The Ultimate Guide to Sharpie Mugs

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While Sharpie mugs are very popular right now, there doesn’t seem to be any consensus on how to best make the mugs.  Some say that some of the colors change when baked, some say that they don’t stand up to dishwasher washing (or handwashing even…), and some say that the paint chips off the mugs after a couple uses.  Enter: me.  Your very own Jamie Hyneman or Adam Savage (Mythbusters, anyone?).  

The Ultimate Guide to Sharpie Mugs | Tips, Tricks, and Hints to Get the Most Out of Your Sharpie Mugs | The Best Temperatures, Materials, and Cooking Times | Destination Decoration

I divided mug into four parts and used each of the 14 colors on every section.  While decorating the mugs, I wore gloves so the oils from my skin did not affect the finished product.  Each section was designated for a different temperature and amount of time to be baked.  Before and after pictures were taken to compare color.  To ensure as much accuracy as possible, pictures were taken in the same location with the same backdrop, same camera, same lighting, and at the same time.  Pictures were only edited for sharpness and clarity, not color.  All parts of the mug were dried for 24 hours before baking.

Note: All temperatures are in Fahrenheit.

The Materials:

  • Dollar Tree mug-white (there was a consensus about Dollar Tree mugs being better because lack of glaze)
  • 14 colors of oil-based, fine point Sharpies
    (again, a consensus that oil-based consistently work better than regular Sharpies)

The Variables:

  • Each section of the Sharpie mug was baked at different temperatures.  The temperatures were based on popular times given to bake the mugs from other websites.  The only part that is baked more than once is the labels of temperatures and times.  All mugs were put in a cold oven, the oven was preheated, and the timer was started from the time that the oven was fully preheated.  Mugs were left in the oven to cool for 1 hour or more to prevent cracking.  Temperatures and times are as follows:
    • Section 1: 250 degrees for 2 hours
    • Section 2: 250 degrees for 30 minutes
    • Section 3: 350 degrees for 30 minutes
    • Section 4:  450 degrees for 30 minutes

The Measurement:

Pictures where taken before and after each step of baking and washing to compare color.  When all sections were baked, the mug was hand-washed 4 times and run through the dishwasher 2 times.

The Results of the Sharpie Mug Experiment:

250 degrees for 2 hours

Unbaked:

The Ultimate Guide to Sharpie Mugs | Tips, Tricks, and Hints to Get the Most Out of Your Sharpie Mugs | The Best Temperatures, Materials, and Cooking Times | Destination Decoration

 

Baking:

The Ultimate Guide to Sharpie Mugs | Tips, Tricks, and Hints to Get the Most Out of Your Sharpie Mugs | The Best Temperatures, Materials, and Cooking Times | Destination Decoration

Baked:

The Ultimate Guide to Sharpie Mugs | Tips, Tricks, and Hints to Get the Most Out of Your Sharpie Mugs | The Best Temperatures, Materials, and Cooking Times | Destination Decoration

Baked and Washed:

The Ultimate Guide to Sharpie Mugs | Tips, Tricks, and Hints to Get the Most Out of Your Sharpie Mugs | The Best Temperatures, Materials, and Cooking Times | Destination Decoration

350 degrees for 20 minutes

Unbaked:

The Ultimate Guide to Sharpie Mugs | Tips, Tricks, and Hints to Get the Most Out of Your Sharpie Mugs | The Best Temperatures, Materials, and Cooking Times | Destination Decoration

Baked:

The Ultimate Guide to Sharpie Mugs | Tips, Tricks, and Hints to Get the Most Out of Your Sharpie Mugs | The Best Temperatures, Materials, and Cooking Times | Destination Decoration

Baked and Washed:

The Ultimate Guide to Sharpie Mugs | Tips, Tricks, and Hints to Get the Most Out of Your Sharpie Mugs | The Best Temperatures, Materials, and Cooking Times | Destination Decoration

 

450 degrees for 30 minutes

Unbaked:

