Is Your Rapunzel Doll … TANGLED? How to Detangle Doll Hair

by Heather Smith on December 30, 2011 · 50 comments

How to Detangle Doll Hair…

Emma’s Rapunzel Doll was a tangled mess within hours of her taking her from the box. Despite the repeated (attempted) brushings Emma gave her, the rats nest got bigger and bigger. After a little searching, we finally found our answer and it was fairly easy too!

What you will need:

1) A wig brush… this one was only $3.00 on

wig brush

2) Liquid fabric softener… any type in your favorite scent.


3) An empty spray bottle.


4) Water


5) A tangled mess…


How to:

1) Start with a 50/50 mix of fabric softener and water in the spray bottle.

2) Drench the dolls hair with the mixture until it’s almost dripping.

3) Carefully run the brush through the hair to remove the tangles.


4) Rinse the doll’s hair until the fabric softener is removed.


5) Let the hair air dry, or blow dry on low if you are in a hurry.


Once we successfully fixed Rapunzel’s hair we decided to try this out on Ariel, as her hair was a rats nest as well. Here are our results!



After… wet


Finished product with both dolls…



This method works on other “hairy” toys as well. We tried it out on Emma’s My Little Ponies.





We noticed that this did not work very well on the “off brand” pony. The hair seems to be a different type. The “My Little Ponies” came out perfect. Kaytlin wound the tail around a straw and clipped it with two of Emma’s hair clips to get the curl to return. She let the hair dry naturally and the pony is in great shape again! It worked on the blue pony as well, I just neglected to get a photo.

I hope this method helps you out…. restore your little girls dolls instead of replacing them! I intend to snag some SUPER CHEAP baby dolls this summer at garage sales and “fix” their hair for Emma’s collection Winking smile.



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{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nikki M December 30, 2011 at 8:25 AM

Thank you so much for posting. We have a “stable” of ponies that need to make their visit to our hair salon shortly and we will give this a try for sure.


2 Laura Miller December 30, 2011 at 8:28 AM

Thank you! We have Rapunzel too, and what a nightmare! :)


3 Lisa December 30, 2011 at 8:58 AM

Thank you for the tip. My daughter has tons of dolls that we need to do this too.


4 Christine M December 30, 2011 at 9:12 AM

This is so neat. I’m pinning it to remember in the future =)


5 Melissa Moffat December 30, 2011 at 9:27 AM

Thanks so much. I was going to google today to try to figure out how to fix my DD doll today as her hair is a rats nest. Off to try this now. I think when she wakes up she will be supprised. Thanks for giving us the info.


6 Mary Beth Elderton December 30, 2011 at 9:39 AM

Wow! Thank you for this info!


7 Jessica Bradley December 30, 2011 at 10:23 AM

Thanks for this! I have been at my wits end with tangled doll hair!! Definetly going to try this!!


8 Carrie Phelps December 30, 2011 at 10:53 AM

What a fantastic thing to now know! I’ve actually used a comb before & it’s a great big mess! Thanks!!


9 Christina December 30, 2011 at 12:17 PM

Awesome!! What a great tip.. thanks so much for sharing. And since we use a detangler on my daughters hair, I am sure she will love doing the same to her dolls and ponies!


10 Jacqueline Griffin December 30, 2011 at 2:28 PM

Your a pro at this! The dolls look beautiful! I bought my niece the Tangled doll for Christmas last year. I wonder what condition her hair is in. I will let her mom know how you made these little beauty’s hair pretty again. Thank You!!


11 Arlene Whitfield December 30, 2011 at 3:50 PM

YOU ARE AWESOME!!! What a lifesaver! DA BOMB!!! Thank you so much!


12 Laurie Adams December 30, 2011 at 9:06 PM

That is amazing! Thank you!


13 Maria Malaveci December 30, 2011 at 9:59 PM

I have spent a couple days now trying to get all the knots and tangles out of our Rapunzels hair… and then I got your email in my inbox! I quickly put everything together and tada! Thank you so very much. I think I needed to use a little bit more softener on her hair, but definitely so… much better! I am so glad I found this out!


