Food Safe Sealant for Mugs: Custom Mug Printing Tips

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In this craft post, we’ll talk about food-safe sealant for mugs. If it’s your first time creating this type of craft, or have been a long-time crafter, you should know these things. First of all, why do you place a sealant on a mug with vinyl print on it?

Permanent vinyl on a mug will stay for years. However, with repeated washing, over the years, the vinyl may start to peel off. So what can you do to avoid this? By placing a sealant on the mug and over the vinyl print.

A mug with custom-printed vinyl can hold up the heat and repeated washing in the dishwasher. Since you’ll be using a mug to drink coffee or tea, you have to make sure to use food-safe sealant. This is what we’ll talk about in this article.

food safe sealant for mugs

Mug print using TeckWrap Craft’s Opal Chrome Adhesive Craft Vinyl

What Are Sealants for Mugs For?

Generally speaking, sealants are used as barriers with one purpose — protection. Sealants are used to exclude dirt, dust, moisture, and chemicals. Sealants are used for the coating to protect the surface. In this case, the surface we’re talking about is permanent vinyl printed on a mug.

Yes, you use permanent vinyl for mugs. Not removable vinyl, not heat transfer vinyl, but permanent vinyl. For any craft that needs to be washed frequently like mugs, wine glasses, tumblers, or beer can glasses, you need to use permanent vinyl.

However, it is not recommended to use sealants for clear products like wine glasses. You have to use permanent vinyl on clear glasses, but you never use a sealant on them. If you use sealant on clear glass products, the brush strokes will show up and the product will look cloudy.

food safe sealant for mugs

Porcelain mug using TeckWrap Craft’s Holographic Glossy Rainbow Adhesive Vinyl

What Is a Food Grade Sealant?

A food-grade sealant is a sealant with very low toxicity that’s safe for use in mugs with glaze coating, porcelain paint, or ceramic paint. When looking for a food-grade sealant, it should have less chemical content that’s safe for human use.

Food-grade sealants are specifically designed for food contact applications. Since you’ll be using this sealant on a mug, even though it’s used to seal the outer area, it still can come in contact with the beverage.

food safe sealant for mugs

Huge porcelain mug using TeckWrap Craft’s Holographic Sparkle Rainbow Adhesive Vinyl

Food-Safe Sealant Products You Can Try

So what are several food-safe sealant products you can try? There are two products, so far that’s been receiving positive reviews from many crafters. These are the — Dishwasher Safe Mod Podge and Outdoor Mod Podge. Here’s what you need to know about these products:

Dishwasher Safe Mod Podge

One of the first choices of crafters as a sealant for mugs, ceramic, metal, and even wood is the Dishwasher Safe Mod Podge. It is a decoupage formula that works as a sealant and glue, especially for art supplies. It is different from a regular mod podge because it can turn a Dollar-store ceramic mug into dishwasher-safe mugs.

It is a water-based and non-toxic sealant. When you apply it to mugs, it dries quickly and leaves a durable finish on the mug. Make sure to watch this dishwasher-safe mug tutorial: The One Hack To Make Vinyl Mugs Dishwasher Safe.

Outdoor Mod Podge

Another food-safe sealant for ceramic mugs is the Outdoor Mod Podge. It is a safe water-based sealer for ceramic pieces and other outdoor projects. It is a durable and highly water-resistant mug sealant.

You can apply it on a ceramic surface on coffee mugs without worrying about chemicals and toxicity. You can even use this as a sealant in outdoor projects like wall decals.

food safe sealant for mugs

Custom vinyl printed on a ceramic bowl using TeckWrap Craft’s Holographic Sparkle Adhesive Vinyl

Dishwasher-Safe Does Not Necessarily Mean Food-Safe And Vice Versa

Does dishwasher-safe also mean food-safe? Not all the time! If a sealant claims that it’s dishwasher-safe it’s not necessarily food safe. This means a food or beverage should be avoided to come in contact with the sealant, and vice versa.

If you’re looking for a food-safe sealant, it should not be a food-safety risk. Make sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions and product description.

food safe sealant for mugs
food safe sealant over glow in the dark adhesive vinyl

Custom printed mug using Glow In The Dark Adhesive Vinyl

What Type of Mug Is Best for Vinyl Printing?

As you know there are different types of mugs depending on the material it’s made from. The most common materials used for mugs are wood, ceramic (with polymer clay), bone china, porcelain, stoneware, and Pyrex.

