3 Clever Methods to Untangle Doll Hair

Dolls tend to look their best when their hair is sleek, stylish, and untangled. However, after a few hours of playtime, even the tidiest doll can have tangles and frizz. Fortunately, there is a way to quickly and easily detangle doll hair.

The first thing that you’ll need to do if you’d like to untangle your doll’s hair is to gather the necessary supplies. After that, you’ll need to decide what type of cleaning solution you’d like to use on your doll’s hair. Referring to manufacturer guidelines or directions may help if they’re available.

Still, fabric softener, conditioner, and baby shampoo tend to work well and leave little residue, making them an obvious choice when it comes to tangled, messy doll hair.

It’s cruel, cruel irony that one of the most popular dolls these days is from Disney’s Tangled movie! Let this guide be your companion as you transition from frizzy fuzz to smooth locks!

Gather Your Tools

No matter which method you decide to go with, you should always be prepared by having the right tools on hand. Getting your dolls together and your washing liquid of choice ready to go only to discover that you don’t have the right brush or enough liquid-soaking paper towels can be frustrating. 

To help you get the job done more quickly and efficiently, it’s crucial to have a few basic tools and supplies with you. These include:

  • A dedicated doll hair comb
  • Paper towels or highly absorbent cloths
  • A washing solution of your choice
  • A clean, deep sink for rinsing

You can always use a plastic wash basin if you prefer to save your sink from loose doll hairs. Also, your choice of comb is bound to come down to preferences. Some swear on fine-toothed plastic combs while others prefer thick-bristled wooden brushes. It might be a good idea to try different combs and see what works best for you and your dolls.  

Your choice of washing solution will also help you determine which method of untangling you’d like to use. There are tons of potential options available, but the following three tend to be the most popular and well-trusted of them all. 

As with the combs, feel free to try them all out and see which one tickles your fancy.

Method One: Fabric Softener

The first method you could choose is often simply called “The Fabric Softener Method.” This untangling trick will leave any doll’s hair smelling great and feeling soft. A water/fabric softener solution does an effective job at untangling even the most stubborn knots, especially when allowed to sit for several minutes.

To detangle doll hair with fabric softener, you will need to:

  1. Mix a water and fabric softener solution.
  2. Allow the doll’s hair to soak in the solution for several minutes.
  3. Gently brush the doll’s hair.
  4. Rinse any remaining solution from the hair.
  5. Brush once more.
  6. Pat dry.

Your fabric softener solution should be equal parts water and fabric softener. It may be helpful to use a plastic bowl and measuring cup to help you ensure correct pouring. A plastic bowl also makes a handy hair pool, allowing you to treat multiple bad hair days at once.

However, some fabric softeners may stain. Be sure to test your chosen fabric softener before applying it to all of your dolls. It may also be helpful to choose a fabric softener that is free of dyes. Of course, you could try one of the other two methods listed below instead.

Method Two: Conditioner

The majority of conditioners won’t stain your clothing or skin, but it’s always good to check before going forward with a multi-doll wash and rinse. Still, using conditioner in lieu of fabric softener can be the better option, especially for those with sensitive skin.

To use the conditioner method, you’ll need to:

  1. Squirt a dime-sized amount of conditioner into the palm of your hand.
  2. Gently massage that conditioner into the doll’s hair.
  3. Let the conditioner soak into the hair over several minutes.
  4. Rinse the conditioner from the hair.
  5. Gently brush out any remaining tangles.
  6. Pat dry.

While the fabric softener option doesn’t allow or encourage hands-on hair massage, this method does. That’s because human hair conditioner is safer for skin than fabric softener is. A small amount per doll should be sufficient, so be sure to not over-condition. 

Otherwise, you’ll spend ages trying to rinse that conditioner out. However, if you’ve chosen a scented product, your dolls are bound to enjoy sleek, great-smelling hair after their treatment. Conditioner helps lower the friction among strands, resulting in fewer tangles.

Still, if you have a bottle of baby shampoo lying around, you could also choose to shampoo your doll’s hair until it’s tangle-free.

Method Three: Baby Shampoo

The shampooing method is very similar to the conditioner-based one. To try this untangling trick, you’ll need to:

  1. Squeeze a small amount (a penny or dime-sized squirt) of baby shampoo into the palm of your hand.
  2. Massage the baby shampoo into the doll’s hair.
  3. Allow the shampoo to sit for a minute or two.
  4. Rinse the shampoo from the doll’s hair.
  5. Gently brush the doll’s hair until it is tangle-free.
  6. Pat dry.

The smell of baby shampoo is often very inviting and comforting, and both you and your little ones are bound to enjoy its lingering scent. Besides, baby shampoo is very gentle and unlikely to cause any damage to your dolls or their hair. The same cannot be said for all fabric softeners or conditioners.

It’s vital to note that while you may feel tempted to blow-dry your doll’s hair after washing and untangling it, this is not the best option. Not only could the high temperatures melt part of the doll, but they could also permanently damage the hair. Just pat dry with a paper towel of extra absorbent cloth.

Keeping Hair Untangled

Once you have all of your dolls back in pristine condition, the challenge is keeping them in that state. Unfortunately, life is messy. No matter what a fantastic stylist you are, it’s likely that the dolls will need to make repeat appointments with you (especially if you have younger kids).

Still, there are a few things you can do to help keep your dolls looking their best. For example, you might try:

  • Brushing the doll’s hair often.
  • Keep the doll’s hair tied back.
  • Avoiding excess strain to hair.

Even though dolls don’t excrete sebum to keep their hair soft and shiny (like we do), daily or weekly brushing can help their hair retain some of its natural luster. Keeping a doll’s hair tied back makes it less likely to become tangled, saving you a little time in the doll beauty parlor.

This video shows a good overview of how to use the techniques I covered to restore frizzy, tangled up doll hair:

Finally, though it might be fun to style a doll’s hair again and again, it can put excess strain on the strands, resulting in loose locks and frizz. The more times a doll’s hair is braided and unbraided, the closer it comes to going bald. 

If possible, try to encourage light styling. Otherwise, you may end up with dolls that look like one of The Three Stooges!

Final Thoughts

There are several ways to detangle doll hair, and they’re all relatively straightforward. The biggest choice you’ll need to make is what kind of comb and cleaning solution to use. Fabric softener, conditioner, and baby shampoo tend to work well on doll hair, especially when treated gently.

Of course, the challenge after you’ve gotten your doll’s hair untangled is keeping it that way. There are a few tricks you can try to prolong soft and shiny doll hair, but continual management is crucial. 

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