An antique doll is more valuable if it's wearing its original vintage clothes. The less you disturb an antique doll, the more value it has, and antique doll clothes are no exception. However, you usually have to do some type of cleaning on the doll's wardrobe. By handling them as little as possible, you may be able to increase the value of your doll by gently cleaning its clothes.
Assemble your cleaning supplies. Color test your fabric before you wash it by rubbing a cotton swab dipped in white vinegar on an inconspicuous area of the garment. If you notice any discoloration or bleeding of colors, don't wash the fabric. Use a foam carpet cleaner instead. Apply the foam with a soft brush, allow it to dry and then brush it off with a clean, soft brush.
Continue preparing your antique doll clothes to wash after you've determined that they're colorfast. Remove trim and fasteners and pretreat stains with the appropriate Carbona stain removal product, following the manufacturer's instructions.
Fill jars with vinegar and cold distilled water in equal parts. Allow the clothes to soak for 1 hour and then remove the clothes and put them in a jar filled with only distilled water. This presoak helps to lift soil and remove the yellowing found in some old fabrics.
Mix Ivory Snow Flakes in another jar with cold water, using the amount recommended on the box. Allow the clothes to soak for 1 hour, gently shaking the jar gently occasionally. If there is an indication of fading during this soak, remove the clothes and rinse them immediately in another jar of clean water. Otherwise, allow them to soak for the full hour and then rinse in a jar of clean water.
Use Snowy Bleach, if they still aren't clean. Follow the manufacturer's instructions, mixing it with cold water and allow clothes to soak for another hour, followed by a rinse in a jar of clean water. This is not chlorinated bleach; it's an enzyme brightener and safe for delicate fabrics.
Mix another solution of equal parts white vinegar and water and allow the clothes to soak for a few minutes to remove any residual detergent. Rinse one last time.
Iron your doll clothes gently with the tip of a cool iron. Avoid putting the full pressure of the iron on your vintage clothes. A sleeve board and a quilter's iron work well for small items. The quilter's iron is a small triangular shaped ironing tool that allows you to get into small places.
Don't use chlorine bleach or spray starch on antique doll clothes.