But what is the best mug for vinyl printing? You can use any type of mug mentioned above. However, vinyl printing that involves applying a sealant, ceramic mugs is recommended. Especially in cases where you need to bake the mug in the microwave.

Remember, you cannot use sealants on clear, transparent, or Pyrex mugs. The same goes with wine glasses. Most sealants have colors or a glue-like consistency. If you use sealant on clear mugs, the whole look of your project will be different. Not unless you’re aiming for a frosty look on your mug, then that’s an idea you can try.

food safe sealant over adhesive vinyl

Colored mug with custom-printed Glitter Adhesive Vinyl

Why Should You Seal Vinyl on a Mug?

As mentioned earlier, the main reason for sealing vinyl using a sealant is to keep the print in place and ensure the design sticks longer on the mug. Many crafters attest that the vinyl sticks longer on the mug if a sealant is applied.

If you seal the vinyl with a sealant, you can place your mug in the dishwasher without any worry. Applying sealant on a mug takes a different and longer process, read further to know more.

food safe sealant over adhesive vinyl

Colored ceramic mug using TeckWrap Craft’s Shimmer and Glitter Galaxy Adhesive Vinyl

How to Apply Sealant on a Mug

If you haven’t experienced applying the sealant on the mug, then you should pay close attention to this section. We’ll jump right away to the sealing process and skip on the vinyl cutting and sticking part.

If you’re a beginner and want to learn the basics of vinyl mug printing, make sure to read our post on How to Make Personalized Mugs at Home or you can watch this video on TeckWrap Craft’s YouTube channel: An Easy Way to Customize a Mug With TeckWrapCraft Vinyl.

Here are the supplies needed for the sealing process:

  • Food-safe sealant for mug
  • Brush
  • Clean cloth or paper towel
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Microwave for baking (optional)
food safe sealant over adhesive vinyl
Image from TeckWrap Craft’s Facebook Page

Step 1: Clean the Mug

If you’re happy with your creation, with all the bubbles removed on the vinyl, and you’re sure the design is aligned, start with cleaning your mug. Yes, you should have cleaned the mug before placing the vinyl, that’s an essential step.

However, when you were placing the design on the mug, surely, some of your fingerprints transferred to it. Perhaps some dirt and dust touched the surface so it’s better to clean it again. This time make sure to clean the whole surface because you’ll be applying the sealant on the whole mug.

Why apply sealant on the whole surface? That will be explained further later on. Use a clean cloth and rubbing alcohol to clean the mug. It’s better to hold on to the handle and avoid touching the surface of the mug while cleaning and the whole sealing process.

food safe sealant over adhesive vinyl

Custom-printed vinyl on a mug is perfect for gift ideas

Step 2: Apply the 1st Coating

After cleaning the mug, apply the first coating using a paintbrush. You can use a toothbrush, however, its bristles are not as finesse as a brand new paintbrush, thus not producing that smooth finish. Brush a very thin coat of sealant on the whole mug.

Yes, it needs to be the whole mug, the printed and blank part, except the rim of the mug where it will most likely touch your mouth. This is an important part to remember. Even though it’s a food-safe sealant, of course, you want to minimize contact with that.

That’s why avoid applying the sealant on the rim. Make sure to apply the sealant and stroke the brush in the same direction. Remember that a sealant sets quickly, so make sure to brush quickly, smoothly, and in the same direction at all times.

 

food safe sealant over adhesive vinyl

A personalized ceramic mug is a perfect idea for friends and loved ones

Step 3: Let It Dry

After applying the first coat, let the first coat dry for one hour before applying the second coat. You can also use a blow dryer for a faster drying process. This will shorten the drying period to 15 to 30 minutes.

How will you know if the coating is still wet? The overall look will look streakier. Avoid touching the surface with sealant until the whole process and the mug has completely dried off after the third layer has been applied.

Step 4: Repeat the Process, Apply the Second and Third Layer

After you’re completely sure that the first coat has dried off, repeat the process and apply the second and third layers. Don’t forget the one-hour drying time in between the coatings.

food safe sealant over adhesive vinyl

DIY Bridesmaid Proposal Box using TeckWrap Craft vinyl

Step 5: Cure the Mug

The last process is to cure the mug. What does the curing process mean? You have to let the sealant dry and set in before using it. There are two ways you can do this: with a microwave or just let it sit.

