5 Effective Ways To Sanitize Play Doh

Play-doh is an exciting molding material that is loved by children of all ages from around the world, and their parents love it too. This is a great way to entertain children with the added benefit of helping their development. But with it being used so much, how can you keep play-doh clean and sanitized?

We have found five highly effective ways that you can use to sanitize your child’s play-doh; they are:

  1. Adding Salt To Your Play-Doh
  2. Adding Washing Powder To Your Play-Doh
  3. Adding Dish Washing Liquid To Your Play-Doh
  4. Mixing In Some Hand Sanitizer
  5. Using Hydrogen Peroxide To Sanitize Play-Doh

Keeping your play-doh clean is good, but why is it important to sanitize your play-doh too? How do you reduce the number of germs that your play-doh may get when it is used? And what shouldn’t you try and sanitize your play-doh with? These are all questions that we will go through and answer in this article.

Why You Need To Sanitize Play-Doh

Play-doh is an exciting and fun messy play material for children to enjoy. Play-doh is not only good for entertaining the little ones, but it also helps in various aspects of childhood development, for example, hand-eye coordination, tactile stimulation, fine motor skills, and many more. This is why play-doh is so popular in playtimes both at schools and at home.

As Play-doh is so popular and tends to get used quite a bit, it is important to keep the play-doh clean and sanitized. Keeping your play-doh supply clean and sanitized will help reduce the spread of germs from the play-doh to different surfaces in your school and home, as well as child-to-child transmission of potentially harmful bacteria that can cause illness.

Ensuring that your play-doh is sanitized and clean can also help the play-doh last longer because the fewer germs the play-doh has on it and in it, then there is a lower likelihood of the play-doh growing mold. This leaves you with plenty of playing time from one batch of play-doh, with only needing to look out for the expiry date of the play-doh.

Reducing Play-Doh Germs

The best way to help sanitize your play-doh is to reduce the number of germs that come into contact with your play-doh, to begin with. There are a number of methods that you can utilize to help you reduce these germ encounters for your play-doh that can help keep your play-doh sanitary and clean.

As we are all aware, human hands are one of the best places for germs to grow and spread from. So, a great way to help keep your play-doh clean is to implement a rule that the children need to wash their hands thoroughly with soap before they get to sit down and play with the play-doh.

If a kid in your class or one of your children at home is feeling a bit sick or has any of these symptoms: a runny nose, excessive sneezing, or a cough, then you should give that child their own bit of play-doh to play with and do not share that play-doh with the other children.

Then once they are finished playing, you can then just discard that bit of play-doh without contaminating the whole batch of play-doh or making the child feel left out of the activity.  

Once a messy play session with the play-doh is completed, you should also clean and disinfect the play-doh toys properly. If you can, take apart the toys and clean them with warm water and soap, then spray them with a disinfectant, rinse them with warm water again and leave them to air dry.

Doing this will help limit the germs that will come into contact with the play-doh and any children who use these toys and molds later.

To help keep your play-doh clean and sanitary, you need to ensure that you are storing your play-doh correctly. You should store your play-doh in an air-tight container that has a label on it where you can write down the date you got the play-doh.

This will help you keep track of the expiration date of your play-doh and help ensure your play-doh does not fall out of its container and onto the floor or dry out, as well as prevent airborne germs from reaching your play-doh.

However, even if you manage to follow these methods to help prevent germs from getting into your play-doh batch, at some point, your play-doh is going to need a clean and possibly some sanitization.

Age-Appropriate Sanitizing Methods

If you use the methods mentioned above and you are going to keep your play-doh for longer than one week, then it is important that you sanitize your play-doh after every two to three uses. If you do not utilize any of the above methods to try and keep your play-doh clean, then you may have to sanitize your play-doh after every use.

It is extremely important to remember that when you sanitize your play-doh, you need to ensure that you are using a method of sanitization that is appropriate for the age of the children playing with the play-doh.

This is because some of the sanitizing methods that we are going to go through will make the play-doh inedible and possibly harmful if ingested. So, make sure that you are taking the children’s ages into account.

Also, remember that play-doh is an inexpensive molding material to buy, and you can easily make your own with some basic household ingredients that almost everyone keeps in their cabinets.

So, it is okay if you just throw the play-doh away if you are unsure whether it is still good to use or not. And if you do not want to sanitize it often and do not want to have rules that the children need to follow while playing with the play-doh, then just throw it away after the play session.

But if you want to save the play-doh and ensure that it is safe to use later, there are some effective ways of sanitizing it. Let us go through them.

1. Adding Salt To Your Play-Doh

Adding salt to your play-doh is a good way to help kill the germs that may be lurking around inside your play-doh. If you are making your own play-doh from scratch, then you can just add some extra salt to the mixture when you are making it.

If you are buying your play-doh from a shop, you can add it when you need to sanitize it. If you are doing this, just make sure that you fold the play-doh around to ensure that the salt spreads.

