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Topaz Shores
Cleaning and Grooming Tips
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 The Cleansing Springs (pictures coming soon)
 
Necessary Tools:
 
When thoroughly cleaning a pony, you first need the tools necessary to get that pony squeaky-clean!  My cleansing tools of choice are:
 
1. A soft, clean toothbrush
 
2. A clean mascara brush
 
3. An Exacto blade
 
4. A curling iron
 
5. A sturdy comb with large teeth at one end, and small at the other
 
6. Toothpaste
 
7. Moisturizing shampoo and conditioner
 
8. Cosmetic scissors
 
9. Drinking straws, cut into two, or three parts
 
10. Bobby pins with plastic coating; I cannot stress how important it is to have a decent plastic coating on these, otherwise they can rust a pony's hair.
 
11. Clean washers to replace rusty washers
 
12. Q-tips
 
13. Nail polish remover
 
14. Woolite, or another gentle laundry detergent
 
15. Clean pair of thin pliers
 
16. Baby soap, or some other very gentle soap
 
17. Towels and cloths
 
18. Napkins or tissues
 
19. Rubber bands
 
20. Long, cylinder-shaped object (such as a child's marker)
 
Removing the Head:
 
First, you must decide whether or not to remove the pony's head.  Some collectors always remove a pony's head when washing a pony, and some do not.  I do not always remove a pony's head.  To decide whether or not I will remove it, I consider the following:
 
Is the pony's glue seal already broken? 
 
Is the pony common enough to risk removing the head?
 
Does the pony have tail rust (check by parting the tail) or mane rust?
 
Does the pony have a mildew or otherwise funky smell?
 
Is the pony excessively dirty?
 
If I have answered yes to any of these questions, and the pony is not extremely rare, then off the head comes.  First, examine the glue seal between the pony's head and neck to see if it is already broken.  If it is, the head should pop off easily.  If it is not, then run the pony's neck under hot water for a couple of minutes.  After this, try twisting the head off with a gentle rotating motion.  Nine times out of ten, this will allow the head to be easily removed.  If the pony's glue seal still holds, use an Exacto blade to gently and slowly cut the glue seal.  When you do this, be sure only to cut the glue seal and not your pony's plastic.  Be patient, and it will eventually come off.  Stubborn heads can take up to half an hour to remove.
 
Cleaning the Head and Body:
 
Non-So-Soft Body with head removed:
 
After the head has been removed, reach into the pony's body and pull the tail out through her neck with your fingers.  If you cannot do this with your fingers, try a pair of clean pliers.  Remove the washer from the tail.  If it is rusty, throw it away.  It will be replaced later.  If it is clean, set it aside.
 
Work shampoo and conditioner through the mane and tail.  Leave the conditioner to sit while cleaning the pony's body.  If her tail is rusty, work a mixture of conditioner and toothpaste into the rusty part of her tail, and leave it to sit.
 
Using warm, but not hot water, scrub out the inside and the outside of her body and head with the toothbrush to wet her and remove major dirt, avoiding pearly finishes, symbols, eyes and blush.  If she is rusty or has mildew on the inside scrub her insides out with hot water and toothpaste.  The toothpaste is an excellent rust remover and it will remove any mildew smells.  To cleanse her tail hole, scrub it out with the mascara brush and toothpaste.  The mascara brush is also excellent for cleaning out harder to reach areas inside the head. 
 
Then, scrub the outside of her body using the toothbrush with toothpaste and warm water, avoiding her symbols, eyes and blush.  To cleanse pearly finishes, symbols, eye and blush areas, use your fingers to work toothpaste over these areas. This should remove 99.9% of surface dirt.  It's a miracle!
 
After rinsing the pony thoroughly to remove all toothpaste (pay special attention to her eyes and the fronts of her legs!), work conditioner over her body to add a bit of moisture back to the vinyl and counteract the toothpaste.  You may use a toothbrush to do this if you choose, but remember to avoid all areas mentioned above with the toothbrush.  Rinse her thoroughly with cool water.  Dry her body by patting it gently with a towel and letting as much water as possible drain from her insides.
 
The pony should now be looking much better!  If you notice marks that have not been removed by the toothpaste treatment, dampen a Q-tip with nail polish remover (Note: nail polish remover cannot be used on symbols, eyes, blush, So-Soft flocking, or pearly finishes - it will remove them).  Hold the Q-tip over a mark for a couple of seconds, then gently wipe it away.  Nail polish remover will not remove marker, highlighter, pen marks, or any types of smooze or "pony cancer". 
 
