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How to Keep Clay from Drying (Using Household Materials)

how to keep clay from drying

When storing clay, it is essential to keep it moist. If the clay is not stored correctly or moistened enough, it may get too hard to be molded. Every person working with clay should know how to keep clay from drying. There are various ways to keep your clay moist, mainly with water and plastic bags.

How to Keep Air Dry Clay from Drying

Unlike oil-based clay, water-based clay and air-dry clay need frequent moisture to avoid drying up and remaining moldable. So how do you keep air dry clay from drying and water-based clay?

You will use water, of course, along with other materials you can easily find at home. And the plastic bags are for when you need to store your clay for days.

If you plan to store your clay over a long period, you can choose to add 20% vinegar into the water. Vinegar helps the clay retain its plasticity.

Method 1:Using a Sponge

It’s a good idea to keep a bowl of water and a clean sponge in your work area. Just dip the sponge in the water and gently dab it on the clay. You could always rinse your clay clean when too much clay sticks on it. This way, you could keep your clay malleable as you work with it.

Method 2: Using a Spray Bottle

You could also use a spray bottle if that comes in handy. A small spray should do; you do not want to soak the surface of your clay. Seal the bottle tightly so that there will be no spillage when it’s accidentally knocked over.

Just spray over a spot at a time or until it is soft enough to mold. This method is for when you are keeping the clay moist as you work with it. It is not advisable when storing your clay for days on end.

Method 3: Using Paper Towels

how to keep air dry clay from drying

Yes, you can use paper towels. But how to keep the clay from drying using paper towels, you might wonder.

First, get as many paper towels as you think you need to cover up your clay. Damp them with clean water. Be careful not to soak them wet, or else they would easily tear.

Then, completely cover up the clay with damp paper towels. Do not leave an area uncovered.

Next, once you are sure that it is all covered up, place it in a sealable plastic bag and try to get all the air out. If you do not have a plastic bag big enough to hold your clay, you can use plastic cling wrap. This traps the moisture in the clay.

Finally, store it in a cool place away from any light source, especially from the sunlight. Exposure to sunlight can cause the clay to dry and crack. And when I say cool place, I don’t mean the refrigerator or freezer. A storage place that is slightly lower than room temperature should be enough.

This method is perfect for when you need to take a break for a couple of hours to a few days.

Method 4: Using Damp Cloth

Using a wet cloth slightly varies from using paper towels. For this method, damp the fabric or as many as you need to cover the clay altogether. Once you are done covering the clay, place it inside a plastic bag.

Remove the air and seat the plastic bag tight. Leave it for 3-5 days before removing the cloth and sealing the bag again.

Method 5: Poking Holes

Using a 1 cm wide stick, poke holes in your clay. Six to seven holes per 25 pounds of clay should be enough. Gently pour water onto the clay before placing it in a plastic bag. Seal the bag tightly and store it in a dark, cool place.

Moistening Dry Clay

If your clay has dried up already, no worries, you can still soften it. Doing the fourth method instructed above can revive your clay. Keep the clay in storage until it is moist enough to be molded.

Alternatively, cut smaller pieces of clay from the huge block. Soak every 10 ounces of clay in 8 ounces of water and seal them in separate plastic bags until they soften up. To speed up the process, you can soak the plastic bag containing the clay soaked in water in a bucket of water. The water pressure from the outside of the bag will help the water inside the bag speedily go into the clay.


Working with clay is fun until it gets too hard. Use the various methods listed above to keep your clay moist and malleable. To know how to keep clay from drying is valuable knowledge to every person who works with clay.

And what’s great is that you don’t have to get out of your way to get what you need. All that you will use are right in your home. So, choose which method works best for you and easily mold your clay into art.

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