This method does not kill all germs, but it does kill a good amount of them, especially the most harmful ones. This works because the bacteria require a certain environment to survive and breed, and the salt changes this environment and makes it too much for them to handle.

This then effectively kills the bacteria as they no longer breed, and the living bacteria will die out within a few hours, which then leaves the play-doh germ free. This method is the best method to use if young children are going to be playing with the play-doh as it is still safe to ingest and will only taste bad.

2. Adding Washing Powder To Your Play-Doh

Adding some washing powder into your play-doh may sound unusual, but it is an effective way to help sanitize your play-doh. If you are making your own play-doh, you need to finish making the play-doh, and once it has cooled completely, you add in some washing powder.

If you are buying your play-doh, you can simply put some washing powder into it once you have opened it.

Adding washing powder to your play-doh helps to sanitize it as the washing powder is a soap that is made to kill bacteria, especially bacteria that live on human skin. So, when the children are playing with the play-doh, it keeps both their hands clean and the play-doh clean.

Adding washing powder to the play-doh also adds a unique texture to the play-doh, which adds to the sensory development of the children. This also helps wash off any excess dye that may have ended up on the children’s hands from the play-doh and makes for a fun clean-up as the water bubbles when the children wash their hands.

This method of sanitizing the play-doh must only be used if older children are using the play-doh that can understand that they must not eat it, as it must not be ingested.

3. Adding Dish Washing Liquid To Your Play-Doh

Adding some dish soap to your play-doh is also an effective way to help sanitize the play-doh. If you are buying your play-doh, then you can add some in immediately once you open it. If you are making your own play-doh, then wait for it to cool completely and then add in some dish soap once the play-doh is made.

Make sure that you fold the play-doh around until all of the dish soap is soaked up into the play-doh. This kills the germs in the play-doh as it is a bacterium killing soap, and it helps keep the children’s hands clean.

This is an excellent way to help encourage the children to wash their hands after the messy play session as the soap will get on their hands and create bubbles when they wash them. This method should only be used if older children are going to be using the play-doh as the dish soap should not be ingested.

4. Mixing In Some Hand Sanitizer

You could also use some hand sanitizer to help clean and sanitize your play-doh. To do this, you need to ensure that the play-doh is cold if you are using your own homemade play-doh; if not, then just open the play-doh and then just add in a few squirts of the hand sanitizer into the play-doh.

Then fold the play-doh around to ensure that the hand sanitizer is mixed in thoroughly. Once the sanitizer is mixed in, leave the play-doh to dry for a few minutes. Once you feel that the hand sanitizer is dried up, you can pack the play-doh away.

If the play-doh dried out a bit during this process, then you just need to rehydrate it before you store it. To rehydrate your play-doh, you need to place a wet cloth over it and leave it for a few hours; then, when your play-doh it back to normal, put it in its container for storage.

If you want to use this method to sanitize your play-doh, you need a sanitizer with at least 70% alcohol. This will ensure that you kill all the bacteria that may be living on the play-doh.  This method should only be used if older children are using the play-doh as hand sanitizer should not be ingested.

5. Using Hydrogen Peroxide To Sanitize Play-Doh

This is an unusual way to sanitize play-doh, but it is a very effective way to ensure that your play-doh is cleaned and sanitized. This must only be used for play-doh for older children.

Go and buy some H2O2 and place some in a container with a lid. Then place your play-doh into the container and make sure that the lid is sealed correctly. Place the container on a high shelf where children cannot reach it.

You need to leave the play-doh in the H2O2 for 24 hours. Once the time has passed, you need to wash your hands thoroughly, open the container carefully, and then fold the play-doh a few times to expose the interior. After that is done, place the play-doh back in the container and close the lid. Leave it for another 24 hours.

When the play-doh has soaked, dab it with a wet cloth to wipe off the excess H2O2, and then place the play-doh in its storage container.

Ways Not To Sanitize Play-Doh

There are things that you should never do to play-doh to try and sanitize it as these methods could completely destroy the play-doh. You should never heat up play-doh by any means, this will cook the play-doh, and it will harden and cannot be shaped and molded.

You should never try and wash your play-doh in water as this will dissolve the play-doh altogether. Do not use a chemical spray to try and sanitize your play-doh, as some chemicals are powerful and will either dissolve the play-doh or make it unsafe for children to play with.

Do not try and leave your play-doh out in the sun to try and sanitize it; this will cause the play-doh to dry up into a sculpture, and you will not be able to use it again.


Play-doh is an extremely fun and entertaining molding material for children that can keep them busy for hours. So, it is essential to keep the play-doh clean and sanitized to ensure that the play-doh is safe for all children to play with.

Sanitizing your play-doh is relatively easy if you follow one of the methods mentioned above, and they all do the job quite well. Whichever method you choose, just ensure you take the children’s ages into account and make sure that you are safe too.


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