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

How to Detangle Doll Hair…
I’m pulling this one up from the archives in hopes of helping a few more “hair challenged” dolls in your little girl’s life. Just remember to have patience with the procedure and start from the bottom and work your way up!

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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  1. Nikki M says

    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 says

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

  3. Lisa says

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

  4. Christine M says

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

  5. 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 says

    Wow! Thank you for this info!

  7. Jessica Bradley says

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

  8. Carrie Phelps says

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

  9. Christina says

    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 says

    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 says

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

  12. That is amazing! Thank you!

  13. Maria Malaveci says

    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 says

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

  15. Laura says

    Fabulous tip! We will try this. Bravo!

  16. tammy dodson says

    thanks for the info

  17. 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)?

    • Reenie says

      I think I’ll try this on wigs!

      • Marilyn Bonga says

        Only use on synthetic hair.

  18. lauren says

    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.

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

  19. Kim says

    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!

  20. Rosie Richter says

    Wow! That is pretty cool!

  21. Melissa Flores says

    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!

  22. Nora says

    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!

  23. Amy says

    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! 🙂

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

  24. Rory says

    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!

    • 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!

  25. 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!!

  26. 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!

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

  27. Erin Rueff says

    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!

  28. caylee says

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

  29. Erin says

    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. 🙂

  30. Joanie says

    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.

  31. Ruth says

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

  32. Emily says

    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!

  33. Andrea S says

    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.

    • Andrea S says

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

  34. Dorothy says

    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!!

  35. Claire says

    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.

  36. 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!

  37. Chelsea Muth says

    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?

  38. Claire says

    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.

  39. Christie H. says

    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?

    • Erin says

      You should let me know if this works. I was wondering for my girls mlp build a bear toys

    • Mary Smith says

      I just did two Build a Bear MLP dolls, worked really well, though I just used straight Suave conditioner on their hair and lots of gentle working the knots out. Twilight Sparkle’s hair is still a little frizzed at the ends but she is knot free and Fluttershy is smooth and gently curled again.

  40. Danielle Papsis says

    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!

  41. 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?

  42. stephanie says

    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

    • 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

  43. Fabi says

    Thank you so much !!!

  44. Jene' Loyless says

    Dot NOT use this on American Girl Doll hair. It says that it will eventually break down the hair. However, I will be using it for the many other dolls that could use a good “detangle”!

  45. Angel Wattison says

    Thanks so much for this my daughter is over the moon as some awful kids at nursery ruined her Ariel dolls hair I’m keeping elsa and Ana at home for definate! X

  46. Carolyn says

    Now how do you get the crowns to stay on their head?!

    • Hi Carolyn,

      Unfortunately I haven’t come up with a good method to re-secure their crowns. We squeeze and balance 🙂

  47. Kelly says

    So I took your advice and did this to my daughters rapunzel doll. It’s much softer but really frizzy. Any suggestions to get rid of the frizz? I hope I didn’t damage it

    • Brittany says

      I know what to do, just put a very little amount of coconut oil in it, then rinse and dry.

  48. I know that my Daughters Our Generation 18″ dolls had hair that was nasty and a complete nest and I just finished the first one and it worked out well so thank you so much, It was gross getting all the hair out that was coming out with brushing but now it looks great and I even added some Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum to the hair which made it look Perfect, Because it was very frizzy at first. Thanks so much

    • I’m so glad it worked out for you! I was so amazed how easy it was and how well it worked!

  49. Erin says

    Just wondering about the importance of the wig brush. Why that specific one? Did you try a different one and it didn’t work or made the hair worse? Thanks!

    • I just purchased an inexpensive wig brush. Using a regular brush on a doll can pull her hair out. A wig brush is gentler on it. HTH! 🙂

  50. brenna says

    Any suggestions on how to keep their crowns on? I’m going to try this, we have jasmine and a rapunzel

    • Unfortunately we had to take our crowns off and they didn’t reattach. We think it was worth it though. 🙂

  51. Christa says

    How did you rinse? Did you actually put the hair under running water or did you spray with another bottle of just water? Can you elaborate a bit more on the “rinse” portion.

    • I put her head under the running water and rinsed until it felt clear of the softener.

      • Kara says

        That’s what we did to and it worked fine.

  52. alib says

    Tried this on the costume wigs and it worked great TY saved me so much money!

  53. Lexa says

    We tried this on a Barbie/Princess Aurora doll. Unfortunately, it didn’t change the horrid tangled frizz at the bottom of her hair, but the rest of the hair seemed much better. Someone mentioned trying it more than once. We will try that. And THANK YOU to whoever said not to use it on American Girl doll hair—Aurora Barbie was the test before we did it to Kanani!

  54. kate says

    I tried doing this to my daughters 3 ft-Rupunzel doll. Perhaps the rats-nest was to far gone, but it did not seem to do much good. I just kept brushing and brushing and it is still a mess. I even tried different fabric softeners, greater concentrations of the softened, and even soaking it-and nothing. Any thoughts?

