How To Make A DIY Sharpie Mug That’s Washable!

DIY Sharpie mugs are all the rage now; they’re great because you can completely personalize them and they make great gifts for birthdays or holidays! The only problem is, there are tons of different methods, and some of them don’t work as well as others. Sometimes the color washes away or chips off, but today I’m sharing my favorite tried and true method for making a DIY Sharpie mug that is totally washable!

This is the best tutorial for making DIY sharpie mugs that are washable!

I made these cute polka dot mugs by drawing polka dots on top of an adhesive sticker, then peeling the sticker away. But you can make these mugs however you want! If you want to use the paint markers to fill in a stencil or draw freehand, they will still turn out great! As long as you use oil-based paint pens and follow the instructions below, you’ll end up with washable DIY Sharpie mugs!

Once these mugs are baked, you can definitely hand wash them in warm, soapy water. The paint doesn’t come off if you lightly scratch at it with your nail, and it won’t come off with handwashing either. I have tried these in the top rack of the dishwasher as well, and they were still fine when the dishwasher was done! (The dishwasher definitely puts more wear and tear on the mug, so I don’t know how well the paint will hold up years from now. For the longevity of the paint, I suggest handwashing the mugs, but if you need to throw them in the dishwasher, they’ll still survive!)

How To Make A DIY Sharpie Mug That’s Washable!

Here’s what you need for your Sharpie mug: (affiliate links below to the products I use and recommend)

How To Make A DIY Sharpie Mug That's Washable!


Make sure you have oil-based paint markers; this is super important! Regular Sharpie markers and the water-based Sharpie paint markers will just wash off! The oil-based Sharpie paint markers have a red/pink band at the bottom (I think the water-based ones have a blue band).

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Start by cleaning your mug with rubbing alcohol and cotton balls. If you don’t clean the mug, the paint may be sitting on top of dirt and grease left by your fingers. This may cause the paint to adhere poorly while baking, which can cause it to wash off later. After you clean the mug, do your best not to touch the surface you plan to paint; hold the mug by the handle if possible.

I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut out text from a scrap of adhesive vinyl. You can also use stickers, but I wanted a specific phrase, so I made mine custom. 🙂 (By the way, if I had to do this again I would use a thicker font; in the finished mugs the font is totally legible through the polka dots, but it’s not super obvious from far away.)

If you make your own stickers, weed away the extra vinyl around the letters, then put a piece of transfer tape over the whole design. Press down well so that the transfer tape sticks to the vinyl letters.

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Peel the transfer tape up and the vinyl should come up with it! Position the design on your mug and press it on. Then gently peel the transfer tape away, leaving the vinyl on your mug.

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Now it’s time to add the polka dots! The paint markers don’t dry immediately like a regular marker does, so you need to be a little careful not to smudge your design as you go. The dots will be dry in about thirty seconds to a minute, but it still helps to start in the center and work your way outward so your hand doesn’t rest on the dots you just painted.

Just in case you do accidentally smudge your design or make a mistake and want to remove some paint, all you need is nail polish remover! Put some nail polish remover on a q-tip and gently wipe away the smudge. I accidentally smudged some paint onto the handle, and just below the handle you can see a “polka dot” that looks more like a short line. Nail polish remover on a q-tip fixed them both!

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Pick a color and start making polka dots in the center of your design. Fill in about a 1 inch area with polka dots.

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If you’re planning on using multiple colors, you need to work in stages, from the inside out, for all colors. For every additional color you want to add, fill in the same 1 inch area with polka dots in a new color, until you’ve added all the colors you wish to.

When you’re filling in an area with polka dots, you want to be pretty sure you’ve covered all the white areas with your polka dots. Be especially careful around the edges of your stickers; if those areas are still white when you remove the stickers, it will mess up the clean lines of your letters.

Once your 1 inch area is filled with polka dots, go back to your first color and add more polka dots in a ring around the 1 inch area. Remember to not do more than about an inch of polka dots at a time, or your hand may smudge the dots as you add your additional colors.

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Fill the ring in with polka dots in your additional colors, then start another ring with your original color.

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And so on and so on! Continue adding polka dots, working your way out from the center. If you want to, you can “fade” your polka dots out once you’re past the stickers. The stickers have to be totally covered in polka dots, but as you move further out, the dots can be spaced further apart.

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Let the dots dry for about ten minutes, then start peeling up your stickers to reveal the words below!

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And you’re done with the painting part!

Set your mugs aside to dry for about 24 hours. You want to make sure the paint has really set into the mug before you bake it, otherwise the paint won’t stick as well and may wash off later.

After 24 hours, put your mugs in a cold oven on a cookie sheet. Then start preheating the oven to 425 degrees. Some other Sharpie mug methods say 350 or 375, but the hotter the oven, the more the original white glaze will melt and allow your Sharpie paint to set in, so I like to bake my mugs at 425.

By putting the mugs in the cold oven and allowing them to preheat along with the oven, you reduce the risk of them cracking from sudden changes in temperature.

Once the oven is done pre-heating and has reached 425 degrees, leave the mugs in the oven and set a timer for 30 minutes. As the mugs bake, the paint may start to smell. The smell is normal, but you can open a window or turn on a fan to help air out your kitchen.

After 30 minutes, turn the oven off, but leave the mugs in the oven. Again, you want to let the mugs cool down along with the oven so that they don’t crack from a sudden temperature change.

Once the oven has cooled down, pull out your mugs, and you’re done!

This is the best tutorial for making DIY sharpie mugs that are washable!

See what I mean about the thicker font? It’s totally legible, but it isn’t smack-you-in-the-face obvious. So if you’re looking for obvious, maybe just do someone’s initials, or a single monogram, rather than a whole sentence.

I made one for my mom as well!

