Watching your kids or grandkids roll playdough snakes will bring a smile to your face. But playdough playtime too often results in sticky dough smashed into the carpet or smeared on clothes. After you scrape the sticky residue off your kitchen table, you may find yourself wondering how to get playdough out of clothes.
The best way to get playdough out of clothes is to scrape away the dough and then wash the clothing with a strong detergent in your washing machine. Dishwashing soap also handles fresh playdough stains quite well. For dried or set-in playdough stains, pine sol, rubbing alcohol, or cornstarch may do the trick.
In this article, you will learn five simple ways to get playdough stains out of clothes. You will also find tips on getting this sticky paste out of hair and carpets! As a bonus, you will also discover strategies for removing silly putty and slime from clothes.
What Makes Playdough Stains so Tough?
Playdough stains can adhere to clothing when moisture causes the dough to dissolve or the dye to leak out. Most of the time, removing freshly squished playdough from your clothes or carpet is pretty easy, as you will see in the cleaning methods described in this article! But two factors can make playdough difficult to clean.
First, dried-out playdough can prove more challenging to remove than fresh playdough in some circumstances. This is especially true if you accidentally washed and dried a clothing item before realizing that it had playdough embedded in the fabric!
Second, playdough does not usually leak dye, but it can if it gets wet. This can lead to dye stains on clothing as well.
Most brand-name playdough contains wheat, salt, water, and coloring agents. As a kid-friendly product, it should always come with the assurance that it is non-toxic. That said, some parents worry about the bright dyes used in this squishy toy and prefer to make homemade playdough.
You can make homemade playdough easily using the same ingredients: flour, water, and salt. You may find yourself tempted to add a few drops of food coloring to brighten your homemade mixture. Please don’t!
Getting food coloring stains out of your child’s clothes is a hassle you do not want to deal with. Instead, try using all-natural dyes made from ingredients like turmeric or blueberries. You can still create vivid colors, but you can do so safely with less chance of making difficult stains!
Does Play-Doh Wash Out of Clothes?
Most of the time, Play-doh will wash out of clothes with very little extra effort. Nine times out of ten you could probably just throw clothes in the washer on a cold-water setting and the wheat-based dough will just dissolve right out of the fabric.
You do not want to use hot water to wash play-doh-stained clothing as this could cause more dye to leak out and set in the fibers of your clothes. You also do not want to use hot water on carpet or upholstery stained with playdough!
That said, you will get the best results if you add a few additional steps to make sure the playdough and any leaking dye do not damage your clothing.
How to Get Playdough Out of Clothes: 5 Methods
You can get playdough out of clothes using your washing machine or common household products such as cornstarch or dish soap.
If you catch the playdough while it is still soft and squishy, you can remove most of it from the fabric by dabbing gently with a larger piece of playdough. This cleaning method also works great on any hard surface like a kitchen table or tile floor!
You should not try to scrape away the dough from the fabric, though, as this could embed the wet material more firmly in the fabric. Instead, let it dry and then use a stiff brush to scrape away dusty particles of playdough.
Once you have most of the dough off the clothing, try any of these five easy methods to remove any lingering playdough stain.
1. Washing Machine
Your washing machine does a great job agitating and soaking stained areas in your clothing, and it will successfully remove many playdough stains without additional steps. In some cases, you may want to apply a commercial stain remover during this process besides adding your normal laundry detergent to the washing machine.
- Allow the playdough to dry if it does not seem all the way hard. This way, you can avoid smearing it more deeply into the clothing while you try to remove it.
- Use a brush with stiff bristles to scrape away flakes of dried dough. For most small stains, this just takes a minute!
- Inspect the garment closely. Do you see any color staining the fabric? If so, apply a commercial stain remover according to the product directions.
- Put a safety pin in the clothing near the stain. This helps later on as you check to see if the stain came out!
- Place the garment in your washing machine by itself, just to be safe. Honestly, a tiny amount of playdough in one garment probably will not transfer to other items in the wash, but it’s up to you whether or not you want to risk it!
- Set your machine to a cold wash and add a normal amount of detergent.
- When the cycle ends, take the garment out and hold it under a bright light to see if you can still detect any color. The safety pin will help you find this part of the garment easily!
- If the stain is gone, hang up the clothing to air dry. If you still see traces of playdough, repeat this method.
- Do not place the clothing in the dryer, as this will cause any remaining stains to set into the fabric!
