How to Make Playdough (Play-doh)

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Playdough (aka Play-doh) is easy to make at home, and fun for kids of all ages.  Here's how to make your own non-toxic toy with custom colors and fragrances.

This is the classic method that involves a bit of cooking on the stovetop - I prefer it because cooked playdough has a better texture than uncooked varieties.  If you want the kids to be able to do it all themselves, try this uncooked playdough recipe.

Warning:  Keep away from dogs and other pets.  Playdough smells like people food but contains lots of salt, and a hungry dog can eat enough to cause a dangerous salt imbalance.

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Step 1: Ingredients

Playdough is a classic childhood toy everyone can have fun with, and it's so easy to make at home you'll never buy that stinky store variety again.

Basic ingredient ratios:
2 cups flour
2 cups warm water
1 cup salt
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon cream of tartar (optional for improved elasticity)

food coloring (liquid, powder, or unsweetened drink mix)
scented oils

Step 2: Mix and heat

Mix all of the ingredients together, and stir over low heat. The dough will begin to thicken until it resembles mashed potatoes.

When the dough pulls away from the sides and clumps in the center, as shown below, remove the pan from heat and allow the dough to cool enough to handle.

IMPORTANT NOTE: if your playdough is still sticky, you simply need to cook it longer!
Keep stirring and cooking until the dough is dry and feels like playdough.
I've gotten many comments asking about sticky dough, so please just keep cooking a bit longer and it will work!

Step 3: Knead & color

Turn the dough out onto a clean counter or silicone mat, and knead vigorously until it becomes silky-smooth. Divide the dough into balls for coloring.

Make a divot in the center of the ball, and drop some food coloring1 in. Fold the dough over, working the food color through the body of the playdough, trying to keep the raw dye away from your hands and the counter. You could use gloves or plastic wrap at this stage to keep your hands clean- only the concentrated dye will color your skin, so as soon as it's worked in bare hands are fine.

Work the dye through, adding more as necessary to achieve your chosen color.

1 If you use unsweetened drink mix for color, test on a small ball first- it won't go as far as the "real" food coloring.

Step 4: Play and store

Play with your playdough- I really don't need to help you there. It's entirely edible, if a bit salty, so it's kid-safe.

When you're done, store your playdough in an air-tight container.
- If it begins to dry out, you can knead a bit of water in again to soften the dough back to useability. Once it's dried past a certain point, however, you'll just have to start over; thankfully it's not terribly difficult.
- If it gets soggy, you can re-heat it to drive off the extra water the dough absorbed overnight.  This is usually the result of high humidity, but is fixable!

You can also bake it in the oven to make hard dough figures and ornaments, then paint or otherwise decorate the surface.  One of the comments below even suggests using baked play-dough as a salt lick for your pet rabbit!  (thanks, redcore4!)

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I used neon food coloring. The Playdough turned out great!

WOW! that play dough looks so shiny and perfect

no it doesn't! (me)

it is awesome

dsaavedra6 years ago
cool! i made a monster :)
playdo monster.jpg
heres another:
playdoh face 001.jpg

(or whatever the small thing is)

yeah eat it


it looks like a head a eating a rabbit, just like Bambi! except even more bad I mean who would eat a small hare???!!!
yah!! i closed up on it and it looks like a buny

it is a bunny

awesome! and freaky at the same time. but still AWESOME!

your monster is skux as dude

have great news!

This posting has won today's "I Made It" Challenge. For winning you will receive a 3 month pro membership!

Thanks for using instructables!
cool animals
canida (author)  dsaavedra6 years ago
pwnage! i like that! its godzilla!!!!!!!!!! aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!
vhata6 years ago
I used this recipe and mine turned out great! check it out...
vhata vhata6 years ago
Here is a pic...
bopsomops vhata6 months ago



IsaacH bopsomops2 months ago

u are wierd

In my (almost 2 year old) sons stocking for Christmas this year he received a package of cream of tartar and a box of neon liquid food coloring. When he unwrapped it, he looked at me like... umm ok? I then tried to explain to him that I was going to make playdough with him. He had no idea what I was talking about. So thankfully this weekend I was able to make it for him using this recipe, It turned out great and he loves it! He enjoyed helping me too. This process is not messy at all! Thanks for the memories!

Best recipe ever worked perfect!! Thanks had a blast making halloween play-doh

itzkara2 days ago

My kids are excited for the never ending play dough! Thank you for this recipe! It was so quick and easy I don't plan on ever buying playdo in the store again!

I just used this recipe to make playdough for my kids...its awesome!! Im using this when i make playdough for my sons kindergarten class!! So easy!!

Thank you for a great recipe. I made it the perfect consistency on the hob but then added food colouring to smaller batches and it became too sticky again. So I then returned each smaller amount to the hob to cook further and it's perfect :) I just hope the little munchkins in my class appreciate it tomorrow - thanks again :)

This has the most wonderful consistency- I wanted to make some for a stop motion project and this work awesomely.

ona.stewart16 days ago

Mine turned out perfectly well. I did not have food colouring but... I came up with a briliant idea. I had a can of pickled beetroot and I used the beetroot juice from the can instead of food colouring the colour of the play dough came out perfect pink. My daughter loves it. And it is 100 % natural. If she tries to eat it it is safe.

ona.stewart16 days ago

Mine turned out perfectly well. I did not have food colouring but... I came up with a briliant idea. I had a can of pickled beetroot and I used the beetroot juice from the can instead of food colouring the colour of the play dough came out perfect pink. My daughter loves it. And it is 100 % natural. If she tries to eat it it is safe.

babelsgp19 days ago

I added a little vital wheat gluten to get a little more strandiness. When it got to the tough to stir phase I ended up rolling it out on parchment and microwaved for 15-30 seconds and then kneading and repeating until it was the proper consistency. When I made colors I tended to need to microwave for about 15 seconds to regain that consistency. I also used oil on my hands for the kneading. I was using a spatula and it just isn't as good as a wooden spoon for the hard work in the pot, but in the end it worked great! Thanks for the post!!

MirandaL1 month ago

Lol I had my heat up too high and burnt it! It stinks SO BAD right now, but the play doh turned out optimal. I didn't even use cream of tartar and it is just like the kind you buy at the store!

AsiaP1 month ago

Is there anything I can substitute for the cream of tartar? It's not easily available in my country.

At what temp and for how long do you bake it?

davidm62 months ago

so how long do i bake it and at what temp to harden the dough?

deannagove2 months ago

how long dose the home made play doue last?

that's a cool recipe

dumb question but do you add the food coloring along with everything else?

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