The Ultimate Guide to Sharpie Mugs | Tips, Tricks, and Hints to Get the Most Out of Your Sharpie Mugs | The Best Temperatures, Materials, and Cooking Times | Destination Decoration

Baking:

 The Ultimate Guide to Sharpie Mugs | Tips, Tricks, and Hints to Get the Most Out of Your Sharpie Mugs | The Best Temperatures, Materials, and Cooking Times | Destination Decoration

Baked:

The Ultimate Guide to Sharpie Mugs | Tips, Tricks, and Hints to Get the Most Out of Your Sharpie Mugs | The Best Temperatures, Materials, and Cooking Times | Destination Decoration

Baked and Washed:

The Ultimate Guide to Sharpie Mugs | Tips, Tricks, and Hints to Get the Most Out of Your Sharpie Mugs | The Best Temperatures, Materials, and Cooking Times | Destination Decoration

250 degrees for 20 minutes

Unbaked:

The Ultimate Guide to Sharpie Mugs | Tips, Tricks, and Hints to Get the Most Out of Your Sharpie Mugs | The Best Temperatures, Materials, and Cooking Times | Destination Decoration

Baking:

 The Ultimate Guide to Sharpie Mugs | Tips, Tricks, and Hints to Get the Most Out of Your Sharpie Mugs | The Best Temperatures, Materials, and Cooking Times | Destination Decoration

Baked:

The Ultimate Guide to Sharpie Mugs | Tips, Tricks, and Hints to Get the Most Out of Your Sharpie Mugs | The Best Temperatures, Materials, and Cooking Times | Destination Decoration

Baked and Washed:

The Ultimate Guide to Sharpie Mugs | Tips, Tricks, and Hints to Get the Most Out of Your Sharpie Mugs | The Best Temperatures, Materials, and Cooking Times | Destination Decoration

Side-by-Side Comparison

Baked:

The Ultimate Guide to Sharpie Mugs | Tips, Tricks, and Hints to Get the Most Out of Your Sharpie Mugs | The Best Temperatures, Materials, and Cooking Times | Destination Decoration

Baked and Washed:

The Ultimate Guide to Sharpie Mugs | Tips, Tricks, and Hints to Get the Most Out of Your Sharpie Mugs | The Best Temperatures, Materials, and Cooking Times | Destination Decoration

Conclusion

Temperature’s Affect on Color:

As you can see in the side-by-side comparison, the hotter the temperature the less true the colors are to the original after they are baked.  Both 250 degree sections of mugs look almost identical to the starting color.  The colors start to get a little distorted on the 350 degree mug and almost all of the colors are significantly different on the 450 degree mug.  The silver remains shiny through all of the temperatures, but the gold seems to dull when cooked, especially at high temperatures.  Blues, greens and reds lose their color and even turn to a different color (did you catch that the blue on the 450 degree turned a tannish brown?).  The only color that remained exactly the same with each cooking temperature was the black.

Washing’s Affect on Color:

After handwashing and drying each mug 4 times, the paint did not chip at all on any of the mugs.  The dishwasher, however, made some of the paint chip off on some of the mugs.  I don’t think the 250 degree for 30 minute section was cooked long enough and for this reason, the paint chipped a lot.  The paint also chipped on the bottom of the 350 degree section.

 

My Conclusion:

Based on my experiment, baking a Dollar Tree mug at 250 degrees for 2 hours provided the best results.  The color of the paint remained largely the same and paint on the mug did not chip at all (except for the minor top chipping).

The Ultimate Guide to Sharpie Mugs | Tips, Tricks, and Hints to Get the Most Out of Your Sharpie Mugs | The Best Temperatures, Materials, and Cooking Times | Destination Decoration

Interested in a practical way to implement what you’ve learned?  Check out my DIY Sharpie Mugs.

For more DIY mug ideas and patterns (including the secret to making glitter mugs dishwasher safe), check out 10-Minute Mugs.

