How to Soften Play Doh Three Methods (4 Easy Steps)

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child playing with clayBelieve it or not, Plah-Doh was initially used to clean coal soot off people’s wallpaper. People have been using Play-Doh since the 1930s when the formula was first developed, and it has been marketed as a children’s educational toy since the 1950s. Pretty much since its inception, people have been asking the same question; how to soften Play-Doh once it has hardened.

If you are among the throngs that have asked this question, rest easy. Here we offer three methods to recover Play-Doh that has hardened. They will probably be easier than expected, and none require more than four steps.

How to Soften Play-Doh

Dry, flaky Play-Doh is difficult to play with and feels unpleasant. There is no need to discard it, though. Here we will offer three of the simplest methods that you can use to soften Play-Doh. Here are some simple steps you can take to soften hardened Play-Doh.

Work Water Into the Paly-Doh

For doughs that are fairly stiff but still workable, this is our favorite method.

Step 1

Hold the Play-Doh in your hand, or for larger amounts, place it into a bowl.

Step 2

Add a few drops of water to the Play-Doh. Don’t douse it.  Just add a few drops. Even for a large amount of Play-Doh, no more than half a teaspoon should be used at a time.

Step 3

child squeezing clay with her hands

Knead the Play-Doh to work the water into it. Pull it, stretch it, squeeze it, fold it on itself. The dough should slowly absorb the water and soften. Depending on how dry the Play-Doh is and the amount being softened, this may take some time. Be persistent. Keep adding water and kneading until the Play-Doh softens to the desired consistency.

Wrap in a Wet Rag, Paper Towel, Napkin

This method of recovering Play-Doh is great for batches that are just a little past their prime but really crusty yet.

Step 1

Form the Play-Doh into a ball and wrap it with a wet rag, paper towel, or similar material that will hold water.

Step 2

squeezed play doh in container

Place the rolled-up Play-Doh in an air-tight container. Its original plastic can or a snap top bowl will work. The main thing is to hold in the moister.

Step 3

Place your container in an out-of-the-way spot and let it sit a day or two. The main ingredients in Play-Doh are salt, flour, and water. The dough should slowly absorb the moister in the container and rehydrates.

Step 4

When the towel is dry, check your Play-Doh and repeat the process if necessary. If two or three tries don’t bring it back to life, it is time to buy a new Play-Doh or try our next method.

Water Bag Method

There is still hope for Play-Doh even if it has already become crumbly. It may not be much hope but the water bag method is worth the try.

Step 1

Break up your Play-Doh into small pieces. The size of a dime or smaller is ideal.

Step 2

a piece of ziplock plastic

Place the pieces of Play-Doh and a small amount of water in a ziplock bag and seal it.

Step 3

Gently massage the bag to start the water working into the doh. If the color starts to bleed, you have too much water and need to remove some. Starting with a few drops of water and adding more if needed is the best method.

Step 4

Seal the bag and let it sit overnight in a warm location. If the water is all gone the next day, check the Play-Doh’s texture. If still dry, repeat.

This method is the last hope. If two or three tries don’t revive the Play-Doh, toss it.


Does kneading Play-Doh soften it?

Sometimes kneading Play-Doh will help soften it. Play-Doh dries from the outside in. If it has been left out a little too long and started to stiffen, massaging it can help redistribute the moister throughout the doh.

How to stiffen overly wet Play-Doh?

Play-Doh that has been exposed to water can become slimy and unpleasant to work with. You can correct this situation by adding a small amount of plain flour to the dough and kneading it till it stiffens back up.