Dishwasher Tag

Yes, you need a handmade dishwasher tag. Why? Isn't it just annoying, when you accidentally put a dirty glass in the dishwasher, with clean dishes?! Ugh! The result, is needing to rewash the whole load of dishes. I'm sure, everyone that owns a dishwasher, has had this happen to them. Never, have this happen, again!


Age: Adult

Time Scale: 2 out of 5 (Even though it took me 5+)

Difficulty: Medium


  • Package of Ultralight polymer clay (white)
  • Toaster oven 
  • Exacto knife
  • Small ball end tool
  • Small spoon shaped tool 
  • Roller or pasta machine 
  • E-6000 glue 
  • Clothespins or small clamps 
  • Small piece of cardboard 
  • Fine grit sandpaper 
  • Small ceramic tile (2 is best or use tin foil)
  • Paper 
  • Pencil
  • Printer 
  • Scissors 
  • 6 round, heavy duty magnets (less, if you get the extra strong magnets, but they are way more expensive) 
  • 1/4 inch paint brush 
  • Liner brush 
  • Black extra fine tipped permanent marker 
  • Damp rag or paper towel
  • Polyurethane sealer
  • Water based craft paint:

           Light purple
           Cobalt blue
           Leaf green
           Burn umber

There are dishwasher tags that say "dirty" and "clean", but I wanted to make one, that wasn't typical. Usually, it flips, so the dirty or clean, is right side up or upside down. Around here, the tag could end up sideways and there would still be the big question...Which is which?

This one is made, so it completely flips, front to back. it is very clear, the dishes are either clean... or dirty. (If someone bothers to turn it around, when necessary.)

The big trick, to making this super duper, keep your dishes clean, dishwasher tag,  IS.... strong magnets, sandwiched between the two pieces of clay.

When I make craft projects, sometimes there is a lot of trial and error. Every project is handmade, to see what works and what doesn't. Only after passing the test, do I pass the info on. Less fuss and muss, just for you! This, happened to be a lot of trial and error! If I wasn't so stubborn, I mean determined, I would have given up on the idea. Don't worry, it took a while, but it will now be quite straight forward. Those kinks, have been completely ironed out!

I will leave out the "what not to do" parts, mostly. (Except for providing additional information such as, "But why?" This is just in case you are the curious type, like to deviate from the plan, or just  don't like to read instructions.) Believe me, there were plenty of blunders, along the way. I would like to save you that trouble!

The printable teacup template, will make this project, fairly easy but the type of clay needed, will bump this up to a medium in difficulty.

How to Make a Dishwasher Tag

Condition about 1/3 package of the clay. Make sure, it is sculpey, Ultralight. Why do you have to use Ultralight? Well, it IS ultra light, and the magnets will hold the finished project much better. Do you really want to hear the sad tale of what happens, when you use regular sculpey? Probably, not. Trust me; it was a gong show.

If this isn't your first, polymer clay project, you already know the drill for conditioning. This clay is much softer and easier to condition.  The Pasta machine will speed up this process, but it isn't necessary.

If you haven't worked with ultralight before, you are in for a surprise. I'm not going to say, it will be a good surprise because, it is NOT, except for the ease of conditioning. It's a completely different consistency, than regular polymer clay. 

Flatten a large ball of clay, with your fingers until it is thin enough to run through the pasta machine, on the thickest setting.

Now, set the roller down a couple notches and run through again.  

Watch for bubbles! The ultralight, is prone to bubbling. It's also really stretchy, so handle it carefully.

Immediately, place the clay on a small tile or piece of tinfoil. (It's actually handy to have two tiles; one for each piece, because you will make two.) At this point, the less you handle the clay, the better. The more it is handled, the stickier and more stretchy, it gets.


Print the tea cup template onto paper.

Lay the teacup pattern on the clay.

Cut around the outer edge of pattern and the inside piece, between the handle and the cup.

Make sure the clay is either on a tile, or a piece of tinfoil. Yes, I am repeating myself, but this is VERY important!

