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Non-toxic DIY bath paints: Ready in 5 minutes, this 3-ingredient bath paint for kids recipe provides hours of entertainment and won’t stain!
Bath Paint: Kids vs Budget
My daughter LOVES bath paint. To the point where sometimes, she just wants to hold the tube of bath paint, with the lid on, and carry it around the house.
Over the winter, things got a bit out of control with her bath paint habit. She got in the habit of using it at the bathroom sink every single morning before heading off to childcare. And then she’d spend up to an hour in the evenings in the bath tub, doing more painting, making a massive mess, and having a ton of fun.
The good news about this scenario?
It kept her busy, ensured she was excited about bath time (despite hating getting her hair washed), and generally encouraged fun and creativity.
All good things, right?
The bad news? The cost.
At the time we were under a loose stay at home order, so perusing shops for creative ways to make homemade bath paint wasn’t an option.
And the Crayola bath paints really, really started eating into our budget. During one month during the depths of winter, we went through $100 of bath paint. Yikes.
Then, of course, there’s the ingredients. Generally speaking, I prefer to use more natural, non toxic products in our house, with fewer ingredients.
Daily use of paint with ingredients like sodium laureth sulfate and methylchloroisothiazolinone, and additives like Red #33 and the catch-all “fragrance” ingredient didn’t exactly fit that lifestyle goal.
Time for a Homemade Bath Paint Recipe
Continuing to buy that amount of Crayola bath paint just wasn’t in the budget over the long term, nor did I feel good about the ingredients.
So I had to figure out how to make homemade bath paint for toddlers.
Throughout the spring, I’ve been testing out different recipes. I’ve experimented with a paint recipe that requires cooking, and several no-cook versions.
I’ve also tried 3 different types and brands of liquid soap to perfect our bath paint recipe.
Why I Love Making Bath Paint for Kids
Over the course of my experimentation, I like to think I’ve gotten pretty good at making bath paint. Kids I’ve tested it with seem to agree, so I figure I’d share it here!
What’s so great about my DIY bath paint for kids?
My favorite paint recipe (no-cook bathtub paint) only takes about 5 minutes. The version that requires cooking takes slightly longer, but is still less than 10 minutes, all in.
If you’re really, really in a hurry, you can mix up little bits of these DIY bath paints in each paint container, so they are ready for adding color even sooner.
It’s easy to make a “just enough” batch, whipping up just enough bathtub paint each time so there’s very little waste.
You can whip it up right before bath time and make a whole rainbow of colors!
You can also store it in an airtight container for at least a few days (I haven’t tried to store them any longer).
Non Toxic & No Worries
I hate using products with a ton of ingredients I can’t pronounce, and the store bought bath paint for kids was full of them.
With this bath paint recipe I can control all the ingredients, which I feel a lot better about.
Of the 3 different soaps I tested for this recipe, the best performing was also non-toxic and EWG Verified™: Attitude Super Leaves Shampoo (which I use on my own hair).
You control the ingredients, which is always a good thing in my books!
The Fun Distracts Toddlers From … Other Things
My kid is addicted to bath time when it involves painting, and can happily spend upwards of an hour in the bathtub when playing with her paints.
How to Make Non-Toxic, DIY Bath Paint for Kids
This recipe is the “no cook” method for making DIY bath paints. I’ve shared the cook method further down in this post, as well as why I don’t recommend it.
DIY Bath Paints Ingredients
- 3 parts Attitude Super Leaves* non toxic shampoo
- 1 part corn starch, sifted
- Natural food coloring (I use Watkins natural food coloring and it doesn’t stain my bathtub or tiles)
* I tested this recipe with a few different liquid soap brands, as detailed below. I found Attitude worked best, and I like that it’s non toxic and EWG Verified™. However, feel free to experiment with other brands, or a baby wash / baby shampoo, noting that the ratio of soap:cornstarch may need to change. The most important thing is that the liquid soap you use is clear. If the wash isn’t clear, be prepared for some strange colors when you add the food coloring.
The photo below shows bath paints made with pure red, yellow, green, and blue natural food coloring (no color mixing!) and Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap. The colors mixed with the liquid soap to create what you see below.
Homemade Bath Paint Supplies
In addition to the ingredients needed to make the actual paint, you’ll want to have some tools and supplies on hand.
- Ice cube tray (large cocktail ones work best) or small plastic containers for each color
- Paint brushes
- A small to medium sized mixing bowl
- Sifter, mesh strainer, or mini sifter
- Rags or paper towel for spills
Recipe & Instructions to Make Homemade Bath Paint
Before getting started, decide whether you’re going to make one large batch, and then portion it out when it’s time to add food coloring, or mix up a small batch in each little cup or container.
In my experience, this bathtub paint is so much better if you sift the corn starch first, so your size of sifter might dictate which you choose.
If you only have a normal-sized sifter, I recommend you make it up as a larger batch, and then portion it out for the food coloring stage.
