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Doll care: Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl Peroxide has been a known cleaning agent in the doll community for a long time. It’s usually the last resort if stains couldn’t be removed just by cleaning with soap and water because the stain has soaked into the plastic.

Benzoyl Peroxide bleaches the plastic. This might not work every time or could discolor plastic so only use it sparingly or as a last resort if everything else has failed.

Our test subject, a blue-nosed Howleen.


Benzoyl Peroxide is a component found in acne cream. The important part is the peroxide so I thought I’d try out Hydrogen Peroxide first…


The stain did fade a little bit but this was the sort of stain that was soaked all the way through. I went ahead and picked up Clearasil with 10% Benzoyl Peroxide. It doesn’t matter what brand you try, what’s important is that the acne cream you use has 10% Benzoyl Peroxide. 10% is about the highest amount of content anyone will have access to.


I checked her in an hour, 3 hours, 8 hours, 12 hours and didn’t see any significant change. After a week of being exposed to sunshine, the stain is almost gone.


I left her for another week and the stain is gone! For a stain that was soaked through, it took 2 weeks (14 days). There is no plastic discoloration of sorts.


Next to a Howleen that never had stains to begin with, you can’t even tell the difference.


Further reading:

Edit 5/9/2014:

Some dolls may require a longer period. Here’s progress on an old Sleeping Beauty doll who took 3 weeks to see any significant improvement. Unfortunately there are some stains that due appear to be permanent, note the blue blemish on her right eye socket.


This Post Has 28 Comments

  1. I just happened to stop by your blog and see this. I wanted to mention that your Sleeping Beauty doll had eyes that changed with water (forget whether it was cold or hot.) When you applied the water, the eyes looked closed. That might be why there was still some color left over, because the paint was different than the standard Barbie eyes.

    I have used Benzoyl Peroxide to get stains off of a Madeline doll, and a Tonner Sydney doll. Putting the doll in sunlight also helps the Benzoyl Peroxide work.

  2. I have a basic frankie stain from monster high and she has yellow stains on the part of the hair growth and a little on the forehead. this product can work on it with the yellow stains?

    1. The benzoyl treatment is basically the go-to treatment for deep stains but just be aware that because you’re using a chemical reaction to bleach the stain out, there’s also a chance it might not work if the plastic itself is damaged.

  3. I know this is an old post, but did you ever get the pink unknown stain out? I’m in the same predicament.

    1. Nope, it never came off. My guess is that the vinyl itself was too damaged that the color was too thoroughly mixed in or that the vinyl itself is permanently discolored due to gradual deterioration.

  4. I was only able to find 5% benzoyl Peroxide… do you think this could work? I have a Disney Store Merida doll with a green tip nose.. I’m really desperate and worried…=( I have tried with nail polish remover but it does nothing…

    1. benzoyl peroxide is the chemical you need in order to “bleach” out the discoloration. I think any amount would work so it’s always best to get as high of a content that you can get your hands on. I know that there are restrictions with it in some countries so if you can only manage a small amount, it might just mean that it’ll require a longer application. You should be prepared to leave the benzoyl peroxide on for months or maybe even a year.

      Nail polish remover will not work since it doesn’t contain the chemical you need to bleach the plastic. Acetone works with plastics in an entirely different way. Bleaching is not one of them.

  5. Didn’t work????? I have three that have it and can’t take it off neeeeeeeeed heeellllllpppp!!!!!!!!! What if you can’t afford that acne cream with 10 percent bronzer oil or whatever so give me some other ideas for what I can use ppppppllllleeeeeaaaaasssssssseeeeeeeee help me

    1. This is one of those cases where you have to leave the acne cream (with benzoyl peroxide) for a very long time. I’ve seen some folks leave it on the doll for a month and reapply again because the stain didn’t come off.

      You have to get acne cream with benzoyl peroxide and right now the highest possible amount is 10% (for legal reasons). Anything lower can still work just that it’s going to take a much longer time.

      It takes a lot of patience to use this method since you’re counting on a chemical reaction to bleach the stain out. It doesn’t always work.

    2. The acne cream should be 10% benzoyl peroxide…look for that on the label. It shouldn’t cost too much in stores. Maybe you’re looking for the wrong ingredient. Try looking for creams that say “maximum result” or “extra strength” or something of that caliber. One I have used is called “ZapZyt” and comes in a little tube, so try looking for that, too.