14 darlene bohannon December 30, 2011 at 10:03 PM

loved this,will tell my daughter,so she can fix my grandaughters dolls hair,thanks so much


15 Laura December 31, 2011 at 10:37 AM

Fabulous tip! We will try this. Bravo!


16 tammy dodson December 31, 2011 at 6:57 PM

thanks for the info


17 Stephanie-jean Weber January 3, 2012 at 6:51 PM

My daughter got a Cabbage Patch Kid doll for Christmas and she has super curly hair. Any idea how to detangle curly baby doll hair (I read that it was different, but they did not say how to do it)?
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18 Reenie January 14, 2012 at 8:04 PM

I think I’ll try this on wigs!


19 lauren January 20, 2012 at 1:03 PM

Will this work on dress up wigs as well? My daughter got a rapunzel wig to go with one of her dress up outfits and it’s a knotted mess.


20 Heather January 28, 2012 at 11:42 PM

I haven’t tried it on wigs, but if it’s made of simlilar material to doll hair I would think so!


21 Kim February 11, 2012 at 10:05 AM

This is AWESOME! My daughter has the same princess dolls and we have been struggling with them.

We are going to try it this weekend!


22 Rosie Richter February 24, 2012 at 7:45 PM

Wow! That is pretty cool!


23 Melissa Flores February 26, 2012 at 9:41 AM

Best post ever!!! Have been thinking for ever on how to fix her hair… After reading this I have ALL her big princess dolls in the basket ready for a makeover lol!


24 Nora July 12, 2012 at 9:28 AM

Thank you so much, I run a daycare and my doll’s hairs are a mess. They don’t look as perfect as yours but its 100x better. I was so impressed with the outcome that I spred the word with my fellow providers. Thank You!


25 Amy July 13, 2012 at 6:28 PM

You are my hero!! My 3-year-old’s Rapunzel doll’s hair ‘is a MESS, I can’t wait to pick up a new brush & give this a shot! Thanks so much! :)


26 Heather July 20, 2012 at 10:50 AM

Did it work for you? Just a warning, unfortunately it doesn’t prevent the mess from happening again :(


27 Rory July 15, 2012 at 11:26 AM

Thank you! Just this weekend my daughter got a Rapunzel doll as a present and then 25 hand me down My Little Ponies! Just like your daughters, Rapunzel was a Tangled mess within hours, which led me to anger… Then google… Then your advice… And happily ever after!


28 Heather July 17, 2012 at 11:02 AM

I’m so glad you got it fixed! It’s really too bad they tangle so badly. There are TONS of them at garage sales!


29 Melissa August 5, 2012 at 2:20 PM

I found this post via Pinterest, and I can’t thank you enough!! We have four or five dolls that are in SERIOUS need of this treatment. I was even considering taking them to a hairdresser to just get it all cut off. Thank you!!


30 Heather August 17, 2012 at 3:16 PM

THanks for showing detailed how this worked for you. I pinned this a while back and haven’t tackled it yet. Does it have to be a wig brush or do you think a wide tooth comb would work? Just curious if you tried other tools first or went straight for the wig one. Thanks again!


31 Heather August 18, 2012 at 8:46 PM

I went straight for the wig brush. I would just recommend NOT pulling or tugging as it will pull her hair out. Good Luck!


32 Erin Rueff August 17, 2012 at 4:24 PM

I LOVE THIS! Thanks for sharing and I will start on this project as soon as I get a wig brush. We have several dolls and ponies and barbies that are way past due for this process!


33 caylee August 26, 2012 at 10:09 AM

do you think this will make a dolls hair ungreasy someone put shampoo in my $100 babys hair!!!!


34 Heather August 26, 2012 at 12:19 PM

I would definitely try it. Rinse it a good while too.


