Play Doh Vs. Plasticine: Do You Know The Difference?

Play doh and Plasticine are extremely fun materials to play with, and they can entertain your children for hours. They are a staple to have, both at home and at schools, as they help the development of children in many areas. But what is the difference between these two art mediums?

Play doh is made up of ordinary food products, and it can be made at home in your kitchen easily; it is also water-based. Plasticine is not made from food products, but it is still considered non-toxic; you can not make it at home easily, and it is an oil-based product.

Many children use these arts and crafts mediums worldwide, but not many people know that this was not their original intended use. So, what were they supposed to be used for? And what are the good and the bad that these materials have to offer? Let us find out.

What Is Play Doh?

There are many people in the world nowadays that know about play doh and most of us used to play with the substance when we were young too, but what is play doh really, what was it used for when it was first invented, and in what developmental areas does it assist children?

Play doh is a soft and mouldable compound that is now used around the world as an art and crafts medium for children, and it is also still sometimes used in different home projects by some people. Even though this is how play doh is used today, this was not what play doh’s original intended use was.

Play doh was created in the 1930s, and it was marketed with its intended use being to help clean dust, soot, and other particulates off of wallpaper in offices and homes. Unfortunately, this marketing strategy did not work as well as the company would have liked, and hardly any sales were made.

This prompted the company to change tactics as they still believed in their product, so they began to market play doh as a children’s arts and crafts material. This marketing strategy seemed to work, and sales kept on climbing.

Even though play doh was not originally intended as a means of entertaining children, it helps quite a lot in the development of hand-eye coordination, tactile stimulation, fine motor skills in children, and the development of children’s creativity.

Play doh does have an age recommendation with it for children to ensure that the play doh is used safely as it can be a choking hazard for very young children. This age recommendation is for children that are two years old or older.

And even though play doh is considered non-toxic, it is still not meant to be ingested, especially the play doh that you buy in stores nowadays, as they do contain some ingredients that may upset little tummies if they are ingested.

You can also create your own play doh at home if you want to avoid certain ingredients that may be present in the shop brought play doh. This is easy to accomplish as you can make play doh using flour, salt, and water, meaning that play doh is water-based.

These ingredients are easier for your little one’s stomach to handle, but ingesting it should still be avoided, if you can, as it can cause some digestive issues if too much of the play doh is consumed.

What Is Plasticine?

Plasticine is a well-known putty-like substance that most people in the world have either used or played with when they were children, but Plasticine is not only used by children for arts and crafts. So, what is the history of this enjoyable molding medium?

Plasticine was first formulated by an art teacher named William Harbutt in a city in England called Bath in 1897. This makes Plasticine quite a few years older than its cousin play doh. Harbutt was looking for a non-drying clay that his sculpture students could use to sculpt detailed artworks easily.

Unfortunately, there were no mediums on the market back then that matched his specific criteria, so Harbutt decided to create his own medium. Harbutt managed to make a sterile, non-toxic, malleable and soft clay that did not dry out when it was exposed to air which he then named Plasticine.

Then in 1899, Harbutt received the patent for Plasticine and decided to produce it commercially, which began in the 1900s in a factory in Bathampton. Now Plasticine is used in many different industries, from clay animation to architects and home crafts as well as children’s arts and crafts.

Although Plasticine was originally just a grey color for sculptors to use, you can now get Plasticine in many different colors, which makes for more fun for your children.

Even though Plasticine is non-toxic, it is not meant to be ingested, so it is recommended that it should only be given to children that are three years old and older. Plasticine is made from a bulking agent called gypsum, petroleum jelly, lime, stearic acid, and lanolin. This means that Plasticine is oil an oil-based product.

Plasticine helps in the same developmental areas as play doh, although older kids should only use it, and unlike play doh, you cannot make your own Plasticine.

The Pros And Cons Of Both Materials

Both of these arts and crafts mediums have their benefits to them, but they both have some drawbacks attached to them that should be taken into consideration before you decide which crafting medium will best suit your child’s needs.

The benefits and the drawbacks that we will go through for both of these crafting products are separated over various categories, but they are all worth going through. So, let us now go through these factors so that you can make an informed decision about which of these mediums to buy for your child to play with.

Pros Of Play Doh

As we mentioned earlier, play doh is a fantastic molding material that is perfect for children to play around with and get creative with. It also helps them with various other childhood development areas. But these factors are not the only benefits that play doh provides to both you and your child. So, let us go through these other benefits of play doh.

