The Best Homemade Playdough Recipe that Works


Step into every early childhood service, and you’ll always see a table dedicated to playdough. A staple creative play medium, the best homemade playdough recipe that works is on the McKenzie’s Cream of Tartar container.

Playdough is Classic

Toy fads come and go, and many of these fads are plastic-based and battery operated. Unfortunately, when the fad passes or the batteries clap out, the toy goes to landfill.

Playdough is a classic toy plaything, developed in the 1950’s as an educational toy. Playdough is one of my top fave creative play resources for kids. Perfect for strengthening children’s finger and hand muscles (a precursor to good writing skills), the soft playdough is great for rolling into balls of different sizes, rolling “snakes”, and using downward palm and arm pressure to flatten the dough.

Go here for the Best Homemade Playdough Recipe that Works!

Twenty years as an educator in preschool, and I still love the creative and natural play benefits of playdough: 

Made from Simple Ingredients

The actual ingredients for well known, branded playdoh are hard to source. When choosing low tox options and being more sustainable, knowing the ingredients helps us make more informed decisions. More than likely, it includes ingredients we prefer to avoid, such as fake fragrances, artificial preservatives to extend the shelf life, and petroleum additives for a smooth texture.

When we make homemade playdough, we know the exact ingredients, colour and scent. It’s a low tox creative play resource which is even better knowing that it’s 100% plastic-free play, and batteries aren’t needed.

Homemade playdough is made from simple food-based ingredients that are normally found in the pantry. The high ratio of salt helps to preserve the natural playdough for a limited time, and the cream of tartar helps to bind the dough.

Homemade Playdough Recipe

Are you ready to make and play with homemade playdough? Here’s my version (printable) of the McKenzies’ Cream of Tartar playdough recipe. There’s no need to cook it on the stovetop – I’ve included a hot water variation and a bread maker version. 

Natural Colour and Scent

The Best Homemade Playdough Recipe that Works

The easiest colour is the one which needs no additional colour, leaving a beautiful natural white dough.

Otherwise, natural colourants such as beetroot powder for pinks, spirulina powder for greens and a sweet potato or turmeric powder for yellows. Adding more powder to the mix intensifies the colour.

No need to scent, but if you prefer to add a splash of fragrance, add essential oils such as lavender, peppermint or bergamot.

Top Tips for Playing with the Dough

  • Always use on a non-porous, hard surface. Even though the ingredients are natural, the oil, salt and colour content can damage some surfaces. 
  • For magic cleaning up – take a small playdough piece to use as the magic piece of playdough that picks up all the other teeny tiny pieces.
  • Store in a cool place in an airtight container (preferably glass) with minimal air space to clumping of the salt, casuing it to dry out 
  • One batch of playdough for 25 children can last about 3-4 days on high use.

Homemade Playdough is Kinder on the Planet

The Best Homemade Playdough Recipe that Works

Playing with playdough is a process of creating rather than needing to keep the end product.

Take a photo of your child’s final creation so they can freely squish it and reuse it!

Non-toxic playdough is a fabulous play resource for young children and is much kinder on the planet compared to off-the-shelf plastic products.

It has stood the test of time for over 70 years and will continue to encourage kids’ playfulness and creativity now and through the generations.

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