disney mattel

Final Results!

I am aware of experiments done on a Russian forum that concluded toluene is the most effective cleanser for the infamous Mattel Head Glue. However, toluene is volatile, can be harmful to the user if not done with care, and can cause damage to doll face paint and bodies.

I continue to search for a viable, safer, affordable solution accessible to most with the intent of cleansing dolls of head glue, and for safe use by children.

I started with two Barbie heads that had glue seepage. Both have white glue. Both heads are from different iterations of Barbie/they are, unfortunately, not identical.

Capturing gluey hair texture in photos isn’t easy. But if you’re reading this, you probably know exactly how it looks and feels. Both were clumpy and sticky, with glue transferring to any surface their hair touched, including me.


Both were handled exactly the same; i. e. rinsed at the same times, cleansers refreshed at the same times, kept in the same place under the same conditions, etc., including on a sunny windowsill to see if being warmed would affect efficacy.

Head A was soaked for 2 days in 100% concentration of LA’s Totally Awesome All Purpose Cleaner (tan color, concentrated version, not sprayer version, $1/32oz at Dollar Tree), with one change of cleanser after approximately 12 hours. The first bath turned cloudy, and many pieces of loose glue came out of the head early on.

No discoloration of head or hair noted.

Many large chunks of loose glue came out of the head early in the process, followed by numerous smaller pieces as time went by.

Bead B was soaked for 2 days in 100% concentration of Mr. Clean Multi-Purpose Cleaner with Gain scent (green color, concentrated version in a pour bottle, not 2x concentrate in squeeze bottle, $2.62 for 48oz at Walmart), with one change of cleanser after approximately 12 hours. No change in appearance of cleanser bath throughout the process.

No discoloration of head or hair noted.

Few large chunks of glue came out initially, and also few smaller ones.

However, the two heads didn’t have the exact same glue application to begin with.

Taken out of the bath after the first overnight soaking, Head A’s hair felt clean, while Head B’s felt a bit sticky still on the underside. They were both put back for a second overnight soaking.

Both were removed the next day around 1pm, rinsed, conditioned, rinsed again, and let dry.

Head A’s (left) hair is mostly glue-free. There is a little tackiness on some inner plugs that didn’t get scrubbed as thoroughly as the hairline. She carries the unpleasant but not overpowering scent of the cleanser, which will hopefully fade as the inside of the head dries further.

Head B’s hair is still noticeably tacky on the underside where glue concentration was higher, and despite extra attention paid to rubbing that particular area. She also reeks of the Gain scent additive in the cleanser. It’s strong enough to be unpleasant and I’m considering sticking her head near an AC register to act as an air freshener.

Neither cleanser negatively affected the face paint nor the texture of the hair.

Both heads still have visible chunks of glue inside their heads and will likely need treated again in the future.

In conclusion:

LA’s Totally Awesome doesn’t smell very nice but is more effective at removing hair glue than Mr. Clean with Gain, costs less, and doesn’t smell as strongly afterward.

But Mr. Clean will work in a pinch if your child isn’t sensitive to the strong perfume.


Rapunzel: “Here comes the smolder” by Zen