How To Give An American Girl Doll A Makeover

My two girls have been wanting an American Girl Doll however, it is not in our family’s budget.  So when a friend’s daughter asked me if my girls wanted her two American Girl Dolls I was ecstatic!  I will admit both dolls were in need of a makeover but hey I was up for the challenge!  I took both dolls and did not tell my two girls because I wanted to surprise them after I gave them the makeover. 

Materials needed: 

A mild shampoo, I used kids Suave

A mild laundry detergent, I used ALL detergent 

Quality hair ties

Magic Eraser

A microfiber towel


First I used a small amount of water on the Magic Eraser and gently cleaned both dolls faces and arms. Make sure you do not use the Magic Eraser over painted areas (lips, eyebrows, etc.) on the doll because they will be erased away! Next, I carefully placed the dolls head over the sink and gently washed their hair, making sure I did not get the body wet because it’s a cloth body.  Tip: I placed the dolls body in a plastic bag so that I did not accidentally get it wet.  After washing I combed the hair and allowed it to dry overnight. 

The next day I removed the head from the body.  This is easy to do, simply untie the string behind the neck.  Then I removed all of the cotton stuffing from inside the doll and placed it to the side.  

The next step may seem a big intimidating but it’s really so easy. The dolls limbs were very loose. If you look at the 1st photo the dolls legs are crooked and I had to lean up so she could stand.  I changed out all the elastic bands on the arms and legs that were all flimsy. To do this simply remove the old elastic bands and pull the white elastic already built into the limbs tight and wrap the hair tie elastic bands around the white band. This is what makes the limbs taught. After changing them out the doll could stand without leaning. 

Once all the elastic was replaced and the limbs were nice and taught I put the stuffing back in. There is an art to adding the stuffing back into the body.  Make sure you take your time and be gentle. You do not want the body to be lopsided.  Then place the head back on and tie the string in back of the next firmly so that the head does not fall off. Finally, I stylized the dolls hair.  I am not a hairstylist by any means so I used small rubber bands and did a simple braid, pulling her hair out of her face. 

Then I put her in some cute pajamas.  Time for the surprise! My girls were so excited to finally have their own American Girl Dolls.  I thoroughly enjoyed doing this makeover, it was a lot but definitely an adventure! 

What do you think? Have you ever given an American Girl Doll a makeover? How did it go?


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  1. You did a really great job here! I would have never thought to repair and refresh a doll. I didn’t know it was so easily doable.

  2. My sisters had a large collection of dolls growing up and this would be an awesome project for a mom and daughter to complete together.

  3. That is amazing that you made this doll look so much better. I have never had one of these dolls but I loved learning about this.

  4. Amy Desrosiers says:

    These are great tips! My girls have like 10 American Girl dolls that are loose and scrubby looking that I could fix up!

  5. I don’t have any American Girl Dolls, but I’m glad you can do this to give them a nice makeover. She looks really good. The hair turned out nice.

  6. Keikilani says:

    This is such a cute makeover! I am saving it for when my girls are big enough for American Girl Dolls

  7. She turned out really nice. I bet your girls were over the moon. I have yet to find an AG doll but have found the cheaper versions second hand and always give them a good cleaning. Little Miss is four so she really doesn’t know the difference yet. When the hair is too bad I make a hair spray out of 4 parts water and one part liquid fabric softener and spray the dolls’ hair well and then brush it and allow to air dry. It almost always does the trick for nice shiny smooth doll hair.

  8. The doll looks new again. You did a great job. I don’t know if I would have the patience with the stuffing.

  9. I love that you spruced her up. I used to buy baby dolls at garage sales for my daughter and did the same thing. They looked good as new.

  10. Ruth I says:

    Wow, awesome job! I didn’t know it is easy to do a make over on the American Girl doll.

  11. You are so creative! I love the final result!

  12. katrina kroeplin says:

    that’s so cute and great ideas. i’ll have to keep these in mind.

  13. Heather says:

    What a great makeover! Love that you showed us all how to do this! So much fun!

  14. Perfect post to share with my 11 year old daughter. I will let you know how it goes.

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