doll


Q. Dear Donia,

My husband brought home an old Knickerbocker Raggedy Ann from a storage unit he bought. She is in very rough shape, so not of monetary value, but I wanted to help her out. She had dark brown stains on her clothes and body that looked like coffee had been spilled there long ago. I started out cleaning gently, but she was so bad I needed Tide with Oxi Clean and even ended up using a capful for bleach in a big sink of cold water. The coffee stains are gone but after 24 hours on a drying rack near but not on a radiator brown stains appeared in about a dozen places all over her poor little body! I rinsed! Could it have leached from stuffing inside her? I probably should have pulled out the stuffing before washing, but could I do nothing now? I live in NYC if that tells you anything about my water. I’ve never had problems with rust on clothes before. Thank you, Mary

A. Dear Mary,

I am so sorry to hear how poor Raggedy Ann keeps having problems!

My guess is that there was either something in the stuffing that is now leaching out into the fabric since the stuffing was most likely not polyester like we have now. Another issue could be mold but that seems less likely because of your bleach wash. And then there could be all sorts of other causes from variables I don't know about.

Since she has no value, I would open her up and take out the stuffing and wash her gently again to see if that takes care of the new stains and then restuff when dry with polyester fill.

Hope this helps and I hope Raggedy Ann can come back to life. Best, Donia