How should you store American Girl dolls?

American Girl dolls have been beloved by children and collectors for decades. Properly storing these dolls is important to keep them looking their best for years to come. Here are some tips on how to store American Girl dolls, accessories, and clothing.

Should American Girl dolls be kept in their boxes?

Many American Girl dolls are purchased in decorative boxes that match their time periods and personalities. While these boxes look lovely displayed on a shelf, they are not ideal for long-term doll storage for a few reasons:

  • Boxes take up a lot of space, especially if you have multiple dolls
  • The plastic used in the windows can warp and yellow over time
  • Dolls stored in boxes long-term can develop “box hair” where their hairstyles flatten out
  • The boxes and accessories inside can fade and degrade from light exposure over many years

For these reasons, it’s recommended to remove the doll from the box for display and storage. The boxes can be flattened and stored safely if you ever want to resell the doll in the original packaging.

What is the best way to display American Girl dolls?

Displaying American Girl dolls out of their boxes allows you to fully appreciate the details and craftsmanship that goes into each one. Here are some great display options:

  • Doll stands – Clear acrylic doll stands keep dolls in an upright, standing position. This prevents stress on the limbs and neck over time.
  • Doll furniture – American Girl sells lovely bedroom sets, desks, and school lockers that allow dolls to be posed sitting or standing.
  • Shelves – Glass shelving units neatly show off dolls and coordinate their accessories.
  • Bookcases – Adjustable bookcase shelves properly support dolls in a sitting position.
  • Display cabinet – Enclosed glass cabinets keep dolls dust-free while showing them off.

When displaying dolls long-term, be sure to occasionally rotate their positioning to prevent permanent creases.

What conditions are best for American Girl doll storage?

The materials used in American Girl dolls can be sensitive to light, heat, and humidity. Follow these tips for ideal storage conditions:

  • Avoid direct sunlight which can fade clothes and hair.
  • Keep room temperatures around 68-72°F.
  • Maintain humidity around 40-50% to prevent dryness.
  • Avoid damp basements, attics, or garages.
  • Do not display dolls near heating/cooling vents or radiators.

Fluctuating conditions can accelerate deterioration, so aim for evenly controlled conditions wherever dolls are stored long-term.

How should American Girl clothes be stored?

The detailed outfits sold for American Girl dolls can easily get wrinkled and creased when improperly stored. Follow these tips to keep clothes looking their best:

  • Avoid wire or plastic hangers which can create shoulder ridges. Use broad, padded hangers.
  • Store hanging clothes spaced apart on a garment rod to prevent creasing.
  • Fold and stack accessories flat in acid-free tissue or archival bags.
  • If possible, stuff the garment with acid-free tissue to retain the shape.
  • For long-term storage, wrap mannequins or dress forms in the outfit to support the fabric.

Storing clothes in an airtight storage bin with cedar blocks or lavender sachets can help deter insects and prevent mildew.

How should you store American Girl doll hair?

The carefully rooted and styled hair is one of the most delicate parts of American Girl dolls. Follow these tips to maintain beautiful hairstyles:

  • Avoid rubbing, brushing, or styling the factory hairsets which can loosen the roots.
  • Loosely tie up long hair into a ponytail or braid for storage.
  • Use a soft hairnet to keep styled hair contained and tangle-free.
  • For wet dolls like #88, thoroughly dry hair before storage.
  • Store dolls horizontally to evenly distribute pressure and prevent matting.
  • If restyling is needed, gently finger-comb small sections starting at the ends.

Improper brushing and handling is the most common cause of bald spots and hair frizz in American Girl dolls. Take care and they can retain their beautiful hairstyles for many years.

How should you store American Girl doll accessories?

American Girl dolls come with a delightful assortment of themed accessories that complete their stories. Follow these tips to properly store them:

  • Categorize small accessories like glasses and shoes in labeled ziplock bags.
  • Wrap larger accessories individually in acid-free tissue paper.
  • Place delicate accessories like musical instruments in their original packaging.
  • Organize accessories by doll in archival storage boxes.
  • For display, use museum wax to securely hold small accessories in place.
  • Avoid hanging heavy accessories like bicycles long-term, which can strain limbs.

Properly stored accessories will be easy to find and pair back up with their intended dolls.

Should American Girl dolls be stored upright or lying down?

Ideally, American Girl 18-inch dolls should be stored lying flat to prevent any warping or damage to their limbs and joints over time. However, it is fine to stand them upright for temporary display.

If displayed upright, be sure to:

  • Use a doll stand to properly support the body weight.
  • Pose the feet flat to evenly distribute weight.
  • Check for leaning and occasionally change the pose.
  • Give vinyl limbs a break by periodically lying the doll down.

