Bath Time Play Dough (with Video)

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We’ve been making a few fun bath products for grown-ups recently, like our Coffee Sugar Scrub, so I thought it would be only fair to make something fun for the kids. We’ve already experimented with homemade fizzy bath bombs so this time we tried making Play Dough Soap – a bath time play dough that actually helps kids get clean!

How to make homemade play dough soap - a fun idea for bath time sensory play, this play dough soap actually suds up and cleans and doesn't leave any residue on your bath

Play Dough Soap Recipe

I don’t know why, but for an aspiring mermaid my daughter really tries to avoid taking a bath!

I don’t think she’s ever asked to take a bath, and when I tell her it’s time to get ready for a bath, about half the time she tries to argue that she just had a bath. (“But Mom, I had a bath just last week…” I kid, I kid. The longest I’d let her go is maybe three days. They’re cute but boy, can these kids get smelly!)

Recently, I’ve started putting more attention into making bath time fun for her. Reading stories in the bathroom as she has a bath, adding a few waterproof toys and plastic cups, and recently – with this awesome play dough soap!

My daughter thought I had lost my mind when I surprised her with these three play dough soaps for a recent bath – but she wasn’t about to correct me that play dough does not go in the bath tub! She was so excited to play with it that she completely forgot her ritual protest!

This recipe makes an incredibly soft, squishy (but not messy) play dough that when wet suds up a bit and actually cleans, while being gentle for sensitive skin.

It doesn’t leave residue on the bath and washes completely clean – don’t worry about the food dye, it will only dye your hands when you’re making the soap! (It washes off within a couple hand washings but if that would bother you, plastic disposable gloves are a great solution – or feel free to leave the dye out completely.)

Soap play dough is such a cool variation on traditional no-cook play dough recipes

Play Dough Soap is a great gift to make for a child who needs a bit of convincing to agree to a bath – or some distraction to survive hair washing! I love it as an alternative to bath toys which just add clutter to our tiny bathroom. It would also make an awesome DIY party favour, especially if the kids get sent home a little bit messy or sweaty.

I did a bit of research before sharing this recipe, and you can purchase play dough soap from specialty bath stores like Lush (or online from Amazon here). We tried theirs out but it was more clay-like than play dough-like – it wasn’t squishy or easy to play with. I personally wanted something I could make with what I already had in the house and I don’t want to be experimenting with recipes involving lye or strong chemicals in the house. Our recipe is a lot more like a traditional play dough than those versions.

(Update: there are now some Etsy sellers selling versions that are closer to ours that would be a good option if you didn’t want to make it yourself.)

This recipe is mostly meant for some bath time sensory play that adds a bit of sudsy cleansing action to the bath. It’s not going to be as soapy or cleansing as a bar of soap, though it will get your kids clean!

I actually really enjoy this play dough soap for helping clean under finger nails which it is surprisingly good at.

We also had lots of requests for a gluten-free play dough soap which you can now find here – and this recipe is a bit more sudsy than our original recipe. It’s also only 3-ingredients and doesn’t contain salt, so for those who are worried that the salt will dry out their kids’ skin, this may be a better option for you.

Do I have to use castile soap? We’ve now tried the recipe with a few different types of soaps (gel soaps, creamy body washes, etc). I still prefer Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap – it has had the most consistent results and the soap already contains some coconut oil, which helps this soap stay soft.

Can I skip the salt? Salt acts as a preservative, and also adds texture and body to the play dough. It can be skipped, but you dough will be softer and will not last as long. Increase the cream of tartar to help extend the shelf life a bit more. (While we have not had an issue with the salt being “scratchy” I have had one reader comment that she had this issue.)

Doesn’t the food dye stain the bath or skin? We have never had any issues using food dye in our soaps, bath bombs, etc, however you can use soap coloring to dye this play dough soap if you’d like to be sure.

What oils work best in this recipe? We tend to use almond oil (I use it on my skin daily and love it), but olive oil, avocado oil or coconut oil will work well. The coconut oil does harden at room temperature, so your dough may seem a bit more stiff at first but will soften with play.

Check out our video for how to make this Bath Time Soap, and then don’t forget to scroll down to grab your free printable recipe:

 

How to make play dough soap - the most fun way to get clean!