10-Minute Mugs | Tips, Tricks, and Designs to Make Beautiful Mugs in a Flash | 7 Unique Mug Tutorials | Plus 18 Mugs Patterns

For more Sharpie mug tips and tricks, grab the freebie: 17 Tips and Tricks to Perfect Sharpie Mugs.

Looking to make stunning mugs? Get 17 Tips and Tricks for Perfect Sharpie Mugs.

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69 Responses to “The Ultimate Guide to Sharpie Mugs

  • Heidi
    2 years ago

    I have a question. In your tutorial on DIY sharpie mugs, you said you put the mugs in a cold oven and let the oven cool before taking them out. Did you do the same here?

    • Yes, they were. The mugs were put in a cool oven and the time starts from when the oven is preheated. They are then left in for at least an hour to cool so they don’t crack because of the rapid temperature change. Thanks for pointing that out! I went back and put that information in the post so other readers could be aware.

  • Wow!!! Thank you so much for doing ALL of this work for us. I love all your pictures and information. That’s a lot of work and I appreciate it. I have been wanting to do this project but have been intimidated by the variance of outcomes. You gave me confidence in how to proceed, thanks again.

    • Thank you so much, Cathy. I appreciate your kind words and I’m really glad that it helped you. It was actually a really interesting and fun process…I kind of felt like a scientist testing a hypothesis. The results were really useful to me and I’m glad others are finding them useful as well.

      • Lizzy
        7 months ago

        I have a question. So when baking my mug at 250 for 2 hours is constant heat of 2 hours or 1 hour of heat and the other hour for the mug to cool in the oven? Or all in all is 2 hours of baking and 1 hour of being in oven after it is turned off?

        • It’s 2 hours of constant heat, then letting it sit in the oven until the mug is completely cool.

  • Demetria
    2 years ago

    This is going to be so useful! I can’t wait to try this again. I have my family members sign a plate when they come home for the holidays and I have to make sure no one touches them because the market rubs off! Thanks for doing the research!

    • I’m glad you’ll be able to use the information. Your plate idea sounds really cute. Good luck!

  • Why don’t people understand that there are ceramic paint pens out there? they work just like a Sharpie and they were created specifically for this purpose? You can bake them for about half hour and they won’t chip or fade… Great experiment, but in the end, we should learn to use the intended tools for the craft.

    • I agree to an extent. I think the intended tools often work better, but if you can find something else that works, why not? To each their own.

      As far as why people use Sharpies instead of say, Pebeo paint markers, I think it started with the the regular Sharpie mugs. Lots of people have Sharpies around the house, so it’s a convenient craft. When people found out the regular Sharpies didn’t work, they wanted an alternative. The closest thing to Sharpies was oil-based Sharpies. A lot of people don’t even know about ceramic paint pens. It would be interesting to try a similar experiment with ceramic paint pens and see how they compare.

    • Shelly
      1 year ago

      Ali, I teach a craft class for kids. I could never afford to buy all the ceramic paint pens in the various colors on my school budget for all my kids but, I can do Sharpies. 🙂 It’s a good alternative for those that don’t have access to them or it’s cost prohibited. I do get your point and at some point would like my kids to use the ceramic pens but in the mean time at least they can do this.

      Thanks Elizabeth for doing this. We all are gleaning for your experiment. I had to learn the hard way. This is much better!!!

      • That’s a good point Sharpies are much cheaper than ceramic paint pens (and from what I understand, they have more colors, too). I’m glad your kiddos will be able to benefit from this!

  • Awesome post! The mythbusters would be proud. And I’m excited because you just gave me an easy and inexpensive gift for neighbors and I know it’l be done right.
    Jaimee recently posted…Je suis le monde.My Profile

    • Thank you! They’re so nice for gifts because they’re inexpensive, but they don’t look cheap. Hope they turn out great!

  • Laurel
    2 years ago

    Useful to have a scientific comparison! What I just don’t get, though, is how you could bake different sections of the same mug for different times/ different temps. How could half of the mug be baked at 450 and the other half at 250?

