Selling a played with Barbie

The collectors often buy playline Barbies that are good for restoring. Many times over I have found awesome dolls that to the average person seem like pure junk. Most second hand market, flea market or garage sale sellers don’t take time to fix the doll up at all. I don’t mean that you should start rerooting them or anything, just a few simple steps. However, do not do this on a vintage Barbie. (If there is a chance the doll is older than 20 years.) If unsure, leave it as it is. Just the first one will do fine:

1. Wash them! For the love of God, wash your doll before selling it! Ask yourself, would you find it tempting to buy a doll with sticker glue and crayon in the eyes, in filthy clothes and hair that sticks to your hands when you touch it? Don’t worry; Barbie dolls (Mattel originals) can handle water and common soap. The hair (if any is left) hold the curl if you don’t use boiling hot water. The value of your doll “sky rockets” from one Euro/Dollar to five if it’s clean.

2. Clean up paint and permanent marker stains and other gunk. Children are sometimes inclined to drawing on their dolls… While some pen marks cannot be removed with common house hold methods (unless your kids are teenagers and using zit cream) you can remove some by scrubbing – a tooth brush is a great aid in washing a Barbie – and some will come off with nail polish remover. However, the nail polish remover can also take off the face paint, so if cleaning the face it’s advised to use a q-tip to keep away from eyes, eyebrows, lips and cheeks. Leave the rest to the “professionals”.

3. Comb the hair if possible. If you feel unsure or you don’t have the time, you can skip this part. A lot of collectors know how to do it without pulling out half of the scalp with it.

4. Dress her up in the best clothes you’re ready to part with. If you don’t have any clothes, that’s fine, but position the doll in the table in respectful manner (instead of just throwing her into a box of junk). The more you respect the doll, the more your buyer will.

5. You might be surprised what condition dolls will sell. However, don’t expect big dollars for a used playline Barbie doll, most collectors are not ready to pay more than 7 dollars of any such doll. You should rather consider things like recycling and the planet when selling a used Barbie doll, instead of striking gold. 😉

6. Give this web address handy. My blog will give easy instructions for any enthusiast on how to fix Barbie dolls – the crafty types will not be able to resist!


  1. I so agree with you about selling dirty dolls , I have bought so many dolls in this condition , dirty dolls that smell like mildew, my pride would not let me sell dolls that are not clean, however I love these dolls and I think probably where the care factor lies. Cheers

  2. But what if the Barbie doll has black stains. not from marker or anything like that. It’s just played with a lot and the cheeks got stained over the year. What would you advise for that. Thank-you

  3. Oh, wow—I TOTALLY disagree with this. I would ~NEVER~ recommend that someone looking to sell played-with Barbie dolls “clean” them unless they know EXACTLY what they’re doing, and even then, ~ONLY~ if the doll is not valuable. I have seen SO MANY vintage dolls on eBay that were RUINED by sellers who “cleaned” them before listing them, including dolls that were actually in mint condition before they were “cleaned”. (Matted hair that tore when the seller “brushed” it, hair “trimmed” to “even it out” when it wasn’t supposed to be “even” in the first place, “stains” removed that were NOT stains and were supposed to be there, hair accessories that had never been removed that were removed so the hair could be “washed”, etc) And let’s not even get into clothes that were destroyed by someone attempting to “wash” them before listing them. There is NO BENEFIT to you “cleaning” a doll before selling it—anyone who is looking to buy used Barbie dolls knows what they’re getting. Just describe things as clearly as you can. PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, let the buyer clean the doll—chances are they know how to do it better than you do.

    Also, PLEASE BEWARE OF ANY METHODS TO “REMOVE STAINS”—-some of the methods people use can cause damage that takes years to appear, and if you remove a stain from a doll before right before selling it, a few years down the line the doll can develop issues that the buyer was not expecting (such as a “powder” appearing on the surface). Again: LEAVE THE CLEANING TO THE BUYER.

    • Good point, I forgot to mention that doing this on vintage dolls is a bad idea. I am primarily a playline collector, and was referring to very ordinary playline dolls that won’t be ruined by soap and water, as that’s what they’re meant for; rough and tumble – that’s why I love modern playline Barbie as the dolls do take punishment quite well. 🙂 (The 90’s doll hair is a bit brittle at times though.)

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