Rescue Sylvanians

I’m sure you must have all noticed that I haven’t had much time to play with my Sylvanians in the past months or so. After we finished the first part of our house repairs, there was so much stuff to clean and organize (and even that isn’t over with *groan*). And when we were almost (almost done!), we had to get things moving again because the frequent monsoon rains caused new water damage to areas that were previously untouched. Thus, the chores go on and on, stalled unpredictably by the erratic weather and our less-than-perfect immune systems.

Ahh, back to my story. It was raining again yesterday and it was too wet to get any laundry done. And because I missed my poor Sylvanians, I took a much needed break to work on some scruffy Sylvanian figures I received last week. They were in poor condition when I got them; their clothes were stained, and their fur dirty and grubby. I took them over to the bathroom for a quick wash but the first wash left them looking no better. So then I got started on really getting down and dirty with them. I figured, since they were already in poor condition, I couldn’t do anything to make them worse, right? Well, look at what happened…

Aside from the unfinished restoration of the nose using a fabric pen, this Whiskers cat sibling is pretty much in good condition. It took two washes to get the fuzzy gray (mold? mildew?) out and I used a liberal amount of colorsafe liquid bleach and baby clothes liquid detergent to make it happen. I rubbed the solution in using the balls of my fingers first, and when that didn’t help much, I used a soft toothbrush and gently brushed in one direction only. Some areas were harder to clean than others and the extremities are still darker than the rest of the body. Unless I am willing to risk fur damage, however, I think I can live with this for now.

This mother figure turned out extremely well, if I may say so myself. The before picture was taken and sent in by her previous owner. She looks disheveled and extremely dirty. Masking tape did little to take off the gray scum off her fur; a good washing (again, repeated twice) did the trick. Even her green dress now looks green, whereas it looked yellow-gray before.

I’ve heard a lot of opinions going either way on whether or not washing figures will ruin them. As far as my experience goes, I’ve been quite successful in recovery and restoration. I’ve had a few disappointments but these were in really old figures with thinning fur or fur loss already. My rule of thumb is always to err on the side of caution. If it’s a figure I am unlikely to be able to replace, I take a more conservative stance on cleaning them, preferring dry methods over wet. And if I really don’t have to do anything to them, then I leave them be.

For more tips on organizing and cleaning Sylvanians, why don’t you check out PH Sylvanian Families on Facebook? (Just click on the picture below to get redirected to our Facebook page.) Enjoy the page!

10 thoughts on “Rescue Sylvanians

    • Thanks, Eric! I didn’t do a lot of touch-ups on the ears, just minor dabs with an orange (dabbed and wiped, dabbed and wiped) fabric pen. What I did was to dab (using a one-direction, staccato movement) and wipe with a wet tissue to diminish intensity (also with the same movement). The grays and blacks were easy. Chinese-made fabric pens are hard to find but they are cheap and they’re not highly pigmented so they don’t overcolor. I just hope they don’t bleed in the future.

      • It depends, Marco. If it’s a new Sylvanian, meaning something recently manufactured, getting wet is not a problem and it’ll dry off easily. You can shampoo it a bit (just be sure not to scratch the fur or scrape it off) and wash it without fear or worry. Then dry it off with a white towel, careful to squeeze excess water out but not scrub the figure. You can blowdry it or put it in front of an electric fan, or even just air dry it overnight. It’ll be good as new.

        Older figures are tricky. Because of their age, their fur (or flocking, as we call them) can easily fall off even with gentle washing. If it smells really bad or has stains you can’t live with, you can try washing it but there is no assurance it’ll come out well. And if you accidentally wet it, then just dry it off again. Do not scrub, scrape, rub, or scratch the flocking.

        Hope this helps!

  1. Hi, i wanna ask about my Sylvanian figure, i’m lately busy to cleaning them. Before i know, my figures color begin to change. I might not notice it on my fox families, but i do have one polar bear and a puppies. It changes from white fluffy colour, into a yellowish one like yours mommy-kitty, but the color spot is stay safe.
    Am I do something wrong, or its just like that ?? Usually, I brush mine with fingers or brush to clean dust, and wash them with a kitchen cleaning soap and then rinse it and left in the cool room. I’d be glad if you could answer 🙂

    • White figures are especially hard to keep clean and they will turn yellow with time. You can try to wash them with a diluted mixture of mild liquid detergent and bleach (lots of water!) but there is no assurance that they will return to their original color. They’ll be just as nice if their coat/flocking is an even color and not splotchy with yellow stains.

      I think you’re doing just right when it comes to cleaning them. They will turn yellowish with time, true, but as long as they have no bald spots or fur scratches, they’re still going to be really cute.

      Hope this helps, Stephanie, and thank you for dropping by!

    • Hi, Rebekah! My apologies. I took down the page since it hadn’t been updated in a while. It’s not dead yet, just hibernating. If you have a question, please feel free to ask here in the blog. I’ll do my best to answer it right away. Thanks for visiting the blog!

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