Painting is a very fun indoor activity. The mess, however, is not so much fun–especially when children channel their inner Jackson Pollock and begin flipping paint. Then, what begins as a fun activity, quickly turns into an afternoon of cleaning. Wouldn’t it be great to preserve the fun while preventing the mess?  

The answer: bath tub paints. Bath tub paints are a fun and natural way to enjoy painting to its fullest. Meanwhile, the mess is much more easily managed, contained, and can be easily rinsed away. The best part about this paint is that it only takes three ingredients to make!

Getting Started

You Will Need


  1. Put 1/2 tsp. of cornstarch into each container.
  2. Add 2-3 drops of food coloring.
  3. Add 1-2 pumps (1 tsp) of baby shampoo or body wash.
  4. Mix until blended and thickened slightly.


Whether you are using paint brushes or your fingers,  start by providing the primary colors. Then you can show them how to mix new colors and let them try that on their own, too.  

Because young children learn by playing, “messy” play like painting gives them an opportunity to learn by doing. Experimenting, problem solving, mixing, basic color theory and even elementary physics can be explored (If I tip this bowl upside down, what happens? If I mix these two colors what will be the result?). Sometimes we tend to jump at the first sign of a mess or even try to explain that all messes are not good. Instead, as parents we can recognize that we sometimes can provide a dedicated environment or area, take a step back, and let our children fully explore something, even though it makes a mess. That’s why it’s great to find a place to do this—outside or in the bathtub—so they can get as messy as their little hearts desire. Messy play allows your children to  learn through their senses. It also lets children express themselves and can even be a stress relief for them. (1)

For an extra fun time, paint with your child. 


 Clean up

Clean up should be easy with water, a spray bottle, and some rubbing. If there is a persistent spot, try vinegar with baking soda. In the photos above, the colors came off with a few splashes of water and no residue. 


Caution: be careful around any bathtubs or tiles with grouting, as well as clothing since food coloring may stain. Test all surfaces first before starting a full activity. 


For other fun bath time ideas, check out our post on making bath time fun for everyone!



Photo Credit: Kirsten


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