How Long Does Polymer Clay Last? Understanding the Lifespan of Your Clay Creations

Have you ever wondered how long your polymer clay creations can last? You may have put in a lot of effort, time and creativity into making your polymer clay masterpieces, so it only makes sense to want them to last as long as possible. After all, they represent your creativity, passion and ingenuity. In this article, we explore everything you need to know about the lifespan of polymer clay.

Polymer clay is a versatile medium that has gained popularity over the years in the DIY and crafting communities. It has many applications and can be used to create jewellery, home decor, figurines, and much more. However, the question of how long polymer clay lasts remains a mystery for many. It is common to wonder if your polymer clay projects will survive the test of time. This article aims to answer this question and give you a better understanding of how long your polymer clay creations will last.

Whether you are a seasoned polymer clay artist or a beginner just starting, you know how important it is to understand the longevity of your work. You have likely invested a lot of time, money and dedication into creating your projects. You may have even gifted or sold them, so it’s crucial to know how long they can stand the test of time. Keep reading to find out how long your polymer clay projects can last and what factors affect their lifespan.

What is polymer clay made of?

Polymer clay is a type of modeling material that is made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride) resin and liquid plasticizer. The mixture is then blended with other materials like pigments, fillers, and stabilizers to give the clay its desired properties. The clay can be molded into various shapes and sizes and is often used for creating different crafts, jewelry, and figurines.

The primary ingredient of polymer clay, PVC resin, is a white and odorless powder that is formed by combining chlorine gas and ethylene gas. The resin has the ability to be melted and reshaped repeatedly when heated to specific temperatures. Liquid plasticizer, on the other hand, is typically added to the resin to give it a more pliable and workable texture. It also helps in making the clay soft and flexible.

Properties of Polymer Clay

  • Polymer clay comes in a wide range of colors. It can be easily mixed with other colors to create new shades and hues.
  • It is non-toxic and safe for handling. It does not contain harmful substances like lead or phthalates, which are commonly found in other types of modeling materials.
  • Polymer clay is waterproof and does not degrade easily when exposed to moisture or humidity.
  • It can be cured at low temperatures (usually around 265°F or 130°C) in a home oven, making it easy to work with even for beginners.

Longevity of Polymer Clay

Polymer clay can last for a long time if it is stored properly and kept away from heat and sunlight. The clay doesn’t dry out or harden, but if it’s exposed to extreme temperatures, it can become brittle and break. In general, polymer clay will last several years when stored in a cool and dry place. Once the clay is used to create a craft or project, it can last even longer if it is well-cared for and properly handled.

The Bottom Line

Polymer clay is a versatile and popular crafting material that is made from PVC resin and liquid plasticizer. It comes in a variety of colors, is easy to work with, and has a long shelf life when stored properly. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced crafter, polymer clay offers endless possibilities for creating unique and beautiful works of art.

Ingredient Purpose
PVC resin Main ingredient, provides durablity and flexibility
Liquid plasticizer Adds pliability, workability, and softness
Pigments Adds color to the clay
Fillers Controls texture and properties of the clay
Stabilizers Prevents discoloration and deterioration of the clay

Understanding the recipe of polymer clay can help you better appreciate its properties and potential uses.

Can Polymer Clay be Recycled?

Polymer clay has a fairly long shelf life when stored properly, but what about when it’s been used and you’re ready to discard it? Can it be recycled? The answer is both yes and no, depending on the type of polymer clay that you’ve used and the method that you’re considering for recycling it.

  • Recycling Polymer Clay Scraps: If you’ve got scraps of polymer clay leftover from projects, these can absolutely be recycled and reused! Simply collect all of your leftover pieces of clay, combine them together, and knead them as you would with a fresh block of clay. Softening clay that’s been sitting around may take some time, but keep at it until you’ve achieved the desired consistency. Once mixed together, the scraps will be just like a fresh, new block of clay, ready to be used again.
  • Recycling Used Polymer Clay: If you have a project that didn’t come out as you’d hoped and you’d like to recycle the entire item, unfortunately, the answer is no. Once polymer clay has been cured (or baked) it cannot be returned to its pliable, unsolidified form. It’s a bummer, but it’s the way it is.
  • Recycling Failed Polymer Clay Projects: If you have a piece that’s been colored, sculpted, and baked, but still isn’t quite right due to issues like cracks or bubbles, don’t fret—there are still a few options for you to consider. One method is to use the flaw to your advantage by incorporating it into your design. Alternatively, you can turn the project into a mosaic by breaking it into pieces and gluing them onto another surface. You can also crush the clay and use it for other applications like creating textures, making jewelry, or forming the base for a sculptural object.

