Play Dough: the zero-waste recipe

Back in March, I shared about how much we love our homemade zero-waste play dough.

At the time my husband was modifying recipes to find a good formula so I wasn’t able to share one with you. We are finished experimenting, it lasts for months in our yogurt tub, and I have it to share with you!

  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour (the higher the gluten content the better)
  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • 1.5 cups of hot water (not boiling but hot – microwave normal settings for 1.5 minutes works great)
  • 1/2 tsp of citric acid or 6 tbsp of lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp oil (we use olive oil)


  • food coloring
    • We use Watkins natural food coloring. I purchased ours at Natural Grocer’s but it’s also available on Amazon.
    • Be mindful of the color and how much you use. I think our current batch looks like strawberry ice cream and it always makes me want to eat it. If your child is inclined to put things in their mouth still you may want to make the dough darker or a non-food color.
  • cloves (or some other pleasant smelling herb)
    • My husband thought the clove would be enjoyable. The play dough doesn’t have a strong smell, especially since this version doesn’t use vinegar, so it’s just to be fun.
  • Knead the batter for 6-8 minutes. The longer the better.
  • Store in an airtight container. We use a yogurt tub with lid.

You see here our cardboard salt canister, bulk citric acid in a reusable mason jar, large olive oil (which comes in bulk at many stores), and not pictured is our flour which comes in paper bags but is also available in bulk at many stores.

Compost the play dough when it’s no longer usable!

Zero-Waste/Cost Savings:
If you don’t want to buy ingredients in bulk, if you are going to use a lot of something consider buying larger versions. It’s usually more cost effective to buy a large container versus several small containers over time if you can afford it, have the room to store it, and will use it by the expiration date. For example one larger bottle of oil uses less plastic than several small bottles, costs less per ounce, and is easier to recycle because the sorting machinery can see bigger items easier and the large size makes it easier to clean.

Let me know how this works for you! I’d love to see pictures! Have fun!

You may also like:

Homemade Zero-waste Play Dough

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *