Ghost Mud Sensory Dough with Toilet Paper, Soap and Water

Ghost Mud or Clean Mud is so easy to make and it’s a wonderful sensory activity for your children.  It smells fantastic, and it’s delightfully ooey and gooey when you squeeze it through your fingers.  It’s similar to playdough, but softer and silkier.

Yesterday I showed you how to do one of the coolest science activities ever, with a bar of Ivory Soap.  If you missed it, you have to check it out!  It’s just the craziest.  All you need is a bar of soap and a microwave!

ghost mud

I mentioned that normally, we make our homemade laundry detergent with the results of the experiment, but we didn’t do that yesterday.  We had some fun with it!  We used it to make a batch of ghost mud.

Making ghost mud is just as fun as playing with it.  Your kids will have a blast helping you whip up a batch.

What you’ll need:

  • a bar of ivory soap
  • a roll of toilet paper
  • a cup of warm water

First off, ask your kids to remove all of the toilet paper from the roll.  This is pretty much an activity in itself:

Gather it all up and put it in a large basin (I use a storage container for this).

As for the soap, you can either grate it, or do the Ivory Explosion.  If you do the Ivory Explosion, the soap gets quite papery and fragile as it expands, so you can simply crumble it up to use for your ghost mud.

Ivory soap in the microwave

Once you’ve grated or crumbled your soap, add it to 1 cup of very warm water, and mix until it gets mushy.

Now pour it over the toilet paper in the bin, and put the kids to work.  You need to mush for several minutes to combine all of the paper and soapy water until you have a smooth, slippery, pulpy, mess.

 For the first couple of minutes it won’t feel like it’s really turning into anything great, but be patient.  Keep working it: gathering it together, and kneading it, and you’ll end up with a wonderful, slick, mold-able dough.    You can add a little water if it seems too dry, or if you want it a little “sloppier”.

I handed out spoons, scoops and bowls, and the Hooligans pretended they were serving up ice cream.

ghost mud or clean mud sensory bin

Want to see another fantastic way to use this stuff?  Check out our pink and sparkly Fairy Mud!

 Looking for more awesome, easy play ideas? Try our:

Homemade Giant Bubble Mix

Muddy Car Wash

Dinosaur Activity Bin

Garden Soup – sensory play

2-Ingredient Cloud Dough

Garden Soup

Easy Twirling Ribbon Sticks

Get the 3-5 Playful Preschool e-Book!

 25+preschool activities, 10 printables, 50 links to activities not featured in the book all for $6.99 until May 25, 2014.  Price increases to $8.99 after the 25th.  Download your copy today:

3-5 Playful Preschool 3-book



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  1. Patty says

    Loved the pictures of the kids running around the yard with the tp. I did the same with my group last year. So much fun!

    • happyhooligans says

      Thank you, Marie. I too wish the internet/pinterest/kid blogs had been around when my own boys were little. We didn’t do anything nearly as creative as we do know. The inspiration that we have at our fingertips now is incredible!

  2. Janet says

    Very cool idea, but I’m very allergic to Ivory soap…… the point where if I touch it, Do you suppose there is any other brand of soap I could use? What do you suppose a bar of Fels Naptha would do. I love the whole idea of the Ghost mud, but definitely need to find another type of soap. Umm….maybe Dove? hat would smell terrific, too. Would appreciate your input. Thanks for all that you do!

    • happyhooligans says

      Janet, I don’t know if there are any suitable substitutes. I’m fairly certain that Dove and Fels Naptha won’t work, because they are dense bars of soap. The reason that Ivory expands is because it is whipped with so much air that the bar of soap actually floats. If you can find another “unsinkable” bar of soap, I would imagine that it might work. Let me ask around in my blogging circles, and I’ll let you know if anyone knows of a substitute.

      • Jamie says

        At the dollar store, they didn’t have Ivory so I got Jergens, and it worked great! However I don’t think this will be any help to you because the ingredients are very similar.

        This project was so fun and easy every step of the way!

  3. Barbe Lessem says

    Thank you so much for your site! I really appreciate the scientific explanations. I just sent my sister out to find a bar of Ivory soap so we can try this. I was wondering what happens after the kids are done playing with the mud. Does it dry out at room temperature? Will it get mold if I store it in a plastic container?

