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Last Friday, our new American Girl addition, Saige Copeland, arrived to become the newest member of our family and my daughter's doll collection.  The doll was welcomed with lots of love from my daughter and has been at her side since the box was opened.  She takes her just about every where she goes in the house (we have rules, American Girl's do not leave the house) as they have become inseparable.  While I enjoy seeing the delight of my daughter's face as she plays with her latest "friend", we discovered last night that sometimes this attachment can come at a price. :o/

Yesterday evening, as I was preparing dinner, my daughter was telling me her wonderful way of keeping track of the days with her new American Girl 2013 calendar that she received with her latest magazine issue and how she is also using the school's lunch calendar.  I was so engrossed with dinner preparations, as I listened to her telling me this great new tracking method, I had failed to see she grabbed a sharpie of the kitchen drawer and was using it to mark off the days that had passed on her calendar. Sometimes, we're just a Mom and in most cases a sharpie isn't the end of the world - especially since my daughter is relatively responsible with her choices.  She did nothing bad, just check off the calendar.  

Under most circumstances that wouldn't have been a big deal; however, last night she must've got sharpie on her hand as she recapped the lid.  Again, not a huge deal typically, but what followed next made things more complex.  

After I had managed to get dinner assembled and ready to go in the oven, I went back to my computer double check the recipe one last time to make sure I hadn't forgot anything only have my daughter frantically approach me with a horrified look in her eyes.  She says "What's this blue stuff on my doll?"  I look up and see she is standing there, putting Saige in my face.  I take the doll to examine it and discover there is blue ink covering Saige's wrist.  I immediately asked her what she had been playing with and she said "nothing".  She obviously had not realized the marker was on her hand when she went to pick up her doll and put her in her little play jeep.  She was driving the doll around when she noticed it.  Again I asked "what did you have?" and after trying to figure it out we realized she was also marked in blue.  It hit us that the sharpie was the culprit.  

In a slight panic, as the American Girl doll is not a cheap toy, I quickly turned to my computer and typed in "Remove sharpie from doll" and up pops white toothpaste and a toothbrush in a circular motion.  Immediately, I raced upstairs and administered first aid to Saige with some Sensodyne and a child soft toothbrush. To prep her for "surgery",  I covered her hair with a "shower cap/plastic disposable dish cover for microwaving ", undressed her from her clothes, and covered her body with a hand towel to make sure she didn't get even more icky.  The stain was lighter, but definitely still very much there.  I tried letting the toothpaste sit for awhile, covering it with plastic wrap so it didn't dry out, and trying the scrubbing again.  Nothing.  It was a stain.  Upset, I called my husband and he suggested rubbing alcohol.  Tried it, didn't work.  Tried magic eraser, didn't work. At this point I'm thinking this may call for a trip to the doll hospital so American Girl can fix her.  Needless to say I was disappointed that we may have to send Saige off less than a week of having her home.

Not willing to give up (my stubbornness takes over) and I again turn to the Internet.  This time, I turn up different results.  A girl had posted a video of her attempt to remove ink stains from her American Girl.  This method she used concerned me as I wasn't sure how well it would work without bleaching the doll's skin due to the make-up of the product; however, I was willing to give it a try.  After all, at this point I've concluded the doll may need a new arm already.  So I set off to locate Oxy Spot Treatment for acne.  To no avail locating finding the name brand, I was pleased when I talked to Walmart's pharmacy to discover that they cared a "generic" product for Oxy that contained the "magical" ingredients needed to remove such a stain.  I toss on my coat, tell my husband I'm off to Walmart, and out the door I go.  

On the way to Walmart it hits me, maybe I better see if American Girl has better suggestions as I'm concerned about this doll's well-being.  They tell me the same thing - acne product containing benzoyl peroxide, plastic wrap, and sunlight.  I arrive at Walmart, pick up the Equate Spot Treatment for acne, check out and return home.  Now I just had to wait until morning because part of the key to this trick is UV rays given off by sunlight.

So this morning, as I wake up it quickly hits me that I have doll surgery to perform as Saige has unexpectedly been tattooed.  