Play doh is an excellent material that children find incredibly fun and easy to play with, which means that this crafts material can keep children busy and entertained for hours at a time.

If your children are able to be left alone with the play doh, then this provides you with a fun and safe activity to keep your children busy with, allowing you some free time to have a business meeting or time to clean the house.

Play doh is also quite an inexpensive craft material to buy for your child when compared to some of the other options of children’s crafting mediums that are out on the market today. And there is also the option to make your own play doh at home using some very affordable and basic household items, which means that you can have fresh play doh on hand in a matter of minutes.

Play doh is also usually non-toxic and is a safe art and crafts material for children to have fun and express their creativity with, especially if the play doh is homemade. This means that if a child does eat the play doh, they will not get more than a stomach ache that should go away in a few hours.

Cons Of Play Doh

Play doh is a fun molding material that children love to play with, and it can be used to develop a lot of skills needed in everyday life through many activities. However, even with all these benefits that play doh offers, there are a few cons that we should go through before you decide to buy your own tub of play doh.

Play doh is known to be challenging to clean up after a play session with the children as it can easily be broken up into small pieces during the play session by the children, and these small pieces can end up going everywhere.

As play doh is water-based, it tends to dry up very fast once it is exposed to air when it is left unattended, which can be helpful if you want to make a hardened sculpture without the need to bake it but is not beneficial if you’re going to reuse the play doh later.

This fast-drying is also a concern because if you miss any small pieces of the play doh during the clean-up, then these can dry out into very hard and sharp tiny objects. These sharp pieces can be very painful when stepped on and can cause minor injuries.

Play doh will also leave a residue on the surfaces that they are used on and on the hands of the children that play with the doh. This residue can sometimes be challenging to clean off depending on the material the surfaces are made of, and it may require multiple washes to completely get rid of it.

Play doh is technically a food product, especially play doh that is made from scratch at home. Unfortunately, this does mean that play doh can grow mold and expire after a while, especially if it is not kept in an airtight container in a cool environment.

So, play doh does not last for a long time and does need to be replaced after a few weeks or a month or two, depending on how much the play doh is played with.

Play doh may also cause a mild allergic reaction in some children as it is not hypoallergenic; this is because it is made of flour, and some children may have a wheat or gluten allergy, which play doh is not suitable for.

Pros Of Plasticine

Plasticine is also a fun arts and crafts material that is perfect for children to express themselves through a fun and creative medium as well as aiding in the development of children in different areas of learning.

Plasticine offers a few more benefits than these aspects, so let us have a look through them all so that you can make an informed decision on which creative medium is best for your child.

Plasticine offers an easy clean-up as it tends to stick to itself very well and is a bit stiffer when compared to play doh. So, this means that it is a bit more challenging to pull apart into small pieces, keeping it together better.

As Plasticine is oil-based, it does not dry out if it is left out in the air. Because of this fact, you do not need to be pedantic about how you store the Plasticine, you can keep it in a zip lock bag if required, and there is no need to worry about the small pieces drying out into sharp objects if you did not get every little bit of the Plasticine during clean-up.

Due to the fact that Plasticine does not dry up and that it is not made out of food products, Plasticine can last for a long time. Plasticine is also non-toxic, so if your child accidentally ingests the medium, then it will not cause much harm apart from maybe a mild stomach ache.

This medium is also loads of fun and not just for your children but also for you. This provides you with a bonding activity that both you and your children will love.

Cons Of Plasticine

Plasticine does make for a great creative medium for children to flex their creative muscles with; however, this does not infer that there are no drawbacks involved with its use. Let us have a look at these drawbacks, so you understand everything you need to about this medium.

Plasticine does have a higher age recommendation for children when compared to other children’s arts and crafts materials, so if you have children younger than three years old, then Plasticine is not the creative medium for them.

As Plasticine is oil-based, it does leave an oily residue on surfaces and hands after the play session, and as it is an oily residue, it can be pretty challenging to get rid of.

Plasticine can be a more expensive option compared to play doh as it is also used in other industries and is not outright considered to be a child’s arts and crafts material.


Both of these materials are very similar today, so it is easy to get them mixed up, but both of them had different starts and were not actually meant to be used by children initially. Both of these mediums today are marketed towards children, but Plasticine is also still being used for its intended use in many different industries across the world, and play doh is only marketed as a arts and crafts material for children and has lost its original intended use.


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