Ingredients to Make Play Dough Soap

First, gather your ingredients:

  • Castile soap (I used Dr. Bronner’s)
  • All-purpose flour
  • Salt <– if you decide to skip the salt, increase the cream of tartar to 1/2 cup
  • Cream of Tartar <– we make a LOT of play dough so it’s soooo much cheaper for us to buy the bulk container of it, rather than the little $4 jars that only last for 2 batches.
  • Oil <– almond, olive, avocado or coconut oil all work well
  • Water
  • Food dye, optional <– can use soap coloring

Scroll down to the printable recipe card for full measurements.

Tools You May Find Helpful:

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Kettle or pan for boiling water
  • Wooden spoon
  • Mason jar or plastic container, for storing
Doesn't this homemade play dough soap look like fun? 10 minutes of prep for over a month's supply - kids will love getting clean with this fun sensory play material

How to Make Play Dough Soap

Start off by boiling your water.

Stir 3 cups of flour, salt, and cream of tartar together. Set aside.

Measure 2 cups of boiling water and add the oil to it. If you are only adding one colour of food dye, you can add it now.

How to make play dough soap - we used Dr Bronner's Castille soap to make our homemade play dough soap

Add 1 cup of the soap. I used lavender Castile soap because it is a pure soap and for the calming effects of lavender during a night time bath. If you try this recipe with a non-castille soap, please let me know how it turns out!

Mix the water-oil and flour mixtures until fully incorporated.

Once the dough has cooled enough for safe handling, start kneading it, adding in more flour to reduce stickiness. Once you get a good texture going, add a couple squirts of castille soap and keep kneading. Add more soap to get a soft dough but stop short of letting it get sticky again. I added just over 1 1/2 cups of soap and probably could have added more (or you can add an extra squirt of soap while your child is playing with it in the bathtub for more sudsy play).

Are you planning on giving this Play Dough Soap a try? Be sure to pin it to make your bath times a bit more fun!

Make bath time more fun with this squishy bath time play dough that actually helps kids get clean as they play! A fun play dough soap that will last for months

Grab your free printable recipe card for this play dough soap recipe here:

Yield: 2-3 cups

Bath Time Play Dough

Bath Time Play Dough

A squishy, sudsy soap play dough that makes bath time so much more fun!

Prep Time 3 minutes
Active Time 10 minutes
Total Time 13 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost $5

Materials

  • 1-2 cups Castile soap (I used Dr. Bronner's)
  • 3 cups + flour
  • 1 1/2 cups salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Cream of Tartar
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 2 cups water
  • Food dye, optional

Tools

  • Mason jar or plastic container, for storing
  • Large bowl
  • Kettle or pan for boiling water
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Wooden spoon

Instructions

  1. Start off by boiling your water.
  2. Stir 3 cups of flour, salt, and cream of tartar together. Set aside.
  3. Measure 2 cups of boiling water and add the oil to it. If you are only adding one colour of food dye, you can add it now
  4. Add 1 cup of the soap. I used lavender Castile soap because it is a pure soap and for the calming effects of lavender during a night time bath. If you try this recipe with a non-castille soap, please let me know how it turns out!
  5. Mix the water-oil and flour mixtures until fully incorporated.
  6. Once the dough has cooled enough for safe handling, start kneading it, adding in more flour to reduce stickiness. Once you get a good texture going, add a couple squirts of castille soap and keep kneading. Add more soap to get a soft dough but stop short of letting it get sticky again. I added just over 1 1/2 cups of soap and probably could have added more (or you can add an extra squirt of soap while your child is playing with it in the bathtub for more sudsy play).

Pin this Project for Later

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

How to make homemade play dough soap

This recipe made a giant batch of play dough soap – enough for over a month’s worth of baths! It completely dissolves in the bath and can be washed away, so I don’t worry about how big of a handful Ella grabs before climbing in the bath.

Check out these other play dough recipes made with soap from my fellow mom bloggers:

Easy Soap Dough Play Recipe | Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tail

Dish Soap Play Dough Recipe | Sugar Aunts

For more amazing DIY Soap recipes from us, check our our Jiggly Jelly Soap recipe or our Mermaid Tail Soaps recipe.

This play dough soap is the most fun bath time sensory play idea - squishy, sudsy with no mess AND it actually helps the kids get clean!  How to make homemade play dough soap - a fun idea for bath time sensory play, this play dough soap actually suds up and cleans and doesn't leave any residue on your bath  Make bath time more fun with this squishy bath time play dough that actually helps kids get clean as they play! A fun play dough soap that will last for months  This play dough soap is the most fun bath time sensory play idea - squishy, sudsy with no mess AND it actually helps the kids get clean!

