Looking for an easy play dough alternative that won’t dry out your child’s skin? This 2-ingredient cloud dough requires nothing but cornstarch and baby lotion, and it is the softest 2-ingredient play dough you’ll ever make. It’s no-cook, gluten-free and super soft—and best of all, it only requires only a couple minutes to make!
This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. We only endorse products, services and merchants that we have personally used/tested and consider of the highest quality standard. Please see our full disclosure for further information.
Want to print out this activity? Scroll to the bottom for the printable summary!
Before I started making my own play dough, I had never realized just how many ways you could make it.
Some recipes say to cook it in a saucepan. Others call for a microwave or a slow-cooker. Others still say to boil the water so you don’t have to cook the play dough at all.
Not to mention all the various add-ins you can use to make the play dough fun and unique…
These include colours, spices, extracts, Jell-O, Kool-Aid powder, cocoa powder (to make chocolate play dough), coffee grounds, baking soda (to make erupting play dough), glitter, sand and even thermochromic pigment to make play dough that changes colours while you play!
If your children are little and have a habit of putting things in their mouths, you can also try making some edible play dough using a base of frosting, peanut butter, or even marshmallows. The possibilities are truly endless!
I usually make a new batch of regular coloured play dough every few months so that we always have some on hand. But it’s also nice to have an easy recipe ready to go for the times when I just don’t have the time or energy to make an entirely new batch.
That’s where this cloud dough recipe comes in.
It’s no-cook, gluten-free, super soft and great for kids who have sensitive skin. And the best part is that it only takes a couple minutes and two ingredients to make!
This play dough is so soft that it almost feels like playing with clouds… which is why it’s often called “cloud dough”. So even if you do have the time and energy to make a batch of regular play dough, this homemade play dough offers a unique sensory experience that makes it worth trying at least once!
I’ve shared my best cloud dough recipe below as well as some tips to help you make the perfect cloud dough. I hope your child loves this super soft play dough as much as ours did!
Related: 2-Ingredient Foam Dough
How to Make 2-Ingredient Cloud Dough
Here’s what you’ll need to make a batch of super soft homemade play dough using only two ingredients (three if you want to add colours):
- ⅓ cup baby lotion (you can also use conditioner, but baby lotion is great if your child has sensitive skin and will give the cloud dough a more pleasant texture)
- ⅔ cup cornstarch (you may know it as “corn flour” if you live in the U.K.)
- Food colouring or liquid watercolours (optional)
Note: While you can use conditioner to make this cloud dough recipe, I recommend that you make it without conditioner and use baby lotion instead. This will give your DIY cloud dough a much softer, lighter texture. I have found that conditioner can make cloud dough feel a bit sticky or oily.
1. Place Baby Lotion in Bowl
Start by placing some baby lotion in a medium bowl. I used Johnson’s face and body lotion.
When in doubt, use a larger bowl than you think you’ll need—this will make things easier once you get to step 3.
You’ll need to follow a 1 : 2 ratio of baby lotion to cornstarch, meaning you’ll need twice as much cornstarch as you will baby lotion.
When making it for this tutorial, I used ⅓ cup of baby lotion and ⅔ cup of cornstarch for each colour. But depending on how much you want to make, you can use ¼ cup and ½ cup, or ½ and 1 cup, or any other quantity you prefer—as long as you follow the 1 : 2 ratio.
Note: If you’re using conditioner instead of baby lotion, you can just follow this tutorial to the letter as the proportions remain the same.
2. Add Colouring (Optional)
Once you’ve measured out your baby lotion and placed it in a bowl, you can add a bit of liquid watercolour paint or food colouring to make it more colourful.
This step is optional and the play dough will turn out just fine if you leave it white, but my kids love choosing different colours for their play dough, so I thought yours might too!
I like to use liquid watercolour paint because it’s washable and costs less per millilitre than food colouring.
3. Mix in Cornstarch
Add the cornstarch to the bowl, making sure to use double the quantity of cornstarch than you used of baby lotion, and mix it in with a spoon.
You’ll have to mix it gently initially to prevent the cornstarch from flying out of the bowl. (Using a larger bowl helps with this.)
But once the cornstarch is humid with baby lotion, it should become a little easier.
4. Knead Dough
When you’ve gotten as far as you can with the spoon, continue kneading the play dough with your hands until it’s even and smooth.
Once you have a smooth ball of play dough in your hands, feel free to adjust the quantities if needed by adding a bit of cornstarch if it’s too sticky, or a bit of baby lotion if it’s too crumbly.
If the texture doesn’t need adjusting, then your cloud dough is ready to play with! Wasn’t that so easy?!
We can’t get enough of this easy cloud dough recipe. Who knew you could make play dough using nothing but cornstarch and baby lotion?
And unlike salt- and flour-based play dough, this simple cloud dough won’t dry out your child’s hands. Our two-year-old has very dry skin, so this is perfect for her.
Also, while none of our kids have a gluten intolerance/sensitivity or coeliac disease, I can see this play dough being a great option for kids who do! (Note: If you’re looking for an edible play dough recipe that is gluten-free, check out this recipe for Baby Rice Cereal & Applesauce Play Dough.)
I do recommend keeping it in a bin while you play with it though, as it gets pretty crumbly during play and it can be a bit of a pain to tidy up. But if ever it does get on your floors (like it often does for us), a vacuum cleaner will clean it right up!
How to Store Homemade Cloud Dough
Unlike salt- and flour-based play dough (and like most types of cornstarch play dough), this particularly recipe doesn’t keep very well. Because it doesn’t contain any oil, it dries out pretty fast and starts to become crumbly very soon after it’s made.
For this reason, this recipe cannot be made in advance and you’ll want your child to start playing with it right away after you’ve made it.
If you really want to save it for later, I recommend placing it in a Ziploc bag or airtight container until you’re ready to take it out again. (Ziploc bags tend to preserve humidity a little better.)
But even if you do this, keep in mind that it will dry out, so you’ll likely have to massage some more baby lotion into the cloud dough before it’s ready to play with.
You can also do this in cases where it dries out too much before your child is done playing with it. If that happens, simply squirt a bit of baby lotion onto the ball of play dough and massage it in to make it soft and malleable again!
2-Ingredient Cloud Dough
- ⅓ cup baby lotion
- food colouring as needed
- ⅔ cup cornstarch
- Pour baby lotion into a mixing bowl and add a few drops of food colouring, stirring until combined.
- Add cornstarch to the bowl. Stir with a spoon until you can no longer continue, then knead the dough with your hands until smooth.
- Add more baby lotion or cornstarch if needed to achieve the perfect consistency. Start playing immediately.
Related Play Dough Recipes
Looking for more fun DIY play dough recipes? Check out these articles:
- Homemade Jell-O Play Dough
- Gluten-Free Baby Rice Cereal & Applesauce Play Dough
- DIY Bubble Bath Play Dough
- 3-Ingredient Frosting Play Dough (Edible No-Cook Recipe!)
- Easy Chocolate-Scented Play Dough
You can also join my mailing list to receive fun sensory activity ideas right in your inbox! To thank you for joining, we’ll send you a PDF version of 12 of our most popular sensory recipes as a free gift.