The best natural and non toxic playdough. 6 brands of kid approved natural and non toxic playdough, plus 7 DIY recipes if you prefer homemade.
Ever since my kiddo hit the toddler stage, she is obsessed with play dough. We play with it daily, it seems. And she is constantly coming up with different, super creative ways to use it.
We roll it, and use shape cutters to create animals and vehicles and pretend cookies.
We also roll it into wiggly worms, dangling them from between our fingers and while she exclaims “wow!” and “wiggly worms” and squeals with excitement.
Currently, her preferred way to use play dough is as a “muddy puddle” that she drives her toy cars through. She then informs me her cars are stuck. And demands we get her tow truck toy to rescue the other cars from the play dough puddle (she is also obsessed with cars and driving).
It’s crazy how much imagination toddlers can tap into when playing with play dough, and it never ceases to impress me when I watch their little brains work.
Wanting to spice things up a bit and find some cool and unique play dough that we could add to our collection, I recently went on a research binge to find some unique play dough that would satisfy both my daughter’s desire for bright colors and easily malleable dough, and my desire to support small companies and use mostly natural and non toxic products at home.
Added bonus: I don’t have to make it myself. While I’m all for using your favorite homemade dough recipe, some weeks I just don’t have the time or energy. Natural and non toxic playdough that I can buy, not make, counts for a lot during the weeks when we’re really busy. Especially at this particular point in life, when everyone is exhausted from the years that were 2020 and 2021 to date.
What came out of that research is this list of the best non toxic playdough I could find.
Because I know you might also be interested in finding a cool new recipe for when you do have the time, I’ve also included some DIY non toxic playdough recipes you can make if you prefer homemade!
If you’re ready to get your dough on, keep reading for the sticky details!
The Best Child Friendly and Non Toxic Playdough Brands
- Dough Project – Completely non toxic, completely natural, this is small batch and artisan play dough at its finest! The Dough Project is the brainchild of a preschool teacher. Both wet and dry ingredients are all natural plant-based. For example, organic wheat flour, sea salt, veggie oil and cream of tartar form the dry ingredients, and plant-based coloring to gives the awesome colors (beets, turmeric, spirulina, purple carrot, annatto seed, chlorophyll and activated charcoal, etc). You can buy it directly from Dough Project.
- Dough Parlour – Dough Parlour is super fancy dough that kids will love! Founded by an early childhood educator, Natalie spent 10 years revising the recipe, until she achieved play dough perfection! Dough Parlour infuses each type of dough with a unique, often nostalgic scent from 100% food based sources, as well as super vibrant colors. Made in Canada from natural ingredients, with no artificial coloring to achieve the scents (they use food grade essential oils only). Available for purchase through The Tot.
- Land of Dough – Each Land of Dough cup is like an entire universe of learning inside. They make themed play dough cups like Planet Earth and Unicorn Dream, make it all in the USA, and ship it in compostable packaging. Yay! They also use eco friendly ingredients, including compostable glitter, so you can enjoy the fun of glitter guilt free. The food coloring is plant based, and their manufacturing process makes use of wind power and reclaimed landfill gas. Natural ingredients and scents. Available for purchase through The Tot.
In addition to my three top choices, Eco Dough, Green Toys Dough, and Colorations also fit the bill. One great thing about Colorations is they offer gluten free dough for celiac families or families that prefer gluten free (they have both gluten and non gluten versions).
6 Non Toxic Playdough Companies to Try
Created by a preschool teacher who is all too familiar with the captivating effect that playdough has on children, this product is a completely non-toxic alternative and comes in a variety of fun packages.
Dough Project makes their dough from all-natural ingredients including wheat flour, sea salt and cream of tartar. And the nine vibrant colors come from plant-based sources like turmeric, beet powder and purple carrot derived food coloring.
If you want even more hands-on playing, you can also order the DIY dry mix and make the dough fresh at home. This mix has everything you need to make the playdough but does require some stovetop cooking at medium heat, so mom or dad will have to help a bit.
