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!
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)
- plain mugs (I used these ones from Amazon and they worked great!)
- oil-based Sharpie paint markers (I used black, gold, and silver but if you want bright colors, try these, just remember that the colors will get darker in the oven)
- adhesive stencils or stickers (or use a Cricut cutting machine or Silhouette Cameo and some adhesive vinyl to create your own “stickers”)
- rubbing alcohol
- cotton balls
- nail polish remover and q-tips for cleaning up any mistakes or smudges
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).
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.
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.
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!
Pick a color and start making polka dots in the center of your design. Fill in about a 1 inch area with polka dots.
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.
Fill the ring in with polka dots in your additional colors, then start another ring with your original color.
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.
Let the dots dry for about ten minutes, then start peeling up your stickers to reveal the words below!
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!
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!
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If you liked this project, check out these other simple paint crafts!