With the rainy days of spring upon us, along with school breaks finding kids at home saying “I’m booooored!” I thought doing a play dough comparison would be fun. I don’t really know the specifics of what traditional Play Doh is made of, I believe its a proprietary recipe but the day glow colors make me wonder just what the heck my kid is playing with. Not to mention might possibly be eating. You know they all taste it once right?
So I went on a hunt for all the retail versions of natural alternatives that disclose their ingredients and possibly use safer ones. And we have a home recipe too for those that want to save a few pennies. When possible I had my 3 year old son play with each brand for a week or so to give each one a fair test. We rated them on things like pliability, texture, smell, color, price and fun factor… so now on to the showdown:
Mary’s Soft Dough
We tested Mary’s first and had a good time with it. Mary’s Soft Dough most closely resembles the texture and feel of traditional Play Doh. The colors are bright and rich, yet not day glow. She has a wide variety of colors available in 1 ounce tubs or a larger rainbow tub (my fav), which we had that includes the traditional colors, red, yellow, blue, green and purple. Most of the traditional dough is unscented but has a doughy salty smell that isn’t overpowering or weird. They also carry scented dough as well ranging from lavender to bubble gum.
This dough lasts a long time with proper storage and was durable with repeated play time. The dough didn’t dry out unless left out too long. The plastic tubs keep the dough sealed air tight to help keep them preserved. They have play sets that include a wooden rolling pin and small “cookie cutters” that made this a bit more fun.
Mary’s Soft Dough uses a basic recipe and while some of their products use regular food coloring and synthetic scents (bubble gum isn’t from nature is it?) They do have naturally scented doughs available as well which include lavender, Lemon, Orange, Peppermint, Rose and Vanilla. But overall this dough had one of the best performances during our playtime than the others.
Prices: Large Single color tubs (1lb 2oz) and Rainbow Tubs are $9.95. Small Single color Tubs (4oz) are $3.35
Get It: TerrapinToys.com
Clementine Organic Play Dough
I was excited to try Clementine Organic Play Dough because of it’s organic nature. We got a full play kit that includes 6 1 ounce jars of yummy scented dough and a few tools to play with including a bumpy rolling pin and some shape hammers all made of wood. The tools make things fun and stray from the normal cookie cutter alternative.
The kit provides you with 6 4ounce jars of naturally tinted dough ranging from a lime green to a deeper pink/red color. All the dough is made from natural ingredients and contains organic flour. The tints are made from natural vegetable extracts. My favorite part? The scents! Each color is scented with natural extracts and include lime, orange, strawberry, grape and lemon. And they all smell divine.
We loved playing with the Clementine Dough and the longer you use it the better it gets. The first few plays are a little sticky and the dough does get stuck on the table which makes the colors get mixed up a little, but it does improve when it dries out a bit. It’s crucial to keep these doughs in their containers right after use or they will dry out (like all doughs).
Prices: Play Dough Kit $38, includes 6 colors and wooden tools
Get It: Available on their website ClementineArt.com
Side Note: Clementine has a whole line of natural art supplies that are all environmentally friendly and totally non-toxic.
Over The Rain Dough Organic Play Dough
Over The Rain Dough was started by a home school mom who’s son had severe allergies. Playing with traditional Play Doh wasn’t an option for him due to the contents causing reactions so she started experimenting with dough at home. Over The Rain Dough is made from all natural organic ingredients, 100% plant based coloring and essential oils for the scents.
It comes in a “rainbow” of six 6oz colors/scents including Lemony Yellow, Cinnamony Brown, Peachy Peach, Vanilly White, Berry Pink, and Purply Grape. We had high hopes for this brand because of it’s conscious nature and organic recipe. The colors are much more subdued and “natural” looking as opposed to day-glow of traditional Play Doh and they keep in their recyclable plastic containers.
These have a really grainy texture from the salt so it’s a different feel than the other dough’s we tried. I have a problem with brown Dough in that my kid almost always says it looks like “poop” (ahhh boys) but he had fun with it anyway. This dough dries out pretty quickly so it’s crucial to keep it in their containers when you’re done. You can add a few drops of vegetable oil to revive it.
Prices: Play Dough Kit $19, includes 6 colors.
Get It: Available on RainDough.com
For My Kids Play Dough
I’ve been a fan of For My Kids, LLC for some time. We use their All Natural Hand Wash when out and about at the playground. They specialize in natural alternatives for everything from cleaning supplies and now, Play Dough! For My Kids just released their Happy Fun Dough made from a few simple ingredients and uses only natural colors from plant extracts. The dough comes in 4 ounce tins or a Super Fun Pack of all 6 colors (Natural, Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, and Yellow).
For My Kids sent us a Fun pack to give a go and we had a blast with it. I love that this dough comes in metal tins rather than plastic like the others. All the tins come in a cute little canvas baggie for storing. The colors are subtle and the dough is soft and pliable without being gritty. This dough holds up really well and I think would withstand some rougher play if you have boys into play dough. The colors weren’t as vibrant as I expected but they are soft pretty tints (And I love the natural one…very cool!) – either way no one seemed to mind. We had fun playing anyway. They use minimal ingredients and that’s what matters to us… not that my kid eats it (yet) but who knows what’ll happen if I turn my back on him.
They have a Gluten-free option made with white rice flour for those with allergies too! How nice! I trust For My Kids, LLC and am 100% confident in their attention to natural safety.
Prices: 4 0z. tins $4.99 and the Super Fun Pack (6 colors and a wood rolling pin) is $29.99
Get It: Available on their website ForMyKidsOnline.com
SafeMama Play Dough Recipe
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup salt
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
- beet, spinach, and carrot juice (or food coloring)
Instructions: Mix flour, salt and oil, and slowly add water. Cook over medium heat, stirring until dough becomes stiff. Put onto wax paper and let cool. Knead the dough with your hands until it feels right. Start playing as is, or divide into balls and add a few drops of the vegetable juices to make green, pink, and orange. You can also use a few drops of traditional food coloring.
No Cook Play Dough Recipe
- 1 C Flour
- 1/4 C Salt
- 1/3 C Water
- 1 tsp Vegetable Oil
- Food Coloring (optional)
Instructions: Combine flour, salt and oil in a bowl. Gently mix together.If you want colored play dough, add 2 to 3 drops of food coloring to 1/3 cup of water, otherwise use plain water. Gradually add water to dry ingredients, mixing with your fingers until smooth. Knead the dough with your hands until smooth and pliable (about 3 to 5 minutes). Return to step one and start over to make another color! Be sure to store the dough in an air tight container. (from eHow.com)
Price: Just the cost of supplies!
Also check out Z Recommends Travel Dough tips… dough on the go!