Science for Kids: Milk Painting

by on September 26, 2012

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


  • Milk (Almond milk works just as well)
  • 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!

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle - Little Paper Dog January 29, 2013 at 7:17 pm

So cool! I can’t wait to try this out with my little guy. :)


Ana Dziengel January 30, 2013 at 2:28 pm

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.


Amanda Preiser April 18, 2013 at 5:06 am

This is awesome my daughter and I are going to do this today!


Ana Dziengel April 18, 2013 at 5:33 am

Thanks for stopping in Amanda! It’s a super fun and simple project. Enjoy!


Linda August 21, 2014 at 11:08 am

Thanks! I’m an art teacher. There’s so many meet ideas I got from your blog. Thanks!


Ana Dziengel September 4, 2014 at 3:49 am

Linda, I’m thrilled to hear it! Thanks for stopping by :)


Denise August 23, 2014 at 1:45 pm

what type of paper did you use for the milk painting project?


Ana Dziengel September 4, 2014 at 3:51 am

Hi Denise, I used watercolor paper :)


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