If you have a mini sifter, then mixing up each color in an individual cup works fine!
Here are the steps:
- Sift the cornstarch into a mixing bowl or container. If you’re using the Attitude Shampoo, use 3 parts shampoo to 1 part cornstarch.
- Add the liquid soap / shampoo and mix. Because you sifted the corn starch, there shouldn’t be too many corn starch lumps. But you may get a few from mixing, in which case you want to break them up with the back of a spoon or fork.
- Portion out the un-dyed “paint” into individual cups or containers your kids will be able to take into the bath with them. Ice cube trays designed to make oversized ice cubs for cocktails or whiskey work well, and mostly float.
- Add the food coloring to each paint container, and mix well with a spoon or the end of a paint brush.
My Best Tips to Make DIY Bathtub Paint
I’ve spent a fair amount of time making our own bath paint, and below I’ve shared some of my best tips as you get started, or to help troubleshoot.
Soap Type Matters
I’ve tried these recipes with 3 different brands of soap, and the results varied a surprising amount based on which soap I used!
The Attitude shampoo worked best for colors, by a long shot. It’s completely clear, so this makes sense. The colors were “true” to the food coloring.
Compared to the Dr. Bronner’s (which is amber colored in the bottle, but looked clear when I was mixing) and the Cetaphil (which is a yellow-ish color), the colors were way clearer and more vibrant with the clear Attitude Shampoo.
As you can see in the photo above, the colors we made with the Dr. Bronner’s castile soap were way off compared to the Attitude (the Dr Bronner’s photo shows colors made with pure red, yellow, green and blue natural food coloring, going in a clockwise direction).
All three also had a slightly different consistency and viscosity, which effected the ratios I used. The Dr. Bronner’s was the most “flowy”, and a 2:1 ratio worked perfectly. In fact, the Dr. Bronner’s worked best for consistency of the paint, and was most “paint like.”
For the Cetaphil, I used a 2:1 but it was too gummy. Almost a marshmallow fluff consistency, and next time I would make it with a 3:1 ratio.
For the Attitude I tried both a 4:1 and 3:1 ratio of soap:cornstarch, and both worked well.
Sifting the Corn Starch Makes a Much Better Bath Paint for Kids
Corn starch gets really clumpy in liquid of any sort, and no matter how I tried, I could never completely de-lump it.
Through experimentation, I’ve found sifting the corn starch when adding it to the shampoo or soap makes it much easier to mix, and makes for a better consistency for painting.
If you want to make it up really fast in individual containers, just use a mini sifter.
Patch Test Your Tub to Check Whether it Will Stain
I’ve tried this bathtub paint on my bath tub and shower tiles, and it’s been fine (including on the grout). It’s never stained and it’s super easy to wash off.
However, you should definitely patch test it on your own tub, or wherever you plan on using it, before letting your baby or toddler run wild!
I think the key is using natural food coloring, which in my experience really doesn’t stain to the same extent as more conventional food dyes.
I Suggest You Skip the Cook Method
Above, I shared the no cook method to making homemade bath paints.
There’s also a cooking method, which involves heat corn start, hot water, and shampoo or soap up on your stove top before portioning it out into individual containers.
I tried this method, and it does create slightly better results, getting rid of the “marshmallow fluff” consistency.
However, you also have to heat the soap up, which means your whole kitchen stinks like whatever chemicals are in there for fragrance. I have issues with this, since indoor air quality and controlling VOCs are so important for health!
As such, I think it’s worth it to stick to the no cook method, even though the paint is slightly more gummy. My toddler definitely still loves it, and hasn’t complained!
If you do use this method, my tip is to still sift the cornstarch. I didn’t the first time I tried this, and it was really lumpy.
Finally, a note about safety! While bath time can be a lot of fun, the bathroom can be dangerous for kids, and the bath tub even more so.
- 100% Supervision! Don’t take your eyes off your kids when they’re in the bath, and don’t use anything that might distract you, such as your phone. Bath Time 101: Be Present and Alert!
- Water Temperature: Kids have sensitive skin, so it’s best to stick with warm water, but not hot. Use a bathtub thermometer to get it right.
- Faucet Cover: We always, always, always use a faucet cover when our daughter is in the tub. If she slips, we know she won’t crack her head open on the bath spout (we use the Whale).
- Non Slip Mat: Make sure your tub has a non-slip mat on the bottom. This is important at all times, but especially when working with these DIY bath paints as they can make things a bit more slippery.
- Allergic Reactions: Be on the lookout for irritations or reactions to any of the ingredients in this recipe. If your child is particularly sensitive, you may want to patch test. If their skin does get irritated, skip the post-bath lotion, pat their skin dry, and consider an oatmeal bath on another day if it persists.
- Clean Your Bath Toys After. If you use bath toys in the bath with the paint, be sure to thoroughly clean them after to prevent mold from growing.
I hope you try this recipe, and have fun with it! If you like it, please share!