How to Paint a Ceramic Mug | DIY Mug Paintin

With many people nowadays stuck at home, we’re all looking for a fruitful hobby that will entertain us. If you are into arts and crafts, you can engage in painting mugs as a hobby or even as a business.

So, are you ready to paint mugs? How exactly do you do it? What are the materials that you need? What techniques and skills need to be developed when painting? Any person can paint, as a famous painter Bob Ross pointed out – you just have to practice and love what you do! So, without further ado, let’s get creative!

How to Paint a Ceramic Mug

What kind of paint to use on ceramic mugs?

If you want to paint on ceramic mugs, here are some common paint types to use:

  1. Acrylic – this is a budget-friendly way of painting your ceramic product. It is water-based and is easily available in most stores.
  2. Paint pen – if you use a paint pen, you’ll have to place the mug in an oven at 375 degrees to fully cure the mug.
  3. Nail polish – due to its quick-drying tendencies, nail polish is also a common favorite in creating swirly effects on ceramic mugs.

Dishwasher safe paint for mugs

Generally, you can use enamel paint brands that indicate that they’re dishwasher-safe and okay for use on ceramics. If you prefer a sealant, painted mugs can be applied with Mod Podge, which is non-toxic and food-safe. Mod Podge comes in various textures – glossy, matte, etc.

Painting mug with acrylic paint

Acrylic works on most surfaces so you won’t have a problem getting it to stick onto your ceramic mug.

You can do this yourself or let your children paint it as they like, which can also be a great bonding activity that will also enhance your child’s imagination and love for the arts and crafts.

What you’ll need:

  • acrylic paint (multi-surface, preferably satin finish)
  • ceramic mug
  • masking tape
  • paintbrush
  • 2 damp cloths (one for wiping acrylic paint spills and one for rubbing alcohol)
  • rubbing alcohol
  • oven
  • tray


  1. Remove all stickers and protruding decor from the mug.
  2. Wipe the mug using rubbing alcohol on a damp cloth.
  3. Keep the mug rim out of the painting area by taping it with any masking tape.
  4. Start painting your mug as desired. Use acrylic paint that’s meant for all kinds of surfaces, especially for ceramic.
  5. Once done, air-dry the mug for 72 hours before using it, especially if you intend to clean it on a dishwasher (top rack).
  6. Take the tape off and correct any mistakes for the painting.
  7. Put the mug in a tray and into a cool oven.
  8. Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Allow it to cool inside the oven afterward.
  9. Let the mug cool down before washing and using it as normal.

Painting mug with nail polish

Oftentimes, we might have spent too much on beauty products, which may include nail polishes. If you have a plethora of nail polishes in your stash that you don’t often use, or if you saw a couple of nail polishes for sale online or at a local thrift store, you can use them for painting your ceramic mug.

Technically, nail polish dries like acrylic paint so it’s no surprise that it’s usable for most painting projects. Instead of letting your nail polish expire and become sticky, you can use most of it to create your own painted ceramic mug.

What you’ll need:

  • bowl (large enough to fit the mug)
  • water
  • mug
  • plastic bag
  • various nail polish
  • skewer or barbecue stick
  • nail polish remover


  1. Put a plastic bag over the bowl. This will help simplify clean-up.
  2. Fill up the bowl with enough water for the mug to be dipped properly.
  3. Pour nail polish into the water in various swirling motions. You can use as many colors as you like to create an abstract effect (or you can use a single solid color). Make sure you are close to the water when you pour the nail polish to avoid the formula from sinking to the bottom.
  4. Mix the swirl using the skewer or barbecue stick. Keep in mind that, unlike acrylic paint, nail polish is difficult to clean because it dries almost instantly, especially if you go with brands like OPI and Sally Hansen, so be sure to work quickly. It’s up to you on how to mix the swirl based on what design you like.
  5. Dip the mug slowly into the water. If you make the mistake of accidentally getting some of the nail polish inside the mug, you can just wipe it off using nail polish remover.
  6. Shake off the mug a little bit after dipping to remove excess water and to avoid forming lumps at the bottom, which will become unsightly and difficult to take off once it dries.
  7. Optional: To make your mug dishwasher-safe, you can use Mod Podge, which is available in most craft stores to seal your mug and make it non-toxic. However, if you prefer to just hand-wash your ceramic mugs, you can leave out this step.


