DIY Art with Kid Safe Paint

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Make Your Own Kid-Safe Finger Paint

Enjoy two activities in one! Making finger paints is a fun and easy indoor activity, while playing with them is a super (and sometimes messy) creative outdoor activity! And, even better, this DIY recipe for kid-safe paint doesn’t contain dangerous solvents that give off VOCs or other questionable ingredients.

Finger Paint Ingredients

Ingredients & Materials

  • ⅓ cups cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups cold water (or less for a thicker consistency)
  • ¼ cup Honest Dish Soap or 1/3 cup natural soap flakes (see below)
  • A few drops of natural food coloring or juice dye
  • Small containers (e.g., glass baby food jars with lids)
  • Paint brushes or go utensil-free and use your hands!

DIY Non-Toxic Finger Paint

Homemade Kids Paint

Easy Peasy Directions

1. Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a medium sized saucepan, slowly stirring in 2 cups of cold water.  Cook over low heat, continuously stirring for five minutes or until the mixture becomes clear and gel-like.

2. Remove the paint base from the heat and let cool. If you’re kids are eager, place the mixture in the fridge to speed up the cooling process.

3. Once the mixture has cooled, stir in the Honest Dish Soap. Scoop equal amounts of the mixture into your small resealable containers (repurpose old baby food or mason jars).

4. Stir in a few drops of natural food coloring (available at most health food stores) or try your hand at making juice dye.

5. Grab your paint brushes or lil fingers and start creating masterpieces for everyone to enjoy!

* These paints are washable for the most part, but we probably wouldn’t chance it indoors beyond a dedicated play space or with your Sunday best. Add less dye to shorten your clean-up time. 

How to Use Soap Flakes Instead of Dish Soap

Find a bar of natural hand soap and a cheese grater and start grating! Once you have 1/3 cup soap flakes, bring 1/2 cup water to a boil and stir until the flakes are completely melted. In step 3, add the melted soap flakes in place of dish soap. Christopher Gavigan’s book Healthy Child Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home offers a great DIY paint recipe using soap flakes.

Looking for More Creative Play Ideas? Try these DIY recipes for natural bubbles and play dough.


  1. Hi Cindy,
    In our experience, if our natural food-based art materials like the paint are stored in air tight containers (like old baby food jars), ants shouldn’t be a problem. If you’re worried about the sugar attracting the ants, you can find very similar recipes without that ingredient. If you have Christopher Gavigan’s book, Healthy Child Healthy World, he provides one without sugar. Please let us know if you have anymore questions.

  2. You’re welcome. We hope you have fun making the paint and getting creative!

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  4. Hi Britney,

    Because the paints are made with natural ingredients and without preservatives, they do have a much shorter shelf life than conventional options. To prolong the shelf life, we recommend storing the paints in airtight containers like the ones pictured or repurposed baby food jars and keeping them in the fridge. But honestly, we tossed and replenished our paints within a week of using them because we prepare them in small batches. They also get used up by the kids (or spilled), and the colors get mixed together.

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