Playdough provides kids with hours of fun where their imaginations can run wild! Children can craft animals, numbers, and a whole load of shapes from the colourful doughy mixture.
There’s only one problem. Playdough is incredibly messy!
Yep, playdough may be exciting and great for teaching kids fine motor and creative skills. But it’s undeniably messy. And it is, as you might’ve experienced, a terror to clean up.
The dough almost always manages to slot and wedge itself deep inside a carpet’s fibres! And it usually leaves unsightly stains on the surface.
However, it’s not impossible to eradicate the grime from your carpet. You just need to use the right tools and cleaning solutions!
Follow the guide below.
Tips to Keep in Mind
- Act fast! You want to react as quickly as possible to the playdough stain so it doesn’t age or get spread around the carpet.
- Remove as much playdough from the carpet as possible, and then treat the stain left behind. Use soft tools to do this! Leave the harsh cleaning tools out because they could damage your carpet – no hard-bristled brushes or scissors!
- Test your chosen cleaning solution out before you use it! Find a discreet patch of carpet, squirt/dab a little solution onto the carpet’s surface, and watch what happens. If there’s some sort of reaction, stop using the cleaner and find another. If all is well, continue using the solution.
- Wait for the playdough to dry, and then remove it. Don’t be tempted to rub the dough off the carpet immediately because you’ll end up making more of a mess! It’ll be much easier if you leave the playdough alone and wait for it to dry!
If the playdough is stuck on a piece of carpet that’s located in a busy area of the home, cover the dough with a bucket (similar object) to protect it. A cover will stop people walking over the area.
To speed up the drying process, pop a couple of ice cubes in a freezer bag and rest the bag on top of the playdough blemish. The ice will help to harden the playdough. Although, you’ll need to replenish the bag of ice multiple times as it may take some time for the dough to go hard!
- Don’t saturate your carpet in water or liquid cleaning products. Drying a carpet can take time, so use a minimal amount of liquid.
- Blot, don’t rub, and scrub! Rubbing the playdough will drive it deeper into the carpet’s fibres and make it harder to remove. Just gently blot the area to remove any stains.
- Don’t pour cleaning solutions straight onto the playdough stain. Dab the cleaning product on using a separate tool.
- Don’t mix the cleaning solutions listed below! You must only try one option at a time! If you mix the cleaning products mentioned below, you’ll set off a chemical reaction between the items, which can be lethal.
Playdough-Removal Methods for Carpets
Method 1: Rubbing alcohol
Tools you’ll need:
- Plastic spatula (optional)
- Nit comb (optional)
- Neutral-coloured microfibre cloths
- Cotton wool balls/cotton buds
- Shallow dish
- Rubbing alcohol
Steps to follow:
- Leave the playdough to dry on the carpet – it must be hard to the touch.
- When the dough is hard, scrape as much playdough off the carpet as you can using a teaspoon, plastic spatula, or nit comb – brush/scrape in one direction.
- Repeat Step 2 until you’re left with a blemish on the carpet.
- Hoover the loose debris up and vacuum over the patch you’ve been working on.
- Repeat Step 4.
- Pop some gloves on.
- Grab some rubbing alcohol and pour a small amount into a shallow dish.
- Dip a cotton wool ball or cotton bud into the solution.
- Dab the wool ball or bud onto a hidden patch of carpet to perform a patch test. If there are no adverse effects, continue with this method.
- Dip another cotton wool ball/bud/microfibre cloth into the solution and carefully blot the playdough stain.
- Change your wool ball/bud (use a new patch of cloth) frequently, as it will get dirty throughout this process.
- Repeat Steps 10 to 11 until the stain has been removed from the carpet.
- Rinse the entire area clean using a damp, neutral-coloured cloth.
- Press another cloth over the area to soak up excess moisture from the surface.
- Check the caret for stains. If there are still stains present, repeat the steps above.
- When the carpet is clean, leave it to air dry naturally – open the windows and point fans towards the treated area to speed up this process. Don’t walk over the area!
- Hoover the carpet when it is dry just to make sure you’ve cleaned the surface thoroughly.
Method 2: Washing up liquid
Repeat the steps above in Method 1, but instead of using rubbing alcohol, use a mixture of washing up liquid and water to remove the playdough-related blemishes from the carpet.
Simply blot the soapy solution into the carpet using a neutral-coloured cloth, then rinse the area clean using a second damp, neutral-coloured cloth. The carpet can then be left to dry naturally.
Method 3: Hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide can also be used instead of the rubbing alcohol noted in Method 1.
It can also be applied in the same way as rubbing alcohol, but make sure you rinse the surface afterward with a damp cloth!
Remember that hydrogen peroxide will discolour colourful carpets (like bleach would), so only use it on white-coloured surfaces.
Method 4: Laundry detergent
It’s also possible to use liquid laundry detergent to treat some playdough stains. Just follow the steps in Method 1 but replace the rubbing alcohol with laundry detergent.
Choose a detergent known for lifting greasy, oily stains because these are the types of marks that playdough will leave behind.
Why does playdough do this? Playdough is made from a mixture of salt, water, flour, and a petroleum additive. When these ingredients are combined, they form a smooth dough that can leave oily residues on surfaces.
Method 5: White vinegar
In addition to the above, you could use white vinegar to treat the stains left behind by playdough.
Just treat the carpet as you did in Method 1, but instead of dabbing rubbing alcohol onto the stain, spray white vinegar over the area and blot it with a damp microfibre cloth.
Mix equal parts water and white vinegar in a spray bottle to create the cleaning solution.
When you’re done, rinse the carpet clean using a separate damp cloth and open the windows to leave the smell out.
Method 6: Commercial stain remover product
If you don’t fancy trying the options noted above, you could buy an off-the-shelf stain remover for carpets. However, these items generally get mixed reviews when it comes to playdough-related mess, so bear this in mind.
In addition, if you’re going to purchase some sort of stain remover, make sure you choose one that is suitable for your carpet – you don’t want to damage or discolour your floor in any way.
Prevention Is Key!
Playdough is a staple in many homes with kids. It’s fun to play with, easy to get hold of, and messy, so kids (and adults!) love it!
Let’s face it, playdough isn’t going anywhere, so all you can do is prevent it from creating too much havoc in your home. Follow the tips below:
- Cover surfaces with a mat before you bring out the playdough.
- Try to contain the playdough to one specific area in the house. You could use the kids’ playroom, for example.
- Tell kids not to walk around with the playdough.
- Buy a large tray for each child, and let them play with the playdough on the tray. By doing this, you’ll (hopefully!) keep the playdough in one place. It’ll also act as a hard and secure surface, so the dough shouldn’t go rolling about the place!
- Stick to using one or two colours at a time.
- Be ready to clean up any mess! Keep the hoover nearby.
- Get the kids to help you keep the house playdough-free and clean. Teach them the importance of keeping the playdough in one area, how to pick it up off the carpet, and why they mustn’t walk around the house with it.
- Ensure you and your kids pop aprons on when playing with playdough so your clothes don’t get covered in the dough.
- Accept that playing playdough is generally an untidy activity. But if you put all of the above into practice, you should be able to limit a lot of the mess and havoc in your home. Plus, unpleasant as the stains may be, they can be removed with the right tools and a little patience, so it’s not the end of the world!
Bethan has a passion for exploring, reading, cooking and gardening! When she’s not creating culinary delights for her family, she’s concocting potions to keep her house clean!