2. CornstarchIf you’re in a hurry to handle playdough stains in clothing, try using cornstarch to speed up the process!
Most of you probably have cornstarch in your pantry, and you can also buy it at the grocery store for just a couple of dollars. This fine powder works as a dehydrating agent to make the playdough cleaning process go more quickly!
- Place the clothing on a flat surface with the stained area facing up.
- Dump a good handful of cornstarch right on top of the playdough. You can do this while the dough remains wet and sticky! Make sure the cornstarch mounds up and entirely covers the stain.
- Allow this to sit for one to two hours.
- Carefully hold the garment over a trashcan or kitchen sink and shake away the cornstarch. Most of the playdough should come away with it!
- If any dried playdough lingers, use a stiff brush to pry it away from the fabric.
- Finally, wash the garment as usual in your washing machine.
You can also use baby powder in place of cornstarch for this method if you like the way it smells!
3. Dishwashing SoapNext to just throwing your playdough-stained clothes in the washer, the dishwashing soap method is probably the most popular. It allows you a bit more control over the process and lets you specifically treat the stained area. Plus, it’s highly effective for both store-bought and homemade playdough stains!
- Pretreat the stain by letting it dry and using a stiff brush to remove most of the residue. For old stains, you can skip this step!
- Fill a bowl with cool water and enough dishwashing soap to form a nice layer of bubbles.
- Submerge the stained area of your clothing in this solution and let it soak for thirty minutes.
- Rinse the stained area under cool running water and inspect the garment to see if you still see any staining.
- If so, apply about half a teaspoon of dish soap directly to the stain. Use your finger to gently rub this soap into the fabric.
- Finally, put the garment in your washing machine and wash it on a cold water cycle.
The dish soap should remove any dye or the greasy residue sometimes left by playdough!
4. Pine-SolBelieve it or not, this common household cleaning product can often remove stubborn dried-in playdough stains from clothing. This works because Pine Soll acts as a degreasing agent.
This method comes in especially handy if your little one hid a chunk of playdough in a pocket, and you didn’t notice before it went through the wash! Getting dried-in gunk out of clothes might seem impossible, but this cleaning product makes it much easier.
There’s not much to this simple method!
- If you find a bit of dried playdough from long ago embedded in your child’s clothing, try to scrape away some of the hard substance using a stiff brush.
- Insert a safety pin beside the stain to make finding this part of the garment easy.
- Pour a small dollop of Pine-Sol right on top of the gunky stain.
- Let this sit for ten to fifteen minutes.
- Put the garment in your washing machine by itself.
- Run a cold-water wash cycle with normal detergent.
- After this, inspect the garment to see if any staining remains.
- If your washing machine or the clothing still smells like Pine-Sol, you may want to run one more wash cycle with just detergent to get rid of the smell.
5. Rubbing AlcoholRubbing alcohol can effectively remove many types of stains, including playdough residue. Like Pine-Sol, rubbing alcohol can act as a degreaser and break down stains that soap may not touch. It can also remove many types of ink or dye stains, meaning that it works great if the playdough leaks dye into your clothing!
- Use a stiff brush to scrape away as much dried dough as possible.
- Soak a clean white rag in rubbing alcohol.
- Blot the playdough with the wet rag. Do not rub at the stain, as this could smear color over a wider area.
- Do you see dough or dye transferring to the white cloth? If so, keep going! Just use a new, clean corner of the rag and continue blotting until you no longer see a visible stain on the garment.
- Fill a bowl with cold water and add just a dab of dish soap or laundry detergent.
- Swish the stained area through this solution to remove the rubbing alcohol. If you skip this step, the alcohol could linger in the garment, spreading any remaining dye particles further into the clothing.
- Finally, wash the garment in your washing machine on a cold water cycle.
How to Get Dried Playdough Out of Clothes
The best way to get dried playdough out of clothes is to try the PineSol method described above. This product will break down clinging bits of food matter like the wheat and salt that comprise playdough.
You can use PineSol on freshly dried playdough, but it excels at those stains that have already gone through the wash and seem impossibly dried on.
That said, if you find an old playdough stain and you see a lot of dye bleeding into the garment, you may want to use rubbing alcohol instead. This household product does a really good job blotting colorful stains out of clothing.
How to Remove Playdough From Carpet
You can remove playdough from a carpet using hydrogen peroxide or basic soap and water. The key thing to remember during this process is that you do not want to apply any heat. Do not use hot water, and do not apply a carpet steamer!