Many of the kits come with a real wood rolling pin, and as a bonus, you can customize the lids of the jars with a special message or your kiddo’s name for a special touch.
Shipping is free on all orders over $75.00. You can shop right through their website!
Created to provide sensory stimulation through vibrant colors, a soft texture and even sweet scents, this dough is the successful brainchild of an early education professional and mom.
The dough is made from completely non-toxic materials and dyes. Even the fun and enchanting scents are food-based, and the texture is a perfect balance of pliability and functionality. It is water-based, so if it gets a little dry, you can rehydrate it for hours of additional playtime.
New colors and scents are released seasonally, keeping the excitement and apprehension fresh for every pack you get. The dough is far fancier than anything I could do as homemade playdough, which I love. But it’s still natural, so you don’t have to worry about icky ingredients.
They are available in three-packs, six-packs and a larger collectors set with 12 playdough tubs. Themed and seasonal kits often contain fun accessories like rolling pins and cookie cutters. And as a bonus, they come in adorable, gift-ready packaging that will immediately delight its recipient.
Dough Parlour playdough has a shelf life of about six months and shipping is free on orders of $75.00 or more.
Completely non-toxic and full of whimsical wonder, this dough comes in brilliant kits and tubs that effortlessly blend play and learning.
This dough is the epitome of visual fascination. The colors are bright and vivid with compostable glitter thrown into every cup.
Each tub is a handmade display of art, with a skillfully molded scene on the top. Once your kiddo breaks the surface, untold treasures and discoveries await in the bottom layers of dough. The Planet Earth Luxe Cup, for example, looks like a blue and green earth on top, but once they dig in, they’ll find all of the bright red and orange layers of the earth’s core.
You can buy the cups by themselves or buy a kit. The learning numbers kit comes with two large tubes of glittery dough in two different color schemes, along with a set of wooden numbers that your kiddo can use to stamp or mold numbers. They will build familiarity to the numbers without even noticing that they’re learning.
Unopened, this dough will last for a year. Once opened, this playdough will last for about two hours of playtime before you will need to rehydrate it.
Made of all-natural ingredients that are both functional and soothing, this playdough comes in vibrant colors that are sure to keep your little one engaged and happy.
This dough uses a dry ingredients base of flour, salt and cream of tartar. It also has rosemary oil, vitamin E oil and coconut oil, among others. These oils are not only all-natural, but are also incredibly soothing for your little one’s skin. Coconut oil is great for kids’ skin, because it’s gentle, natural, and hydrating.
The colors are void of any synthetic food coloring and are sourced from food products like beets, spinach and carrots.
As a bonus, they are made in the USA, and the cups are made from recycled plastic.
This playdough is one of the most economic while simultaneously delivering on quality. It is completely non-toxic and even meets FDA food contact standards.
You won’t have to worry about harsh chemicals like BPA, phthalates or PVC while your kiddo plays with this playdough. And the flour that serves as the base is organic and produced in a food-safe facility.
Each set comes with one tub each of blue, red, green and yellow, and happy customers have raved about the impressively long shelf life.
If you couldn’t already tell by the name, this dough is one of the most vibrant available, and it is made from ingredients that are safe for kids who are prone to allergies.
The set comes with 14 different fun colors, allowing for plenty of imaginative play. They are the perfect soft texture for little hands, and even though the colors are bright, they will not stain surfaces or clothes.
It is free of peanuts, tree nuts, soy, dairy and eggs. And they also make a dough that is gluten-free for people or kiddos who suffer from severe gluten allergies or celiac disease.
As a bonus, it is touted to have a long shelf-life and a pleasant smell.
Benefits of Play Dough for Toddlers and Young Kids
Playdough is one of those magical childhood toys. I remember playing with it in my own childhood. And I even have vague memories of my mom standing at the stove making her own homemade playdough recipe, which I then got to help color and knead before playing with it.
One of the most wonderful things about playdough is how open-ended it is as a toy, letting kids decide how they want to use it, or taking gentle direction from you.
