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As a child, I always loved playing with Play-Doh. I loved being able to create anything my little heart could dream of. Now that I have children, they also enjoy playing with Play-Doh.
The one downfall I have found though, is how do you keep it from becoming rock hard and falling apart?
It seems like after playing with it a few times my Play-Doh would always start to dry out causing it to become hard and less pliable, or it would start cracking every time I tried to do something more than make a simple worm out of it ultimately making it a challenge to play with.
If at all possible, the Play-Doh should be returned to its original container for storage. After placing it in the container you should push the Play-Doh down into the container, packing it tightly, to eliminate as many air bubbles as possible and then press the lid down firmly to ensure that it has sealed completely.
So, what is it that causes the air to dry out the Play-Doh in the first place?
Simple- Play-Doh is made of flour and water with some salt added in which makes it a dough. When the dough is exposed to air it allows for the water to evaporate leaving a hard crunchy mess of flour behind.
This is why it is important to keep it from being exposed to as much air as possible when the kiddos are not actually playing with it.
Think of your Play-Doh as you would the dough for a pie crust. If left to sit out for too long the crust would become hard and would start crumbling as you tried to place it into the baking dish rendering it useless.
Play-Doh is the same way.
Once it becomes hard, Play-Doh is prone to cracking while trying to shape it which makes it extremely difficult to make the things you are trying to make.
Keeping everything in order is hard enough in day-to-day life, but once you have children it can become an even bigger task.
My youngest son is all about throwing everything he can get his hands on away right now. Phone? Trash. Tablet? Trash. The list goes on and on!
What happens if he throws away the storage container for the Play-Doh? Where can the Play-Doh be stored then?
Play-Doh can be stored in any air-tight container you can think of. Tupperware containers, Ziplock bags, and cling wrap are among the most popular storage solutions that I have found.
Of course since Play-Doh is normally pretty cheap you can always just throw away the Play-Doh that you no longer have a container for and buy more.
To see the most popular Play-Doh sets currently on the market just click here.
If Stored Properly, How Long Will Play-Doh Last?
I’ve always wondered how long my Play-Doh would last if it was not for the Achilles heel of it becoming hard first. Can it mold, grow bacteria or fungus? Does it have a shelf life?
While Play-Doh does not have an expiration date, it is important to keep it stored properly not only to keep it from hardening, but to also keep it from going bad or molding.
Play-Doh that is unopened or sealed properly can last 5+ years. However often Play-Doh gets left out and hardens long before that.
Although there is no definite expiration on Play-Doh it is likely that Play-Doh that has been sitting for multiple years will need to be remoistened to use it. Whether that is worth the hassle for a $1 (or so) container of Play-Doh is something that you will have to decide for yourself.
Play-Doh will typically last a long time when stored appropriately, but as with all things, if it is not correctly stored bacteria, mold or even fungus could start to grow on it. Mold typically grows in dark spaces with a lot of moisture, so make sure to keep the lid firmly in place when not in use.
How do you know if your Play-Doh has been affected by mold?
If there is something on your Play-Doh that looks fuzzy or soft and has other colors on it, you have likely grown mold. Grey, yellow, green, and pink growths are typically more characteristic of fungus.
If you suspect anything out of the ordinary you should definitely dispose of your Play-Doh rather than taking a chance and letting your children play with it.
Can I Rehydrate My Play-Doh If It Has Gone Bad/Turned?
When Play-Doh is not stored appropriately it can become hard and is also more prone to cracking rendering it useless.
As a parent, I strive to do my best and put everything back where it goes when my kiddos are done playing with it, but let’s be realistic here, kids are not typically worried about cleaning up before they are off and getting into the next thing they want to play with.
It is so easy to dry out your Play-Doh and no one wants to play with it when it is rock hard and cracking apart in your hands.
So if you find yourself with Play-Doh that is dried out you might wonder if you can rehydrate it.
By adding water back into your Play-Doh it is possible to rehydrate it! You simply need to add a small amount of water and knead the dough and water together.
Rehydrating the Play-Doh is actually a pretty simple task that isn’t very time consuming either.
You could just go to the store and replace the hardened Play-Doh but if your kids are anything like mine, that new container will not last long either.
The first way to rehydrate your Play-Doh is by adding small amounts of water (a few drops at a time) to the Play-Doh and then kneading the water in the same way you would bread. As you add water back in, you should start to feel the Play-Doh becoming more pliable again.
But be careful, as adding too much water can ruin the Play-Doh as well.
Another option is to dunk the Play-Doh into water (either place it in a bowl or container of water or you can run it under the water in the sink) so that the outside is completely coated with water.
Once you do this, you will need to work the water into the mixture until it starts to become pliable again.
This may need to be done a couple times to get it back to the appropriate consistency. I have found that this way is a little easier to ruin the Play-Doh though as too much water is worse than not enough in this case.
Keep in mind that once water has been added to the Play-Doh you can not take it back out, so you will need to be careful with how much you add.
You can always continue to add water as needed to get it to the right consistency, so slow and steady will ultimately win the race in this case.
I hope that this article has been helpful in answering your questions about Play-Doh storage and what can be done to keep it from hardening prematurely.
Even if you do accidentally let your Play-Doh harden you can soften it back up again by simply adding water to it. However it’s always better to prevent it from drying out then it is to fix it afterwards.