Homemade Aromatherapy Playdough

Homemade Playdough Recipe

I’ll start off by saying that I’m not quite sure if “Playdough,” “Play Dough,” or even “Play-Dough” is the proper grammar for referring to that fun dough that kids love to play with. I know “Play-Doh” is the trademark. But no matter how you spell it, Piper and I recently whipped some up, and I was surprised at how easy it is to make.

I had my doubts about how nice the DIY dough would be, but I’m glad to report that over a month later, the homemade playdough is still soft, totally playable and the girls are loving it.

Now that we’ve established that where the fun factor is concerned, homemade playdough is just as good, I’m thrilled to be able to make it myself — it’s inexpensive, and it’s nice to know exactly what’s in it so you can rest easy if junior, say, decides to taste it, or if you have a child with allergies. (I found this gluten-free playdough recipe, although I haven’t had a chance to try it out.)

Plus, since I happen to love aromatherapy, I have a stash of essential oils which allowed me to naturally scent the girls’ homemade dough as well. Aromatherapy playdough is super-cool, right?!

Recipe for Homemade Playdough:
:: 1 cup flour
:: 1/2 cup salt
:: 1 cup water
:: 1-1/2 tablespoons oil
:: 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
:: Few drops of food coloring

Want Aromatherapy Playdough? You’ll also need a 1/4-teaspoon of essential oil, which you should be able to find at a local health food store. We did lime for green, grapefruit for pink, and lavender for purple.

If you’re curious about the aromatherapy qualities:
:: Lime essential oil – mood uplifting and refreshing.
:: Grapefruit essential oil – energizing and increases mental clarity and memory.
:: Lavender essential oil – calming, relaxing and promotes restful sleep.

So perhaps playing with the purple playdough before bedtime could be a very good thing?

Little Helper Making Play-Dough

Okay — let’s make some playdough! Begin by mixing the dry ingredients (flour, salt and cream of tartar) together in a pan.

Cream of Tartar

The one slightly unusual ingredient called for in the DIY playdough recipe is cream of tartar. When Piper asked me what it was, I wasn’t really sure so I told her it was the magic powder that makes the playdough work — she loved that!

We had some cream of tartar on hand since it’s also used in making Snickerdoodles, one of my favorite cookies.

Wet Ingredients for Play dough

Next mix the wet ingredients (water, oil, food coloring) in a measuring cup — a glass one works best so the food coloring won’t stain.

Adding Wet to Dry Ingredients Playdough

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry mixture in the pan. Carefully stir until combined.

Stirring Playdough

You want the mixture to be pretty homogeneous before placing on the heat so mix well. Cook over medium heat for about 30 seconds to a minute. The cooking goes fast so stay close, and be careful not to overcook since it dries out the dough.

Playdough mixture on stove

If using, now is the time to add a 1/4-teaspoon of essential oil. My pipette measures in mL, and I did about 1.5 mL.

Adding Essential Oil to Play dough

Mix in the essential oil and continue cooking, stirring constantly, about 30 seconds more.

Cooking Playdough Getting Clumpy

The dough will get clumpy and then start to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Playdough is done cooking

Once it starts pulling together it’s done. Hurry and scrape the dough into a ball and remove from the pan.

Finished Play Dough

Place the cooked dough on a sheet of wax paper and knead a few times until smooth.

Playdough All Done!

Store the dough in an airtight container so it won’t dry out. Although we originally had our playdough in the zip-top bags shown here, I found that little fingers couldn’t resist poking at the dough through the baggie and would end up puncturing the thin plastic. With that in mind, a sturdier container would be a better option. Ours has kept for over a month, and I’ve heard that keeping homemade playdough in the refrigerator helps it last for many months.

About Bettijo

Bettijo is a co-founder and designer here at Paging Supermom. More importantly, she is a mother of four -- three girls and a boy. During quieter moments, she enjoys art, retro-modern design, photography and making new things. In 2003 Bettijo founded an organic bath and spa products brand, Bath By Bettijo, which has been regularly featured in national magazines including Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living, Whole Living, O, EveryDay with Rachel Ray, Health, Lucky, Shape and more.


24 Responses to Homemade Aromatherapy Playdough
  1. This is the cutest playdough how-to that I’ve seen. We’ve make our own playdough here as well, but I’ve never tried it with the oils. I’m putting that on my to-do list for the near future. Thanks!

    • bettijo says:

      Thanks Barefoot! The playdough smells SO good with the essential oils in it — the lime is my personal favorite. Let us know how it goes for you.

  2. What an amazing idea. I have lots of oils I never use. This is great.

  3. Tian says:


    I was wondering if I could use baking soda instead of cream of tartar?


  4. Geevz says:

    So I had another, “Look! Santa! I know him!” moment when I clicked a link from design mom and BOOM Bj’s awesomeness once again :)

    I think aromatherapy play dough is a fantastic idea!

  5. Anna-Katrin says:

    What about eating the dough with the essential oils in it? Hey, let’s be honest…they’re kids, and I’ve got two of them. I can’t be watching every second and, well, stuff happens! :)

    • Bettijo says:

      Hi Anna-Katrin — I totally get you! My kids are the same way. Obviously this dough is not made to be eaten and wouldn’t taste as good as it smells! But stuff happens, right? With the essential oils in such a small amount I wouldn’t worry. Also keep in mind that many essential oils are food-safe and are used in gourmet cooking to flavor different foods (in very small amounts).

  6. [...] recently came across this recipe for homemade aromatherapy play dough. If you know 2 year olds, you know that not much captures [...]

  7. toni says:

    Our Community playgroup hijacked you recipe and had a “Lets Make Aromatherapy Playdough” Playdate this morning.

    It was so easy & fun!

    Thanks so much for the post & sharing all your supermom tips with us. I am the new addict here-cant get enough of your posts…thanks for helping us all be more ‘super’ moms xoxo.

    -From: Mrs. Toni Snyder-Garcia on behalf of the “Emirates Living Play Group”

    …we are a community group of 1-2 year-old toddlers based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and our very diverse, and wonderful, playgroup group is composed of: English, American, South African, Canadian, Kiwi, Australian, Scottish, Greek, Iranian, German, Turkish, Russian, Indian, Pakistani, Estonian, Egyptian, Sudani, Polish, and a few more…Moms & Babies!)

    thanks again & please keep it up!

  8. [...] homemade aromatherapy playdough, i never thought about that at all. [...]

  9. found you through pinterest…what a great idea. I never thought to use essential oils with homemade play doh. this would make for an amazing sensory experience. Heck, we parents could definitely benefit from the lavender one :)

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