      1. In Canada I cannot find anything stronger than 5% benzoyl peroxide so I tried it and IT WORKED! It took like a whole week though but i had two of my disney store princesses dolls with stains on their noses due to fabric rubbing and everyday I left them with the cream and a lamp and checked every night and repeat the process and on the 6th day the stains were gone!! You have to look on the acne section at the pharmacies. Clearasil has a product with benzoyl peroxide. Hope this info is useful! Cheers!

  6. I have this Picture Day Cleo doll and I didn’t like the color of her lips. I should’ve just painted over them or ignored it but no, genius me, I had to try taking the lips off with a random nail polish remover. The blue lips that I took off smeared all over her cheeks and nose and chin. For the life of me I can’t get them off poor Cleo. Will this work?

    1. It sounds like you used a weak or bad quality nail polish. Only 100% Acetone will work. If any of the nail polish brands you have used don’t seem to work, try to get the hardware store kind. Be warned that those tend to have stronger fumes but it should wipe the paint right off your doll.

      1. Yup I sure did. but a few days sitting under my lamp with the magical acne cream (weird phrase…) and you can’t hardly tell. Also, she looks very much better with red lips than with blue.

  7. I have a raven queen with a kinda purple nose? I think it’s because I boil washed her hair and some of her makeup or hair dye rounded up to the nose. Do you think it will work using that method? And btw she is a legacy day raven.

    1. As long as it isn’t a defect in the actual plastic, it should work. I’ve seen some EAH girls with discoloration on their skin, like there are pieces of plastic that are a shade different from their skin tone. If it’s a stain you just leave the benzoyl peroxide on and wait. Sometimes it takes a few days, sometimes a month.

  8. Do you know if the benzoyl peroxide will mess with the factory paint on the doll’s face? I have a Getting Fairest Maddie that has several dark brown stains on her face which go over her blush and eyes. I’ve tried removing the stains with various soaps and hot water, and so far nothing has worked to remove them.

    1. I’ve tried it on several second hand dolls with extensive damage (ink stains soaked into the plastic, discoloration from contact with dark fabric). The trick usually works if you let benzoyl peroxide sit for a long time. From what I’ve observed, recent Mattel dolls manufactured from 2010 on wards have mostly positive results with stains being removed if it soaked into the plastic. Older dolls are a toss up due to poor plastic quality or deteriorating factory paint. Benzoyl Peroxide is like bleach so using it “could” also cause some discoloration.

      Will it damage factory paint? Probably. I’ve seen it more of an issue in older dolls where benzoyl peroxide will “lift” the factory paint off the dolls.” Fortunately it’s easy to control the areas where you apply benzoyl peroxide so just make sure not to let it have any contact with factory paint and wash off when you’re ready to remove it from the doll.

      Just as an aside, I have some EAH girls who have dark blemishes embedded into their skin. They look like stains but they’re really defects in the plastic/vinyl.

  9. This is all very true. I had a doll with serious marker stains (much worse than yours) and I was advised to try hydrogen peroxide, as no acne cream with the magic ingredient could be found in my country. It had no effect at all after the head was submerged in it for days. Maybe it would have worked if the stain were new. Finally someone brought me acne cream from abroad and it took about two months to fully erase the marker. The doll was the colour of black Barbies and didn’t fade in the least. To avoid discoloration, you should keep the doll in the shade. The peroxide will still work, but it will be slower. It works even after washing the cream off and forgetting the doll in a dark drawer, because by that time the peroxide would have seeped into the plastic where no detergent can get it. I can still see a green tinge on your doll’s nose, but it should vanish by itself after this treatment. Good post!

    1. I had a hard time looking for acne cream with benzoyl peroxide as 90% was using salycic acid. I think a lot of people are either allergic to benzoyl peroxide or that it’s too harsh on their skin so there’s a slight preference for salycic acid… which bodes bad for doll customizers. I really don’t know any other product that carries benzoyl peroxide or if there’s a specific company that creates products specifically for repairing dolls.

      Good to know that benzoyl peroxide works even without sunlight, only slower! Thanks for sharing!

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