35 Erin September 19, 2012 at 1:54 PM

I tried it on my Precious Moments doll hair… it didn’t quite work. But it gave me less tangles so i can braid it into pig tails.. thanks for that. :-)


36 Joanie October 8, 2012 at 10:14 PM

So totally tried this on the Belle. So totally did NOT work. Maybe it was the brush I was using – it wasn’t a full-on wig comb. Got the mega rats out, now it’s on to making it pretty again – her hair is seriously SOOOO kinky and natty now. I wonder if it’ll ever go back to the smoothe shiny hair it was before.


37 Ruth October 16, 2012 at 2:27 PM

Thank you! You’ve been officially added to my mommy hero list! :)


38 Emily November 7, 2012 at 12:47 PM

You are a goddess. My 2 year old daughter has Rapunzel , Ariel, and Belle….with Merida set aside for Christmas. (I may be obsessed :/) But she adores them, takes them everywhere, etc so you can imagine their hair. Love love love it!


39 Andrea S April 6, 2013 at 6:10 PM

My daughter’s Rapunzel doll has hair like a smelly old hippy ~ one big matted dredlock!!! I’ll try this and hope it works. If it works I’ll do the army of dolls in her bedroom! You’ve done a great job on your daughter’s dolls. Fingers crossed I can get the same great results.


40 Andrea S May 5, 2013 at 7:04 PM

I tried it today, and it didn’t work as well as I thought it would, but still better than it was!!


41 Dorothy July 17, 2013 at 12:55 PM

Thanks for sharing this. I bought an American Girl doll for $1 at Goodwill (it had incredibly frizzy and tangled hair – I’m sure that’s why someone else gave away such a beautiful doll) and figured I’d try this since I only would lose $1 if it didn’t work. Well, it took multiple applications. But, it worked! My grand-daughters were thrilled to get the beautiful doll (and I was thrilled that it only cost me $1 and fabric softener.) Thank you!!


42 Claire August 11, 2013 at 9:27 PM

I can’t wait to try this!!! I thought the Rapunzel wig we picked up in Disneyland was ruined – one distraught little girl!! I can’t wait to give this a shot.


43 Angela September 3, 2013 at 10:15 AM

Thanks for this Heather. We have been back from Eurodisney for a week and my daughter has managed to do exactly the same with her Rapunzel doll (which has strange sparkly streaks in its hair too). I will be giving this a whirl! If it works, Barbie will be next!


44 Chelsea Muth September 13, 2013 at 9:41 AM

Amazing!!! Thank you for the tips. My daughter will love to play hair dresser. We have a ratted Ariel costume wig, do you think this method will work on that as well?


45 Claire September 20, 2013 at 3:49 AM

Thank you for this post I have been avoiding the questions in our house ‘mummy can you brush rapunzel hair please’ we have two in our house with a 3 1/2 year old and 5 year old daughters, now I’ve found this I will give it ago and then head straight over to the my little ponies and give them ago.


46 Christie H. September 20, 2013 at 10:18 AM

My daughters both got My Little Pony’s from Build-A-Bear and the hair was pretty much a tangled mess by the time we got home. I wonder if your trick would work on that hair?


47 Danielle Papsis September 20, 2013 at 10:28 AM

This is great. I love that you included photos. A much less scary option than the suggestions I’ve seen posted of dipping dolls hair in boiling water!


48 Heather Smith January 24, 2014 at 11:51 AM

I haven’t, sorry :( . The only curly “hair” I’ve done are the My Little Pony dolls at the bottom of the page. Maybe if you wrapped her hair around a bunch of straws while it dries the curl would come back?


49 stephanie February 10, 2014 at 4:17 PM

does this work on curly doll hair as well i have a merida wig from build a bear that needs this it has needed it since i removed it from its bag but don’t want the curls to be removed


50 Heather Smith February 10, 2014 at 8:36 PM

It will work, but you will have to re-curl her hair a piece at a time like in the My Little Ponys in this post. Yes, our Merida wig was a hot mess, too LOL
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