Does Play-Doh Go Bad, Expire, or Get Moldy?

Last updated on September 14th, 2022 at 10:38 pm

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Last updated on September 14th, 2022 at 10:38 pm

Play-Doh has been a favorite in our house since our kids were little. We could spend hours having fun making creation after creation. 

To be honest, I would still play with Play-Dog even if my kids were too old to play with me! 

Other than sparking creativity, Play-Doh can really improve fine motor skills in younger kids. It’s fun to squish and can even help reduce stress, but how long does the fun actually last? 

How long Play-Doh lasts really depends a lot on whether your kids close the lids properly or not. My kids are notorious for not putting the lids on right or leaving them off entirely, which left a big crumbly mess to clean up.

However, as long as it’s cared for properly, Play-Doh can be used over and over again. Some people even think that as long as it’s stored in an airtight container, it will last forever, but unfortunately that’s not the case. 

While Play-Doh technically does not have an expiration date, eventually it’s going to get dried out even if the containers are sealed. However, you can rehydrate Play-Doh as long as it isn’t too hard. 

Also there are a few other things that might go wrong with it over time. So how do you know when Play-Doh can be saved and when to throw it away?

I think we’ve all had the experience of popping open our favorite little yellow container, only to find it’s hard as a rock and unusable. 

Dried out Play-Doh is no fun. 

It’s really difficult to work with and at that point, you might think it’s ruined and be tempted to throw it away. Fortunately though dried out Play-Doh can be saved and it’s actually one of the easiest problems to solve which I will cover next. 

How To Rehydrate Dried Out Play-Doh

Play-Doh is mostly made up of a mixture of salt, flour and water so making dry Play-Doh soft again is really easy. There are three popular methods of rehydrating Play-Doh and the best part is that they are either free or really cheap depending on which method you choose!

To rehydrate dried Play-Doh you will have to add water using the kneading, paper towel, or ziploc method. All three of these methods will work well to add enough water to make the Play-Doh usable again. 

Now you may ask, why wouldn’t you just go out and buy another container of Play-Doh? Well you certainly can, but depending on how much you have, it can get expensive…plus this is so easy that it’s worth it!

The Kneading Method

  1. Take your dried out Play-Doh and run it under warm water for a few seconds.
  2. Knead the warm water into the dough. This gets a little messy, but as you knead it the water will get worked into the dough.
  3. Repeat as necessary. That’s it! This method is one of the easiest.

The Paper Towel Method

  1. Flatten your dough. This increases the surface area and allows more contact with the paper towel.
  2. Add water to a few paper towels and ring out the excess water. You want it damp, not soaking.
  3. Wrap the dried out dough in the damp paper towels and put it back into the yellow can and replace the lid. (You can also do this in a Ziploc bag.)
  4. Leave the dough in the container for a minimum of three hours or it can be left in there overnight.

The Ziploc Method

  1. Break the dried up dough into small pieces and add them to a Ziploc bag.
  2. Sprinkle in some water. Make sure it’s enough to get all the pieces damp, but not leave too much excess water. Then seal the bag.
  3. After a few minutes, smoosh all of the Play-Doh into one corner of the bag and let it sit overnight. That’s it! 

For both the paper towel method and the Ziplic method the dough might be a little slimy when you first remove it from the container, but don’t worry as you begin messing with it, it should be good as new!

My Play-Doh Has Something Growing On It! 

What if your Play-Doh has something growing on it? You should definitely throw it away then right? 

Well it depends on what it is that appears to be growing on it.

Often what looks to be mold on Play-Doh is actually salt crystals. All you have to do is rehydrate the Play-Doh and it will be as good as new. 

I remember one year my oldest child had put one of their wonderful Play-Doh creations in the toy box when cleaning up. When it was finally found at the bottom of the toy box, it had some questionable white spots on it. 

I assumed it was mold and quickly threw it out, and proceeded to take out every toy and sanitize them. While that needed to be done anyway, I found out later that the white growths were not in fact mold!

As I mentioned before, Play-Doh is primarily made up of water, salt, and flour. So if it’s left out for too long, the water begins to evaporate leaving the salt behind which forms salt crystals. 

So if your Play-Doh has crunchy white patches on it, use it to show your kids some super cool science stuff before trying one of the methods above to rehydrate it. 

Sometimes it’s too far gone and won’t get back to a normal consistency, but it’s worth a shot before buying a whole new container (or multiple containers). 

Can Play-Doh Grow Mold?

Many people freak out when their kids play with old Play-Doh as they think that it has to be contaminated with something whether it’s mold or germs, but can Play-Dog even grow mold? 

While Play-Doh growing mold has happened, it’s very rare for store-bought Play-Doh to do that as the salt acts like a preservative as well as the added preservatives in it. All of those preservatives make mold growth extremely difficult. 

However, it is much more likely to see mold in the homemade Play-Doh variety because it doesn’t have as many preservatives.

Play-Doh is however still susceptible to germs. 

Dr. Kalani Brady, associate professor at the John A. Burns School of Medicine said, “Both Play-Doh and slime are excellent bacterial and viral foci for growing.”

A good rule of thumb is, if your Play-Doh is growing something soft and fuzzy or is changing colors, then it’s time to let it go.

To help your Play-Doh avoid getting moldy and nasty, there are some things to help.

  1. Never let your sick child play with Play-Doh unless you are planning on buying a new one once they are well.
  2. Always have your child wash their hands before and after they play. This will help decrease the risk of them picking up germs.

If your Play-Doh can’t be revived, don’t throw the containers away. Not only are the containers recyclable, but there are some amazing ways of reusing the old containers around the house. 

A quick look on Pinterest will offer you a ton of ideas!

Last updated on September 14th, 2022 at 10:38 pm

Matthew R

Hi, My name is Matt and I am all about toys! When trying to find accurate information online about toys I was finding it difficult so I decided to make this site.

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