    • happyhooligans says

      You’re so welcome! I’m glad you liked the post. We’ve made this a few times, and it’s always a hit here. I made a big ball our of ours last time, and put it in an air tight container, and it did grow moldy, so I’m not really sure if there’s much you can do with it after. Perhaps if you leave it to air dry, it wouldn’t mold. Then maybe you could play with it in a bin of water just for fun?

      • Barbe Lessem says

        Perhaps we will experiment a little and post what happens. I am always excited when I find a site that is so interesting, with so many fresh ideas. I truly appreciate the remarkably prompt response to my questions. Thanks again for your hard work and kind attention.

      • happyhooligans says

        Let me know if you find something fun to do with it afterwards! I’m so glad you’re finding my blog to be so inspiring. Your comment just made my day. :)

  4. Christine says

    I so enjoy your page. Your activities are the greatest. You inspire me to be a better mother and educator. Thank you for all you do and for sharing it with us!

    • happyhooligans says

      I know it has to be Ivory for the microwave experiment because Ivory is whipped with air which is why it expands when heated. For the Ghost mud though, you’re not heating it, so I would think that another brand of white soap might work. I’ve never tried it with anything other than Ivory, but you could google “clean mud” to see if others have.

      • Jamie says

        “Jergens Mild Soap, Pure & Natural” worked great! Found that at the dollar store. Puffed all up in the microwave… We couldn’t stop laughing!

  5. Wendy says

    Can you make this ahead of time and take it to school? Also, could this be used to make ghosts on black paper and let them dry for a creative art project?

    • happyhooligans says

      I’m pretty sure we’ve played with ours the next day, Wendy, so you could probably make it up ahead. You might just have to add a bit of water to get it good and mucky again when it’s time to play with it. You could definitely try the ghost art idea. It’s fairly wet stuff though so it might make the paper very soggy. We’ve molded ours and made stars with cookie cutters, and left them in the sun to dry, but we’ve never done anything else with the clean mud when we’re finished playing with it. It doesn’t hurt to try though. :)

  6. Wendy says

    I made the ghost mud on a Saturday, it was still good on Monday (but had the kids add more stuff so they could help) and we made ghosts on black construction paper matter to a piece of cardstock! I took some pics if you would like to see! The kids really enjoyed creating the ghost mud and playing with it! :)

  7. Megan Osmond says

    I used a plain home brand bar of soap and it did expand maybe not as good as your pictures we then made the mud and turned it into snow men with sultana eyes and bits of pipe cleaners for the nose. We currently have the snow men drying hoping that the children can take them home in a couple of days.

  8. Amanda says

    Can I ask how you store it and how long it will last stored that way? I wanted to make it for both of my boys (kindergarten and pre-k) classrooms. Thank you!!!

    • happyhooligans says

      It won’t keep too long, Amanda. I wrapped mine in cling wrap, and after a few days it had gone mouldy. You’d be fine for a couple of days I think.

  9. Kat says

    Would love to do this, but can’t allergic to ivory. Mom couldn’t even use ivory snow laundry detergent on my baby clothes she had to use dreft. Can any other soap be used.

    • happyhooligans says

      Yes, I believe you can use any mild soap for the ghost mud, Kat. You just can’t do the microwave experiment that I mention at the first of the post! Only Ivory will work for that because of the high air content.

  10. Rachel says

    Hi, cool idea! Just wondering if you or your followers know a uk equivalent to the ivory soap? Is it because it has a high moisturiser content or something like that x thanks

  11. Alexis says

    What do you get off you dont use soap? I was thinking about how I could modify it for a baby/toddler who still mouths everything. Has anyone tried it without any soap?

    • happyhooligans says

      I don’t think it likely matters, but I normally buy the “double rolls”, so if you find your “mud” is to watery, you might have to add half or so of a second roll of tp.

      • says

        Geez we love your blog! Especially me! I feel like a SuperMom again when I see my children having an absolute blast with the tons of activities I have utilized from your blog! Thank you very sincerely for sharing so much of your time and effort with us readers! You’ve helped make my childrens childhood memories, that much more special by teaching me all these things to do!!!!!! THANK YOU

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