What should I do with Old Dolls?

Little cute girl plays with a soft toy bear on the floor in the children’s bedroom

Dolls are an iconic symbol of childhood. Most children have at least one form of doll or another, be it action figures or Barbie dolls. What should you do with dolls once their owners inevitably outgrow them?

Old dolls can be disposed of in many ways. The first option is to sell the dolls if they are valuable or in good enough condition. Alternatively, they can be donated to a charity shop or other organization. Dolls that are no longer in working condition can be recycled through certain programs.

Though they may initially hold a lot of significance, dolls are not always kept forever. It is common for someone to become tired of old toys, or simply to have too many at once. Let’s take a look at some options for disposing of them properly.

Donate Them

If an old doll is still in good condition, then it can be donated to a thrift or charity center. Just because your family is done using the toy, other children may still draw plenty of fun times from having a new (to them) doll to play with. There are many places that accept dolls and other toys as donations. In some such places, you may not even expect to collect old dolls.

For instance, children’s hospitals occasionally accept toy donations on behalf of their younger patients. Some hospitals have a donation wish list, outlining specific toys currently desired and their qualifications for them. Always check the criteria with hospitals first, as some will not accept used donations. Nevertheless, new or unopened dolls that can no longer be returned will always be a welcome sight to sick children.

Likewise, emergency childcare services and domestic violence shelters are also in need of toys on the regular. Children who come into contact with these organizations have been through terrible situations, and something as commonplace as a doll of their own can be a huge comfort. Stuffed Animals for Emergencies (SAFE) is a company that collects stuffed dolls and animals for children in at-risk situations. Their website (linked above) offers instructions for cleaning the toys before donation.

Daycare centers are also in almost constant need of toys. Because of the high concentration of kids with a limited supply of toys, they go through playthings quicker than most. Religious centers are also a good example of places that can make good use of secondhand dolls. Call your local daycare center or church for information on their donation policies, or see if their website has information on their current needs.

Little kid girls sisters in blue dresses spend time together playing with their dolls on soft carpet rug at home. Happy childhood, cheerful lifestyle, games, comfortable pastime, hobby concept

Sell Them

For dolls that are still in good condition, selling may be a good way to get rid of unwanted toys and make some money at the same time. One way to go about doing this is via a garage sale. Garage sales are typically held in times of warmer weather, and tend to offer a wide variety of things to sell, rather than just dolls. If you are getting rid of dolls as part of spring cleaning, this may be a good option for you.

Another way to sell them is to use a social platform like Facebook Marketplace. If you are getting rid of a lot of items at once, this may be a better option. Websites like these allow you to reach a wider audience, increasing your chances of getting rid of the dolls. Online marketplaces also limit the contact you have with strangers. Not everyone wants their residence made public knowledge. An online sale can be arranged for mailing or drop-off, adding a level of privacy to the exchange.

The sale of old dolls is a very good option if the doll in question is of value. Antique porcelain dolls can go for a lot of money at online auctions or antique stores. Collectors are also big fans of certain rarer Barbie dolls. One such doll, a Marie Antoinette Barbie doll, sold for over $1,000. If you are curious as to how much money your old doll may be worth, you can find internet guides such as this one that can help you determine if the old toy has more than just sentimental value.

Porcelain doll, isolated on white background

Swap with Family and Friends

This method of getting rid of old dolls may be helpful to those trying to purge their house of larger quantities of dolls but whose children are not wholly on board with the idea. Giving or swapping dolls and other toys with close family or friends can be a good way to keep your house clean while also making sure your child is happy knowing their toy is taken care of. Perhaps the occasional visit to their old doll may also help smooth things over.

Hand-me-down toys can be a great way to reuse dolls. Kids do not always differentiate between “new” and “new to me,” especially when toys are involved. Odds are, they may just be thrilled to have a new and interesting plaything. You could alternatively store the dolls for future use. Saving a doll your child used when they were young for use by future grandchildren can be a very special way to reuse the old toys. The dolls can stay safely out of sight— and mind— until such a time as they can be useful again.

Return them for recycling

Usually, dolls are not recyclable items, being made of too many mixed materials. Putting an old doll into the recycling bin at home can cause problems once it reaches the recycling plant. However, thanks to efforts by some doll manufacturers, recycling is now a possibility for dolls too!

Popular toy company Mattel launched a toy recycling program in 2021, called a “toy take-back program.” This program is designed to take back previously manufactured toys for reuse in new ones, reducing the amount of plastic produced by the said company. Families wishing to recycle their old Mattel toys can return them to the company to be reused. The toy manufacturer has a “goal to use 100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastic materials in all of its products and packaging by 2030.”

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