Science for Kids: Milk Painting

This science project for kids has been all over the internet and for good reason, it’s so cool!

I planned this for our final science project of the year at preschool and vastly overestimated the amount of milk needed. I bought about 4 gallons and ended up using less than one. So it goes!

The basic concept of this project is that when you add a little bit of dish soap to milk, then drop in some food coloring, the colors stay separate, at least for a little while, and swirl around to form what I would deem very artistic and abstract paintings! But beware, too much swishing and swirling and you’ll end up with brown muck fast. Of course kids don’t seem to care!

Milk Painting


  • Almond Milk
  • Dishoap
  • Q-tips
  • Food coloring
  • Shallow plate or wide bowls


  • Fill a plate or bowl with milk.
  • Drop in at least 2 drops of each of four colors of food coloring. The more variety of colors the cooler the painting.
  • Generously dip the end of a q-tip in dish soap.
  • Now dip the q-tip into the milk next to a drop of color.
  • The first thing that will happen is the color will burst as soon as the dish soap hits it. It’s a great effect but very short lived. Once there is a little dishsoap in the milk it no longer “bursts”.
  • Gently swirl the q-tip through the different colors and you’ll see little rivers of color start to form.
  • Continue until the colors begin to mix and become brown. Empty your plate/bowl and repeat.
  • For a variation we premixed the milk and dish soap. You won’t have the color burst effect but it does seem to keep the colors separate a little longer.

Did you know you can expand on this experiment by making Marbled Milk Paper? Visit this post for instructions and pictures! Here’s a little preview of how magical they are:

Marbled Milk Paper } BABBLE DABBLE DO

Have fun!


    • Ana Dziengel says

      Thanks Michelle! So simple and fun! BTW your blog is lovely! I particularly love that you have fast and easy projects; I’m trying to do something similar on my blog: quick, easy, simple projects using stuff you already have on hand.

  1. Virginia says

    Did I miss something? I didn’t see directions for a little paper dog. I love this site. GREAT ideas Sorry if ? is dum! I can hardly wait to make the crystals. You know, Epsom salts have done ‘miracles’ ever since I knew of them! They were up front and most important in the “medicine cabinet” of my parents who had fifteen children, therefore many opportunities to use the salts for ‘injuries, localized infections and sore spots.’ Now I see they can add enormously to the decorations in my life as well as do almost magical “healing” Wish my Dad could see those! “What a Wonderful World!” Thank-you!

  2. Rachel Holland says

    I have tried this experiment out with my children today. I was really excited about it after seeing the lovely photo’s etc, however it was a bit of a flop. Tried it with Almond milk as suggested and semi skimmed cows milk, but when we put in the washing up liquid not much really happened. We changed the washing up liquid and got much better colour spread. However when it did the colours almost pretty much disappeared and trying to get paintings from them was so wishy washy. Are food colourings in the US very different to those in the UK, or do I just need to buy better colourings? I assumed that the liquid colourings from my local supermarket would be fine. I have also tried with gel colouring (which is the only thing that most stores stock) but this wasn’t particularly good either. I really want to make some lovely backings for Mother’s day cards etc but I am drawing a blank! Any help you could give would be great.

    • Ana Dziengel says

      Hi Rachel, I’m sorry to hear this! Gel food coloring will not work. Regular food coloring should work fine. You will need to make the prints right away, if you wait until the colors are mixed you will get muddy results. And make sure you are using watercolor paper. I tried the project using cardstock and regular paper and they just didn’t absorb the color well. I hope this helps and please keep me posted!

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