  55. Kara says

    Thank you!! I read this yesterday so last night we set up a doll beauty salon. It worked great! The only one that didn’t do so great was a MLP Equestria girl. The knots came loose, but at the expense of a lot of hair coming out. 🙁 The Ever After High dolls look amazing this morning!!
    Since others have mentioned issues, here’s what we did in case it matters: We used regular Snuggle softener. After I got the hair saturated, we started at the bottom and worked our way up to the roots. Some of the older dolls took a lot of patience, but the work paid off. Once done we laid them at the edge of the table with their hair hanging down to air dry over night. We brushed it again this morning and was amazed how well they looked!

  56. Kambrea says

    We have a bunch of dolls that could use this. Thanks!

  57. Sherri says

    I wish I had known this when my daughter was young…. we have some nappy looking dolls in storage!

  58. Elizabeth H. says

    I had so many dolls that had tangled hair back in the 70s, this would have been very helpful back then!!

  59. suzy says

    I was wondering if anyone has trued this method on synthetic hair pieces such as extensions? I have one that’s tangles easily and I’m going to see if it works if it does I will let you know. thanks for the idea I was ready to give up and store it.

  60. just wondering if the hair is superposed to have a strong fabric softener smell

  61. Joy says

    It did not work for me. I worked hard at it for quite some time and finally gave up. It made it no easier to brush or comb, only worse. Did you use a special brush or comb?

    • Yes, I used a wig brush… not a regular hairbrush. HTH 🙂

  62. Laci says

    I want to know ho you get those crowns to stay on?

  63. Jo-Ann Brightman says

    This is a wonderful tip to detangle doll’s hair. thanks for,the inormtion and steps.

  64. Leah says

    Does this work on normal wigs too? I have a Wig ( MapofBeauty 32″ 80cm Long Hair Spiral Curly Cosplay Costume Wig ) and the tangles are a nightmare! This looks like it would work but I just wanted to ask if anyone had tried it before? Thanks!

  65. Tricia says

    It must be the brush! I’ll try that. The softener and all of our variety of brushes did not work!

  66. Jacky says

    I will be trying this! How often do you have to detangle the hair? Or is this a one time thing?

    • Unfortunately it’s not a one time thing… more of a as needed basis. Good Luck!

  67. Alicia says

    Little trick!! Rinsing with boiling water helps!!

  68. Kaelyn says

    My daughter has a Rupunzel barbie doll and its hair is a mess!!!!

  69. This is awesome!! We are definitely going to try this thanks?

  70. LORI says

    My son got a rocking lion for his birthday it’s hair is matted horribly what can I do to fix it? It’s one for him to sit on so rinsing it is impossible.

  71. Sophia says

    Uh perfect

  72. Debbie Wiseman says

    Will this work on human hair?,I have natural curly hair & some how I have a huge tangled knot in the bavk of my hair!!!! I dk if it was the wind blowing my hair did it,but I CAN’T get it out!!!!!

  73. Lisa Koerber says

    I just want to thank you so very much for this post. My grandaughter has all these dolls and of course, their hair is a mess. I told my daughter when I was a kid (Im 56) we used downey and water to get our dolls haor nice again. SHE THOUGHT I WAS INSANE!!!! Haha….thank you so much!

  74. Verna says

    Thank you so much for your posts. Tried the fabric softener but rather than letting the hair airdry, I set it with medium sized rollers. This worked wonders on rapunzel’s hair!

  75. Nan says

    Tried this on one of the Our Life dolls from Wal-Mart. Took some patience but I did eventually get the tangles out and it looks so much better. Worth the time and effort. Didn’t have a wig brush but used a brush with strong bristles and a wide tooth comb. Got another one to go hopefully will have the same results or maybe even easier. Tks so much for the info. Can still learn at my age. I was the nan doing this. Haha!

  76. Joyce says

    Will hair conditioner work instead of the fabric softener? I use unscented dryer sheets for my clothes, but I do already have hair conditioner, so I’d rather not buy something I won’t use otherwise. My DN’s Elsa doll’s hair is a mess, & some of her other dolls’ hair isn’t much better. Thanks

  77. Kirsten says

    I was just gifted with a big box of Barbies and accessories for my granddaughter and she’s enjoying them, but the hair is horribly tangled. I’ll be trying this recipe!

  78. Jessica says

    I will be trying this on my goodwill dolly I bought for .99 cents her hair is frizzy thanks 4 the tip I really can’t wait 2 try it out with my grandma!!!

  79. Jessica says

    I will be trying this on my goodwill dolly I bought for .99 cents her hair is frizzy thanks for this tip!!!

  80. Hridya Warrier says

    Thank you so much. It worked like Magic ??

  81. Nieshia K says

    Thanks so much. We’re gonna try it soon.

  82. Thank you so much – this worked a treat.

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