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Play-Doh Vs. Polymer Modeling Clay

Updated on February 20, 2020

Working with Polymer Clay

Polymer Clay Elephant
Polymer Clay Elephant

Play-doh vs. Polymer Modeling Clay: What is the Difference?

Both polymer clay and Play-doh are non-toxic and can be molded to create beautiful creations.

The main difference is that young children, who could possibly eat the polymer clay, should not use polymer clay.

Play-doh is a brand named malleable dough which is most made out of flour, salt and water. Creations can be saved by letting them air dry; however, the material used will crack as it hardens. Play doh is bested use for temporary designs that can be destroyed after building.

Polymer clay is a non-toxic modeling clay that can be hardened by cooking it in the oven. It has a polyvinyl chloride base. Polymer clay can be used by both parents and children; though, it is important to make sure all manufacturer instructions are followed when baking this clay.

Do not heat your oven to a higher temperature that is recommended. Burning polymer clay will release hydrogen chloride gas. This will burn your lungs. This will only happen if oven temperatures hit about 350 F.

Polymer clay is not food safe as the polymer clay is very porous. Do not make products out of polymer clay that will be used to house food. The concern is not the polymer clay itself but rather any left over food sitting with in the confines of a bowl made out of polymer clay. Bacteria could grow and because of the porous nature of polymer clay it can never be cleaned well enough to rid itself of the bacteria.

For more specific differences between the two keep reading.

Tactile Fun

Children all around the world have been playing with some version of play dough for years. It is an inexpensive medium for children's play. It encourages children to be imaginative.

Are you a fan of play dough?

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"Once Play-Doh colors are mixed, there's no going back"-Dee Ann Stewart from the book entitled "What Spock Forgot"

Play-Doh or Play Dough - Pros and cons of play dough use

Play-Doh 6 lb Container - Blue
Play-Doh 6 lb Container - Blue
Play-Doh is the best known company that produces play dough for children, but play dough can also be produced in your own kitchen. Play dough allows you to build temporary creations. Your imagination seems to be the limit of creation as you can buy Play-Doh in many different colors and it is easy to work with. Play dough is usually a flour based modeling product. Benefits of Play-Doh or Play Dough *Can be reused *Designed for children ages 2+ *Non-toxic *Does not stick to your hands *Can be made in your kitchen *You can make edible versions. *Variety of tools and toys to add to your play-doh experience *Easy clean up with soap and water *More economical Cons: *Drys if left out too long *If you want to save your creation it will crack when dried *Germs can spread because it is reusable.

Safety Concerns - Polymer Clay

"Polymer clay is one of the most exciting, versatile, colorful artist's medium today"

-Kelly Robinson, Polymer Clay Expert

Polymer Modeling Clay vs. Pluffy - Polyform Non-Toxic Fluffy for Kids

Polyform Sculpey Pluffy Clay Variety Packs, Primary
Polyform Sculpey Pluffy Clay Variety Packs, Primary
Sculpey has a children's brand much like polymer clay called Fluffy . This line of products designed for children is called Pluffy. Pluffy can be shaped and reshaped tons of times before your child decides they have a piece of art they wish to keep. Air dry modeling clays will allow you the same options as the bake and keep variety of modeling clay without the need for the oven. Benefits of Pluffy modelling clay *Comes in many colors *Does not stick to your hands *Can be used to make keepsakes of child's art. *Does not harden until baked *Can be painted after baking *Does not crack when dried *Non-toxic Cons *Made for one time use *Not edible *In a pinch you can not make homemade polymer modeling clay *Harder clean up *Can stain table surfaces if they are not protected

Play-Doh vs. Polymer Clay - Share your thoughts about both products below

Which do you prefer?

Polymer Modeling Clay - Why all the hype?

