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DIY Dishwasher Safe Decorating Plates and Mugs – Sharpies, Sharpie Pens, and Alcohol Inks

We’ve all seen those DIY Sharpie custom dishes on Pinterest. Color, bake, enjoy. Or, so the theory goes. Sharpies are permanent, so it makes sense you could color dishes permanently with Sharpies. Unfortunately, a large number of people report that these dishes are only hand washing safe, not dishwasher safe. I hardly ever use my dishwasher, so this isn’t a big issue for me, but I realize that most people do regularly use a dishwasher. Other folks on the web reported markers changing color in the oven and that Sharpie oil paint pens work better than regular sharpies. I probably couldn’t draw my way out of a paper bag. I do, however, love stamping and stenciling, and have great faith in alcohol inks. I decided to conduct some experiments to see if Sharpie paint pens or Stazon alcohol inks were up to the task of creating long-lasting, dishwasher safe custom mugs and plates. I hope you enjoy this DIY dishwasher safe decorated dishes tutorial I created based on my experiences!

How to Decorate Plates with Alcohol Inks

Materials Needed for DIY Dishwasher Safe Decorated Dishes

  • Dishes to decorate
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Stazon alcohol inks
  • Stamps

Brands other than Stazon may work – I don’t know because I haven’t tried them! I do, however, know that Stazon inks to work and I can recommend them without hesitation. The colors shown below are some of my favorites!

Update!!! Due to the number of people asking over the years if these dishes are food safe, I designed a new tutorial showing a way to decorate dishes in a food safe, dishwasher proof way! This method does not show using stamps, but you could totally substitute stamps and Stazon inks for the alcohol inks I demonstrated.food safe alcohol ink dishes

DIY Dishwasher Safe Decorated Dishes Tutorial

1. Carefully clean the surfaces you plan to decorate with rubbing alcohol. This is very important! Grime and finger oils can prevent the ink from sticking well, and small stains, like coffee stains, become more prominent and permanent after you bake the dishes.

2. After the dishes are dry, carefully stamp them with your desired designs and colors. Here are a few tips:

  • If you use cling stamps, mount them on a flexible piece of plastic, like the plastic they usually come attached to, instead of a rigid stamping block. This allows you to curve the stamp in place again the dish’s surface without having to rock the stamp.
  • If you are using rigid, wood mounted stamps, carefully place one edge of the stamp flat on the dish’s surface and then gently roll the stamp out across the dish. I start by placing the stamps left edge down and then rock it to the right until each part of the stamp has made contact with the dish.
  • After stamping a design, let it dry for a couple of minutes before you handle that area. This was not a problem for me when working on the plate, but I had to wait for each shell to dry before I could hold the mug in my lap to stamp the next color.
  • If you make a mistake or are unsatisfied with the design, quickly and carefully remove it with more rubbing alcohol. Wait for the alcohol to dry before restamping.

I took several in-progres photos, as well as a handful of ‘before’ pictures, baking photos, and pictures of the items before being washed. I saw these pictures on my camera when I started the import to my computer, but then something mysterious happened and I lost everything after my first couple of shots! Grr. All I really have from the process is this (barely acceptable) photo showing me using a flexible piece of plastic instead of a stamping block. This swallow mug does not appear in other photos because it was my ‘control’ to test for hand washing durability in the event that the others were destroyed in the dishwasher. I am happy to report the other, more attractive pieces passed all the tests!

stamping swallows

3. Once the dishes are stamped and dry, place them on the middle rack of your oven. It is easiest to place mugs up side down on the rack. Turn the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (or, if that makes you nervous, you can go for 350).

4. Once the oven reaches temperature, set a timer for 30 minutes. Or look at your watch – whatever makes you happy! At the end of 30 minutes, turn off your oven and wait a very long time.

5. Allow the dishes to cool in the oven until they are cool enough to touch. Removing them too quickly may result in cracking! It will depend on your oven, the temperature of your home, etc., but this may take a couple of hours, so don’t plan this project right before you need to bake!