Painting mug with alcohol ink

Alcohol ink is yet another arts and crafts material that you can easily buy off thrift stores. They’re convenient for painting your ceramic mug to give an abstract, drippy effect, and here’s how to do it:

What you’ll need:

  • alcohol ink (various colors of your preferences)
  • plastic or glass working surface or table
  • rubber gloves
  • mug
  • isopropyl alcohol (spray)
  • heat gun (optional)
  • cotton ball
  • regular rubbing alcohol
  • acrylic coating sealant


  1. Prepare your working table by ensuring that there’s a plastic surface for easy clean-up. Wear safety or rubber gloves as well. Make sure you are in a well-ventilated area as alcohol ink isn’t very good for your nose and lungs.
  2. Take your mug and hold it upright. Squeeze out alcohol ink in various ways to make abstract graphics. You can use one color or two depending on your preferences – be creative!
  3. You can also tilt your mug differently to get different drip motion effects on the design. This will add layers of movement with each color that you put onto the mug surface. Spraying isopropyl alcohol on the mug design as you squeeze out alcohol ink onto it will help move the design better.

Optional: if you want to let the design set quickly instead of letting it drip, you can use a heat gun for this.

  1. Use a cotton ball with regular alcohol to clean off the edges for any mistakes as needed. You can also use the alcohol and cotton balls to clean up your working area.
  2. Use acrylic coating with a glossy finish. Make sure you are outside when doing this since acrylic coating needs ventilation areas. Spray the acrylic coating on the mug.
  3. Let the mug cure for about 2 hours. Then, you can wash and use it as normal. Keep in mind, however, that they are recommended only for hand-washing and not for the dishwasher.

Painting Using Only Q-tip Toothpick Pencil

Mandala designs are common nowadays due to their attractive and colorful patterns. Here’s how you can make your mandala ceramic mug with a few tools:

What you’ll need:

  • Q-tip/cotton swabs, preferably wood-type, not plastic, for better paint adhesion
  • mug
  • rubbing alcohol
  • paint mixing palette
  • acrylic paint, preferably with a round bottle shape for stamping the design
  • old pencils with round eraser ends
  • a damp cloth for cleaning
  • toothpick
  • kneaded eraser (optional)
  1. Wipe down your mug with rubbing alcohol to clean it from any surface impurities before painting.
  2. Take one Q-tip (cotton swab) and remove the cotton part of one end.
  3. Smear white paint on both sides of the cotton swab.
  4. Set the Q-tip to dry aside.
  5. Pour your desired paint onto a mixing palette. You can use all sorts of colors that you want.
  6. Start painting your mug with the tools that you have. To create a simple mandala pattern, use the bottom part of your acrylic bottle (or any similar bottle with a round bottom) and stamp it onto your mug into a half-circle. Let it dry to avoid getting it messed up while you’re working with the other dots.
  7. Dip toothpick in a certain color that you like to cover the outside of the big half-circle. Remember to wipe the toothpick when you’re switching with colors as acrylic will dry fast!

Optional: put your mug on top of a kneaded eraser to keep it from going places.

  1. Create a second row of the dots over the first row. You can use a different color or a lighter or darker shade of the previous color.
  2. Use the paper end of the cotton swab to create the larger dots over the second layer of toothpick dots.

To remove a dot if you make a mistake, use a damp Q-tip and simply remove the dot quickly while it’s still wet.

  1. Next create more dot layers in the following order: cotton end of the Q-tip, and then the pencil eraser.
  2. Go back to the paper end of the cotton swab and going from each large space between the large dots made by the eraser, put your cotton swab dots just right above them.
  3. Using the paper end of the Q-tip again, add two dots in between the large dot and the previous dot, making it seem like a zigzag pattern.
  4. Use the toothpick to start making dots in between the spaces of the larger eraser dots.
  5. Let your design cure completely before using.

Painting Mugs with Porcelain Pens

Porcelain pens are another way to paint ceramic mugs, especially if you like intricate designs but don’t want the complicated mess of paint. Here’s how:

What you’ll need:

  • porcelain pens
  • porcelain mug
  • paper
  • double-sided tape
  • scissors


  1. Wash the porcelain with your preferred dishwashing liquid and dry thoroughly.
  2. Fold a piece of paper and cut out a heart shape. Stick it to the mug using double-sided tape.
  3. Shake the pen and press out the color. Then you can start painting outside the cutout heart with as many colors as you like.
  4. Peel off the heart pattern and write a message or create a drawing inside of the heart as you like.
  5. Let it cure for 4 hours.

Some easy mug painting ideas

mug painting ideas7
Bamboo forest
mug painting ideas5
mug painting ideas4
mug painting ideas3
Dot dot dot
mug painting ideas2
Smiley cat
mug painting ideas 1
Love you MOM
mug painting ideas6