You only need two main ingredients to make silky smooth, homemade Cloud Dough – cornstarch and conditioner – then you can color it however you’d like!
Sometimes referred to as Moon Dough, this no cook sensory material recipe is great for big kids who are past the “putting stuff in their mouth” phase. It’s so much fun to play with and has a unique fluffy texture.
When I first started making it for my kids, it would keep them entertained for hours. I hope your kids have hours of fun with this soft cloud dough too!
Homemade Cloud Dough
- 1 cup hair conditioner
- 2-3 cups cornstarch
- Mica or food coloring - optional
- Large mixing bowl
- Measuring cups
- Silicone spatula
- Mixing spoon
- Put the conditioner in a large bowl with about 1 cup of cornstarch and mix until well combined. Add in a second cup of corn starch and mix using your hands, scraping the sides as you go to be sure it’s all incorporated. It should hold together well and not be sticky or crumbly. If it feels sticky, add a little more cornstarch until you get the Cloud Dough to a consistency you like. If it feels too dry, add some more conditioner.
- Once you’re happy with the texture, decide how many different colors you want to make and divide the dough accordingly. Once they’re divided up, slowly add in mica powder or food coloring until you’re happy with the color.
- After you’re done coloring the Cloud Dough, it's immediately ready to be played with!
By the Numbers: How to Make Cloud Dough
Step 1: Mix Cornstarch and Conditioner.
The first step is to measure out 1 cup of hair conditioner and 1 cup of cornstarch, add them to a mixing bowl, then mix until everything is combined really well.
Add a second cup of cornstarch to the bowl, and continue mixing. You’ll want to use a silicone spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl as you’re mixing to make sure you get all of the cornstarch mixed in evenly.
At this point, you’ll probably need to use your hands to get it totally combined. This is important, though, because it helps you feel the consistency of the the cloud dough so that you know when it’s done.
If it’s sticky, add a little more corn starch at a time until you get the Cloud Dough to a consistency that holds together well without feeling sticky to the touch. If it gets too dry, add more conditioner until it holds together well and doesn’t crumble.
Step 2: Color Your Cloud Dough.
Next, it’s time to make colorful cloud dough. Decide how many different colors of fluffy cloud dough that you want to make then divide it into small bowls accordingly. We made 6 colors in this batch because we wanted rainbow colors, so we divided our Cloud Dough into 6 equal portions in small bowls.
After you’re done dividing the cloud dough, start adding in mica powder or food coloring very slowly until you’ve reached the color saturation you’re after.
If you add a lot of mica, it may slightly dry out the cloud dough, in which case you’ll need to add more conditioner. If you add a lot of food coloring, it may moisten your cloud dough, in which case you’ll need to add more cornstarch.
Step 3: Play with Your Cloud Dough.
Now it’s time for you to play with your cloud dough… I mean it’s time for your kids to play with their cloud dough! If your kids have a tendency to make a mess with sensory material like mine do, it’s a good idea to have them play with cloud dough outside.
If you want to have them play inside, you can pick up a plastic tablecloth at many dollar stores. They make for easy cleanup with little ones.
Tips for Making Cloud Dough
Here are all the tips and tricks you need for making your own homemade cloud dough!
1. Does it matter what type of conditioner you use?
No, you can use any hair conditioner you like. The reason the amount of cornstarch in this recipe is a range is because different conditioners will need slightly different amounts of corn starch to get the right consistency.
2. Can I use lotion instead?
If you don’t have conditioner, you can also use lotion as an alternative ingredient to make cloud dough.
3. Can you use soap colorant?
We have tried using soap colorant when making cloud dough and we didn’t like the end result. It was a bit more watery and less colorful using soap colorant than it was food coloring (gel is best) or mica powder.
4. Can I make a smaller batch?
Yes, just cut the recipe in half (or quarter it even) for a smaller amount.
5. How to store Cloud Dough?
Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then store in an airtight container or ziplock bag at room temperature.
6. How long does Cloud Dough last?
This recipe doesn’t last a long time as it dries out quickly, so don’t make more than you think your kiddos will play with in about a week.
7. Can Cloud Dough be rehydrated?
When it dries out, you can usually add in a little extra conditioner to remoisturize it. This will work a few times, but after a while you’ll need to make a new batch.
8. Is this Cloud Dough recipe safe for little kids?
If your kid still puts stuff in their mouth, this recipe isn’t a good option. Since conditioner isn’t edible, neither is this cloud dough, making it more appropriate for a big kid. Be sure to keep out of reach of small children to avoid accidental ingestion.
One way you can allow little kids to play with cloud dough is to put it inside sealed Ziploc bags (it’s best if you can glue them shut). Then you can supervise your little one while they press and squeeze the dough inside the sealed bag.
9. More ways to use cloud dough?
While it’s fun to play with cloud dough all on its own, there are lots of creative ways to use it too.
- Put in a sensory bin with other items for play time.
- Use cookie cutters to make pretend cookies for a tea party or learn about shapes.
- Play with it on play dough mats.
- Make fun shapes like this rainbow!
10. Want more recipes for sensory activities?
While I love traditional play doughs, I love creating unique sensory play experiences for kids. Here are some other popular DIYs:
- Moon Sand (similar to kinetic sand; typically made with flour and baby oil)
- Glitter Slime (classic slime recipe)
- Fake Snow (that feels cold to the touch!)