This is the best tutorial for making DIY sharpie mugs that are washable!
This is the best tutorial for making DIY sharpie mugs that are washable!

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If you liked this project, check out these other simple paint crafts!

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Jessi Wohlwend

I believe that anyone can do crafts and DIY projects, regardless of skill or experience. I love sharing simple craft ideas, step by step DIY project tutorials, cleaning hacks, and other tips and tricks all with one goal in mind: giving you the tools you need to “do it yourself”, complete fun projects, and make awesome things!

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Reader Interactions

  1. Matthew says

    4 years ago

    Thanks for the article Jessi! My daughter and I will attempt this. We used a regular Sharpie the first time only to find out it definitely does NOT work! LOL We ordered the oil based and are praying for a good outcome since she already has 60 pre-orders to fill!!!

  2. Patrick Quimzon says

    4 years ago

    Hi Jessi. Can I ask how much is a regular Sharpie Paint Pen? And is it available here in the Philippines? Thanks.

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      4 years ago

      The pens are about $10 for a pack of three, but I don’t know if it’s available in the Philippines!

  3. TIFFANY says

    4 years ago

    Very upset. Did the 425 for a half hr and the marker turned colors and my son’s christmas presents for his grandparents is ruined. Thanks alot.

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      4 years ago

      Oh no, what a bummer! What color did the marker turn? I did mention in the post that the markers get darker when you put the mugs in the oven, but I’ve never had it completely change color, like from red to green!

    • April Campbell says

      4 years ago

      Wow, way to blame your “ruined Christmas presents” on someone else when a craft that worked for them didn’t work for you. Very Christmas-spirit of you. It’s a;ways best to test-run stuff like this to work out the kinks before placing all your hopes for a final project on it. Different materials (i.e. mugs) may lead to different results too. And she was quite clear that colored markers change color when baked!!

      • Aimee says

        4 years ago

        Cannot agree with April’s comment more!!

      • Kelly Radtke says

        2 years ago

        exactly. What works for one person may not always yield the same results for another. You probably used a different quality of mug or some other variable applied. Always do a test run…I do that with all projects as well as recipes so I know how to correct it before i do it as a gift.

  4. Holly says

    4 years ago

    I have followed the directions and used sharpie oil paint pens, but the paint chips immediately off when hand washing! What am I doing wrong?? I am using plain white mugs from ikea.

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      4 years ago

      Oh no! It might be because the IKEA mugs are a higher quality; weirdly, this does better with cheapo mugs from the dollar store because the glaze melts more when you bake the mug which allows the pens to set in more. I might try with a really inexpensive mug, and let the Sharpies dry for at least 24 hours before you bake them to help cure the ink. You can also try bumping up the oven temperature a bit and see if that helps.

  5. Ashley says

    4 years ago

    Oh no! I waited until the last minute to make this, how important is it that the paint dries for 24 hours before baking?? Side note: I’ve made these before using your method and they came out great!! Thanks

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      4 years ago

      Let them dry as long as you can; the longer they dry the more the paint can “soak in” to the mug. I’ve never tried it sooner, but it should be fine, especially if you’re hand washing the mugs, or only putting them in the top rack of the dishwasher.

  6. Jai says

    5 years ago

    HI Can regular oil paint be used also??

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      5 years ago

      Yeah, probably! I’ve only tried it using the paint pens, but I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work with the same oil based paint using a paintbrush instead. Just be careful not to paint it on too thick; if the paint is too thick it will flake off later when you wash it.

  7. Diane says

    5 years ago

    I totally agree about the oil based sharpies, but I have seen you can use Mod Podge dish washer safe brand on top of the art work. Then wash in top layer.

    • Jessica Flick says

      3 years ago

      Do you add the mod podge before or after you bake

  8. Sharree says

    5 years ago

    Ok-so I tried this out and it worked–but I used the colored oil sharpies–and all of the colors totally changed–purple is pink, red is Maroon, blue is brown, etc. any ideas on how to combat that?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      5 years ago

      Hmm, that didn’t happen to me, but I’ve heard of that happening because some of the color evaporates as it bakes. I don’t know if anything can be done about it though… 🙁

    • April Campbell says

      4 years ago

      I had the same thing happen. Pink turned mauve, which was ok, but yellow, green, blue all turned a murky grey-brown, purple was a really muddy darker, almost brown, red turned dark, dark purple-maroon. The only colors that resembled their original were silver and black, which stayed perfectly, and gold, but the gold lost its sparkle. And the black on a mug started chipping off soon after. I followed the instructions to a T. I am going to try a colder temp, which has worked for a friend, and try again. So bummed.

      • Jessi Wohlwend says

        4 years ago

        Bummer! I’m sorry to hear that! Maybe we need a color chart that shows what color the markers are originally and what color the end up after they are baked, since they seem to vary so much!

    • Jo says

      2 years ago

      You can bake it at a cooler temp for a longer amount of time. The reason the color changed is because this method is VERY HOT.

  9. Tam Wolffheart says

    5 years ago

    Hey, this is probably a silly question, but I want to make sure I do this 100% right the first time, so…do you put the mugs on the top rack or the bottom rack?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      5 years ago

      I put them on the top rack, they get a little less beat up there. 🙂

  10. Khaddy says

    5 years ago

    Hi Jessi. Great article. It was very helpful.
    So I made a few as gifts and now one of my friends wants to buy a whole bunch of them from me. But i’m having trouble figuring out the pricing of the raw materials. Do you know how many mugs you can make before a pen/pack of pens runs out?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      5 years ago

      Hmm good question. I’ve made about seven mugs and the pens haven’t run out yet, but I really have no idea how long they would last. I imagine you could probably do at least 20 mugs, but I really don’t know. Sorry I couldn’t be more help!

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