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Dish Soap Spray Paint Art DIY

by Meghan Rose Tonery

Wooden skulls decorated with neon spray paint using an art technique called resist painting.
Spray Paint and Dish Soap

Dish soap and spray paint unite in this spectacular art technique!

Learn how to use spray paint and dish soap to create amazing projects in this easy DIY blog. Dish soap resist painting makes gorgeous, colorful designs that will have you thinking: what else can I try this dish soap and spray paint trick on?

Unfinished wooden skulls ready to be decorated with spray paint and dish soap.
DIY Dish Soap Spray Paint

Dish Soap Spray Paint Supplies:

  • Spray paint in various colors

  • Black spray paint

  • Unfinished wooden skull decor (or canvas of your choice!)

  • Dawn dish soap

  • Disposable table cloth

  • Respirator mask

  • Hose

  • Rag for wiping nozzle of spray cans

Spray Paint Safety 101:

Spray paint should only be used outside and while wearing a respirator to protect your lungs from the fumes. Do not use spray paint indoors. Spray cans should never be left in extreme temperatures. Read the spray can bottle, folks! Don't ignore the safety measures. Spray paint is also permanent paint, so use accordingly.

The Setup:

For this project, I decided to hang up my wooden skull decor vertically. I thought it would be more comfortable for me, to spray paint while standing upright. But you might want to lay your project flat on the ground. Laying your project flat will also help prevent wet drips from running down your project. Drips can happen if you are painting vertically or if you get a little heavy-handed with the spray paint.

I highly recommend laying down paper, cardboard, plastic tablecloth, or a drop cloth underneath your project. This will protect the backside of your project AND protect the ground from spray paint.

Using neon spray paints to paint wooden skulls in rainbow pattern for resist painting technique.
Dawn Dish Soap Spray Paint DIY

Get Colorful!

Since my project was made of unfinished wood, I didn't need to prime my canvas or sand it at all. I could simply start spray painting.

If you are re-purposing a canvas, make sure it is clean and dry before you start. You may need to sand your project, and wipe away the sand debris before beginning; this all depends on what you decide to paint!

Pro-tip: Make sure you aren't too close to your project when you start spraying. Test out the proper distance on a piece of paper or cardboard, until you are happy with the flow of the spray paint.

Color Theory

Because I am neon-obsessed, I chose all neon colored spray paints for my skulls. I sprayed them in this order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and hot pink. I repeated this pattern until the skulls were painted.

If you are shopping for spray paint colors, I suggest picking out colors that are next to each other on the color wheel (aka analogous colors). Analogous color examples are: red, orange, yellow, OR green, blue, purple. Analogous colors look incredible with the black spray paint top coat.

Shake It Like a... Can of Spray Paint!

The cardinal rule of using spray paint: you must shake spray paint for 1 minute before using. Yes, this may feel like intense cardio for crafting, but I promise, it's important. Shaking moves the metal balls inside of the spray can, which helps to mix the paint. This gives your paint a more even, beautiful texture, and we all want that!

Pro-tip: Use a rag to wipe the nozzle of your spray paint can after each use to prevent clogs. Check each nozzle before you start spraying, so you aren't surprised by any globs of dried paint, which can affect how the paint sprays onto your project.

Decorative wooden skulls that are spray painted in a neon rainbow pattern.
Dish Soap Resist Painting
Let 1st Colorful Coat Dry:
  • After you have you have covered your piece with spray paint, let that coat dry for about 15-20 minutes, or until it is dry to the touch. If you need to add more color, let that 2nd coat dry before moving on.

  • You must have a flat surface for this next step. If you add soap to your piece while it is vertical, it will just run off (thanks, gravity) and you won't achieve the resist paint effect!

  • Make sure you have a disposable tablecloth or drop cloth under your project.

Drizzling Dawn dish soap onto decorative wooden skulls painted with neon colored spray paint.
DIY Spray Dish Soap
Neon wooden skulls painted with Dawn dish soap and black spray paint.
Resist Painting

Drizzle, Drizzle:

  • Drizzle Dawn dish soap in a zig-zag pattern starting at the top of the piece.

  • The soap can come out quickly, so make sure you are moving with a consistent pattern and tempo.

  • I put my dish soap into a clean tie dye bottle, because it is more lightweight than a big bottle of Dawn. You can also use a spoon and drizzle the soap onto your project that way!

  • Keep in mind that any place where the soap lands, the black spray paint will not stick. So, you want to have areas without soap, where the neon colors will gloriously pop through.

Paint It Black!

  • Add a THOROUGH coat of black spray paint. Coat the whole project, then let it dry again for 15-20 minutes before moving on.

  • If you don't let the black paint sit, it will wash off when you turn the hose on. Be patient, it will be worth the wait!

Grab the Hose!

  • Now, the fun part: using cool water, wash off the soap from your project. You will see the neon colors POP as the soap suds wash away.

  • If you don't have a hose, you can also use buckets or pitchers of water. Simply pour water onto the project until all of the soap has washed off.

  • Let your project dry, and then display it where everyone can admire your amazing artwork abilities!

A hose washes off dish soap and black spray paint revealing neon colors in this resist painting art.
Resist Painting Technique

I love how this spray paint dish soap project turned out.

I think it made my neon skulls just the right amount of colorful and spooky for Halloween.

But what do you think, would you try this craft?

Be sure to follow me on Tiktok and share this post with someone who would like this craft!

Unfinished wooden skulls are spray painted neon in this dish soap resist painting craft.
Resist Painting Dish Soap Art


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