A Downy Dunk is a now-discouraged method of attempting to repair or clean a doll's hair with liquid fabric softener.
Reasons For Performing a Downy Dunk
A Downy dunk is called such because a very well-known brand of liquid fabric softener is Downy, hence alliteration.
Many dolls end up with rough, dry hair through improper hair care and improper brush or hair combing and the Downy dunk is an attempt to restore some of the original luster to the hair and make it smoother. A Downy Dunk can also be done to attempt to remove foul smells such as cigarette smoke. Downy dunks are often a last-attempt to repair damage before rewigging.
Downy dunks should not be attempted on curly haired dolls as the curls will be straightened out and will be nearly impossible to recreate; furthermore textured hair will lose significant amounts of texture.
A large shallow container such as a casserole dish and a ladle are used. The dish is filled with a shallow amount of unconcentrated fabric softener. The doll (which should be wrapped to prevent getting eyes and body wet) is laid next to the container so that the hair is able to soak in the fabric softener. The liquid is poured over her head so as to absorb as much of the softener as possible and get it where it's not soaking. After this, the hair is rinsed completely and dried. Some take an additional step of using a ceramic straightener or steam iron over the hair on a low setting to smooth out the texture.
Steps with images can be seen here.
In recent years, the use of Downy Dunks has been highly discouraged by both the company and fans. It has been determined to be a short-term solution that gives the temporary illusion of fixing dry or damaged hair by masking the damage in a layer of coating and can possibly ruin wigs beyond repair.
Braid spray use for every day maintenance will prevent the need of most intensive repair; cleaning if needed can be done with mild shampoos. Significant damage can be restored with braid spray as a slow and more permanent repair method, while severely dry or damaged hair is better repaired using a boil wash and use of a ceramic straighter as necessary.