Some pen marks can be removed with an eraser.  I have heard of methods to remove marker and smooze, but am going to try them out before listing them here.
 
Rinse your pony thoroughly in warm water to remove all traces of nail polish remover or anything else.  Pat her dry, and let her insides drain by standing her upside down on her neck hole.
 
Voila!  Your pony's body is squeaky clean!
 
Non-So-Soft bodies with head not removed:
 
Follow the same steps listed above, except for cleaning out the pony's insides (obviously).  Also, when you clean her, hold her with her head up and her tail side down so that water does not run into her tail hole.  Do not run water over her excessively.  This can promote tail rust, mold and mildew.  Yuck!
 
So-Soft bodies with head removed:
 
After the head has been removed, reach into the pony's body and pull the tail out through her neck with your fingers.  If you cannot do this with your fingers, try a pair of pliers.  Remove the washer from the tail.  If it is rusty, throw it away.  It will be replaced later.  If it is clean, set it aside.
 
Work shampoo and conditioner through the mane and tail.  Leave the conditioner to sit while cleaning the pony's body.  If her tail is rusty, work a mixture of conditioner and toothpaste into the rusty part of her tail, and leave it to sit.
 
Gently scrub out her insides using a toothbrush with toothpaste and warm water.  If she is rusty or has mildew on her insides scrub her insides out with hot water and toothpaste.  To cleanse her tail hole, scrub it out with the mascara brush and toothpaste.  Next, run lukewarm water over her body to get her flocking damp.  After she has been dampened, massage Woolite, or some other gentle laundry detergent over her body.  Let her sit for about twenty minutes.  Then, use the toothbrush to cleanse her flocking by scrubbing gently in small, circular motions (note: if the pony is very dirty, this can be a lengthy process).  Avoid scrubbing her muzzle, wings, horn, ears, hooves and areas near where the head and neck connect.  The flocking here is delicate, and can be removed very easily.  To cleanse the flocking here, use your fingers instead of a toothbrush.  After she is clean, rinse her body thoroughly with warm water to remove all traces of the detergent.
 
Do not use nail polish remover to remove marks from So-Soft ponies.  It will remove their flocking.
 
Gently pat the pony's body dry with a towel, and let the excess water drain from her body by propping her up on her neck hole.
 
So-Soft bodies with head not removed:
 
Follow the same steps listed above, except for cleaning out the pony's insides (obviously).  Also, when you clean her, hold her with her head up and her tail side down so that water does not run into her tail hole.  Do not run water over her excessively.  This can promote tail rust, mold and mildew.  Again, yuck!
 
Delicate Summer and Windy Wing wings:
 
To clean the fragile wings of Summer and Windy Winged ponies, rinse them gently with warm water.  Do not run these wings under hot water, as it can cause the colored plastic (stickers) which gives the wings their color to come off.  Then, gently wipe them clean using a cloth or your fingers and baby soap, or some other very gentle soap.  Rinse with warm water.  Pat them dry with a towel, or let them air-dry. 
 
Cleaning and Styling the mane and tail:
 
Before doing anything, if the pony's mane and tail have not yet been shampooed or conditioned, do this now.  This will remove germs and other grime that you probably don't want to imagine.  When working conditioner into the mane and tail, use a comb to gently comb it through so that it reaches every strand of hair.  Leave it to sit.
 
To remove tail rust:
 
First, remove the pony's head and take out her tail.  If her washer is rusty, throw it away.  Next, combine toothpaste with conditioner and work it into the rusty parts of the pony's tail.  After a few minutes, use your fingers to massage the toothpaste/conditioner mix into the tail.  Do not use the toothbrush to scrub it in, as this can cause excessive frizz.  Rinse her tail in warm water.  Then, shampoo the rusty areas, working the shampoo in with your fingers.  Rinse.  Repeat this process until the rust has been removed, finishing by conditioning the pony's tail once again.  Rinse with warm water.  Be sure that if your pony had tail rust to scrub out her tail hole with toothpaste and a mascara brush to remove the rust there, so that her tail does not rust again.
 
Combating mane and tail frizzies:
 
Plug in a curling iron, and set it to the lowest possible setting.  Comb liberal amounts of conditioner through the part(s) of the pony's hair that you want to de-frizz.  Divide the hair into small sections.  After the curling iron has heated to the desired heat, run it over one small section of hair at a time, as if you were trying to use the curling iron to straighten it.  Be sure that at all times, the hair has enough conditioner in it so that it won't burn.  Also, be sure not to leave the curling iron on one section of hair for too long.  You do not want your pony's hair scorched.  Repeat this process on all sections of hair that you want to de-frizz.   Depending on how frizzy the pony's hair is, this process can be quite lengthy.  Be patient, the end results are worth it ^_^.  Finally, rinse the conditioner out of your pony's hair with warm water.
 
