Did you know you could use dish soap to make easy homemade silly putty? You’ll only need 2 minutes and 2 ingredients to prepare this fun sensory activity for your kids—no glue, borax or liquid starch required!
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I never understood what the slime craze what about… until I tried making it for my kids.
It seemed like such a weird idea, and I was a bit hesitant to try it. But from the first time I made it, I was hooked.
To be totally honest, I think I may even enjoy it more than the kids do. (And they enjoy it a lot.)
The trouble with slime, though, is that it’s not safe for young kids, especially ones who like to put things in their mouth. And although I always use contact lens solution as a slime activator rather than borax or liquid starch, it’s still a bit harsh on the skin and I’m not comfortable giving it to my toddlers.
I’ve been known to prepare lots of taste-safe and edible sensory activities, but I do like to switch things up and try new recipes. And lately, with things being so busy, I’ve really been on the lookout for sensory recipes that are quick to make.
That’s why I was so thrilled when I found out that you can make silly putty at home using nothing but dish soap and cornstarch—without harsh chemicals like glue, borax or liquid starch.
And while I wouldn’t recommend letting your kids put this silly putty in their mouth, I like how much safer it is and how much softer it is on the skin compared to traditional slime!
Related: 5-Minute Soap Foam Sensory Bin
How to Make Dish Soap Silly Putty
Here’s what you’ll need to make your own homemade silly putty using just 2 ingredients:
- Cornstarch (also called “corn flour” in Australia and the U.K.)
- Dish soap (you can use Dawn or any other brand you happen to find)
The colour of your DIY silly putty will depend on the colour of the dish soap you use. I used clear dish soap to create white putty, but if you choose coloured dish soap, your silly putty will take on its colour. You can also use clear dish soap and add a drop of food colouring or liquid watercolour paint.
Note: Funnily enough, the only brand of dish soap that I haven’t been able to make this work with is Dawn—perhaps because it’s too concentrated and the water content isn’t high enough? I just ended up with sticky play dough instead of silly putty. But this recipe worked great when I used a cheap brand of dish soap from the dollar store, so that’s what I’ll be using whenever the kids ask for this!
1. Put Cornstarch in Bowl
Start by pouring ¼ cup of cornstarch into a bowl. The bowl doesn’t need to be very big as this recipe doesn’t make a whole lot of putty… just enough for one child to play with!
2. Add Dish Soap
Add 1-2 tablespoons of dishwashing liquid to the bowl containing the cornstarch.
I used 2 tablespoons, but if it’s your first time making this, I recommend adding the dish soap one tablespoon at a time. The brand of dish soap you use may impact the texture of the silly putty, so it’s better to start with a little less and add more as needed.
3. Stir Ingredients
Use a spoon to stir the ingredients together.
4. Adjust Consistency
Continue stirring until the cornstarch and dish soap are well combined, then test the consistency of the silly putty.
It should feel smooth, but also runny and slightly sticky. It’s actually a bit difficult to describe—it feels similar to oobleck, which can behave like a solid or a liquid depending on whether pressure it applied to it, but they’re not identical.
If the silly putty feels too sticky, add some cornstarch. If it feels too dry, add more dish soap.
There’s really no way to mess up this silly putty recipe, and you can play around with the quantities until you find a consistency you like, depending on whether you want it to feel more like slime or like play dough.
Once you’re happy with the consistency of your silly putty, give it to your child to play with.
It is SO fun, and as you can see, it literally takes less than 2 minutes to make. It’s always good to have really quick activities available for days when we’re short on time, and I’ll definitely be adding this one to our rotation!
The silly putty does feel a bit sticky while you’re playing with it, but thanks to the dish soap, it comes right off when you wash your hands. And while it was a bit messy to play with, it was also quite easy to clean off of tables and counters.
Who knew mixing cornstarch and dish soap could be so much fun? Even after it started to dry out and lose its oozy consistency, we were able to entend the play by using it as play dough.
Note: This silly putty probably won’t last more than a few hours, but it’s so easy to make that it won’t matter if you have to whip up a whole new batch the next time your child wants to play with it!
Dish Soap Silly Putty
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 2 tbsp dish soap
- Place cornstarch in bowl.
- Add dish soap and stir until combined.
- Test the consistency of the silly putty. Add cornstarch if it's too sticky, or dish soap if it's too dry.
- Start playing immediately.
Related Sensory Recipes for Kids
Looking for more fun sensory activities to do at home with your kids? Check out these articles:
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