Regardless of how you choose to recycle your polymer clay, the key takeaway is that you don’t need to let any clay go to waste. You may need to think outside the box a bit (or get creative), but there’s always a way to salvage and reuse your materials, giving them a new life.

How should polymer clay be stored?

Polymer clay is a popular crafting material used for various projects, from jewelry making to figurine sculpture. One of the most important aspects of maintaining the quality of polymer clay is by storing it properly. Here are some tips on how to store polymer clay:

  • Store in a cool and dry place – Polymer clay can be quite sensitive to extreme temperatures. It is recommended to keep polymer clay in a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight or excessive heat. A temperature between 60-75°F is ideal for ensuring the longevity of the clay.
  • Keep the clay away from dust and debris – Polymer clay is prone to attracting dust and other small debris. Store it in a clean, dust-free container or seal it in a plastic bag.
  • Separate color batches – If you have multiple colors of polymer clay, it is best to store them separately. This helps prevent color contamination and prolongs their shelf life.

Following these tips can help ensure the quality and longevity of your polymer clay for future crafting projects.

What factors can affect the lifespan of polymer clay?

There are various factors that can have an impact on the lifespan of polymer clay. Understanding these factors can help you make your clay creations last longer:

  • Exposure to heat: Polymer clay is usually baked in the oven at a certain temperature to harden it. However, if the clay is exposed to heat beyond what is recommended, it can become brittle and break easily. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for baking to avoid heat damage.
  • Exposure to light: Polymer clay should be stored in a cool, dry and dark place. Prolonged exposure to light can cause the clay to fade and lose its vibrancy. This is because the pigments used in the clay can be affected by UV rays. Thus, it is important to store your finished clay creations in a place that gets minimal exposure to light.
  • Contamination: Polymer clay can absorb dirt and oils from your fingers while you are working with it. This can affect the look and feel of the clay and make it less durable. To avoid contamination, it is important to work with clean hands and clean your tools regularly.

Aside from these factors, there are other considerations that can help preserve the lifespan of polymer clay:

Proper storage: As mentioned earlier, storing polymer clay in a cool, dry and dark place is recommended. You can store your clay creations in airtight containers to protect them from dust and moisture.

Appropriate handling: Proper handling of clay creations can also increase their lifespan. This includes avoiding dropping or hitting them, and handling them with care when brushing off dust or cleaning them.

Factors that Affect Polymer Clay’s Lifespan Impact on Lifespan
Exposure to heat Can cause the clay to become brittle and break easily
Exposure to light Can cause the clay to lose its vibrancy and become faded
Contamination Can make the clay look and feel less durable
Proper storage Can protect the clay from dust and moisture
Appropriate handling Can prevent breakage and damage to the clay

By paying attention to the various factors that can affect the lifespan of polymer clay and taking proper care of your clay creations, you can ensure that they last for a long time.

What are some common uses for polymer clay?

If you’re new to crafting with polymer clay, you might be wondering what kinds of projects you can create with this versatile material. Here are some common uses for polymer clay:

  • Jewelry making: Polymer clay can be shaped into beads, pendants, and other jewelry components. Its wide range of colors means you can create pieces to match any outfit or mood.
  • Figurines: Sculpting with polymer clay is popular among artists and hobbyists alike. The clay can be molded into lifelike or whimsical figures, animals, and other objects.
  • Home decor: From decorative bowls to picture frames, polymer clay can be used to create unique and personalized home decor pieces. Its durability makes it a popular choice for items that will be handled frequently, such as drawer pulls and light switch covers.

These are just a few examples of the many uses for polymer clay. Its affordability and versatility make it a favorite among DIY enthusiasts, while its strength and durability make it an attractive option for professional artists as well.

How can polymer clay be hardened?

Polymer clay is a type of modeling clay that hardens when baked at a low temperature. Once hardened, it can last for many years. The process of hardening polymer clay involves a few steps.