To determine which side the mane falls to:
 
Examine the number of plugs in each layer of hair.  The layer with the smallest number of hair plugs will be usually underneath the layer with more hair plugs, and therefore the mane will usually fall to that side.  However, the best idea is to examine the way the hair lays before washing a pony.
 
Styling straight hair:
 
If the pony's hair has not been thoroughly rinsed, do this now using warm water.
 
The sky is the limit here!  Style the pony's hair however you would like.  However, be sure to wait until the mane and tail have dried before braiding or plaiting so that her hair does not mildew. 
 
To calm a mane that stands about five feet off a pony's head, smooth it against her neck while it is damp and wrap a napkin or tissue around her neck.  Lay the pony down on the side to which her mane falls to hold the napkin or tissue in place.  After a day or two, remove the tissue.  Her mane should be much more manageable!
 
To produce a bit of wave or soft curl in a reasonably long mane (a common style for Flutter ponies) without using a curling iron, wrap sections of it around the pony's front legs while it is damp.  Use a tissue or a napkin to hold it in place.  After a day or so, remove the tissue or napkin.  Give the pony a couple of shakes to tousle her new soft curls.  Gorgeous!  If you'd like to style these soft curls, do so with your fingers so that the curl does not become frizzy.
 
To softly curl a pony's tail without using a curling iron, wrap it around one of her back legs while it is damp and hold it in place using a tissue or a napkin.  After a day or so, remove the tissue or napkin and unwind her tail.  It should now be a bit more springy ^_^.
 
Styling curly hair:
 
Use these steps to style the mane and tail of a pony that is supposed to have spiral-like curls, such as a Rainbow Curl pony.
 
If necessary, de-frizz the pony's hair, using the steps above.  If the pony's hair has not yet been rinsed, do this now using warm water.
 
Divide the pony's hair into sections, one for each desired curl.  Taking one section of hair at a time, wrap it carefully around a straw (see Necessary Tools), curling it from the bottom of the straw, upward, so that it curls gently up the straw.  After the entire section of hair has been wrapped around the straw, secure it to the straw using two or three plastic coated bobby pins (see Necessary Tools).  Do this with each section of hair that you would like to be an individual spiral curl.
 
Keep the straws in the pony's hair until her hair has completely dried.  This usually takes a day or so.  When it is dry, gently remove the bobby pins, and slide each straw out of her new curls.  Shake the pony to gently loosen her curls.
 
Reassembling a pony:
 
Allow your pony to dry completely and thoroughly before you attempt to reassemble her.  Depending on the climate in which you live, this process can take anywhere from one day to two weeks.  Even though I live in an extremely dry climate, I allow my ponies to dry for at least four days before reassembling them.
 
First, push the tail back into the pony's body through her tail hole.  If you can not get the tail to push back in, run her bum under warm water to soften the vinyl, and try again (I especially seem to have this problem with Twinkle Eyed and baby ponies).  Using your fingers or pliers, pull her tail in far enough to where you can grasp it with your fingers.  Place a clean, non-rusty washer around her tail, and arrange it into a position so that the washer and the tail clamp are parallel to one another.  This usually ensures that her tail will be of a uniform length once she is reassembled.   Holding the metal clamp around her tail securely with one hand, gently pull on the part of the tail already outside of her body with your other hand to it back through the tail hole.  Pull her tail until the washer is nearly against the inside of her bum.  I do not like to completely pull it against the inside of her bum, because of the slight possibility of rust.
 
Using a gentle circular motion, reattach her head.  Make sure to that the dash on her head, and the dash on her neck are aligned.
 
Other Cleansing Spring treatments:
 
To straighten bent legs:
 
If one or more of your pony's legs have been bent so that she can't stand up, run them under hot water in order to soften the vinyl.  If her leg has been bent too far inward, place something thick and cylinder shaped between that leg and the one next to it, such as a child's marker.  If her leg has been bent too far outward, use a rubber band to secure that leg to the one next to it.  Check her progress often.  Most often, it seems to take a week or so for a leg to be properly reshaped.
 
To be continued....
 
If you have cleaning tips that you'd like to share, I'd love to hear about them!  Please e-mail me at topazshores@yahoo.com !