6. Enjoy your new custom dishes!

Stamped plate

The decorated shell dishes are shown after being washed in my dishwasher. I washed them on a full cycle with soap and no other dishes, so they endured the full power of the machine. I wish the ‘before’ photos hadn’t vanished so you could see the small gaps in some designs were because of my stamping job, not the dishwasher! The only exception is that one of the shells on the mug was slightly faded after being washed. Since the same color of ink worked find on the plate, I suspect this was my fault. I had cleaned away a mis-stamped design on the same spot and probably didn’t wait for the alcohol to full dry before applying the new stamp, weakening its bond to the dish.

Shell stamped mug

What about Sharpie paint pens? Well…they are certainly dishwasher safe and allow you to use stencils, but they may not turn out the same color. Again, I wish my ‘before’ photos had survived, but this reddish anchor mug shown below was decorated with the bright purple pen lying in front of it!

Custom anchor mug

It survived the dishwasher just fine and the red anchor makes more sense than a purple anchor, but it’s not the color I painted it. If you want to use Sharpie paint pens, I recommend either testing them first, or just accepting that your design might come out a different color. My sister also reports she had marker colors change on her once when she made a Sharpie dish.

I am so impressed with the stamping results and so pleased that Stazon inks are dishwasher proof! I am not surprised – Stazon ink pads are one of the coolest things ever created. I use them all the time for Shrinky Dink projects and as a resist when I want to acid etch metals. I am also very pleased that they maintained their color in the oven.

Dishwasher Safe DIY Decorated Dishes

Have you tried decorating your own dishes yet? What did you use? Did the colors change? Do the inks stay put in the wash? I’d love to hear your experiences!

Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of these links, The Artisan Life will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!



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{ 76 comments… add one }
  • Whitney M. June 6, 2013, 05:13

    That is a really neat project! I actually would never have thought of stamps. It would be a great idea for little custom projects for special events or parties so that you had great dishes that matched your theme!

    • Natashalh June 6, 2013, 06:32

      Isn’t it cool how you could decorate anything? You could even stamp guest’s names on plates and use them as their own place cards. I was pretty giddy with excitement when I realized how well the stamping worked!

    • Shaunna December 21, 2017, 07:59

      are these food safe after baked with the sharpie oil pens?

      • Natasha December 21, 2017, 11:00

        That’s really your call. Personally I wouldn’t eat off a surface decorated with Sharpies because some may come off with use. I’ve always only decorated non food-contact areas. However, it probably wouldn’t be very much at a time, so if you’re comfortable with that, it’s your call.

  • Cyndi June 6, 2013, 05:41

    I love Sharpies, but yeah, I haven’t tried baking any dishware with them, yet. 🙂 Those stamps look awesome on those dishes.

    • Natashalh June 6, 2013, 06:33

      If you do try any of your Sharpie art on dishes, be prepared to see them change colors! And if they’re traditional Sharpie makers, make sure to hand wash everything you decorated. I’m sure you could do some pretty cool designs!

  • Rose June 6, 2013, 07:32

    Pretty cool! I never would have thought to use inks like that.

    • Natashalh June 6, 2013, 09:20

      I use alcohol inks a lot and it suddenly occurred to me that, if they could stick permanently to plastic, maybe they could stick to ceramics, too! I tried it and it worked. =)

  • Kathryn Stratford June 6, 2013, 12:32

    What a great idea! These examples are really pretty. I might try this sometime! I have enough dishes, but it would be cool to have a personalized set. Now that I think of it, my mom’s birthday is in August, and I could make a couple of plates for her 🙂 Great idea!
    Thank you for sharing this with us.

    • Natashalh June 6, 2013, 14:10

      Plain white dishes are really easy to find – you can usually find them at thrift stores really inexpensively, too! I hope you have fun if you decide to make some personalized dishes as a birthday present!

  • Marieken June 6, 2013, 20:55

    I like your new creations! I’ve drawn on some coffee cups with Sharpies, but I haven’t used them a lot, because I am afraid the colours will come off.

    • Natashalh June 6, 2013, 21:23

      Thank you! I am prett pleased with them, myself =)

      I hope you get the chance to try this alcohol ink technique some time. I not only ran the dishes through the dishwasher, but I also tried to scratch the ink off and it didn’t budge! To be fair, neither did the Sharpie paint pen, it just wasn’t the color I’d intended.