Here's what you'll need:

  • Acne treatment medicine containing 10% benzoyl peroxide
  • Q-tip
  • Plastic wrap
  • Old towels to cover the doll
  • Small rubberband
  • A safe spot outside to place the doll
  • Sunlight

First begin by removing the doll's clothing and covering all untreated areas with a towel.  Be sure to secure the doll's hair back and if possible cover her with an old towel to reduce the risk of the product coming into contact with the fabric or hair.

Begin by applying a small amount of the acne treatment to the stained areas only.


After the ointment has been applied, wrap the plastic wrap around the treated area, trying not to "double" the wrap over the parts you are trying to fade.  If you bunch of the plastic wrap over the stained area the UV rays may not be able to penetrate through the plastic wrap to eliminate the stain.  Secure the plastic wrap with a small rubberband (I used a tiny hair band from my daughter's accessories). 

Take your American Girl friend outside and let her sunbathe. Ok, so we live in the northern part of the United States so yes, it is winter and yes we have snow.   I will admit the overcast day did have me a bit worried that this may not work as I wasn't sure how well it would work on a cloudy, dreary day.  I placed her on my daughter's plastic tea cart to keep her off of wet surfaces and so our dogs couldn't attack her.  Poor Saige, it's frigid out here, but we wrapped her up real good to keep the rest her from being exposed to the elements and sunlight. After all, we are only trying to fade the stains, not all of Saige.

This is the part that I hated most...waiting.  Saige had to stay outside for quite a few hours.  In fact, I left her outside for about 6 1/2 hours.  Now, Saige was left on my deck that is outside my family room and I kept a close eye on her simply because it is a overcast day in the dead of winter with a chance of rain heading our way this evening.  Needless to say, I didn't want Saige to happen out of our yard, but also I didn't want her to be rained on either.  After about 4 hours I decided to check on things to see if this stuff was working.  The stain had faded significantly; however, I decided to add a little more time to see if it would fade away completely. So after a long 6 1/2 hours, I decided to peek in on her.  

After I brought her inside from the cold (poor Saige - she is from New Mexico after all, so I'm sure the winter weather is a shock to her system, right?), I used a damp cloth to wipe off the ointment.  I examined the area and sure enough the sharpie is gone!  I used a clean soft cloth with mild soap and gave her arm a gentle scrub to remove any left over acne ointment.  A quick rinse of the cloth, another wipe to remove the soap, a little drying with a towel, and she's as good as new!

Although this treatment worked for us today, it is my understanding that some more difficult stains may require repeated treatment depending on the severity of the stain.  This could be three of four more times of applying the cream to your doll and sending her back outside to sunbathe.

Ta da, yes it really does work!!!  My daughter will be thrilled to see that Dr. Mom's surgery was a success and Saige has been restored to her beautiful self.  Last night, my daughter was devastated when she saw the marks and completely upset with herself for causing it.  This is the first incident we've had with a doll since she has owned American Girl dolls that required true attention.  She has a great respect and extreme love for all of her dolls and is very careful with how she plays. 

Needless to say, this accident has been a learning lesson for all of us and I'm glad to be able to share my story with other people in hopes that they too can restore a smile to their child's face and remove the "tattoos" from their dolls.  To all the other mom's out there who have encountered a similar situation with the dreaded sharpie ( whether accidental or accidentally on purpose), rest assured all hope is not lost!  


1/20/2014 04:40:55 pm

My daughter's American girl doll mysteriously got dye splotches on her neck and arms. I think it must have been the dye in her shirt, but there was blue dye on her skin and the shirt wasn't blue. She is very upset and poor McKenna has been stained for a month and a half! What should I do?

12/14/2014 02:06:42 am

Sometimes, we're just a Mom and in most cases a sharpie isn't the end of the world - especially since my daughter is relatively responsible with her choices. She did nothing bad, just check off the calendar.

5/11/2016 12:58:41 pm

While I enjoy seeing the delight of my daughter's face as she plays with her latest "friend", we discovered last night that sometimes this attachment can come at a price

Ali Browning
10/25/2016 09:53:12 pm

I was wondering about painting the doll's face with acrilyic paint but I'll give this idea a try first


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    Hi, I'm Cindy and I'm on a mission.  As a mother of two in a less than thriving economy, I'm on a mission to get organized to make my life a little easier while also saving money. Join me on my journey to having an organized life.


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