How do you remove playdough from clothes?
If you’ve ever had a child (or been one yourself), you know that play dough is a huge temptation.
It’s just so fun to squish and mold, and it seems like there are endless possibilities for what you can make.
However, the downside of all that fun is that sometimes playdough gets on your clothes – and it can be really tough to get out.
Why does sticky or hardened playdough stain fabrics?
Play dough doesn’t usually shed its colour, but it can do if it gets very wet. In general, it is formulated to ensure that the food colouring doesn’t transfer, so it has to get pretty wet for this to happen.
Brand-name playdough usually also contains oils. The oils are an important part of the recipe as they help to bind ingredients and create a satisfying, moldable texture.
The downside is that these oils can leave grease marks on fabric. That’s when Play-Doh can really pose stain removal problems.
In this blog post, we will provide tips and tricks for how to get play dough carefully and successfully out of clothes!
Does Play-Doh come out of clothes?
It can be tricky to know what to do if your kids get play dough stuck to their clothing. After all, you don’t want to ruin their clothes – but you also don’t want the play dough to stay there forever.
So is there anything you can do about playdough that’s stuck to clothing?
The short answer is: yes, but it may take some elbow grease (or a trip to the laundromat). The good news is that there are some things you can do to make the process easier, and we will outline those below.
Avoiding stains caused by homemade play dough
Be aware that the easy stain-removing steps in this guide are most effective when used to remove Play-Doh or other store-purchased play dough.
If you have homemade play dough stuck to an item of clothing, it may be more difficult to remove depending on the ingredients. This is especially true if it contains food colourings, which may create stubborn stains.
For that reason, we recommend you use natural colourings such as fruit juice to add colour to homemade play dough, as this will be much easier to remove than artificial dyes.
Top tips for preventing playdough stains
Hindsight is 20/20, but if you’re aware of the potential for play dough stains ahead of time, you can take steps to prevent them.
Here are some of our favourite tips:
- Use an apron or smock: This will protect your child’s clothes from playdough stains, and it can be easily removed and washed if it gets dirty.
- Put a mat under the playdough area: This will help to keep the playdough off the floor and make cleanup easier. You definitely don’t want to skip this step if you have carpet on your floor!
- Hang up clothes that have been worn during playdough time: This will prevent the playdough from accidentally getting on other items of clothing in the laundry basket.
- Wash hands after playing with playdough: This one is pretty self-explanatory, but it’s worth mentioning! Washing your hands (and your child’s hands) after playing with playdough will help to avoid accidental stains.
- Give regular clean-up reminders: Prompt children often to clean up and collect smaller pieces of playdough that have separated from the larger balls of dough. You can make this a game by challenging them to use a bigger ball of playdough to dab at smaller pieces and pick them up. Kids can race to see who can grow their ball the most within a time limit.
- Consider heading outside: Weather and location-permitting, taking playdough time outside might be one of the most sensible things you can do. This will protect your carpets and upholstery, and you can simply use a hose to spray down the play area after each session. This will help to remove any stray pieces of playdough that might be left behind.
How to remove sticky playdough from clothes
The approach you should take when trying to safely remove stains caused by playdough from clothing depends most of all on whether the playdough has dried or not.
If it’s still sticky, you need to take extra care not to spread it further and worse the dye transfer and/or grease stains.
Rubbing or scraping at wet or moist playdough will likely work it further into the fibres, which is the last thing you want to do.
Gently remove as much of the playdough as you can with your fingers or by dabbing it with a larger piece of clean play dough. Be really careful not to press or drag it.
Next, leave the playdough to harden. This will make it much easier to remove in the long run.
Drying out playdough using cornstarch
To speed up the process of hardening sticky playdough, you might want to try applying cornstarch to the affected area.
You can be quite generous with the amount of cornstarch you use, as it is extremely likely to cause any damage to clothing itself.
The cornstarch will absorb excess fluid in the playdough and dehydrate it much faster than if you just left it to dry by itself in the open air.
You’ll need to leave the cornstarch on the stain for at least 1-2 hours to give it time to work its magic.
Note that cornstarch is also known as cornflour in some parts of the world, including the UK.
Cornstarch is not to be confused with what is known as cornflour in the US, which is also made from corn but is an entirely different product.
Once the playdough has dried, you can move on to the simple stain removal steps below.
Getting dried playdough out of clothes the easy way
If you or your kids have managed to get some Play-Doh stuck to their clothing, it’s important to make sure you approach cleaning it in the right way.
Following these simple steps will give you the best chance of removing that tough stain and rescuing your item of clothing.
So read on to find out exactly what to do to remove playdough from clothes, and how to do it!
How to remove Play-Doh stains: step 1
The first step is to try and scrape off as much of the playdough as possible. A butter knife or spoon can be helpful for this. Often, the playdough will come off in large chunks if you can get a good grip on it.
Make sure you don’t use a sharp or overly pointy object such as scissors or a serrated knife to remove the playdough. You don’t want to add to your problems by snagging or tearing the fabric!
Another helpful tool to use for this step is a hard-bristled, stiff brush. Even a soft bristle toothbrush will do if you don’t have anything more suitable.
If it is really stuck on there, you may need to use your fingernails to help loosen leftover playdough up before you can scrape it off.