      Thanks for stopping in!

  • Paige @ Little Nostalgia June 7, 2013, 03:53

    I’ve heard this about the regular Sharpies, too. We use our dishwasher for everything, so I was glad to hear all the feedback before I tried it. Interesting about the red anchor, haha! I wonder if higher-quality paint markers would be better. Maybe I’ll do a follow-up to your experiment!

    • Natashalh June 7, 2013, 06:45

      I don’t know. Possibly, but I don’t really want to spend several dollars a marker just to have it go awry! My sister pointed out that the red is more nautical than the purple and I have to agree, but it just isn’t the color I intended! If you do have any nice oil paint makers and give it a try I’d be interested to know how they turn out!

  • Laura M. June 10, 2013, 11:40

    We did this recently too…started with regular sharpies, tried a few methods of stenciling, baked them, tried the dishwasher and…they washed off! Tried again with the sharpie paint pens, they did work better. I will check out the ones you suggest for next time though! Here are our Hands Off Daddy’s Mug & Saucers. Found you via the DIY Sunday Showcase, wish I’d see it sooner! http://lalymom.blogspot.com/2013/06/spoiler-alert-fathers-day-gifts-story.html

    • Natashalh June 10, 2013, 12:53

      The paint pens do stay on, I just experienced some color changing! The Stazon alcohol inks are amazing, though! I’ll go hceck out your project. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Nicole June 10, 2013, 15:25

    I just love what you did with those! Very cute! I am a new from southern charm! I would love for you to check out my blog and hopefully follow me back! Nicole

    • Natashalh June 10, 2013, 17:04

      Thanks for stopping in and I’m heading to your blog now!

  • Natalie June 12, 2013, 02:32

    Super craft, looks great!
    I use Gonis Keradecor which are paints that you burn into your plates etc in the oven, work wonderfully.
    Thank you so much for sharing on Tutorial Thursdays Linky Party, I look forward to seeing what you share with us this week.
    Marigolds’ Loft

    • Natashalh June 12, 2013, 06:50

      That would work! Thanks for stopping in and I’ll make sure to check out the link up tomorrow!

  • Jessica June 13, 2013, 06:23

    These came out great! This is such a neat project to do :). Thanks so much for sharing with us @ My Favorite Posts SHOW OFF Weekend Blog Party!


    • Natashalh June 13, 2013, 07:07

      Thank you for stopping by! I was pretty excited when I pulled these out of the dishwasher and they were intact.

  • another jennifer June 14, 2013, 10:51

    The stamps look great. I have yet to try making my own. I’m pinning this for future reference!

    • Natashalh June 14, 2013, 11:19

      Thank you! It’s so easy when you use stamps and alcohol inks – I hope you give it a try! The only tricky part is getting the knack of applying a stamped design to a slightly curved surface.

  • Kim @ Curtain Queen June 14, 2013, 13:47

    Love the stencil idea! I totally am there, since I’m no artist. Thanks for the inspiration!
    His blessings,

    • Natashalh June 14, 2013, 13:49

      I love using stencils because I really can’t draw. Thanks for stopping in!

  • Natasha in Oz June 14, 2013, 18:52

    Wow, they look great! Thanks so much for sharing your tutorial at the Say G’day Saturday linky party. I am pinning this right now.

    This week’s linky party has just started so I hope you can stop by and say g’day!

    Best wishes for a great weekend,

    Natasha in Oz

    • Natashalh June 14, 2013, 20:57

      Thank you for pinning and I’m heading over to check out the new week!

  • Christine June 17, 2013, 00:49

    I absolutely LOVE the design!!!!

    Thanks so much for sharing this at The DIY Dreamer!! See you tomorrow evening!

  • Abigail Davidson June 21, 2013, 11:17

    What a great idea! Love the designs too.

  • Penny Patterson July 11, 2013, 03:04

    Do you think I could use the same process on wine glasses?

    • Natashalh July 11, 2013, 08:20

      I don’t see why not, except you’d have to make sure the glass wouldn’t detonate in the oven. Some glass can handle heat and some can’t, so you’d need a glass that can.