Here are a few ideas of how to use playdough, and why homemade playdough is such a great toy for kids as young as two!
Developing Skills Across the STEAM Disciplines
Have you heard? STEAM is the new STEM! Whereas STEM covers Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, STEAM takes it a step further by incorporating Art, a nod to how important creativity is for the economy of the future!
How can store bought or homemade playdough be used in developing STEAM skills and knowledge, you ask?
- Use playdough to help young kids form basic shapes, letters and numbers, or help older kids spell out simple words.
- Teach addition and subtraction by making mini playdough balls out of a larger batch, and having your kids add and take away from a collection and count as they do it. You can similarly teach multiplication and division using groups of small playdough balls.
- Help your kids understand fractions by cutting playdough pies into different pieces, and playing around with different configurations.
- Teach preschool science concepts like prediction (what will happen if we mix red playdough and blue playdough?) and observation (looking at parts of a flower and trying to make their own).
- Building structures, towers and sculptures.
- Letting their creativity run wild!
Encouraging Fine Motor Skills
Playing with playdough is a great way for toddlers to practice their fine motor skills. They have to roll the dough, cut the dough (I like to offer a combo of cutters and plastic knives so they can cut as they please), pick up fine pieces and place them on their creations, make tiny eyes and other expressions…it’s a fine motor skills explosion!
Imaginative, Independent and Sensory Play
Whenever I plop a few playdough balls down for my 2-year-old daughter, she’ll spend 20 to 30 minutes playing independently and quietly. It’s like magic!
Young kids can’t help but see the possibility contained within playdough. And, of course, getting their hands sticky and messy with bright, beautiful playdough globs is pretty much irrisitable!
What to Look for When Shopping for Non Toxic Playdough
My preference is for natural food coloring, using food based ingredients and things you’d find in your garden or fridge. While the “normal” food coloring you buy in the store is of course food safe, I prefer more natural food coloring when possible, as a better choice for my family and the earth!
That said, you do you mama: I’ve definitely used “normal” food coloring before (like in my silky smooth playdough recipe), and will again at some point!
If you plan on buying non toxic playdough, the companies above use natural materials, including food coloring.
However, if you want to make your own homemade version, McCormick makes a plant, vegetable, and seed based food coloring that’s worth checking out.
For “normal” non toxic playdough, the most common dry ingredients include cream of tartar, flour and salt. If you buy natural playdough, check out what the playdough base is made from. This way, you can be sure there aren’t any ingredients you don’t want.
If making playdough at home, cream of tartar is one of those weird, divisive ingredients. Cream of tartar is expensive compared to the other typical playdough ingredients. And that explains why some people prefer to make their dough without it!
The DIY recipes below include those with and those without cream of tartar, so you can decide!
Wet ingredients in a playdough recipe typically include water, and oil of some sort (i.e. Olive Oil or Coconut Oil). Be on the lookout for any ingredients other than these basics.
Natural playdough doesn’t have any chemicals preservatives in it. Therefore, you should consider shelf life.
Before hitting the buy button, check out the estimated shelf life. See if the company offers any tips for rehydrating the dough if it does dry out.
Raw vs Heat Treated Flour for Edible Playdough Recipes
Worth noting if you plan on making your own homemade no-cook playdough, heat treat the flour. If you think your child might put the dough in their mouth, heat treat it to prevent food borne illness.
Flour is a raw food. That means it hasn’t been heat treated to kill any germs that are lurking within, such as E. coli. In fact, the CDC recommends not eating any foods containing raw flour. And that includes some of the homemade edible playdough recipes I have below. To make flour safe to eat, it needs to reach an internal temperature of 165°F throughout!
You can use either the microwave or oven method for heat treating your flour before making your playdough recipe. See step by step instructions here.
DIY Non Toxic Playdough
Of course, you can also whip up a batch of non toxic playdough on your own. In this case, you use ingredients in your pantry, and know exactly what’s inside!
I reached out to some blogger friends to get an idea of what their kids’ favorite homemade playdough recipes are. Check out the amazing creativity below!