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Remove Ink Stains From a Baby Doll

How to remove ink stains from a plastic baby doll, what a great tip!  I received this advice from The Mom-tage with her heartbreaking story of how her daughter wrote on her Mom’s 50 year old doll.

I bring you the antique that my mom has cherished for over 50 years.  The ONLY doll my mom had as a child.  The one that her parents really couldn’t afford and probably sold a kidney for.. I think I remember a story about someone walking three miles in the snow up hill both ways to get this doll!

How to Remove Ink Stains From a Plastic Baby Doll

Use this very unlikely remedy of Clearasil Stayclear Vanishing Acne Cream.  HA!  That’s right.

1.  Pull back the doll’s hair and remove any clothing that is near to avoid bleaching it.

2. Liberally apply 10% benzoyl peroxide acne treatment cream to any areas with ink. Be careful to avoid the eyebrows. We now have a Barbie without eyebrows. So much for Barbie being perfect. 

After removing one doll’s eyebrows, I began to use a q-tip to make sure I avoided any areas that I didn’t want to be bleached.

3. Lay the doll in the sun. Emma’s dolls took two applications to completely remove the ink.  My mom’s took four since Chloe had skillfully and repeatedly scribbled in one spot and it had sat on the doll longer. Just keep reapplying until the ink is completely gone.


  1. Haley

    We used to use rubbing alcohol to get pen off of desks at the office. Not sure if that would work or not, but you might try that also 🙂

  2. Patricia Linehan

    Believe it or not, I have a baby doll somewhere in my house that looks very similar to your “before” picture thanks to my 2 yr old. Thanks for the tip!

  3. Katrina

    Hair spray also works because of the high alcohol content. It works especially well on clothes that get an ink stain.

  4. Calamity Anne

    When my granddaughter drew on her doll baby, I just resigned it to now having character…and to think that it can now be cleaned! WOW!!! Thanks for sharing!

  5. clustres

    What a great tip! Thanks!

  6. Julie

    I’ve been here & done that! It works well on American Girl Dolls who come in contact with toddlers with markers. I’m sure people will appreciate this!

  7. Andrea

    Oh my goodness! I was so excited to read this I have several dolls my 2 year old has “accidentally” written on. Thanks so much.

  8. Denise

    Goose has quite a creative ARTISTIC vision…..Pity I can FIX it now..LOL I have used Hairspray on many things to get rid of ink. Even that wouldn’t fix “Dallas” aka Baby Alive! I now have HOPE for her future!! Thank You Thank YOU!!
    Happy Monday

  9. Emily

    Awesome tip! Now can you tell me how to get their hair untangled?!

  10. Created By You

    What a fabulous tip! Wish I had known this years ago when my darling sister scribbled all over my bride doll! Then again, we didn’t really have Clearasil back then either!

  11. Diane

    This is such a great tip! I’ll add it to my stash of ’emergency’ tips!

  12. Hillary

    That is crazy! Wow what a great tip, I wish I would have know that trick when I was little I had a few my brother ruined and I was super sad!

  13. Sandra K.

    Fantastic!! I’m so glad to learn this cleaning tip. I’m the mother of 4-year-old twin girls. Dolls are one of the many things my little Picassos “decorate”. I try to buy only washable markers and crayons, but they do grab an ink pen every once in a while. Thanks sooo much!!

  14. Jan

    I just use a Magic Eraser and it works quickly and easily.

  15. Amy

    I was so happy to find this article. My daughter decided to decorate my vintage “Bless You Baby Tender Love”. I wasn’t sure how long the marks had been on her face but I was desperate to get them off. After trying all the common remedies, I found this article and I’m happy to say it worked!! I repeated the process three times and “Sneezy”, as we lovingly call her, rested in the sun and now is mark free!! Really works!!

  16. Dani Jeanne Stevens

    Thank you for the tip on geting the ink out of my grandaughters doll. ! I look forward to trying it today and will comment on the results.. i will take a before and after picture…..

  17. Dani Jeanne Stevens

    I tried the vanishing acne cream 10% on the ink on my granddaughters doll that was colored with ink by a young cousin… I was skeptical, but was desperate to find a solution.. I thought I knew all the tricks.. after the doll was in the sun for about 2 hours I went to check on how it was doing.. I was so shocked to see that the ink had completly dissapered.. none to be seen… all I had to do was wipe off the dryed acne cream… The doll,s face is as good as new… with no discoloration what so ever… what a neat tip!!! I wonder tho who came up with that?? Dani Stevens

  18. jesaiah

    Alcohol worked for me 🙂

  19. Kate

    Oh my gosh – about eleven years ago, my little sister (who was two at the time) scribbled all over the face of my American Girl doll with a blue pen, about six months after I’d finally saved the money and gotten the head replaced. I’ve been meaning to send it off for a head replacement for years (although I’m definitely past the age of playing with dolls – thought I’d put it up for my own daughters someday), but never got around to it. I’m going to have to try this, it certainly can’t hurt and if it works I just saved a bunch!