    • That’s where it gets a little unscientific. I only had one mug, so the sections were baked one at a time. I wrote on the first section, baked it, then photographed it. Then I wrote on the next section and baked and photographed that section. I hope that makes sense. It probably would have been better with four mugs, but I don’t think it affected the results too much.

      • I think it would’ve been better to do the whole process for each section.
        write, picture, bake, picture, wash, picture. write, picture, bake, picture, wash, picture. and so on, cause in the end, the 250° for two hours was baked most before washing? I’m not sure if I make sense though 😀

        Anyway, great work! I really appreciate your effort 🙂

  • Kylee
    2 years ago

    What an awesome idea! I’ve been dying to try Sharpie mugs, but there are so many articles out there, I had no idea what would give the best results. Definitely trying your recommendation!

  • Thank you for your experiment. I’m going to does some personalized mugs for Christmas and will be doing what you recommend. 🙂

  • I only have trouble with the black! It chips or rubs off at all temps! I just don’t get it

    • That’s too bad. How are you washing it? Handwash only tends to be the best option for these mugs…the dishwasher is a little too harsh. Otherwise, if all else fails use porcelain paint pens. I haven’t used them myself, but they’re specifically designed for painting ceramic items. Pebeo makes a line of paint pens that has good reviews on Amazon. You could give those a try.

  • Can you bake mucan you bake multiple mugs at once? Or only one at a time?

    • Sorry not mucan haha…multiple mugs at once or only one at a time?

    • You can do as many mugs as you can fit on a cookie sheet (or multiple cookie sheets) at a time. I’m currently in the process of making 24 mugs for a craft fair and I plan on baking them all at the same time.

  • I tried this with a black oil based sharpie and it was an epic fail. After reading through the other comments I feel like trying again and only hand washing the mug. Thanks for your tests and results!

    • I hop they work out! If not, Pebeo Porcelaine Markers are specifically make for writing on ceramic. I haven’t tried them yet, but I’ve heard good things about them and they might be worth a try.

  • Yay! Thanks for this awesome experiment… you should enter in a middle school science fair. 😉 But seriously, great post! Thanks for doing all that work for us. 🙂

    • Haha, maybe I can get my eighth grade brother to enter this as a project! You’re very welcome 🙂

  • Chrissy
    2 years ago

    Your design is flawed because you used the same mug for every temp so only your first attempt was accurate. The rest were all precooked & therefore will alter the final results & coloring.

    • I see what you mean, but I don’t think it affected the results much. The MUG was baked four times, but the writing was only baked once. The colors were put on after the previous section had been baked and pictures were taken immediately after baking (before the next section was baked) It’s possible the glaze may have softened after baking multiple tines, but the coloring of the writing would not have been affected.

  • shelley
    1 year ago

    Can you post a pic of these oil based sharpies? I don’t think I’ve ever seen them

    • If you click on the link for the oil-based Sharpies, it’ll bring you to the Amazon listing of the kind I used. 🙂 (You can also get them at a craft store like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby.)

  • Ann Marquis
    1 year ago

    thank-you! Thank-You! THANK-YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Pam Hagan
    1 year ago

    Thank you so much! Knowing this will keep a lot of kids from being disappointed and saves many of us a lot of time!

  • I’m curious… the white mug seems to have darkened to almost a gray. I don’t like that at all so do you know how to prevent the discoloring of the mug itself? thank you for your experiments and posting results.

    • That’s probably because of the picture. The mug itself didn’t turn colors…it’s still a true white color. I tried to edit the photos as little as possible so the colors of the marker would be true to the actual colors, but that means some of the pictures had a bluer temperature because of the lighting. I imagine that’s what you’re probably seeing. Hopefully that answers your question!

  • Christina
    1 year ago

    Wondering if it makes a difference baking the cups right on the rack or upside down on a pan would effect anything?

