How To Harden Play Doh


Play Doh is an amazing creative tool, and a widely popular toy for children – having been played with by generations of children since the product’s introduction in 1955.

How To Harden Play Doh

But what exactly is Play Doh, and what are the best ways to dry and maintain a model once made? 

What Is Play Doh? 

Play Doh is a non-toxic modeling substance currently owned by Hasbro. Designed for children, and with the aim of allowing creative expression and repeated use.

Play Doh has become one of the most purchased toys of its kind, and offers countless options when it comes to playtime. 

Does Play Doh Dry Naturally? 

Unfortunately (or fortunately, in the case of this article), Play Doh does dry out on its own, but the rate at which this happens is entirely dependent on several things – including environmental temperature, storage methods, and volume of use. 

Generally speaking, the lifespan of Play Doh tends to be around 3 months, although this can change drastically depending on the ways it is used and handled. 

Proper Storage

The way to keep Play Doh fresh and soft is to remove oxygen from the equation.

This means using tupperware containers, ziplock bags, or saran wrap to create an airtight seal that the oxygen cannot permeate. 

Proper Temperature

Play Doh is a temperamental substance, and one that can react badly to extremes of both ends of the temperature spectrum. 

However, it is better to keep it somewhat on the cooler side, as hot temperature can dry out the substance and render it unusable.

The best temperature though is room temperature – ambient temperatures that are not too hot or too cold, and the ones normally found in homes. 

Volume Of Use

The more you use Play Doh, the more things like grease and dirt become caked into the substance and mixed together.

These components have the potential to dry out the Play Doh quicker, and can make the lifespan of the substance far shorter than usual. 

Of course, this point goes hand in hand with the storage method employed, and the temperature it is kept at, and each has an impact on the other when it comes to ensuring longevity. 

Why Would You Harden Play Doh? 

Why Would You Harden Play Doh? 

The main reason someone would want to harden their Play Doh is to preserve the model that the child has made. 

If they have worked hard on something specific, and they wish to give it to their parents, or indeed the parent wants to preserve the model for future memories, then they might choose to use unnatural methods to ensure that it maintains shape and firmness. 

How To Harden Play Doh

If this is the case, and you wish to preserve a model that has been made by your child from Play Doh, then there are certain methods you can use to make this happen – and achieve the best possible results too. 

One of the best and easiest ways to harden and preserve Play Doh is to heat it gradually with an oven, and there are a few steps you can follow to make this happen. 

Step One

To begin, set the oven to 200 degrees fahrenheit, and allow it to heat through for a few moments so that it is up to temperature.

Then cover a baking tray with tin foil and rest your Play Doh models atop it ready for baking. 

Step Two

Place the model into the oven for roughly 10-15 minutes, being sure to check it at regular intervals to ensure it isn’t burning or becoming damaged. 

Step Three

Once you are satisfied, turn off the oven, but leave the Play Doh model in the oven to rest overnight.

This is the best way to ensure that it doesn’t crumble or crack, and will allow the model to rest into its new state ready for display. 

Step Four

The next day, take the model from the oven, and put the baking tray in the trash to avoid repeat use. You should now have a firm, intact model that you can display in any manner you choose. 

Is There A Downside To Oven Drying? 

Of course, one of the things that can go wrong when oven drying a Play Doh model is that the model itself can crack, crumble, and break. 

This happens when the temperature of the oven is too high, and the internal temperature of the Play Doh increases too high and too quickly. 

How To Stop This

The best way to stop this from happening is to keep the oven on a moderate heat, not to heat the Play Doh for too long, and by applying varnish to the heated product to keep it free from moisture, oxygen, and to hold all of the hard parts together. 

This can be applied either with a brush, or as an aerosol spray, and can work wonders to ensure your model remains firm and intact. 

Be sure to apply the varnish in a well ventilated area, and once you have applied a liberal amount to the model, allow it to air dry completely for a few hours to avoid tarnishing the surface finish, or causing unwanted, accidental breakages. 

Handy Tips

Some other handy tips when doing this include: 

  • Protect work areas with newspaper or some other covering. 
  • Keep varnished models away from direct heat or sunlight to prevent unnecessary fires. 

Final Thoughts

And there we have it, everything you need to know about Play Doh, and the best ways to harden them. 

It’s true that Play Doh has changed the game when it comes to children’s creative playtime, and allows for any number of exciting, vibrant things to be created in the comfort of their own home. 

However, if you want to save your children’s creations once they are finished, then follow these tips for the best results. Something tells me you won’t be disappointed!

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