DIY Bath Paint: Vat style

DIY Bath Paint - Bulk Recipe!

Alex has always enjoyed painting, so when I saw bath paint at Target, it practically leapt into my cart (a frequent occurrence at Target). The kit came complete with a fish sponge and a little hand-shaped palette. I doled out the paint portions and Alex went to town. Well, sort of. The paint was rather gel-like, so it was translucent in appearance. And within about two minutes, Alex got some in his eye and was in tears. While increasing his misery by rubbing his eyes with a wet wash-cloth, I wondered how on earth any company could make bath paint for children that would cause eye irritation. Haven’t they heard of tearless formulas?

We also had less-than-stellar experiences with bath crayon quality, so I threw up my hands and did what any desperate mother would do: I turned to Pinterest. In no time at all I had a decent-sounding recipe for bath paint. Just body wash, corn starch, water and food coloring. Easy peasy. And quite a bit cheaper than the bath paint kit I purchased. I mixed up paint for Alex several times over the course of a few weeks, but it was kind of time consuming to do in small batches, so I decided to modify the recipe for bulk proportions. This recipe will yield 7 cups of bath-time fun. If you have covered containers, it should keep for a few weeks.

Bath Paint Ingredients

I used a 24 oz. container of Dove sensitive skin body wash for my eczema-prone children, though the original recipe said any body wash would do. I think you will have better results with a creamy formula (to avoid the aforementioned gel-based translucence). Squeeze out the entire bottle into a bowl, and add the contents of a 16 oz. canister of corn starch. Add 1 cup of water.

Start stirring. You may see some alarming-looking froth, but persevere with your mixing. Before long, you will have a bowl of fluffy goodness.

Ed said if he didn’t know what I was doing, he would have thought it was frosting. I tell you this so that you can make the decision to tell your loved ones what you’re making, or just leave it a mystery. The latter option could be useful if you have a dough-eating sneak in the family.


The consistency should be on the goopy side. If you’d prefer a more thinned out version, you can add more water. I found that Alex adds extra water on his own, so I prefer a thicker paint.

I highly recommend using paint cups to store your homemade paint. We got ours from Discount School Supply. Most school supply stores have them. (If you’re in the market for paint brushes, we like the Melissa & Doug version. The bristles keep their shape, even with all the toddler abuse.)

Spoon about one cup of the mixture into a paint cup, then food coloring. I used Wilton paste food coloring. These produce vibrant colors, but are kind of a pain to get out of the container (try a toothpick). McCormick food coloring is handy because you can more easily control the color mixing since you’re dealing with drops, but the colors are lighter. Just use whatever food coloring floats your boat.

Paint cup and food coloring

Use a spoon or mini spatula to mix in the color. Once evenly distributed, put on the lid, and move on to the next paint cup.

In the end, I had 6 cups of paint. If you don’t have a total failure attempt at making purple, you will have 7 cups of paint. Certainly enough to keep your tiny-Monet happy for a while.These wash off both your kid and the tub surround easily, and nobody’s skin was inadvertently dyed (bonus!). Alex requests these for just about every bath, and Charlie handles being a human canvas quite well.

Little brother problems.

Little brother problems.

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