    • I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think so. I’ve made about 20 mugs, either for myself or for gifts or craft fairs. I’ve done a combination of putting them directly on the rack and putting them on a pan and it hasn’t seemed to have made any difference. Let me know if you try something and notice any difference…it would be interesting to see!

      • Christina
        1 year ago

        I had done some for the grandparents and followed everything you have said but when she used them for her morning coffee the images started coming off. So what would you suggest I do? Re bake them (after fixing the drawings) or is there a sealer of some sort I can use??
        Thanks!!

        • Huh. Were they put into the dishwasher at all? I know the dishwasher can be harsh on Sharpie mugs. Also, I’ve read that cheaper mugs hold the color better because there is less of a glaze. Other than that, you could try it again at a different temperature to see if that works with the mug you have. I’ve never tried a sealer before, but if you get one, either make sure that it’s food safe or don’t put it on the drinking part of the mug. Apart from that, try Pebeo Porcelaine Markers…they’re made for ceramics. Sorry it didn’t work…there’s really so many variables it’s hard to tell what didn’t work. Feel free to let me know what you find out!

  • Laura
    1 year ago

    Hi, Thanks this is very useful. I got some permanent ink sharpies, and i was wondering if those would work with the processes you mentioned before. Thanks!!

    • Thank you! If you’re talking about the regular Sharpies, unfortunately no, they will not work. They have to be oil-based if you’re intending on using it for anything other than display. The regular Sharpies might stay for a few washes, but won’t be anything near permanent. The oil-based Sharpies will last MUCH longer. They’re not a whole lot more expensive than the regular Sharpies and you can find them at most craft stores. Good luck!

  • Brenda Zacholl
    1 year ago

    Once you have baked the mug, and the black oil sharpie comes off. I hand wash only. Can you go back over the writing and re- bake? I am looking to “fix” the writing on some adorable mugs I got from our grandchildren. Originally my daughter had them used regular sharpie, that came off really quick- so I bought the oil sharpie and went over the words, re-baked and still the black is coming off- although the red heart remains great. Suggestions?

    • Hmm…my guess would be that the oil-based Sharpie is adhering to the regular Sharpie and not directly to the mug and that could be causing problems. I’m not positive, but that’s my best guess. As for what to do, aside from either washing the original Sharpie off or starting over, I’m not sure there’s much else you can do. Hopefully you find something that works! Good luck!

  • Fiorella
    1 year ago

    I have a doubt, did you cook the mugs at Celsius degrees? Or was it at Fahrenheit?
    I’m from Argentina, and I think you didn’t make it clear through the article. Anyway, this was extremely useful. I’ve never seen something like this before. Thank you and I’ll be waiting for your answer.

    • Hi Fiorella. Thanks for your kind words! The degrees of the oven temperatures were in Fahrenheit. That’s a good question! I’ll go back and make it more clear.

  • Hi Elizabeth, thanks for the post. It’s extremely helpful! I’m wondering.. Did the higher temperatures seem to make the sharpie last longer? I’m not worried about the colour change, as I’m planning to do just black, which doesn’t seem to have changed much when exposed to a higher temp. Thanks!

    • I seemed to have the same results in terms of staying power for the 350 degree and the 450 degree mugs. Between those two, I would go with baking them at 450 degrees if you’re not worried about the color change. Good luck!

  • I have got mugs from target which says microwave and dishwasher safe but has no instructions for oven safe. Shall i bake them after using oil based sharpies. ?

    • If you have a ceramic mug (which most mugs are), they are inherently oven-save because they had to be fired in a kiln to set the glaze. You should be completely fine baking them with oil-based Sharpies. Happy mug-making!

  • Hi!
    Thank you for this blog, it was SUPER helpful!!!
    So I have made a few mugs, and started realizing that the ink is coming off, and I have two conclusions.
    One is I noticed it only started happening once I allowed my hands to touch the design. So not from washing, but from my fingerprints.
    Next, I’ve read that I might need to use a different mug. I purchased a nice mug that looks like it has a lot of glaze. So I wonder if I try a mug with not as much glaze, maybe the ink would not come off?
    Do you have any thoughts on this? Have you noticed that having your hands rest on your design, does the ink smudge or start to come off?
    Thank you so much!