Lying flat keeps the doll shape intact even when stored long-term. Just use soft, acid-free supports underneath to cradle the body, limbs, and head.

Should American Girl dolls be stored with their meet outfits?

American Girl dolls typically arrive dressed in a full “meet outfit” that matches their character and story. While these original meet outfits hold sentimental value, they are not ideal for long-term storage.

The reasons it’s best to change dolls into separates or simple cotton gowns for storage include:

  • Outfits can apply pressure at seams and ridges over time.
  • Clothing fabrics and dyes can rub off onto vinyl skin.
  • Delicate outfit pieces are at risk for stains, tears, or other damage.
  • Meet outfits are ideal for display but add bulk for storage.

Changing into simple undergarments or undyed cotton clothes reduces pressure points and friction for storage. The meet outfits can then be specially protected and preserved.

What are the best storage materials for American Girl dolls?

When shopping for storage and display materials for American Girl dolls, look for products that are:

  • Acid-free – Uncoated papers and cardboards can release acids over time that break down materials.
  • Archival – These museum-quality materials are designed for preservation.
  • Breathable – Avoid vinyl, plastic bins, or airtight bags which can trap moisture.
  • Soft – Felt, muslin, and acid-free tissue cushion without abrasion.
  • Clean – Second-hand products may contain pests, mold, or pollutants.

Investing in archival supplies greatly extends the lifespans of American Girl dolls and clothes in storage.

How can you prevent bug or pest damage when storing dolls?

Pests like moths, silverfish, and carpet beetles can damage American Girl doll hair, clothes, and accessories if given the opportunity. Here are some tips to keep them away:

  • Keep storage areas clean – vacuum and dust regularly.
  • Inspect regularly for any signs of bugs.
  • Use cedar blocks and sachets as a deterrent.
  • Freeze materials for 72 hours to kill larvae if infested.
  • Avoid cardboard boxes which can harbor pests.
  • Use airtight plastic bins or bags when not displaying.

Chemical pest control methods should always be avoided, since the residues can damage doll materials over time.

Does light damage American Girl dolls in storage?

Exposure to light is one of the biggest threats to American Girl dolls and clothes in storage. Light damage occurs in two main ways:

  • Fading – Light fades and alters dyes used in clothing, wigs, and painted details over time.
  • Brittleness – The vinyl and elastic materials in American Girl dolls can become dried out and brittle with prolonged light exposure.

To minimize light damage:

  • Avoid storing dolls in sunny windows or bright rooms.
  • Use curtains or shades to block sunlight on displayed dolls.
  • Store dolls in enclosed cabinets instead of open shelves.
  • Keep lights off or dimmed in doll storage areas.
  • Cover dolls with dark fabric shrouds when stored long-term.

Taking precautions against light exposure will help retain the vibrant, flexible, factory-fresh qualities.

How often should American Girl dolls be inspected during storage?

Even when carefully stored, American Girl dolls should be periodically inspected for signs of damage or deterioration. A good rule of thumb is to inspect them:

  • Every 1-2 months if displayed upright.
  • Every 3-6 months if stored lying flat.
  • Whenever environmental conditions change significantly.
  • After any major move to a new home or location.

During inspections, look for:

  • Signs of pest damage – small holes, trails, frass, or shed skins
  • Mold or mildew growth
  • Fading, paint cracking, or sticky vinyl
  • Warping, limpness, stiffness, or other material changes
  • Hair frizziness, rooting looseness, or bald spots

Catching issues early allows for quick correction to prevent permanent damage.

How can you repair damage or deterioration on stored American Girl dolls?

Even well-stored American Girl dolls can sometimes experience minor damage. Here are some tips for repairs:

  • Stiff limbs – Gently move the joints back and forth to loosen them up. Apply a tiny amount of mineral oil for increased mobility.
  • Box hair – Use a detangling spray and very gently brush out flattened hair starting from the ends.
  • Faded clothes – Use fabric dye matched to the original color to refresh the color. Test first.
  • Frizzy hair – Carefully use a tiny amount of smoothing serum or essential oil to control flyaways.
  • Scuffs – Gently buff scuffs on limbs or faces with a microfiber cloth.
  • Stains – Surface stains can often be dabbed away with diluted isopropyl alcohol. Avoid harsh scrubbing.

For more severe damage or valuable collectibles, consider professional doll restoration services.


American Girl dolls are beloved treasures meant to be passed down for generations. While they require a bit of special care, following these storage tips will keep your doll collection looking beautiful for many years to come. Be sure to inspect dolls regularly, keep them in controlled environments, and take time to properly organize accessories. With some diligence and the right materials, your American Girl dolls can remain gorgeous heirlooms to enjoy for a lifetime. Just take care not to over-handle these delicate playthings, and they’ll retain their magic for every little girl to discover.

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