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If you thought the slime craze of 2016 had passed, it’s still alive and well in the elementary school scene. It has been three whole years since I wrote about making slime without borax with my 5-year-old daughter, but she’s every bit as into it now as she was then. Every batch of slime is more elaborate than the next — there’s glitter slime, slime with beads, and even edible slime, and she’s gotten her preschool brother into her hobby, too. This is how we discovered the fun of this three-ingredient slime without glue or borax.

This slime is very similar to the oobleck that many of us probably grew up with. Made from shampoo, cornstarch, and water, this slime is thinner and a little more brittle than glue-based slime, but because there’s no glue it’s easier to clean up, and you can even take it to the bathtub where is dissolves into bubbly fun. Here’s how to make three-ingredient slime without glue.

Good question! Consider slime an example of one of the many non-cooking projects that happen in the kitchen. Making slime, like making pasta, is one of the ways I play with my kids in the kitchen. It allows us to practice math and measuring and talk about science. Then they have slime to play with quietly and independently, which is, of course, the real reason to make slime in the first place.

Slime made with glue is probably the most common variety because it’s easy and reliable. But it’s also incredibly sticky, and almost impossible to get off when it dries. It can literally ruin your bath towels if your kids try to wash their slime and then dry it (please don’t ask me how I know, I’m still not over it).

The other great thing about this glue-less slime is that you can probably make it right now without running out for new ingredients. We rarely have a whole bottle of glue on hand. But a half-cup of shampoo? We’ve always got that.

1. The thicker your shampoo, the thicker your slime. Now is a really good time to use a cheap shampoo — maybe something you grabbed for travel and haven’t touched since. Three-in-one shampoos (body wash, conditioner, shampoo all-in-one) work really well for making slime.

2. Color the shampoo before adding the cornstarch. Want pink or purple slime but don’t have pink or purple shampoo? A few drops of food coloring added to the shampoo will do the trick and make coloring easier than if you added it at the end.

3. Add just enough water.

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This recipe gives a range for the amount of water, because shampoo itself varies in water content. After adding the cornstarch to the shampoo, the mixture will be really crumbly, and you want to add the water just a tablespoon at a time until the slime is soft and stretchy but not liquid. Err on the side of less water.


Even though you don’t have to worry about this slime sticking, we still keep slime on a oil-cloth tablecloth or thin plastic cutting board — the cornstarch can leave some residue, which can be wiped away but isn’t great for wood. We have a designated bin of small figures, cookie cutters, and more just for getting creative with the slime.

This slime keeps well for about a week at room temperature. When the slime starts to separate or dry out, you know it’s time to make a new batch. And if you’re feeling really adventurous, you can play with this slime in a warm bath where it will dissolve into colorful, sudsy fun.

Shampoo, water, and cornstarch make for an easy slime that's fun to play with and doesn't leave a mess.