  • Kneading: Before creating any sculpture or object with polymer clay, it is essential to knead the clay properly. This process helps to soften the clay and make it more pliable. Kneading is an important step because it will help to prevent any air bubbles from forming in the clay, which can cause cracking or other imperfections.
  • Baking: After the clay has been molded into the desired shape, it needs to be baked at a low temperature. The temperature and time required will depend on the brand of clay being used, so it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Typically, polymer clay is baked at 265°F to 275°F for 15 minutes per ¼ inch of thickness.
  • Cooling: After baking, the clay needs to be allowed to cool completely. This step is important because it will help to prevent any warping or cracking of the clay.

Once the entire process is complete, the polymer clay will be hardened and can last for many years if properly cared for.

How to care for hardened polymer clay?

Even though polymer clay is a durable material, it still requires proper care to maintain its quality and longevity. Here are some tips for taking care of hardened polymer clay:

  • Store polymer clay objects away from direct sunlight and heat as it may soften or melt them.
  • Avoid exposing polymer clay objects to water or chemicals as they may cause damage or discoloration.
  • Use a soft cloth to clean polymer clay objects. Avoid using abrasive materials or harsh chemicals.
  • Avoid dropping or mishandling polymer clay objects as they may crack or break.

By following these simple tips, hardened polymer clay objects can last for many years to come.

Tools to harden polymer clay

There are several tools that can be used to harden polymer clay:

  • Oven: A standard kitchen oven is the most commonly used tool for hardening polymer clay. However, an oven thermometer may be required to ensure the temperature is accurate.
  • Toaster oven: A toaster oven is a small electric oven that is often used for baking small items. It can be used to harden polymer clay, and it may be more energy-efficient than a standard oven.
  • Dehydrator: A dehydrator is a tool that is often used to dry food. It can also be used to harden polymer clay as it maintains a consistent low temperature and can prevent cracking

Choosing the right tool for hardening polymer clay will depend on the size and shape of the object being created, as well as personal preference and available resources.


Hardened polymer clay can last for many years if properly cared for. The key to hardening polymer clay is following the right process, including kneading, baking, and cooling. Taking care of hardened polymer clay requires proper storage, handling, and cleaning. There are several tools that can be used to harden polymer clay, including an oven, toaster oven, and dehydrator.

How can you tell if polymer clay has gone bad?

Polymer clay is a versatile and durable medium that can last for years with proper handling and storage, but it can still go bad over time. Here are some signs to look out for to determine if your clay is past its prime:

  • The clay becomes dry, hard, and crumbly – this is a sure sign that the clay has lost its moisture content and has become too hard to work with.
  • The clay becomes sticky or mushy – this indicates that the plasticizer in the clay has broken down, making it difficult to handle and causing it to stick to your fingers and tools.
  • The clay has changed color – if your clay was originally a bright color but has now turned dull or faded, it may have lost its pigments and become unusable.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to discard the clay and start fresh with a new batch. It’s also important to store your polymer clay properly to extend its lifespan. Keep it in an airtight container or plastic bag, away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures.

Can Polymer Clay be Mixed with Other Materials?

Polymer clay is a popular art medium that has been used for years by artists of all levels. One of its advantages is that it can be combined with other materials to create new and interesting effects. Here are some things to keep in mind when mixing polymer clay with other materials:

  • Mixing with other polymer clays: Different brands of polymer clay can be mixed to create new colors and textures. However, some colors are easier to mix than others, and some brands may not be compatible with each other. It’s always a good idea to do a test before committing to a project.
  • Mixing with acrylic paints: Acrylic paints can be used to color polymer clay, but they should be mixed sparingly. Too much paint can make the clay brittle and prone to cracking. It’s best to mix paint into the clay a little bit at a time until the desired color is achieved.
  • Mixing with powders: Powders like mica and chalk can be mixed with polymer clay to create interesting effects. However, they should be mixed thoroughly so that they don’t leave streaks or lumps in the clay.

When mixing polymer clay with other materials, it’s important to keep in mind that the final product may not be as strong or durable as polymer clay on its own. Adding too many materials can weaken the clay and cause it to break or crumble over time. It’s always a good idea to do a test and see how the new materials affect the clay before committing to a project.

