How To Fix, Rehydrate, Or Restore Play-Doh (So You Can Play With It Again)

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Since the middle of the 1950s Play-Doh has been a popular toy among children. The vibrant colors and soft, moldable texture sparks the creativity in so many, young and old alike. 

This non-toxic dough will not stain your tables or furniture and after all these years, Play-Doh is still a popular toy. 

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Relevant Play Kinetic Sand demo & DIY Play Box from cardboard

It has made its way into millions of households around the world, bringing hours of fun to children throughout the world. 

On rainy or snowy days many children can be found playing with their dough, bringing their imaginations to life. Children (and oftentimes even adults) will move on to the next thing and forget to put their Play-Doh away or not put the lid on tightly enough. 

What do you do when your Play-Doh dries out? 

The easiest way to fix dried out Play-Doh is to rehydrate it. You can do this by adding water (a few drops at a time or by using a wet washcloth) or by using a steamer (yes the kind you use on clothes). 

Of course each method that you use to rehydrate or restore your Play-Doh is a bit more complicated than just adding water or steam. 

For the first way to restore your Play-Doh, you will need a plastic baggie and a few drops of water. Take your hardened dough and break it into small pieces. 

Then place those small pieces into the plastic baggie with a few drops of water. You want to make sure that you do not put too much water into the bag, a few drops are all that you will need. 

After you seal the bag, work the water into the dough until you can form the dough into one large ball. Leave the dough in the plastic bag overnight. 

In the morning the dough will have absorbed the rest of the water. Take the dough out of the bag and it should be as good as new.

Another way to rehydrate your hardened Play-Doh is to knead some water into it. For this method all you need is a little bit of water. Take your hardened dough into your hands and sprinkle it with a small amount of water then massage the ball of dough. 

Continue to sprinkle the ball of dough with water and knead it until it becomes the consistency that it should be. 

This should only take a few minutes.

You can also steam your hardened Play-Doh if you have a clothes steamer. If you have a steamer around you can use it to rehydrate your dough, however if you do not have a steamer, you can create a makeshift one out of a pot of water and a colander. 

For this method you need to prepare your steamer or place a little bit of water into your pan and then place the colander over the pan. Then set the pan on the stove and heat the water to a simmer. While the water is warming up, flatten your hardened dough as much as you can but make sure it is still small enough to fit onto the steamer or into the colander. 

This will let your dough absorb more steam. Once the water is steaming, place the dough into the steam for about five to ten minutes. Then flip your dough onto the counter and knead it for several minutes until it has reached its normal consistency. 

Depending on how dry your dough was you might need to repeat this process.

Of course another option is to simply buy new Play-Doh. The most popular Play-Doh sets can be found by clicking here. 

What Keeps Play-Doh From Drying Out? 

Now that you know how to rehydrate your Play-Doh you might want to know how to keep it from drying out in the first place. 

The best way to keep your Play-Doh from drying out is to return it to the original container and make sure to squish the Play-Doh down to remove all the air and ensure that the lid is tightly shut. 

The little plastic containers that Play-Doh comes in are designed to keep the dough from drying out. 

What do you do if you lose that little container or misplace the lid? You can use a zippered plastic baggie to keep your dough from drying out. 

Just make sure to squeeze all the air out of the bag. 

You could also use a clean plastic container such as one you might use to put your leftovers in for your Play-Doh. Just remember though the larger the container the more air will be in it which in turn will still dry out the Play-Doh. 

How Do You Make Homemade Play-Doh?

Perhaps your Play-Doh is too far gone and can’t be rehydrated or maybe you want a different color than what you have on hand and don’t feel like running to the store, or perhaps you live in a place where a trip to the store to get Play-doh isn’t the best option. 

I remember many nights on the farm when I was younger when we would want some Play-Doh but a trip to town wasn’t in the picture so we would make our own. 

Making your own Play-Doh is really very simple and the best thing about it is you can make it any color you want! 

To make your own homemade Play-Doh you will need flour, salt, cream of tartar, vegetable oil, food coloring, and warm water. 

First gather your ingredients. 

You’ll need 2 cups of all-purpose flour, ¾ cup of salt, 4 teaspoons of cream of tartar, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, and 2 cups of warm water. 

In a large pot you will mix the flour, salt, and cream of tartar together. Now you’ll add the water and vegetable oil. You will cook this over medium high heat while stirring constantly. 

Keep stirring the mixture until it begins to form a ball. 

Once it starts to form a ball you will want to remove it from the heat and place it into a large bowl or even a gallon size plastic bag. 

Allow it to cool until you can safely handle it without burning yourself. 

While it is cooling you can pick out the colors that you want to use. When it is cool enough to work with you will knead it until it is smooth. 

Divide the dough into balls for the number of colors that you want. For this next step you might want to wear a pair of gloves unless you don’t mind staining your skin, if you don’t have a pair of gloves, you can place each dough ball into small plastic bags. 

Once you have your dough separated you will add about 5 drops of food coloring to each ball to begin with, you can add more drops of food coloring if you want a more vibrantly colored dough. 

Knead the color into each dough ball. 

If you are using plastic baggies to color your dough then simply add the food coloring into the bag with your dough ball and seal it. Then knead the dough inside the bag. 

Once your dough is all mixed together it’s ready for you to play with it. 

To keep your homemade Play-Doh fresh, store it in resealable plastic bags. If stored properly the dough can last up to three months.


Since Play-Doh is mostly flour and water it is fairly easy to rehydrate. All you need is a little water but if your dough is beyond salvageable or if you want different colors than what you have then you now know how you can make your own as well.

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