This article has been updated on
Playdough is either the greatest invention or a curse to every parent, depending on the day. Some days, my kids can stay attentive with playdough for hours, creating lovely shapes and long snakes for hours. Other days, that same playdough is smashed into my carpet as if they had a dance party over top.
There is no in between, and every mother understands the same problem I face.
Carpet and playdough don’t match well together, and then I made the mistake of trying to run a vacuum cleaner over top. All that did was further smash the playdough further into my carpet. So, after countless experiences with the devilish playdough, I was determined to figure out how to get playdough out of the carpet, and luckily, I found my answer.
How to Get Playdough Out of Carpet in 7 Steps
1. Use Soft Playdough First
When you first find playdough stuck to your carpet, the first thing to do is use a soft piece to blot up the small pieces of clay laying around. Playdough sticks to playdough, so just dab it in the area that it was dropped. Don’t rub or try to push hard because it’ll just further squish it into your carpet, making it worse. Gentle is best in this step.
If you have it, I suggest using white playdough. It’s much easier to make sure you pick up all the pieces if you have a contrasting color. Use your hands to separate the carpet fibers slightly to reach any pieces that might be down deeper.
Don’t expect to use this playdough later. It will also pick up dust, lint, dog hair, and all kinds of things that aren’t appealing in your play dough.
2. Let The Rest Dry Completely
After you get up all the soft playdough that you can, let it dry. Sometimes, that takes a day or two. You want all of the moisture out of it. Make sure you don’t add water or liquid cleaners in your quest to get rid of the playdough. Patience is needed for this step. The more product that you add trying to remove it, the longer it takes to dry and remove.
It’s counterintuitive to leave it to dry because you probably feel like harder playdough is harder to remove. It’s quite the opposite. Go against your immediate thoughts to apply hot water and soap. Heat will cause the playdough to melt further into your carpet, the last thing you want.
3. Break Up the Dried Playdough
Once the playdough is dried completely, use a stiff brush, dull knife, or the edge of a metal spoon to break it up. If you find a stiff enough toothbrush, that might work, but you can use a bristle brush as well.
First, I always rub my hand back and forth over the area. It will break up some of the dried playdough easily, or, at least, loosen the playdough’s drip on the carpet fibers.
4. Vacuum the Bits Away
Now that you broke up the dried playdough and there are bits on the floor, you can bring out the vacuum. Trust me; don’t do that before it’s broken up. Soft playdough and vacuums don’t mix well. I suggest that you use the hose of the vacuum cleaner to reduce the risk of pressing any bits into the carpet further. If you have a brush attachment for your vacuum, that’s even better.
Repeat The Steps
Once you do this, you may have to go back to step 3 and break up some more dried playdough. Continue repeating step 3 and step 4 until all the dried playdough has been broken up and removed.
5. Blot With Soap and Cold Water
Once you have the dried pieces vacuumed up, you typically only have to deal with the discoloration left by the playdough. I once had blue playdough on my cream-colored carpet, and that left a large stain that was hard to get rid of.
Blot the area with soap and cold water. Cold water is best because hot water will further set the stain in your carpet. Make sure you keep the cloth damp but not soaking wet to prevent extra moisture. Then, pat the area dry with a white cloth.
6. Treating Tough Playdough Stains
Sometimes, even the hardest treatments won’t get playdough out of the carpet. If the stain still remains, try to blot the stain in the carpet with a bit of rubbing alcohol on a clean, white dishcloth. Don’t soak the cloth, but rather just keep it damp. A sopping wet cloth will soak the carpet padding.
A white cloth will show you if it’s absorbed any color from the stain. Rinse the area afterward with diluted white vinegar. This may also help to remove any remaining stains. Dilute one part vinegar with four parts of cool water.
If you have white carpets – never a good idea with kids -, consider using hydrogen peroxide instead to remove the stain. Just apply a small amount of hydrogen peroxide to stain with a paper towel, blotting gently until the residue is removed.
Exercise caution though! Hydrogen peroxide can bleach carpets if they have color or remove patterns.
7. Freezing is an Alternative
If waiting for the playdough to dry feels like forever, try freezing it instead. Use a can of compressed air, and hold it 2-3 inches away from the carpet. Spray the playdough stain for 10-15 seconds. When finished, it will look frosted over and frozen.
Freezing the playdough is a fast alternative and will create the same hardening effect, but doing so allows it to dry faster. Not everyone has cans of compressed air in their house though, so it’s not the first choice for most people. You can find cans of cold air at most auto parts stores.
Make sure that you keep your fingers away from the cold air as you spray. It is quite cold, and it can cause freezer burns if it does happen to touch your skin. It’s not a good choice if the kids are in the area and curious about what you’re doing.
Don’t fret, even though it feels worrisome at the time. I’ve had to put quite a bit of elbow grease into removing playdough out of the carpet, but it’s always been removed completely with these steps. You’ll remove it as well, even if it takes a few days!