How To Fix Cabbage Patch Kid Yarn Hair

One of the topics I get asked about most frequently is how to fix Cabbage Patch Kid yarn hair. Now some of the later Cabbage Patch kids had the corn silk type hair and I have a whole post about how to deal with that.

But the early Cabbage Patch dolls mostly had yarn hair so it’s important to know how to take care of it. If you haven’t cleaned or washed your Cabbie yet, I suggest you start here: How to Clean a Cabbage Patch Doll.

Cabbage Patch Kid Yarn Hair

Some of these early 1980’s Cabbie dolls made by Coleco got a LOT of love over the years. For being over 30 years old it’s amazing any of them survived. But actually Cabbage Patch kids are very hardy and I see many of them in pretty wonderful condition, all things considered.

But if you inherit or find an old Cabbage Patch doll with tangled, matted, or filthy yarn hair, don’t despair – it CAN be fixed.

I always start by giving my Cabbies a full spa treatment. They usually need it badly, since most of mine come from thrift stores or Ebay.

I remove any hair ties or rotten rubber bands and then dunk her in the sink. To wash the yarn hair I like to use slightly watered down 7th Generation Dish Soap (better for the environment).

If the hair is particularly stained, I spray on some of my favorite spot cleaner, Grandma’s Secret and give it a little rub. It works like a charm, even on stubborn stains.

Once the hair is thoroughly rinsed I blot it with a towel then set her out to dry. Then I get to work.

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Types of Cabbage Patch Kid Yarn Hair

Now the vintage Cabbage Patch dolls with yarn hair had several different hairstyles, and each one needs a slightly different styling strategy. There are:

Cabbage Patch Kid Yarn Hair

The Kid in the middle image above doesn’t really have yarn hair – his is a more soft and fluffy material, which is unusual. All his hair really needed was a wash and a gentle brush with a soft bristle hair brush.

Note: NEVER try to brush yarn hair with a hair brush. It will come unraveled and impossible to restore to its original style.

The girl on the left has mostly loop hair, with a long pony tail coming out at the top. The girl over to the right side has a double pony style with loops around the bottom and the front of her head, making a circle around her pony tails.

How To Defuzz and Trim Cabbage Patch Kid Yarn Hair

Note: While the following steps take quite a lot of work, it is also very relaxing and rewarding and satisfying (says the Cabbage Patch addict!).

Often, the yarn hair strands will be sticking to each other because the have slightly felted over time. There will be fuzz in between the individual strands of hair and you don’t want that. You want all the strands of yarn to be individual, like spaghetti strands.

The way to solve this is to take every strand and gently separate it from the next strand. Pull them apart all the way to the doll’s scalp. Pick off any excess yarn fluff while you’e doing that. Also, depending on the hairstyle of your particular Cabbie, sometimes their middle parting gets all this way and that. Just go through each strand, one by one, and place it on the right side of the part, so that it looks even and neat.

How To Fix Cabbage Patch Kid Yarn Hair

To handle loops on Cabbage Patch Kid yarn hair, simply pull the loops apart. Often the yarn loops will stick to each other over time, but all it takes is a gentle tug to separate out the loops, which will make them look a lot nicer. If there are random fuzzy bits of yarn sticking out, just trim them off carefully, making sure NOT to cut the yarn itself. Using very sharp scissors will actually help in this case.

Next, now that your Cabbie’s hair is all nice and separated, she’s ready for a trim. We’re not going to take off any length, we’re just going to carefully trim the raggedy ends off her hair. Taking a few strands at a time – about 4 – carefully trim off the ends. It takes a while but it’s totally worth it – the result is amazing.

How to fix Cabbage Patch Kid Yarn Hair

Once you’re done with the cleaning and de-fuzzing and trimming process you’ll want to put her hair back into its originally intended style. Try to avoid using rubber bands. They rot after a while and get gluey and gummy – not good for yarn hair.

Finishing Up Your Cabbage Patch Kid Makeover

Then it’s time to put some clothes on her. If you already have an outfit for her, great. If you don’t, maybe you’d like to turn her into a mermaid, using my Sassy Cabbie Mermaid pattern.

There are so many ways to make your rescued or vintage Cabbage Patch Kid doll look amazing. You can find some authentic CPK clothing for her – sometimes on Etsy or EBay. You can also make your own original outfits for her.