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49 Comments

    1. I’m just getting into making the bath I’m s for my granddaughter and love this blog but I was wondering-once you get your child to bath more frequently won’t the flour glitter and other such products cause the drain to clog ?

      1. Hi Connie,
        My daughter tends to just use it as a “toy” in the bath so her mess mostly stays on the side of the tub, but it wouldn’t do any more damage/clogging than washing dishes after baking.

    1. I’m sorry – I didn’t get a notification of a new comment on this post.
      I am going to be experimenting with a cornstarch version and will update you when it’s up. I just got the ingredients 🙂

    1. Try http://www.gfjules.com/ I don’t buy any flour except hers. I even use it to make my GF 5 tier wedding cake and I got a ton kudos. If the recipe calls for 2 cups of flour, you just use 2 cups of jules flour. I don’t use anything else but her flour. There isn’t anything I can’t bake, use for gravies, it is awesome.

    1. I made this last night in 4 colors. After I combined the wet and dry ingredients, I separated the dough into 4 bowls and added the coloring then, before kneading each color individually. It worked out perfectly – hope that helps!

      1. Thank you, Erin! (Sorry, we are ALL sick in this house this week – we went to an wedding out of the country last weekend and came back with all sorts of illness, lol)

        I personally will have 4 bowls on the go and just halve the recipes into each, because I dislike having to knead the colours in afterwards, but yes – kneading the colours in afterwards is the best way to only make one batch and reduce dishes. I’ll edit the post to reflect because I can see that I totally skipped that step!

        We also made a gluten-free option this week with only 3 ingredients, so I’ll post that this weekend and drop the link in here.

    1. Hi Rel!
      I’m so glad it works out for you 🙂
      I just kept it in a plastic bag in the bathroom and it’s done well (no mold or consistency change), but if you have room in the fridge that is a great option to store the excess. When I made the multiple colours for the pictures above I sent some over to friends’ houses so their kids could enjoy it, too

  1. I really want to try making this for a few gifts for Xmas. Can you please tell me the reason for the cream of tartar please and also the oil? I can only order castile soap online which is fine but I wondered what else would work well for children to wash with? I tried someone else’s recipe which involved only flour soap and food colouring and it was a sticky mess more like pastry dough ? so I’m hoping yours is better lol

    1. Cream of tartar helps with the consistency but it also acts as a preservative so I would absolutely leave it in the recipe. The oil also helps turn this recipe into a “dough” and not a gloopy mess.
      We also tried a creamy body wash and it worked well if you don’t want to splurge on the castile soup.

  2. HI! I am wondering if you could tell me about how much this makes. I am teaching a Summer class with at least 10 kids and I am wondering how man batches to make so that they each get at least 3 playdough bars.

    Thanks!

    1. Great question (and that sounds so fun!)
      This recipe made a ton – about 4 cups? Ours lasted awhile (longer than usual play dough) and you only need a small piece to “soap up” so doing 3 batches would be plenty.

  3. Awesomeness! I found yours after I made some with lavender castle soap, organic baby oil, and cornstarch. And i splurged on some soap dye. The recipe worked perfect and would not change it. But I like seeing what others are doing! Love it! I was thinking of adding some shimmer next, what do you think of food grade shimmers?

  4. I used this with everyone kids soap and I never got it to thicken. Just slimey. Even with an additional cup of flour and probably half a cup of cornstarch….

  5. I looked at the dye you use for your bath play dough…mccormick’s Neon colors…I really want to make this for the kids…but I keep thinking it has to leave dye on the tub….so please reassure me that I wouldn’t have a messy dyed tub afterwards! Thank You!

  6. Hello! Just wondering if this would be safe on kids with eczema? I’d like to use it as party favors but I know some of the kids have sensitive skin and some issues, would it be okay for them? What would I swap out to make it alright if anything? Thank you!

  7. I made this for my 3 year old and the salt in the recipe absolutely roughed up her skin. She had to get out after about 10 minutes and be rinsed her skin was red and raw. Do not recommend making this.

    1. Hi Dancing Sun,
      I think oat flour will work as it does bind decently well and is also really good for sensitive skin, but there is a possibility that your soap will be flakier than mine.

  8. OMG my kids loved this! My kids HATE BATHTIME but I think they will be begging for their next bath after tonights! I let them wash their arms and legs with the play dough and they spent easily half an hour just squishing and playing with the play dough until the water got cold.

  9. If you’re concerned about the texture of the salt roughing up child’s hands you can dissolve it in the boiling water before adding the rehst of the ingredients.

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