This is where it will remain, until after baking. Don't try to remove it. The clay is SO stretchy, it will get pulled out of shape. Trying to pick it up, will result in finding it necessary, to ball the clay up and pitch it in a corner. It may also include some cursing and mumbling "This ultralight is crap!" It's really not, it's just different. Just remind yourself, not to let it get the best of you.

Once it is on the work surface, it's there to stay. As long as you are prepared for that, things will go smoothly. I had to learn the hard way. After several attempts at trying to pick it up, I finally realized, I was causing myself unnecessary aggravation. 

Cut around the pattern, through the clay, using an exacto knife.


Use a pencil or small ball end tool, to trace over top of the lettering, to make a slight indentation in the clay. 

Trace over the lines on the pattern, for the top edge and the line near the bottom.

Remove the pattern.

Gently peel away the excess clay.

Flatten another piece of clay, to make another teacup shape.

This will be the "Dirty" side. The pattern is in the opposite direction, as the "Clean" tea cup, you just did. 

Trace the lettering on this other piece of clay to say "Dirty"

Cut around the pattern, just as you did for the other one.

Remove pattern and pull away excess clay.

Use a spoon shaped tool or your finger, to smooth and slightly round over the edges of the teacup shapes.

Bake in the toaster oven for approximately 30 minutes. Always check the baking instructions on the package of clay, and follow that.

Check often, while baking to prevent scorching.

After baking, remove from the toaster oven, to completely cool.


Use E-6000 Glue to attach 6 heavy duty magnets, to the back of the one piece of the dishwasher tag.

Keep the magnets, in from the edges, at least 1/4 inch.

Glue the other teacup shape to the back, sandwiching the magnets in between the two pieces.


Clamp together with either small clamps or clothespins.

Place small pieces of cardboard under each clamp to prevent marks.

Another thing to note, about using the Ultralight is the fact that it marks easily. The clamps will actually make marks, even in the already baked clay!

When the glue is dry, remove the clamps. 

Use fine grit sandpaper to sand around the outer edge, so the front and back pieces line up exactly.

Now, for the extra fun part... coloring the dishwasher tag. Well, it wasn't as much fun, as I thought it was going to be. There are many choices, for adding color. There is always the option of starting off, with colored, instead of white clay. Oh sorry, with ultralight, colored clay, wasn't an option.

The dishwasher tag, can be painted with acrylic or oil paints. The originally plan, was to use felt markers to add color. It worked great for the laundry Tag, I made.... But, Wait! It won't work the same for this. The texture of the Ultralight is so different, the felt pen soaked in, unevenly. The watercolour effect I was hoping for, didn't happen. On to plan B or is it plan Z??


Dampen the surface of the teacup with water. This should help the paint, absorb more evenly.

Use light purple, acrylic paint, slightly watered down.

Do a light wash over the surface.

Let dry.

Mix cobalt blue and white paint. Use a liner brush to make a few small, five petal flowers. 

Dab yellow in the centers of the flowers.

Use leaf green to make stems and leaves.

You could paint your own design instead. If you have any of Grandma's teacups, hanging around, you may want to do a similar pattern, from one of those.


Use a black, fine tipped permanent marker to fill in the "Clean" lettering on the dishwasher tag. 


Now, just a few more details.... 

Use gold paint, around the edge, on the handle and across the bottom of the teacup. 

Burnt umber paint, just inside the top lip of the cup, adds a bit more dimension. 

This may not be Royal Albert china, but it's looking pretty good! The best part? It's not as fragile!

Let the paint dry.

Flip over and repeat the colors and pattern, on the other side of the dishwasher tag.

When the paint is dry, coat with two layers of sealer.

Let Dry.

Now, pop that dishwasher tag, on the dishwasher. Finally, no more confusion, as to whether the dishes are clean or not!

After giving this some thought, I'm wondering if this should say "Empty Me!" and "Fill Me", instead of "Clean" and "Dirty." Would it make any difference? Probably not. 

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