      • Penny Patterson July 11, 2013, 11:29

        Thanks, I am going to give it a try!

        • Natashalh July 11, 2013, 14:53

          I hope you enjoy! Just make sure to use glass that can take the bake. You might want to lower the temperature some, too.

  • They turned out so nicely! I love the seashells. Thank you so much for sharing at All Things Pretty! Hope you come back soon.

  • Sande Sivani August 1, 2013, 17:28

    The gang at My Personal Accent thinks your post about DIY Dishwasher Safe Decorating Plates and Mugs using Sharpies, Sharpie Pens, and Alcohol Inks is WONDERFUL, and we would like to invite you to party with us at starting at 5:00 Thursday nights at our new Blog Strut Peacock Style Link Party to share your creative ideas. Come on over!! http://wp.me/P2Vf55-1K

    • Natashalh August 1, 2013, 17:44

      Thank you and thanks for inviting me! I’ll have to check it out. =)

  • Linda September 28, 2013, 16:24

    I love this. Thanks so much for the inspiration. Linda

    • Natashalh September 29, 2013, 09:11

      Thank you!! And thanks for stopping by. =)

  • donna December 5, 2013, 23:14

    We decorated several plates for christmas with the paint sharpies and all of our red turned purple. they are still pretty, just purple and green instead of red and green. I wish I had read this first, I guess we should have started with purple…lol!

    • Natashalh December 6, 2013, 13:14

      Isn’t it weird now the sharpies turn out different colors?! I haven’t had that problem with the Stazon inks, though, at least not with any of the colors I tried!

  • burlap+blue March 4, 2014, 04:43

    I {really} LOVE this! I’m hosting a Sharpie crafts link party on my blog this week, and I’d love it if you wanted to link up! Favorites will be featured in a compilation post next week, & we’re giving away a $50 Target GC and Sharpie prize pack! http://bit.ly/1c0IEvS

    • Natashalh March 4, 2014, 09:50

      Thanks so much for inviting me!I’ll make sure to stop by. =)

      • burlap+blue March 10, 2014, 05:22

        So glad you linked up to the party! xoxo

  • Christen March 18, 2014, 19:05

    I want to try this but my plates aren’t oven safe. Would a blow dryer do the trick. I got plates from Crate and Barrel. It’s stoneware

    • Natashalh March 19, 2014, 08:20

      I honestly don’t know because I haven’t tested it! I’d honestly be worried about the plates, though, if they’re not oven safe. These plates are cooked at a pretty low temperature and you allow them to heat with the oven. Suddenly introducing a lot of heat from a blow dryer might cause them to fracture! I’d just stamp them and then wash them by hand.

  • Pam Boston September 26, 2014, 16:53

    This is a great idea. I’ve been looking for a way to mark my casserole dishes. I can’t count how many times I have taken my casserole dishes to someones house for dinner and never got them back. I think my name and a small design on the inside bottom of the dish would be great.
    Perfect. Can’t wait to try it

    • Natashalh September 27, 2014, 06:45

      It’s a great idea to mark your dishes to make sure you get them back, I’m just not sure if it’s okay to put the design in contact with food. I’d probably give it a try on the bottom outside, just to be safe! Either way, thanks for visiting. =)

      • Pam Boston October 12, 2014, 14:45

        I have not purchased the Stazon yet. Does it have any type of warning about the ink coming in contact with food.

        • Natashalh October 12, 2014, 18:52

          I’ve checked on the manufacturer’s website, and it is not listed as being food safe (but I also don’t see a specific warning saying that the dried ink isn’t safe). I’ve always avoided putting it somewhere that will receive direct food contact, which is why it’s shown around the ring of the plate and outside of the mug. It does say not to ingest the actual ink, which I take as a good indication of not wanting to eat off it, either.

          • Brittany February 1, 2015, 08:51

            Great idea!! Is there a way you can seal it so that you can eat off of it?

          • Natashalh February 1, 2015, 10:58

            Not that I’m aware of – sorry. If I really want to make sure something is food safe and I want to decorate it, I head over to the local paint your own dishes-type place that has food-safe glazes you can use to decorate pre-made pieces and then they fire them in the kiln. That’s really the only way I know of to be sure it’s safe!