Here are some that I’ve made using small scraps of upcycled clothing, mostly tee shirts. Below are some of my favorite Cabbie makeovers.

Cabbage Patch Kid Outfits

Stay tuned by joining the Vibrant Crafter tribe for my upcoming advanced Cabbage Patch hair tutorials on re-rooting, fluffing up, and handling rare or unusual Cabbage Patch hairstyles.

I really hope this helps you manage any Cabbage Patch Kid yarn hair you are having to deal with!

Got questions or tips to share? Yay! Please comment below.


Mandy Wildman


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P.P.S. I know you know this, but I sometimes include affiliate links in my blogs. I only promote companies that I like and believe in. 🙂

12 Responses

    1. Hi Sheri,
      That is SUCH a good question! I have spent hours picking rotten elastic out of the hair of my Cabbies and it isn’t fun! I like to use strips of fabric that match their clothing, but even a covered band that doesn’t hurt the hair is better than rubber. In my Sassy Cabbie Mermaid course I show you how to make Sassy Cabbie Scrunchies. They are so cute and unique and will never hurt their hair.

  1. Thanks so much Mandy! I’m learning so much from you and I just can’t believe how quickly I have fallen in love with these sweet babies. I’m working on taking baby clothes and turning them into something awesome for my new loves. I will be following you on any new information. Thanks again!

  2. Hi Sheri,

    Thank you so much for your kind words – you made my day. I’m so happy that Cabbage Patch dolls are inspiring you to have fun and be creative! 🙂

  3. What about cornsilk hair Mandy? I have a doll who has longish hair that could have had a slight curlmin, but has been brushed out. As a hairdresser I’m dying to use my curling hot brush on it, but of course it would probably melt? Help!

    1. Hi Andrea – great question! So to start, your instincts are correct – never, never, never put a curling iron near a doll’s hair if you want the doll to still have hair!

      However, there are ways to make a doll’s hair curly again – I do it all the time. So the cornsilk hair on a Cabbage Patch doll is similar to the hair on a regular doll – like an American Girl for example. There are lots of videos on YouTube about how to curl (or straighten) doll’s hair. What I do is this. I wash the cornsilk hair with a gentle soap, then I brush it out and put it in regular sponge curlers while still pretty damp. Then I heat some water on the stove – pretty hot – almost boiling – and I dunk the doll’s head (just the hair part) into the water in 5-8 second spurts. I do this about 10 times. Then I take the doll, blot the hair with a towel and leave it to dry naturally. Sometimes I leave the curlers in for a couple of weeks or more (I get busy). But when you take out those curlers your Cabbage Path doll’s cornsilk hair will have a nice curl to it.

      Hope this helps – good luck! 🙂

  4. Hey there! I found a few 80s dolls that I’d like to clean up and try and pass on! I already read your hair and cleaning tutorials, and I actually work in a doll salon (crazy, I know), so I have some tricks up my sleeve. But unfortunately, these dolls spent many years shacking up with vermin like bugs and rats, and have some suspicious (and large) stains on their hair and bodies. Would tide or shout on the stain harm them or do you think It would be alright? I’m worried to mess them up!!

    Also, do you have any tutorials for washing original clothing? Could I pop the outfits in the machine on cold and low with some detergent and hang dry ?

    1. Hi Spencer,
      I would say “yes” to all your ideas. After all, what have you got to lose? I would do everything I could to save one of my precious Cabbies! And your ideas for washing their clothing, why not? Let me know how it all goes.

  5. Hello Andrea! Thank you for this great tutorial! As a child of the 70s and 80s, I have my very first one. She has a head full of curly yarn hair but one of the strands is longer than the rest. I see a spot where it should go. Are the yarns glued down? How do I put this yarn back right?

    1. Jumping in here, I would probably just trim off that one strand of hair to the same length as the rest. I wouldn’t use glue, bu then again, I am not too adventurous when it comes to re-roots! 🙂

  6. Mandy, I have 2 Cabbage Patch dolls. One is 30 years old, the other is 15 years old. Once I have followed your instructions on how to clean them and dry them what is the best way to store them?

    I know sometimes plastics erode over time. Do you have any ideas?

    1. Hi Corrin,

      I do store mine in good quality tubs that have tight lids so insects can’t get in. One tip is to make sure you don’t store them in a hot, musty environment. They like to be in a clean, temperature-controlled environment. Hope this helps. 🙂