- First, find out if the playdough has hardened or if it remains soft.
- For soft playdough, try lightly dabbing at it with a larger chunk of wet playdough to see if you can lift away some of the sticking dough.
- Once you cannot lift any more playdough, allow the residue to sit and harden for an hour to two hours.
- If you found the playdough already dry, skip that step and use a stiff brush to flake away most of the hardened playdough.
- Use a vacuum nozzle to get up the loose bits of dried dough.
- Next, fill a small bowl with either cold water and a squirt of dish soap or 3% hydrogen peroxide.
- Soak a clean white rag in this solution and blot the stained area on the carpet. Each time you see color on the white rag, move to a clean area of the cloth and keep blotting.
- When you no longer see the stain on the carpet, get a second clean cloth and soak it in cold water. Use this cloth to rinse the soap or peroxide out of the carpet.
- Allow the carpet to air dry.
How to Get Playdough Out of Hair
Getting dried playdough out of hair isn’t that difficult if you correctly apply soapy water.
If your little one had a playdough playtime yesterday and you just discovered a pebble-sized chunk of dried dough tangled up in her hair, don’t panic! There is no need to reach for the scissors just yet.
Instead, set up a fun bath time with lots of water toys to distract your child.
- Mix four cups of comfortably hot water with a squirt of dish soap.
- Soak a clean washcloth in this solution.
- Wrap the hot washcloth around the chunk of playdough and hair.
- Use your fingers to massage the washcloth around the dough until you feel it start to break up and dissolve.
- Gently draw the washcloth down the strand of hair, pulling out the dampened playdough chunks.
- Soak the washcloth again and repeat as necessary until you no longer see the playdough.
- Wash the hair using shampoo and conditioner to keep it from drying out from the dish soap.
In this case, it’s ok to use hot water on playdough. The playdough almost certainly will not stain hair! Plus, adding heat will dissolve the dried dough more quickly and let you get it out of the hair more easily.
How to Get Slime Out of Clothes
Getting slime out of clothes requires a slightly different method but does not usually take more work than removing playdough from clothes.
Most commercial or homemade toy slimes for kids contain something called borax, an ingredient used in some soaps. Some commercial toy slime may contain certain types of gums instead.
You can treat slime stains using white vinegar, a clean rag, and an old toothbrush.
- Scrape away bits of dried slime using the old toothbrush. Rinse the brush under hot water to remove flakes of slime.
- Soak your clean rag in white vinegar. Lay this over the stained area and let it sit for five to ten minutes to loosen the stain.
- Use the toothbrush on the stain again, rubbing in small circles. The remaining slime should begin to flake away.
- Rinse the area under cool running water. Do you see any more slime stain? If so, repeat the vinegar process.
- Once the stain is gone, wash the garment as usual in your washing machine, using a cold water setting.
How to Get Silly Putty Out of Clothes
Getting Silly Putty stains out of clothing seems difficult, but you can use rubbing alcohol or vinegar pretty easy to get rid of these stains.
Silly Putty has entertained kids since the 1950s, but it does tend to stick to everything it touches and leave messy stains in its wake! This sticky substance usually contains silicone and commercial dyes. The stickiness and the dye can cause problems when it comes into contact with the fabric.
- If you find a fresh putty stain, you should apply ice cubes to make the putty harden. This allows you to peel away the putty entirely in some cases.
- If dye stains remain, try using the rubbing alcohol methods described earlier in this article. This will effectively lift away dye particles from the clothing.
- If bits of silly putty remain after the ice cube step, try using white vinegar. Soak a clean white rag in white vinegar. Blot the stain with the rag until you can no longer see it in the garment.
- Finally, wash the garment in your washing machine on a cold water cycle.
No one enjoys finding a rough bit of ancient playdough embedded in a shirt or pair of jeans, but the good news is that you can easily remove even old playdough stains with a few simple methods! Fresh playdough stains will normally come out of clothing during a cold water wash in the washing machine. More stubborn stains will come out when treated with pine sol, cornstarch, dish soap, or rubbing alcohol.
To get playdough out of a carpet, vacuum up dough flakes and then use a damp rag soaked in cold soapy water to blot the stain away. For playdough in hair, a washcloth soaked in hot soapy water should do the trick!
Have you ever found a pocketful of playdough in your laundry? How did you treat the stain? Leave a comment below to let us know!