Sculpey III Oven Bake Clay Sampler 1oz, 30/pkg
Sculpey III Oven Bake Clay Sampler 1oz, 30/pkg
Polymer Modeling Clay is a plastic based clay. Polymer Clay is created by putting polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in a plasticizer. When it is baked on a low temperature in your household oven in turns the creation into hard plastic. It can be bought in over 90 colors and is very versatile to work with because it can be carved, stamped and sculpted. Polymer Clay has been rated as non-toxic by the Arts & Crafts institute. The only concern about the product is that potential fumes when cooking over a long period of time may cause problems over a long period of time; however, there is not much if any information to back up the claim. Some people, however, are concerned about plasticizers being released if the polymer clay is over cooked. Benefits of polymer modelling clay *Comes in many colors *Does not harden until baked *Can be painted after baking *Does not crack when dried *Non-toxic Cons *Made for one time use *Not edible *In a pinch you can not make homemade polymer modeling clay *Harder clean up *Can stain table surfaces if they are not protected

More Play-Doh or Play Dough Resources

Homemade Play Dough Recipes

Play Play Dough

These play dough recipes will help you make your own play dough at home from items in your kitchen pantry. Try out a few to find which recipe works best for you.

How to Make Play Dough (Play-Doh)

Play Dough Recipes includes a few recipes, noteably one all natural recipes with no dyes.

More Modeling Clay Resources

Beginners Polymer Clay Help

Polymer Modeling Clay Tutorials

Modeling Clay Craft Projects

Note: These tutorials are for adults using polymer modeling clay but can be adapted for children with Fluffy.

Creating Friendly Farm Characters is the tutorial I decided to feature because it uses polymer modeling clay with clay pots to make clay pot characters. These farm animals are cute and adorable and your kids will have fun putting them together.

Light Switch Plate instructions on how to make a polymer modeling clay light switch with pictures.

Play-Doh vs. Modeling Clay Guestbook - Drop me a note

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    • profile image


      2 years ago

      I understand the name brand play doh has an antiseptic property and an air drying property that may help my 37 yr old horses' hooves (she has issues--prone to abscesses) stay dry and protected without using horse shoes. I think that earth clay might do the same thing but my friend doesn't seem to be able to obtain it. Can you speak more on this? I want to put it in the crevices and cracks of her sole (specifically around the frog and in the heel) to keep it tucked in and flat and intact. I've tried magic cushion but the stuff is too hard to use. It sticks to everything including my hands. I just would like more info before I actually try it or any other product. She can't stand long enough for horse shoes and pads. They have their own bacterial problems.

    • profile image

      Alisha Tamrakar 

      2 years ago

      can you bake play doh to finish a product like we bake polymer clay to make charms ? can you mix them and bake ?

      playdoh is cheaper than polymer clay so asking, can i use play doh instead of polymer clay ?

    • Charlino99 profile image

      Tonie Cook 

      8 years ago from USA

      This is a great MonkeyBrain - and one that sculpting fans will appreciate, hands down!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great lens - I think play doh is a great choice for the youngsters, though.

    • Linda Pogue profile image

      Linda Pogue 

      8 years ago from Missouri

      The worst thing about any kind of dough is when kids get it into the carpet. It is very hard to get out. That's why at my house, it is only used in the kitchen.

      I plan to have a clay day soon with my granddaughters so they can make some jewelry.

      Thanks for an interesting read.

    • CHalloran LM profile image

      CHalloran LM 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for featuring a link to my polymer clay lens!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I prefer the play dough for young kids.

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 

      9 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      very interesting debate. i am voting for polymer modeling clay.

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      9 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      I remember all those Play Doh messes around the house.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I really like the idea of the polymer clay, but for young ones, I like play doh

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Honestly, I have never tried polymer dough.. but I really, really love original Play-Doh!!!!

    • BunnyFabulous profile image

      Erin Hardison 

      9 years ago from Memphis, TN

      I like how you lay out the pros and cons. Good thoughts; especially since I have a number of preschoolers (including my daughter) in my life.


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