How to Harden Play Dough

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Things You'll Need

  • Baking sheet

  • Aluminum foil

  • Paintbrush

  • Waterproof varnish

Supervise children when you use the oven or varnish to harden play dough.
Image Credit: ilona75/iStock/Getty Images

You can let a play dough masterpiece created by you or a loved one harden, which turns it into a keepsake that can last for years. Unfortunately, if you use Hasbro's Play-Doh brand, it will most likely crack as it hardens. If, however, you are using homemade play dough or want to save the Play-Doh sculpture, a few methods may work to harden the piece.


Oven Dry the Play Dough

Step 1

Set your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and let it preheat for several minutes. Cover the bottom of a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

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Step 2

Set the play dough carefully in the middle of the foil covered baking sheet. Place the baking sheet into the preheated oven.

Step 3

Allow the play dough to bake for about 10 to 15 minutes. This helps pull the moisture from the dough, making it harden faster.

Step 4

Turn the oven off and do not open the oven door or remove the baking sheet from the oven. Let the play dough sit in the oven overnight.


Step 5

Remove the hardened figure from the oven.

Cover the Play Dough in Varnish

Step 1

Dip a clean paintbrush into waterproof varnish. Let any excess varnish drip off the brush and back into the container.


Step 2

Brush a light coat of the varnish over the play dough. Apply the varnish on all areas of the play dough to ensure the entire sculpture is protected.

Step 3

Let the varnish-covered play dough piece air dry for several hours.


Protect your work area by covering it with newspaper when using varnish.

Substitute homemade Mod Podge for the varnish by mixing 2 parts white craft glue with 1 part water. Alternatively, use spray-on varnish instead of paint-on varnish.

Keep the hardened play dough in a dry location away from direct heat and light, and also out of cool, damp locations -- the moisture in the air could cause it to become soft again.


Always read and follow the directions and warnings found on the varnish container.

Only use varnish in a well ventilated area.

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