March Tip of the Month: Smells & Stains Part Two

We have occasionally bought dolls and bears that smelled a bit smoky or got something out of the shed that smells of cat urine. Most eBay sellers will make a point of telling you if their goods come from a smoke and pet free home because nobody likes the smell of tobacco or pet odours. This month I’m going to talk about methods to remove those smells.


I don’t smoke, never even tried it as a kid because I hated the smell of my aunt and uncle’s cigarettes. When Naomi and I were young and went out to see bands in pubs etc we always came home with our clothes reeking of smoke and mum would complain mightily. Anything you wore for a night out had to be washed or aired outside. I’ve had limited exposure to the smoke problem over the years so I went searching online for answers. I don’t have any smoky dolls to try them out on so if anyone has used any of the methods listed please comment and let us know how you got on.

Here are some ingredients people use for removing nicotine smells.

  • Bicarbonate of Soda (Baking Soda)
  • white vinegar
  • charcoal
  • coffee grounds (unused)
  • vodka
  • isopropyl alcohol
  • dryer sheets
  • commercial odour neutralising products
  • kitty litter
  • carpet deodoriser


We know that Bicarb Soda is very good for neutralising odours, many of us keep a dish of it in the fridge for that reason. If you are dealing with vinyl dolls like Barbie, the washing process I’ve described in previous posts may be enough to remove some smells. Washing with dishwashing liquid and scrubbing with bicarb on an old toothbrush gets a lot of stains out.

Vinegar is harmless to plastics so a rinse with vinegar during the washing process may help neutralise bad odours. One method I have read is to mix 1 part vinegar with one part water and wipe over the doll with a white cloth.

You can also use isopropyl alcohol in the same way. Use a small amount, 1/4 cup alcohol to 1/4 cup water should be enough for a doll up to the size of a Generation Girl/Journey Girl.

Another method I’ve read about but haven’t tried is to use vodka. You take some cheap, unflavoured vodka and dilute it, two parts water to one part vodka. Put it in a spray bottle and mist the doll with it including the hair. The theory is that when the vodka evaporates it takes the smells with it. If you are trying this one make sure the spray bottle is well away from children.

Dry Methods

You could also try sealing the dolls in an airtight container or zip lock bag with a layer of it at the bottom and leaving it for a week or so. However, for really strong odours you may need to try something stronger. I have read about people using kitty litter, charcoal, unused coffee grounds and carpet neutralising powder in exactly the same way. It may take some weeks to work so you need to be patient. If you are doing this with a doll that has sleep eyes be sure and cover them, maybe tape them shut so that you don’t get the powder into the mechanism. Dryer sheets can also be used to absorb odours by placing them in a ziplock bag with the dolls. If you don’t like the scented ones use unscented or make your own.


Naomi and I have had a lot more experience with urine than with smoke as we have pets and pets have accidents. Usually, we use commercial products to get stains and smells out of carpets and furniture. At the Op Shop, we sometimes received boxes of clothing or other material that had been stored in a shed and smelled of cat or mouse poo. We generally just ditched it because we didn’t have the facilities to deal with it. However, supposing you have dolls you want to get the smell out of? What can you do?

There does not see to be as much information specifically about removing urine odour from dolls as there is nicotine so I’m going to use my go-to source, Shelley at “1,000 Splendid Dolls” who has done a video on getting rid of nasty smells.

Apart from this, I think that the important things to remember are to try the least invasive methods first. If you decide commercial odour removers try a test on a doll you are prepared to lose first to see it there will be a chemical reaction with the material. It may take a long time for any of these methods to work but if you really like the doll it is worth it isn’t it?




  1. Love this! Shelley’s one of my go to’s at “A Thousand splendid dolls ” great you tube videos AND the albums/pics on her flickr are great. I used scented body spray and or scented lotion on some of my stinky garage sale dolls. a quick light coat on then toweled or q-tipped off.,the hair I used scented body wash or conditioner or fabric softener.
    I also use lavender from the garden, (leaves dried in a pillow cover).As I’m allergic to the cheap scented wood chip/scented oil things from the store. l Just put them in a pouch for like a single doll in a bin or box, keep mine on the back patio.(for the really nasty stuff I use v-8 juice.)Hey it works for skunks.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. yes the drink, we get it at Costco by the case. sometimes I have some left over in a can I use on a tooth brush for stinky yard sale dolls/etc, then I wash like shelly does. If there’s still some smell I try baking soda, and then try the scented body spray and air out on a covered porch or patio.I have a dollhouse on my back patio so the dolls get to reside there.

    Liked by 1 person

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