I’ve been making homemade playdough for years, but in the last few years, I’ve been experimenting with different ways to dye playdough naturally. This simple playdough recipe is quick and easy, and you’re likely to have most of these ingredients on hand. Besides being simple to make, it’s also completely free of harmful ingredients! I love knowing that if one of my kiddos happened to eat this playdough, it wouldn’t be dangerous for them. Plus, it’s MUCH less expensive than buying it from the store!
If you’ve never made playdough before, don’t worry. It’s simple! Set aside about 10-15 minutes from prep and some time for it to cool down.
2 cups flour
2 cups water
1 cup salt
2 Tablespoons oil
2 Tablespoons cream of tartar
Start with the basic ingredients above. Depending on what you use to dye your playdough, you may need to add that to your water first OR add it later on as you’re mixing. More details on that below.
Mix all ingredients together. It will be kind of soupy. Cook for 10-15 minutes over low heat or until it has thickened. Stir frequently, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan as you cook. You want to take it off the heat when it’s just very slightly sticky – almost playdough consistency.
Let rest for a few minutes and knead the playdough on wax paper or a silicone mat – but be careful, it will be hot!
Let it cool completely before letting your child play with it. Keep in an air-tight container.
Naturally Dyeing Your Playdough
We don’t keep food coloring in the house anymore, having moved to a more natural lifestyle. So it’s been a fun experiment to try different foods, herbs, and spices to create new playdough colors. You will need to experiment a bit with different methods and find the ones that work best for you, with the ingredients you have on hand.
Hibiscus: I use 1 1/2 cups of dried hibiscus and steep it in water for about 10 minutes (I use slightly more water than called for in the recipe). Then I remove the hibiscus from the water and use the bright pink water to cook the playdough. This is what created the bright pink playdough seen in this post.
Cocoa Powder: Since this is a powder, you might find you need more water (as seen above in my brown playdough). I added about 2 Tablespoons of cocoa powder. This not only creates a brown color, but makes the playdough a sensory experience as well!
Turmeric: Add turmeric powder to water and steep prior to mixing OR to the playdough as you’re cooking.
Blueberries: Boil some frozen blueberries in water prior to mixing. Strain the blueberries out of the water.
There are MANY more herbs or foods you could use to dye your playdough naturally, you just need to experiment!
In our house, we find playdough to be a super calming activity for all ages, and to make it even more so, we add calming essential oils like Peace & Calming or Lavender. We also love making Peppermint or Cinnamon Playdough. All of these create different sensory experiences for kids from preschool to elementary or beyond!
We used to own special playdough toys, but it just became too cluttered for us. So we use things we have around the house instead. Some tools we like to use with our playdough:
wooden knives or spoons
We try to choose items that are easily cleaned off and won’t fall apart in the playdough. You can use things like sticks, flowers, leaves, but these may break off in the playdough.