  • Carol Young December 9, 2014, 16:13

    What type of plates and mugs do you use to paint on/

    • Natashalh December 9, 2014, 16:18

      I just used some plain white dishes that were originally from Target and Kohls (plates – Target, mugs – Kohls). As long as you can put it in the oven, it should be fine!

  • Shari April 4, 2015, 14:10

    I tried this with sharpie markers and 1. It did wash off and this was with hand washing. 2. the yellow turned brown,I now have 2 brown plates. I was so disappointed. I want my dishes to match my kitchen and cant seemt o find anything that works and stays permanent! Im wondering if this is even possible after it has been glazed by the manufacturer.

    • Natashalh April 4, 2015, 14:49

      Sorry about your bad experience – I’ve learned the hard way that Sharpies really just don’t work out!

      You can scratch basically anything off a glazed dish if you try, but I’ve had very good luck with the Stazon ink demonstrated in this tutorial. It is color fast and hasn’t come off my dishes with basic hand washing, though I do keep it off the food surfaces because it isn’t certified food safe! I hope you have the chance to try the Stazon method and have better luck.

  • Holly January 3, 2016, 13:25

    I have Adirondack Alcohol inks….wondering if none has tried this band for this project and if it works as well as the Stazon? 🙂

    • Natashalh January 3, 2016, 13:40

      My only Adirondack Inks are the liquid kind, not on a stamp pad, so I’ve never tried it with them. They are “nicer” than average stamping inks, though, so they might work well. I’m sorry I don’t know for sure! If you decide to give them a go, I’d love to know whether they’re also colorfast. =)

  • Kari February 7, 2016, 12:42

    Hi Natasha,
    Since it’s been a few years since this original post, I was wondering how the dishes were holding up? I’m wanting to make some, but wanted to make sure the inks stayed on!

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Natashalh February 7, 2016, 12:49

      Hi! Unfortunately, I can’t answer that question. I had to get rid of them a little while ago when I moved to Hawaii with just my luggage on an airplane! They’d been around for over a year at that point, though, and they were doing fine. I hope that’s at least a bit helpful. =)

  • Judy August 11, 2016, 12:32

    Will this ink work on etched glass?

    • Natashalh August 11, 2016, 12:45

      I’m sorry – I don’t know and I don’t have any to try it on! If you give it a try, I’d love to know how it turns out. =)

  • chassidy kinser December 16, 2016, 02:41

    It’s been a while since the origin post, but what do these ink pads look like? I Googled and searched michaels.com for them and nothing says alcohol pads. Are they just the regular ink pads sold in stores?

    • Natashalh December 16, 2016, 07:02

      I’m sure there are other brands of alcohol ink pads, but I use Stazon. It does look like a ‘normal’ ink pad, but the ink is a bit different. They are frequently sold in craft stores, but here’s a link to an Amazon search for Stazon so you can see what the packaging looks like =) http://amzn.to/2hPhsZi

  • Lisa January 19, 2017, 02:54

    Hi, can you remember the colours you used? Not sure if I am buying correct colours in UK as think some of the names are different.
    Hope you are having a lovely life in Hawaii!
    Thank you, Lisa.

    • Natashalh January 19, 2017, 06:46

      A blue, a vivid pink, and a green? I’m really sorry, I don’t remember the exact names of the colors I used. In your place, I’d just pick the colors I liked best. =)

      • Lisa January 24, 2017, 02:05

        No problem. Thank you very much for taking the time to reply.

  • shelley August 24, 2017, 11:00

    Have you tried staz on ink on plastic in the dishwasher? I don’t think I can put my plastic mugs in the oven. Thanks!

    • Natashalh August 24, 2017, 11:02

      No, I’m sorry – I’ve never stamped on plastic other than shrink plastic that’s designed to go in the oven! If you give it a try I’d love to know how your project turns out.

  • Moanakey September 2, 2017, 06:46

    Is it possible to get the link to your food safe tutorial? I couldn’t find it myself. I really like these stamps and have been decorating coasters with them.

  • Jacqie November 24, 2017, 07:36

    On the post I’m looking at, it shows 4 glass plates that are completely painted. What was used to completely cover the plate.

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