  20. Justine DeBolt

    @ Emily,

    When I came across this I was amazed… so apparently, you use a wig brush to brush the doll’s hair and a mixture of water and fabric softener as a detangler. Hope this helps!!!


  21. Michele

    Soak the doll’s hair in shampoo conditioner. Work it through with your fingers and wash it out with warm water. That will do it. Use a lot of conditioner! Good luck!

  22. Cari Mirza

    WOW!! I’m so happy that I found this great advise…my five year old decided to write on her not one but two new American dolls that she just received from santa. I used about ten different remedies before I came across this one! It worked on the first application.

  23. carmen

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!!!, my friends will appreciate this A LOT!!!!! here in Spain…great!!!

  24. Kathy

    Just a quick note to say go gently with the sunlight… my mother’s “precious baby”

  25. Kathy

    Just a quick note to say go gently with the sunlight and don’t leave those baby dolls out for too long. My mother’s “precious baby” doll has a very darkly pigmented head after receiving too much sunlight when she was young, having left her under a tree at playtime. Broke her heart at the time.

  26. Billie Lewis

    Kathy is right. I had a Sparkle Plenty doll years ago that got a very dark tan in contrast to her blond hair, in the Miami sunshine years ago.

  27. Ana caldatto

    Fantastica dica,
    vou levar seu link ao meu blog!!!

  28. terry

    Alcohol didnt work on my dolls…niether did acetone. i am going to try the oxyclean thing next. Also you can buy the paint to reapply the eyebrows at quite a few spots online if your interested.

  29. Laura Savidge

    I have a lady alexandra doll that a jealous friend wrote on with a ball point pen when i was a child. This is so great to know how to remove it without ruining the doll’s face! Thank you so much!!!!

  30. Nic

    When my 13-month baby drew all over the headrest in my Toyota Tacoma, I had no idea how to clean it up. I tried all the household cleaning supplies we had, including bleach-based bathroom cleaners. I also tried rubbing alcohol, but nothing worked. Then, I found this solution on your blog (and on Baby Toolkit). I’m happy to say that it works on plastic headrests as well!

  31. Jess

    First brush the tangles out, then boil some water and dip the dolls hair in while it’s still freshly boiled. My sister ruined a bunch of my barbies hair when we were little and I wanted to make them look like new again and this trick works beautifully! It straightens all of the bends in the hair and makes it soft again. It may need several times for those really frizzy ends and you can use little sewing spools to add curls too.

  32. Beth @ Aunt B's Kitchen

    I used this method some years ago on my granddaughter’s dolls. It was mid-winter on rainy Vancouver Island so laying it in the sun was not an option. I put the doll under a reading lamp with a flexible neck and bent the light so it was about 8 inches above the doll, then left it overnight. It worked a treat.

  33. Amy

    I didn’t think of it until now, but what possesses our kids to use an ink pen to draw all over the faces of dolls? Crayon or marker – sure, I could see that, but ink? I digress…I had an old Cabbage Patch Kid that I gave to my daughter and within 2 days, she had colored his bald head with blue ink. I tried the acetone and accidentally got some in his eye so now his eye is a little smeared, but it didn’t get any of the ink off. I’m going to try this tonight – thank God I still break out like a teenager!!

  34. Narelle Denny

    I bought a doll from the local charity shop. Because it was badly defaced with ink pen, I only paid $2.00.
    I’ll let you know how it goes.

  35. Ramie

    I’ve read that spraying a dolls hair with fabric softener works on removing tangles! Saw it on Pinterest!

  36. Ramie

    Mix 1/3 fabric softener with 2/3 water in a spray bottle. Soak your dolls hair.Comb out using a brush made for extensions (there are no balls at the ends of the bristles & it will pull out less hair.Trim the bottom a bit & you’re good to go (until next time!)

  37. Chanda

    I have a question for Amy #36. Did you ever try this treatment on your Cabbage Patch? If so please let me know the outcome. I am try to remove a stain from a Cabbage Patch Baby’s face. To date I have been unsuccessful.

  38. Debbie

    redraw the eyebrows with brown ink!!!

  39. Tracy

    Wire wig brush
    cheap hair conditioner (I use Suave)
    baby shampoo

    Saturate dolls hair with conditioner. Let sit for about 30 minutes. Use wig brush to comb through hair (start at the bottom and work to the top). Rinse out conditioner and gently shampoo. Rinse hair well. Add more conditioner and comb through again. Rinse thoroughly. Works like magic!

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