How to Make Playdough Softer After Drying Out

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How to Make Playdough Softer - help comes from Messy Learning Kids

Why Is My Playdough Hard?

Playdough is often a favorite activity for young children, but at some point the playdough becomes hard, and it can be frustrating for both parents and children. We’ve got an email asking us how to make playdough softer.

There are a few reasons why Play Doh dries. One reason is that it has been stored in an open Play Doh container for too long.

The dough will dry out over time, causing it to become harder. The moisture level of the playdough can affect its texture. 

If it becomes hard, there are a few quick ways to rehydrate Play Doh. 

Here are a few tips to help keep your playdough soft and pliable.

how to make play-doh soft again
What is Play Doh made of?

Left Out in the Open Air – How to Fix Dry Playdough?

Playdoh is kids’ favorite, but what happens when it’s left out in the open air? The key to keeping Play Doh fresh is to store it in an airtight container. If the Play Doh is left out in the open air, humidity will make the Play Doh soft and it will lose its form.

The Moisture Can Affect its Texture -Quickly Rehydrate Play Doh!

If you’ve ever played with Play Doh, you know that the longer you play with it, the harder it gets. This is because the moisture in the air affects its texture. The more humid the air is, the softer Playdoh will be. The less humid the air is, the harder Playdoh will be.

play doh play doh
How to make play doh soft again?

The Playdough is Old – How to Revive Play Doh?

It’s been in the toy box for months, years maybe. But when you try to play with it, it’s hard. 

If your Play Doh is really old and beyond salvaging, then this occasion is a good opportunity to teach your children about recycling. Ask them what they think might occur if they add a few drops of warm water to the previous dough. Probably, it will come back to life

How do you make play-doh soft again?
How to revive playdough?

How to Make Playdough soft again? – Different Methods for Soften Play Doh

The main reason that playdough becomes hard is that the moisture in the air begins to evaporate. By closing the lid on the small play dough containers when not in use, can be slowed down.

What to make with play doh that was left out overnight? The hardness of your playdough can be reduced by adding a little bit of water to it until it is back to its customary texture.  

Adding water to Play Doh will help to soften it and make it more pliable. Water will rehydrate Play Doh. This is a simple process that can be done in a few minutes. 

How to Make Playdough Softer

Add some water into the dried Play Dough

The water will help the Play Doh to become more elastic, which will make it easier to work with. This is the fastest way to rehydrate it.

  • Place the Play Doh into a small cup or bowl, then add one or more than one drop of water at a time.
dollar tree play dough
Fast way to rehydrate our green playdough
  • Work water into open cracks with your fingertips.
  • Knead the dough well.
  • Continue the same steps until your dough is soft again. Then you can start playing. I told you this is the quickest way to rehydrate it! 🙂
dollar tree playdoh
How to rehydrate Play Doh with only few drops of water?

Wrap the Play Doh in a Wet Paper Towel

If the Play Doh is too hard, you can soften it by wrapping it in a wet paper towel. The moisture will help to relax the dough and make it more pliable. 

In case you’ve already tried kneading water in the dough and it didn’t function well, this can be an additional method.

Any soft, absorbent paper product will do the trick. You can use toilet paper, tissue paper, or a napkin.

  • Roll up the Play doh into a fairly compact ball or a clump. That way, it will be easier to wrap the dough in the towel.
playdough image
Brown playdough with the playdough container is ready for softening
  • Put the playdough into a clean sealed container. Make sure the container is sufficiently airtight so our playdough will stay moistened.
playdoh images
Brown playdoh in the airtight container
  • Leave the Playdoh container overnight or for longer so the dough softens by the time you open it. When opening the playdough containers, the paper towel should be dry and the Play Doh soft, just like our brown Play Doh.
  • If the Play-Doh isn’t coming back after multiple attempts to soften it, it may be time to consider purchasing a new Play Doh set or creating your own by our playdough recipes. 
how is playdough made
Soft dough – reviving play doh with wet paper towel

Use a Ziploc Bag for Dried Playdough

All you require is a plastic bag and some water. 

pink playdoh
Dry Play Doh before our tips

Break the old Play-Doh into sufficiently small pieces, so that each piece can soak up more water.

playdoh pink
Can you rehydrate play doh with us?
  • Place the Play-Doh pieces in a zipper-lock bag. Make sure the plastic bag is water resistant and able to close. It has to close properly.
  • Pour warm water into the plastic bag and seal it well.
  • Mix the Play Doh and water together. Knead the dough until it is sufficiently absorbing the water. Start with less water then you can gradually add more water if needed. 
  • Knead while slowly working up to the desired level of softness.
play doh pink
How to make Play Doh softer with the Ziploc method?
  • Let the moisture absorb overnight. Make sure again that the bag is completely sealed.
  • Take out the Play Doh but wait until it’s dry, otherwise, the color will spread all over your hands.
  • Knead it well again before playing.
 pink play doh
Soft play dough after using the Ziploc method


How to Make Playdough Soft and Stretchy?

Play dough is made with plain flour and water mixture. The more liquid that’s added, the softer and more stretchy the play dough will become. One way to make a homemade playdough soft and stretchy is to add vegetable oil, for example, coconut oil or olive oil.

play doh crayola revived
Things to make with Play Doh if you have a Crazy Cuts Stylist Hair Salon

Another way is adding lotion besides adding oil. If the dough is about to turn sticky, too much water was added, and adding more flour will help turn it into a smooth play dough. 

When creating homemade Play Doh, you can also add food coloring to make homemade Play Doh more fun. A few drops of essential oil can boost a more enjoyable scent as well. 

what to do with play doh
Our homemade playdough picture

What is Playdough Made of? What Ingredient Makes Playdough Soft?

The ingredient that makes Play Doh soft is the addition of an emulsifier. An emulsifier is a substance that helps to keep two liquids mixed together, like oil and water.

How do you make playdough soft again? In the case of playdough, the emulsifier helps to keep the water and flour mixed together, which results in a softer dough. Use the above methods to make your playdough soft and stretchy.

We also have a perfect salt dough recipe on our website. See more recipes.

play dough that doesn t dry out
Making things with play dough that we made

How to Soften Play Doh in Microwave?

Another way to soften Play Doh is by microwaving it. The microwaving process softens the Play Doh by heating it up. This method is convenient because it does not require any special ingredient or tool, except a microwave-safe bowl. However, it is important to be careful when microwaving Play Doh, as it can become hot and may cause a burn.

  • Break up your play dough into tiny pieces and mix it with a little water to get a paste.
microwave playdough
Play doh microwave softening method
  • Heat it till it the moist escapes and the playdough becomes soft.
  • Wait till it cools a little bit and kneed it well.
play doh pictures
Play Doh tricks – Soften Play Doh microwave method
orange playdoe
Soft vs. dried Play Doh

How to Store Playdough?

How to keep playdough soft? There are also a lot of fun things to do with Play Doh leftovers, you don’t have to throw them away from the Play Doh table.

After playing with playdoh make sure you store it the right way. If you want to keep the playdoh soft and in good condition for future use, you should store it in an airtight container.

Homemade playdough should also be kept in the fridge because of its ingredients. It will last longer.

Photo of author


Eniko is a mother and wife, ex-teacher, and world traveler. Loves to be creative and admires spending quality time with her family. Enjoys outdoor activities-, and connecting to nature. She loves sharing her enthusiasm and inspiration. For more details check out Messy Learning Kids.

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