    • Thanks, Sasha! I usually make mine wearing gloves because I’ve noticed that sometimes the ink tends to wash off in the places that I was holding the mug. As far as the mug goes, I would recommend using an inexpensive mug. I get all my mugs from the Dollar Tree and these seem to work well. If you do these two steps and the Sharpie still comes off when you wash it in the dishwasher, I would recommend hand-washing your mugs. Also, you may already be doing this, but make sure you use oil-based Sharpies. The regular ones will wash off. Hopefully these tips help! Good luck!

  • Thank you so much for doing this. Both my niece and I do these and I started to use the FolkArt paint because I could never get the sharpie to stay put. After reading this both my niece and I can make the mugs we want. I love the painted look, but people don’t like to pay the price for the mugs when I do it that way. Not only does the cost of paint need to be added in but so does the cost of her’s and my time. It takes longer with paint, were as sharpies makes it easier, because it’s more like coloring.

    You have do a great service here. I’m going to also try this idea on glass (setting it at a lower temperature, although longer might help with my cracking issue.) and see if I come up with the same results, I may still have to use the enamel paint for those; however, it’s worth a try and the Sharpie will give a more transparent look. If it works out the same, I’ll let you know. The only difference is, I am the dishwasher as we don’t have a machine dishwasher, lol.
    God Bless,
    Cat

    • Thanks, Cat! I’m so glad you found something that you can do with your niece. I agree, paint does take longer and it’s not quite as precise as using a marker. Definitely let me know how it turns out on glass…I’ve been wanting to use Sharpies on glass for a while now, but I haven’t gotten around to it. (Hopefully your glassware doesn’t crack.) Good luck on the mugs and the glass crafts!

  • Just a thought. I know in other crafts where finger prints and oils are a problem, they clean the object first with rubbing alcohol. This might help the problem with the pen rubbing off. I will need to try this myself.

    • I’ve read that before and I would have used it, but I didn’t happen to have any rubbing alcohol on hand at the time. I’m sure that would be helpful for this craft. Thanks for the tip!

  • Syeena
    7 months ago

    I’ve decorated the mug and i dont have an oven, i only have a microwave, how can i done this DIY?

    • I wish I could help, but I’ve only ever tried it in the oven. I don’t think a microwave would get hot enough. My recommendation would be either to use a friend or family member’s oven or to put a coat of Dishwasher Safe Mod Podge over the top (has to be Dishwasher Safe to work…can be found on Amazon or craft stores). If you go with the Mod Podge, follow the directions completely (it has to dry for about a month) and don’t put any where your lips would touch when you’re drinking from the mug. I hope that helps!

  • Jordyn
    7 months ago

    Just tried this on a plate (I did 425 degrees for 30 min.) It looks okay, but you can see all the marker “strokes” which makes it look not as polished. Any suggestions?

    • The only suggestion I would make is to make long strokes instead of short ones, so that there are less marks. Unfortunately, strokes are kind of the cost of using a marker and they’re pretty unavoidable.

  • cathy
    7 months ago

    how long does it take for the regular sharpies to wear off? I did plates and mugs for my girl scout troop to make for the bake sale table at breakfast with santa . they used both the sharpie oil based paint and the regular sharpies. the lady at the hobby store said they would be ok to use as well. so they mixed and matched for a wide color range. I will bake them as well. some other sites said they will wash off over time.

    • I’m not sure how long the regular Sharpies take to wear off. I think the oil based ones will last longer, but I can’t say for sure how long they’ll last. If you want them to last as long as possible, I’d recommend hand washing.

  • Evelyn
    7 months ago

    I don’t understand this statement: “Each section of the Sharpie mug was baked at different temperatures” ? How can you bake a section of mug at a different temperature from the other sections of the mug? Obviously I’m missing something…