Playdough is a kid-safe material that can be molded into a variety of shapes for crafts.
But what exactly is it?
Well, it’s not made of clay and, if any manufacturer of playdough is to be believed, it only consists of water, salt, and flour.
“Wait…flour? Like in dough?”
You might be thinking the same thing I did when I learned the ingredients in this classic kids toy: with these simple ingredients, you and your kid can make your very own homemade playdough!
This article aims to help you with just that. Below is a list of ingredients and steps involved in making homemade playdough (including two bonus easy playdough recipes), as well as tips on how to store and preserve it.
But First…What IS Playdough?
Playdough is a modeling compound used in various arts and crafts projects. It’s malleable, so it can be molded in whatever shape the user desires.
Most homemade playdough recipes call for food ingredients, making it non-toxic and safe for children to play with.
While playdough is made from food ingredients, it’s best not to let kids ingest it due to the high salt content.
Why You Should Make Homemade Playdough
For one, it’s really easy to make. It’s also inexpensive, and having a Ziploc bag full of it can keep busy little hands crafting things for weeks.
Making your own playdough also gives kids the freedom to make colors they like. Lastly, the process of making playdough is a fun craft on its own that heavily involves kids at almost every step!
DIY Playdough Recipe:
Unfortunately, water, salt, and flour are not enough to make homemade playdough.
These are all the ingredient and materials you’ll actually need:
- 2 cups of flour
- 2 cups of water
- cup of salt
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar
- Food coloring (optional)
- Fragrance oils (optional)
- Mixing Bowl
- Wooden Spoon
Why Cream of Tartar is Important
You’ve probably heard of or seen cream of tartar in baked good recipes. That’s because cream of tartar is an acid used in baking or DIY cleaning hacks.
It’s a crucial ingredient for homemade playdough as it prevents mold from growing and helps preserve the playdough for a long time (salt being the other preservative).
Alternatives to cream of tartar are lemon juice or vinegar. Add 1 teaspoon of either lemon juice or vinegar for every ½ teaspoon of cream of tartar.
You can also opt to add more salt, but that might result in your dough becoming too sticky!
How to Make Homemade Playdough in 4 Easy Steps
Now, let’s get down to business. In 4 easy steps, you and your kid will be making your very own homemade playdough in your kitchen!
1. Mix the Ingredients
Mix the flour, salt, and cream of tartar in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
Photo credit: The Best Idea For Kids
2. Heat the Ingredients
Next, combine water and the vegetable oil in a pot. Once they’re well combined, add the dry ingredient mixture from step 1.
Note: If you’re only making one color of playdough, add the food coloring as well.
Set it on low to medium heat and continue to stir until the mixture thickens, dries, and forms into a dough ball. Once formed into a ball, let it cool.
Photo credit: Hands On As We Grow
3. Knead the Dough
After the dough has cooled, knead it on a flat surface until it becomes smooth and a has consistent texture.
Photo credit: The Mamas Girl
4. Add the Color!
This step is optional since the playdough is technically done after Step 3, but it’s fun for kids to help add the color.
If you’re creating different colored playdough, separate the dough ball into multiple clumps (depending on how many colors you want).
Then, knead in the specific colors to each clump, adding more food coloring as needed. For ideas on which types of colors to make with food coloring, Queen provides a neat guide to mixing food dyes.
Once the dye has been worked in, you won’t have to worry about color getting on your skin.
And for even more fun, you can also add a drop or two of your preferred fragrance oil during this step!
Photo credit: Little Bins for Little Hands
Storing Homemade Playdough
Photo credit: One Little Project
Homemade playdough can be stored in airtight containers or Ziploc bags inside the fridge. If your playdough becomes dry, knead in a bit of oil or water. If it becomes soggy for some reason, then reheat it in a pan to dry off any excess moisture.
Preserving Playdough Crafts
Kids can preserve their playdough works of art by either air-drying it in a warm place for a couple of days, depending on the thickness, or baking it in the oven at about 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes (again, depending on thickness).
Photo credit: Prepared Pantry
Bonus Easy Playdough Recipes
Here are two easy playdough recipes that your kids can do with minimal supervision from a grown-up.
2-Ingredient Homemade Playdough Recipe
Photo credit: Yummy Toddler Food
For homemade playdough that doesn’t require cream of tartar, here’s a recipe from Yummy Toddler Food that also doesn’t require cooking!
All this recipe calls for is cornstarch, hair conditioner, water, and food coloring.
Just mix all the ingredients, and voila! Easy homemade playdough! The best part? Your kids can take ownership of the entire process!
No-Cook Homemade Playdough Recipe
Photo credit: Best Recipes
If you prefer using food ingredients, but wish to avoid cream of tartar or the stove top, Best Recipes has got you covered.
Mixing and kneading just flour, salt, water, oil, and food coloring, kids can easily make playdough using this no-cook recipe.
However, since it doesn’t use cream of tartar, this might not last as long and develop molds, so keep this in mind when making this recipe.
A Recipe for Creativity
If you need something to keep the kiddos busy, look no further: make kid-safe homemade playdough right from the comfort of your own home!
Make it in any color or scent you and your kid want, or opt to keep it plain for kids to paint after their playdough crafts have dried.
At the end of the day, homemade playdough is a craft in itself and a fun activity for the entire family to do together.
Did you enjoy making homemade playdough? Have you tried making it with different ingredients? Share your experience in the comments below!
If you enjoyed this family craft project, then check out this guide on how to tie dye a shirt!