How to Fix Dry Play Doh: 5 Ways to Rehydrate Play Doh

by | Jul 13, 2022

I can’t tell you how many containers of Play Doh I tossed out because my kids left the lids off. I had no idea you could fix dry Play Doh, but you can!

You’ll never have to waste homemade or store-bought playdough again.

All play dough, whether you buy the name brand Play Doh at the store or make it at home, contain water. So, when it stays in contact with air for long periods, the water evaporates, causing the dough to dry up.

Kids never seem to collect all of their dough after playing, and they leave the lids off the containers all the time. Then, when they go to play with it again, it’s totally dry, crumbly, and not fun.

That won’t happen to your kids anymore! Here is how to rehydrate Play Doh – it’s easier than you think.

Related: Teach Scissor Skills by Cutting Play-Doh

How to Fix Dry Play Doh: The Easiest Method

It’s possible to rehydrate dried Play-Doh, but the dough will lose moisture as kids play with it. Luckily, these steps make it easy to soften dough as often as needed.

1. Assess The Damage & Find the Playdough You Can Fix

The first thing you have to do is assess the damage. The reality is you can’t fix all dried playdough. If it feels like a rock, chances are you won’t be able to fix it again; it’s beyond repair.

The Play-Doh has to be a little soft in the center; see if you can push your finger in a bit before rehydrating. Crumbly, rough dough is fine, but the ones that feel like a rock you’d find outside are a loss cause.

2. Divide the Dry Play Doh into Batches

Now, take the playdough you think you can rehydrate, and divide it into smaller batches. Ideally, each portion should be no more than 1/2 cup. It’s harder to work with large batches that aren’t so easy to fix and knead.

3. Spray the Play-Doh with Water

You’ll complete the next two steps batch by batch.

Start by putting the play-doh into a small, microwave-safe bowl. Grab a water spray bottle and spray water all around the play-doh.

Don’t soak it; it’s better to start with less and add more as needed. Typically, the dryer the dough, the more water you need. I suggest only using a few squirts at a time.

4. Put the Dough in the Microwave

Then, put the bowl with the dough into the microwave and microwave for 10-15 seconds to soften it. Take it out of the microwave, put it in a plastic bag, and start to knead the dough with your hands.

The water has to come in contact with all of the dough. At first, it may seem sticky, but the more you need and move it around, the less sticky it feels.

Once the dough isn’t stick and feels easy to hold in your hand, take it out and knead the dough in your hands. It should feel just like the original Play-Doh now, but if it feels too wet, keep kneading because it will absorb the water over time.

However, if the dough feels too dry and crumbly at this point, go back to step 3 an repeat.

4 Other Ways to Fix Hardened Play Doh

Of course, there are plenty of others way to fix dry play doh, and I found a few other methods you may want to give a try.

1. Paper Towel + Ziplock Bag

This method is more hands-off, but it takes longer. All you need is a damp paper towel and a Ziplock bag – plus your dried dough.

Start flattening your play dough like a pancake; it needs to fit into your ziploc bag. The thinner the dough, the more surface area comes into contact with the water. That makes it easier to make play doh soft.

Grab a paper towel and add some water; squeeze out any extra. It should be damp but not soaking wet or super soggy. Wrap the paper towel around your flattened dough, pressing them together.

You want the towel in total contact with the dried out play doh.

Then, put this into a Ziploc bag and seal it. Wait two to three hours before checking to see how much water the play-doh absorbed. It should feel soft and pliable, but it might be a bit slimy when you first take it out of the bag. If so, knead it with your hands until it feels soft again.

2. Ziploc Soak

Here is a variation of this method, but this is a bit easier.

Break the dried playdough into multiple small pieces. Then, put these pieces into a plastic bag and sprinkle some water into the bag. You don’t want to put too much; it should be just enough to slightly dampen the Play-Doh.

Then, seal the bag, massaging the dough into a big clump. Leave it in the bag overnight since the bag will hold the moisture and humidity.

The next morning, take it out of the bag and knead until the play-doh feels soft again.

3. Dip & Knead

This method is so fast!

Start by running the dry Play-Doh under water, or dip it into a bowl of water. It should be coated in water entirely on the outside, but you don’t want it dripping with water.

Then, start to knead the dough, working the water into it until fully incorporated. When you first start this, your hands may feel wet and sticky, but as you continue to knead, it will feel less wet.

If the dough still feels dry, then you might need to add more water. If it’s sticky, keep kneading until all of the moisture is incorporated into the dough.

4. Steaming Your Play-Doh

Here’s another way to make play doh soft again!

First, take your dry dough and flatten it in your hands or the counter. This may be hard if your dough is super dry, but the flatter you make it, the larger the absorption area.

Then, get your stovetop steam pot and fill the bottom pot with water. Put the steam tray on top and put your flattened dough in that tray.

Steam the play-doh for 5-10 minutes.

Take the dough out of the steamer and knead it for 5 minutes. If it doesn’t go back to its original consistency, steam it again and try kneading again.

Don’t toss out that dry play-doh! All you have to do is use some water and kneading, and before long, you can fix dry Play Doh!