art smart clean painting
Photos by Aimee Olsen Cox

I’ve mentioned previously that I absolutely love summer. That still stands. However, there are drawbacks. The biggest drawback around these parts is the perpetual mess in my home. Something about summer somehow translates to a general sense of untidiness in my children. It makes doing art projects difficult. I decided to do a clean painting project this week because of this. Doesn’t that sound nice? Clean painting. It speaks to my mess-stressed soul. A bonus was that this made the kids happy, too. It turns out that cleaning up constantly is wearing them out as well.

Here is what we used for this project:

—Resealable plastic bags.
—Cotton swabs.
—Scotch tape.

Look how short that list is! It’s also insanely inexpensive. Odds are that you have just about all of that in your home already. We used the tempera paint in our home and  Ziploc bags because I already had them. I did have to buy some cotton swabs for $1. We also used painter’s tape instead of scotch tape for the simple reason that I already had some of that, too. It worked great.

Clean PaintingPrep work

This is the hard part of this project, and it isn’t even hard. You open your plastic bag and put some paint in. The amount depends on how big your bag is. We used gallon bags, and I put several unmeasured tablespoons in. One of my children wanted their bag to contain several colors, so we did that too. Then seal the bag up and tape it to the surface you will be using, such as the table. Try to get as much of the air out as possible. It helps.

Relax and enjoy

Clean PaintingNow just give out the swabs, and let the children play. They use the swabs to create pictures by drawing in the paint. It spreads the paint around allowing them to draw and write words and such. It really is clean painting! I loved it. They mooshed the paint around to their hearts’ content. All the while, no mess was made. None. It was beautiful. I know I should have enjoyed their giggles and their fun more. They had a blast making silly faces and strange animals. My favorite part, though, was the cleanliness of it all. I didn’t have to supervise anything.

Clean up

Are you ready for this? To clean up, just lift the bag and tape off together and toss it in the trash. It is as easy as it sounds. Clean painting is amazing. Fastest clean up ever.


One other nice thing I noticed about clean painting is the versatility. If you have a toddler or young ones that would enjoy it, you could tape the bag to the window and let them draw with the sun shining through. I also stumbled upon how wonderful it is for those children who haven’t quite mastered writing with a pencil. The swab and paint are great for letting them practice writing in a completely stress-free and fun atmosphere. Nobody’s letters are perfect when you use paint in a bag. You still get the practice, though. It was also fun for my sensory-troubled child. He loved just spreading the paint and scraping it with his hands, watching it move through the bag. It was fascinating for him. And as I stated earlier, it’s clean. He didn’t get messy at all!

Truthfully, I see this being a project that we will do several times this summer. The ease and neatness of it is the greatest draw for me. For my children, clean painting was great because they were able to play with paint to their satisfaction without making a mess they would later have to tidy up. I am a big fan of allowing children to explore, but I am also a big fan of a clean home. Clean painting is one of those projects that fills both of those requirements. Does it sound like something you will enjoy, too? If so, relax and enjoy it! It’s an easy way to make summer fun for everyone.


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