How to Soften Air Dry Clay – 3 Simple Ways

Yeah, we have all been there, air dry clay drying out because we didn’t seal the Ziploc bag properly or left the lid to the storage container loose.

Air dry clay is so much fun to use and you can create almost anything that you can imagine.  You don’t need any expensive tools, plus it’s very cheap.

The best feature about air dry clay is that you don’t bake it in the oven or kiln.  Never bake your air dry clay in the oven.

It starts to harden once it comes in contact with air.

For this reason, this type of clay is known to dry and become hard if it is not stored properly.

If you have found yourself in a situation where your air dry clay has hardened so much that you can’t work with it anymore, then do not worry, there are a few steps you can take to soften your clay again.

In this article, I will cover three methods to soften your hard air dry clay again.

The best step to prevent air dry clay from becoming dry and hard is to store it correctly.

1. Condition Your Air Dry Clay

If your air dry clay is hard to work with but hasn’t hardened then you can try conditioning your clay.

What does it mean to condition your air dry clay? Conditioning your air dry clay basically means kneading your clay.  It is good to condition your clay each time you use it to make it easier to work with.

Using this method is straightforward and only takes about 5 minutes to do.

When conditioning your clay, bend it, twist it, knead it for 5 minutes straight.  The heat and moisture from your hands will help soften the clay, making it easier to work with.

Before I start a new project I always condition my air dry clay, you will be surprised how much easier it is to work with.

After the clay is soft, store your air dry clay properly in a Ziploc bag or an airtight storage container, for a more detailed article on how to store your air dry clay please click here.

2. Spray Water On Your Air Dry Clay

If you find that your air dry clay has hardened then you will need the help of some water.

This type of clay hardens once the water in it starts to evaporate, so if your clay is already hard then if you introduce some water to it, it will become soft again.

How to soften dried-out air dry clay by spraying water?

Equipment needed:

  • Ziploc bag
  • Water spray bottle


  • Take your clay and place it in a ziplock bag, if you don’t have a Ziploc bag big enough then cut your clay into smaller pieces and use two bags instead.
  • Spray some water over the clay and securely seal the bag.
  • Do not use too much water or the clay will become very sticky and unusable.
  • Let it sit for 15 minutes at room temperature.
  • Take out your clay and knead it for 5 minutes on a non-stick surface such as a sheet of parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  • Your clay should now be soft again, if not, then replace the clay back into the Ziploc bag and spray some more water, leave it for another 15 minutes and knead.  Repeat this until your clay is soft.

Even though this method can be time-consuming it helps the clay to become soft and pliable again.

3. Grind & Add Water To Soften Air Dry Clay

This method sounds a little extreme, but it works very well.  I would only use this method if your clay is completely dried out.

This method was sent by one of my subscribers.  So thank you, Susan.

Equipment needed:

  • A grinder
  • Large bowl
  • Water


  • Using your hands break your clay into small pieces, the smaller the better.
  • Put the broken air dry clay in a grinder and grind until a fine powder.
  • Put your powdered clay into a large bowl.
  • Pour in a little water at a time and mix until it becomes a clay dough.
  • On a non-stick surface knead the clay dough for 5-10 minutes until it resembles air dry clay that you get from the store.

Storage Is Key For Air Dry Clay

No matter which method you use, storing your air dry clay is key to prevent it from drying out and becoming a nightmare to work with.

I have written a detailed article on how to store your air dry clay, click here.

When you store your clay it is important that you store it at room temperature and somewhere dry. Avoid locations that will get direct sunlight. 

If using a storage container to store your clay, make sure it has a good secure lid, avoid cheap containers as they are known to have poor lids.

If you are using Ziploc bags check them often to see if there are any puncture holes in them.

Final Thoughts

We all love using air dry clay but if it’s not stored correctly it can lose its moisture and become dry and hard, making it impossible to work with.

We have all been there.

Click here to read my article on 10 Mistakes To Avoid When Using Air Dry Clay.

In this article, we looked at three methods that can bring life back into your dried clay.

The methods were:

  1. Condition Your Air Dry Clay
  2. Spray Water On Your Air Dry Clay
  3. Grind & Add Water To Soften Air Dry Clay

I hope you have found this article helpful and now know how to soften your air dry clay if it becomes dry and hard.

Which method is your favorite, or do you use another one? Let me know down in the comments.

Let’s share and learn together.

Happy Crafting!

Zac & Terri Signature

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