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How to Make Playdough at Home

By: Sara Raffensperger, Editor,
How to Make Playdough at Home
How to Make Playdough at Home
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Once you learn How to Make Playdough at Home then you'll never have to worry about dried out playdough ever again. You probably already have the ingredients you need to make DIY playdough already in your home. Homemade playdough is the best thing to make when the kids are stuck inside on a rainy or wintry day. If you're babysitting or having a play date, then you can make a bunch of playdough for each kid and not have to worry about them fighting over a specific color.
Kids love to squish playdough between their fingers and build elaborate sculptures if only for the joy of knocking them down again. Don't let the fun stop just because the dough has dried out or fallen on the dusty floor. Make your very own playdough and you'll never have to buy it again.
If you're throwing a party, then you can make a bunch of different colors and give it away as a favor for your guests. You can easily make some DIY playdough for a class gift for a holiday party. If you're a teacher on a tight budget, then making playdough for your class will be a lot cheaper than buying it. Now that you know how to make playdough at home, your children will never be bored!

Estimated Cost$11-$20

Time to CompleteUnder an hour


Age GroupToddlers, Preschool & Kindergarten, Elementary School

Materials List

  • 4 cups of flour
  • 1 1/2 cups of salt
  • 2 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 1 cup of water
  • Food coloring of your choice

How to Make Playdough

Recipe for Playdough - Yields 4 Balls

  1. You're going to be making four different colors of playdough with this recipe, so to begin, take your 1 cup of water and separate it evenly into four bowls. Pour 1/4 cup of water into each bowl.

  2. Add a few drops of food coloring to each bowl of water, making sure that you only add one color to each bowl.

  3. Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil to each bowl (2 tablespoons in total).

  4. In a separate mixing bowl, add your dry ingredients. 
    Pour your 4 cups of flour and 1 1/2 cups of salt and stir together.

  5. Now you're going to add 1 cup of your flour and salt mixture to each of the bowls with water and food coloring.
    Stir together.

  6. Dust your cutting board with flour.
    Take one of the playdough mixtures and knead it on the floured surface until it's smooth.
    Repeat with the other three colors.

  7. To store your playdough:
     Place in sandwich bags or plastic wrap and keep it in the refrigerator. 

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I found that when using food coloring with this type of dough it stains your hands and can stain clothing. Does anyone have a way to color the dough without staining things?

You could try and use natural dyes like beets and turmeric. I've also heard that KoolAid won't stain your hands.

I've heard of people using washable finger paints, or water colors. Keep in mind adding additional liquid may through off the ratio, and you'll need more dry ingredients. I think there are powdered versions available too. You could try to color the water first, if you have a dough hook and mixer use that until the color is incorporated. Try using powdered drink mix (unsweetened) one pouch per batch. If you're using a recipe that requires kneading, do it in a heavy-duty zip top bag. We've only used food coloring, and drink mix and never had an issue (during making or playing). I also prefer cooked play dough versions, they seem softer and have brighter colors.


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