If you don’t intend to use a microwave, store your mug in a dry and clean place for 28 days (this is the recommended cure time). After a few days, the mug will dry up hard, but this doesn’t mean that you can use the mug right away. If you want a shorter curing process then you can use a microwave.

If you used a ceramic mug, you can use the microwave for the curing process. If you used other materials in the mug like metal or porcelain, you can’t cure it in the microwave. Here’s how to cure a ceramic mug using a microwave:

  • Place the mug in a cool oven
  • Set it to 350 degrees and bake for 30 minutes
  • After 30 minutes don’t open the microwave just yet, let the mug cool completely and let the oven cool. Give it at least 10 to 15 minutes
  • Store it in a cool and dry place
  • Wait 72 hours before using the mug
food safe sealant over adhesive vinyl

Halloween-themed painted mugs

Tips to Remember When Printing Mugs With Vinyl and Applying a Sealant

  • If you intend to create a vinyl-printed mug with a sealant on it as a gift, make sure to create it a month prior as the curing period takes 28 days (if you don’t intend to cure it on a microwave).
  • Mod Podge sealants are best used in light-colored mugs. The brush strokes are less visible in light-colored mugs. The brush strokes on dark-colored mugs are more visible.
  • You have the option to use a sealant or not. If you need to give the gift immediately, you don’t need to place a sealant on it. Or you can cure the sealant if you have a microwave at home.
  • Use a good and brand-new paintbrush when applying the sealant.
  • Mugs printed with vinyl, without the sealant are not dishwasher safe.
  • Make sure the printed design is far from the rim of the mug, so you won’t have to apply sealant in that area.

Aside from mugs, you can also print vinyl on a ceramic plate or fired glaze finishing bowls and use food-safe sealants. You can use the plate with ease even if it comes in direct contact with food.

food safe sealant over adhesive vinyl

Multi-colored vinyl design on a coffee mug

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Microwave Mugs With Food-Safe Sealant?

Yes, you can microwave ceramic mugs with a food-safe sealant. You cannot microwave porcelain or metal mugs. You cannot microwave mugs with printed vinyl without the sealant because the vinyl may create fumes when heated inside the microwave or dishwasher.

What Sealant Is Food Safe?

A sealant that is food safe has low toxicity and low chemical components. Food-safe sealants are specifically designed for food applications or it’s safe for human use for food and beverage consumption.

How Do You Seal a Ceramic Mug?

To seal a ceramic mug, apply three layers of sealant coating. If you don’t intend to use a microwave to cure the mug, let it sit for 28 days and store it in a dry, enclosed space.

How Do You Seal Acrylic Paint on a Ceramic Mug?

To seal acrylic paint on a ceramic mug, you need to heat and cure the paint. Avoid letting the acrylic paint cool dry. Instead, it is best to bake acrylic paint in a microwave.

Can You Use Sealant on Glitter Vinyl?

Yes, you can use sealant on glitter vinyl or other types of specialty vinyl. You may feel the grit on the glitter print even after several layers of a sealant. However, after curing it will still have a glossy finish.

Can You Put Vinyl on Any Mug?

Yes, you can put vinyl on any mug. May it be a ceramic or porcelain mug, you can place vinyl on it. Always use permanent adhesive vinyl. Adhesive vinyls are like stickers that you can place directly on the mug.

Are All Mugs Dishwasher Safe?

No, not all mugs are dishwasher safe. Ceramic mugs are dishwasher safe. Meanwhile, porcelain should be washed by hand.

Are All Mod Podge Sealants Dishwasher Safe?

No, not all Mod Podge are dishwasher safe. There are eight different Mod Podge products out there. So if you intend to use a Mod Podge sealant for your vinyl-printed mugs, check the product label for ‘Mod Podge Dishwasher Safe’.

food safe sealant over adhesive vinyl

Custom-printed vinyl using TeckWrap Craft’s Polka Dots Glitter Adhesive Vinyl on a ceramic plate

Final Thoughts

To sum it all up, always check the product label of a sealant if it’s safe for application on mugs or plates. Also, make sure to check which kind of mug material is the sealant compatible. One last thing, when it comes to the type of vinyl to print on mugs, always use permanent adhesive vinyl. Make sure to check out the adhesive vinyl at TeckWrap Craft.

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