I love finding cool vintage items, and one of my favorite finds are old toys. Most toys get broken and destroyed by their owners, but a few types show up fairly often in decent shape. One toy I always grab when I see it are My Little Ponies! MLP began in the early 1980s, and was huge throughout that decade. These old pony toys are very collectible, and have a big fanbase of aficionados and collectors.
These ponies are usually intact, but are often dirty, marked with pens or crayons, and have terribly tangly hair. Fortunately, they are fairly easy to clean up and get them looking presentable again. 🙂
I found these two ponies at Goodwill last week. The first one is a So Soft pony named Paradise. She’s a white flocked pegasus, with soft, fuzzy fibers covering her entire body. The mane was tangled, and the tail had been double braided (three regular braids that are then braided together into one). The “fur” was dingy, with some yellow discoloration around one of the wings.
The second one is an Earth Pony named Sundance, who is white with pink hair. She was dirty and had red crayon on her neck, and two pen marks near her cutie mark. Her mane and tail were also tangled.
The first step was to unbraid Paradise’s tail. Who knows how long the tail has been this way…possibly years! Don’t try to do any brushing at this point; it’s hopeless and will only cause damage.
Let the cleanup begin!
The next step is a nice bubble bath. I use warm water and a small amount of dish detergent, and submerge the ponies completely. An old toothbrush is used to gently scrub the bodies to clean off the general dirt. The flocked pony can also be cleaned with the toothbrush…VERY VERY GENTLY! I scrub very lightly in circles until the whole pony is sudsy and clean.
After a good rinse, the next step is de-marking. Spots like pen marks, crayon, sticker residue, etc can often be cleaned off with rubbing alcohol. I like to take a Q-tip and gently rub the spot until it comes clean, being extra careful around paint applications like the eyes and cutie mark. Unfortunately not all spots will come off, but a good percentage will.
The red crayon mark on Sundance’s neck did come off with the alcohol, but the blue pen marks on her rump didn’t.
After as much cleanup as possible has been done, it’s time for the most fun part: detangling! (Yes, it’s fun!) Take a small amount of liquid fabric softener (hair conditioner will also work) and saturate the mane and tail with it. I like to put the toys on a large dinner plate as a work surface.
Once all of the fibers are wet and slick with softener, I take a fine toothed comb, which in this case is my cat’s metal flea comb, and gently brush out the hair. I find it easiest to lay the toy down, stretch out the hair, and brush against the surface of the plate. Start at the ends and untangle a centimeter or so at a time, slowly working up the length of the hair to the body. For super tangly knotty hair, you may have to do this strand by strand.
After some patient and gentle brushing, the hair is untangled! As you can see, Paradise’s hair still has some waves in it from the braid. These will straighten out over time.
After a light rinse to remove the excess softener, the ponies are set up on a shelf to air dry. After they are completely dry, the hair is smooth and untangled, and can be easily brushed!
And here are the final results:
Here are some before/after comparison shots:
Pretty cool, huh? 🙂
These two were actually in fairly good shape for their age. I’ve seen some toys with hair so tangled it’s literally just a ball of knots! But this method has worked every time.
I’ll be ready the next time a pony or two shows up!