How to Make Playdough (Play-doh)

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Picture of How to Make Playdough (Play-doh)
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.

Step 1: Ingredients

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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 Kool-Aid or similar 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

Picture of 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, a big ziplock bag, 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 Kool-Aid or similar 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

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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 made this several months ago and everyone loved it. Now I want to know if I can add glitter? Has anyone tried it?

DestinyB1 CarolF1132 seconds ago

I would think you could add glitter in while cooking it.

DestinyB11 minute ago

Do I add all the ingredients together at the same time in a sauce pan?

BerylS32 days ago

I've made this recipe twice, when it was done cooking it was mashed potato consistency. The next day it's gooey. Is there something I'm doing wrong?

Keep cooking it. Make sure you're following the recipe, but cook it for longer. I cook it over fairly high heat and just keep stirring until it turns to dough.

When you put it in a container, (I put it in plastic ziploc bags) make sure you leave it open until the playdough has cooled completely. If you put it in and close it immediately, the moisture cant escape the bag.

LeeW73 months ago

If you use Koolaid to color it it will also have a nice scent

MarieT5 LeeW77 days ago

I love the Koolaid in it too, but it makes our play dough toys a bit sticky and gets moldy within a couple of weeks. Without the Koolaid, it never molds, just dries out eventually.

elliotnash2 months ago

Really cool. Guess I'll have to keep my dog out of the room whenever my kid is playing with this play dough. Anyway thanks for sharing this cool tutorial.

I haven't had any problem with our dog trying to eat it. Besides, a little wouldn't hurt.

iphy18 days ago
Thanks for this teaching,can it be used as dummy cake?

This is great. Cheap & super easy, best recipe I have found so far, thank you!

JoeC182 months ago
When do you add the food colouring ?
AlishaB2 JoeC1820 days ago

I am a preschool teacher and use this all the time. If kept in a container it lasts a couple of weeks! I add the color with all the ingredients before cooking it. It saves on the hands getting tired from kneading it in...plus it mixes in better :)

elliotnash JoeC182 months ago

I'd like to know too.

You add it in after it is cooked, and then you take the playdough, add in food coloring, and knead the dough.

ErpV28 days ago

Thank for the charming idea! I bet my nephew will totally love it!

thanks a lot it worked great for me and my friend!!

we made lots of different colours there for we thank you!!

Tootiegirl582 months ago

I made this for my kids, it is awesome, got the recipe from a college friend and loved it. Really last and is I feel nicer than the store stuff

introvertedone made it!2 months ago
RyannW2 months ago

Loved it!

CherylG33 months ago
CherylG3 CherylG33 months ago

I made two batches today for my grandkids, it is the best recipe I have used.

canida (author)  CherylG32 months ago

Awesome, thanks!

TrinaM23 months ago

Just made it for my daughter for a project took no time at all and worked well, Sitting in pan cooling as a type

canida (author)  TrinaM22 months ago

Fantastic! I'm glad to hear you had fun.

SarahB193 months ago

Just made 6 batches of this. Turned out perfect every time even when I doubled it once. Great recipe! Thanks!

mrslittlemrs3 months ago

Perfect for my nurture group! I couldn't believe how easy it was. Thank you.

Thanks for posting this recipe, it turned out great and was definitely easy and fun.
PlayDohTVG4 months ago
The first time I made it, it turned out perfect. The ingredients mixed together like silk and it was easy. The first time, somehow I forgot the salt and oil so it was just a big ball of sticky mess.
kylee.parman4 months ago
Just made this for my daycare and it turned out perfect! Thanks for sharing!
BeverleyH5 months ago
Does anyone know how to make dohvinci doh? I want to get one for my daughter but i don't know if i can afford to keep buying refills... I'm disabled so money is really tight. Thanks.......

There are coupons for Dohvinci right now if that helps... Sorry, I couldn't find anyway to handmake it yet online. http://www.hasbrorewards.com/coupons

I have never seen this product before...just looked it up online. Once you make a project with it is it reusable? My daughters preschool did a project with cheap foam shaving cream. They painted it into shape of a ghost (at Halloween) and let it dry. When it dried it was puffy but dry to the touch. Not sure if you could try that with a drop of food coloring in ziploc bags and snip a corner? Worth a try? Hope it works or you find something better lol
MrsGIB075 months ago

Thinking of making this for part of our Birthday Party favors. How long does it last if sealed in a bag?

I made this recipe using flavored tea so it was scented a year and half ago and we still have it. We just keep in a supermarket brand food storage container.
amy.foti.35 months ago
Great recipe! In place of the water, you can also brew flavored tea and let cool and use that to make the dough scented. We made a batch of gingerbread scented dough a year and half ago and still have it! Just keep in cheap Tupperware type container. Glitter can also be added. Great for party favors because you can customize for any party theme....thanks for recipe!!!!
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