If it’s still soft, dabbing at it with another piece of playdough can actually help to remove it too.
Don’t scrape at the playdough unless it is dry, as scraping at wet playdough stuck to clothes will probably work more of it into the fibres and worsen the problem.
If you want it to dry more quickly to speed up the process, dust a small amount of cornstarch (also known as cornflour in the UK) on it. See above for more detailed instructions.
Leave for 1-2 hours before brushing off. This will help to dehydrate the playdough. You might want to even let it sit overnight to let it dry completely if it is very moist.
If you’re lucky, removing the top layer of playdough will also take care of any color that has transferred to the fabric.
This is more likely if the Play-Doh is stuck to dark clothing or has not been there for very long.
If this isn’t the case, and there is still a colored stain on the clothing, you can move on to step two.
Step 2: Adding dish soap and soaking
Once you’ve removed as much as you can, it’s time to treat the stain. The best way to do this is to soak the clothing in cold water for about 30 minutes.
We also recommend adding a little liquid dish soap (washing up liquid or liquid dishwashing detergent) to the water before adding the item of clothing.
Using cool water and dish soap might seem counter-intuitive as usually hot water is more effective and removing stubborn stains. You might feel tempted to just throw the clothing straight into the washing machine and run a hot water wash cycle.
However, this is an important step that you don’t want to miss. Soaking in cold instead of hot water with liquid dishwashing detergent added will help to loosen up the remaining playdough and make it easier to remove.
It’s important to use cool, soapy water, as hot water can actually set the stain and make it more difficult to remove.
Also, cooling the play dough will help to loosen its grip on the fibres in your clothing.
Dish soap is formulated to remove oils, which makes soapy water perfect for helping to remove dried Play-Doh grease from clothing.
Step 3: Washing with a cold wash cycle
After you’ve soaked the clothing for 30 minutes, remove it. Squeeze out the excess water so it is damp but not dripping wet.
Squeeze a generous amount of dishwashing detergent directly onto the playdough stain. You can also gently rub liquid dish soap onto the stain using a slightly wet rag. You can then go ahead and wash it as normal, opting for a cold water cycle.
Make sure you use a strong laundry detergent, regardless of the cycle you use. If it’s a large stain or there is actual play dough set into the clothing, wash it on its own. You don’t want to stain any other items of clothing that may come into contact with it!
Step 4: Repeat the process as necessary
Hopefully, you won’t need this step as the Play-Doh stain will have magically disappeared in your washing machine!
If the stain is still there after washing, you can repeat steps one and two until it’s gone.
If you’re still struggling to get the play dough out or the stain persists, we recommend taking it to a professional dry cleaner.
They should be able to remove play-Doh stains without any problems!
How to get playdough out of carpet
If the playdough has fallen on your carpet or upholstery, don’t worry! You can still remove it using the steps above.
The only difference is that you’ll need to be a little more careful when scraping off the play dough.
Most of us would agree that clothing is much more easily replaceable than carpets or upholstery!
Use a spoon or butter knife so you don’t damage the fibres in your carpet or snag and pull them.
Work slowly and carefully, and the Play-Doh should come off with ease. You can also use a vacuum cleaner to remove small dried playdough pieces and lingering playdough residue that is difficult to pick up by hand.
Remember not to use any hot water or steam cleaners, as this could fix grease and dye stains and make them even more difficult to get rid of.
What to do once you’ve removed play dough from your carpet
Once you’ve removed the Play-Doh, it’s always a good idea to give it a deep clean.
This will help to remove any leftover residue and also get rid of any unpleasant smells that might be lingering.
You can either hire a professional cleaner or do it yourself using an at-home carpet cleaner.
Final tips for removing playdough stains
Here are a few final tips to keep in mind when trying to remove Play-Doh from clothing
- Treating the stain as soon as possible will give you the best chance of success.
- Trying a commercial stain remover is also an option, although we would recommend testing it on a small, hidden area of the fabric first.
- An alternative to soaking the entire garment in cold water is to rub ice cubes onto the affected area for several minutes. Using ice cubes might be a better solution if you want to try simply spot-cleaning, or the clothing in question is not machine-washable.
- If the stain is quite small and not very set in, you might be able to get away with throwing it in the washing machine and skipping the other steps. However, you should still use a cold water setting to avoid setting in any grease stains left by the oils from fingers or the dough itself.
- A clever hack that can be used for any kind of clothing stain is to make a note of where the stain is, so you can check if it is truly gone after washing. You can attach a safety pin as a marker, or take a photo before you put it in the washing machine.
- Avoid using a clothes dryer with stained clothing, as it may worsen any remaining stains and make them impossible to remove. It’s always best to air-dry at room temperature, and avoid overly hot locations such as a sunny window too.
- Rubbing alcohol can be a useful additional product to use because it acts as a degreaser. Simply blot the dried Play-Doh stain with a clean, wet wash rag, cotton ball, cloth or damp paper towel dipped in the rubbing alcohol, being careful not to rub or wipe as this may smear and spread the grease.
We hope this guide has been helpful and you’re now on your way to removing sticky or dried play dough stains like a pro! If you have any other tips or tricks, please share them with us so we can let other families know too.
Find out how to make playdough soft again and never waste dried out playdough again!
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