Here’s a list of some popular materials that can be mixed with polymer clay:

Material Effect
Acrylic Paints Coloring agent
Pearl Ex Powders Shimmering effect
Chalks Matte effect
Metallic Powders Metallic effect
Beads Decoration
Glitter Sparkling effect

Overall, mixing polymer clay with other materials can be a fun and creative way to explore new possibilities. Just be sure to experiment carefully and test out your ideas before committing to a project.

How can you clean objects made with polymer clay?

One of the benefits of using polymer clay is that it is durable and long-lasting. However, like any other material, it can become dirty or discolored over time. Cleaning polymer clay objects properly will not only help them last longer but will also keep them looking beautiful and new.

  • Soap and Water: The easiest and most common way to clean polymer clay objects is by using soap and water. Use a soft cloth or sponge to wash the object with mild soap and warm water. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials as they can scratch or damage the polymer clay.
  • Rubbing Alcohol: If the object has stains or discolorations that can’t be removed with soap and water, rubbing alcohol can be used. Soak a cotton ball or swab with rubbing alcohol and gently rub the affected areas. Rinse the object with water and dry it with a soft cloth.
  • Baking Soda: For tough stains or odors, baking soda can be used to clean the polymer clay object. Mix baking soda and water to form a paste and apply it to the object. Use a soft cloth or brush to gently scrub the surface. Rinse the object with water and dry it with a soft cloth.

It’s important to note that polymer clay objects should not be submerged in water, as they can absorb water and become soft or damaged. Additionally, avoid using hot water or exposing the object to heat, as this can cause the polymer clay to melt or deform.

If the polymer clay object has intricate details or delicate areas, it may be best to avoid cleaning it altogether or seek professional assistance. Taking care of your polymer clay objects by cleaning them properly will help them last for many years to come.

Are there any safety concerns when working with polymer clay?

When it comes to working with polymer clay, safety should always be a top priority. Although it is generally considered safe and non-toxic, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that you use it safely and avoid any potential health hazards.

  • Always wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling polymer clay. This will help to remove any dust or debris that may have collected on your skin, and prevent it from getting into your eyes or mouth.
  • Avoid eating, drinking, or smoking while working with polymer clay. This will help to prevent accidental ingestion of any harmful chemicals or particles that may have come into contact with the clay.
  • Always work in a well-ventilated area. Polymer clay can release potentially harmful fumes when it is heated or baked, so make sure that you are in a space with good air flow.

In addition to these general safety precautions, there are a few specific hazards to keep in mind when using polymer clay:

One potential hazard is the release of phthalates, which are chemicals that are often used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastic materials. These chemicals are present in some types of polymer clay, particularly those that are softer and more pliable. To minimize exposure to phthalates, look for brands that are labeled as phthalate-free.

Another potential hazard is the release of toxic fumes when polymer clay is heated or burned. To avoid this, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully when baking your creations, and use an oven thermometer to ensure that your oven is at the correct temperature.

Hazard Risk Prevention
Phthalates Potential for exposure to harmful chemicals Use phthalate-free brands
Heating/burning Risk of toxic fume release Follow manufacturer’s instructions carefully, use oven thermometer

By taking these safety precautions and using polymer clay responsibly, you can minimize your risk of exposure to any potentially harmful chemicals or fumes, and enjoy the creative freedom that polymer clay has to offer.

How Long Does Polymer Clay Last?

1. What is the shelf life of polymer clay? Polymer clay can last indefinitely if stored properly.
2. How long can polymer clay be stored? Polymer clay can last for years if stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
3. Can baked polymer clay go bad? Once baked, polymer clay will not go bad or decompose.
4. Does polymer clay dry out over time? Polymer clay can dry out over time if left uncovered or exposed to air for extended periods of time.
5. How long does it take for polymer clay to harden? Polymer clay hardens when baked in an oven at the recommended temperature and time.
6. Can I still use polymer clay if it’s been left out for too long? Polymer clay that has been left out for too long may become too brittle or crumbly to work with effectively.
7. What factors can affect the longevity of polymer clay? Exposure to heat, light, or humidity can affect the longevity of polymer clay, as can improper storage.


Thanks for reading about how long polymer clay lasts! With proper storage and handling, polymer clay has an indefinite shelf life and can be used for years to come. Remember to store your clay in an airtight container in a cool, dry place to extend its life even further. Visit us again for more tips and tricks on working with polymer clay. Happy crafting!