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DIY Etched Tumblers with Citristrip (Looks Like Engraved Tumbler!)

Learn how to make etched tumblers using Citristrip and a Cricut! Easily customize a powder coated tumbler so it looks like a laser tumbler.

It’s been a while since I’ve had a new tumbler tutorial for you, but when I saw these “etched” tumblers floating around TikTok and Instagram I knew I had to try!

And it was so much easier than I thought and I love the results. Since most water bottle tumblers are colored these days, using a paint stripping gel and a Cricut make them easy to personalize!

I think I have about 15 different personalized tumbler ideas on my site, including my favorite glitter tumblers, hydro dipped tumblers, and alcohol ink tumblers.

It really is hard to pick my favorite way to personalize a tumbler, so luckily there are so many more ways than just applying vinyl to it.

These are not a true etch nor engraved tumbler, but they sure do look like it for a fraction of the cost!

citristrip tumbler tutorial

Supplies Need to “Etch” Tumblers

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links from Shareasale, Cricut, Awin, CreativeFabrica, and I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using my links (purple text). As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Since we will be stripping off the paint of powder coated or painted tumblers, we will need a paint remover. I researched and read about different paint removers, and there was almost a unanimous favoring of Citristrip Paint and Varnish Stripping Gel. You can find it on Amazon, Lowe’s, and Home Depot.

There is another brand that looks the same, but it isn’t, so be careful when buying and make sure it’s the Citristrip Stripping Gel and not a Varnish Remover Gel.

I also love using chemicals that are not smelly and that can be used indoors (much different than a glass etching cream!). This product also doesn’t contain methylene chloride.

You will also need some permanent vinyl or stencil vinyl, gloves, a disposable cup, paint brush or foam brush, blue tape, scraper, transfer tape, and a cutting machine!

Which Tumblers Can You Etch?

So I’ve read in a few different places that the tumblers have to be powder coated. Honestly, it’s hard to find in the description of the tumblers or mugs what they are.

I purchased four different tumblers and the Citristrip worked on every one of them. I actually thought it wouldn’t work on the stemless wine glass tumbler because it was shiny and it didn’t seem like it was powder coated, but it worked perfectly!

Here are the specific tumblers I tested (all are stainless steel tumblers):

What is Best Material to Use for Etching Stencil?

I tried two different materials on every tumbler to see if one would work better than the other and give crisper lines.

I used Oracal 651 and Cricut stencil vinyl. (I have an entire posts about making stencils with Cricut if you want more info!)

And I was surprised to see that they both worked about the same! I got nice crisp lines with both permanent vinyl and stencil vinyl. So if you don’t have stencil vinyl, just use your everyday outdoor vinyl!

Tips for Engraving Tumblers

I learned quite a few things while etching the painted tumblers!

  • It’s best to use larger images and thicker font letters. The more intricate the design and wording, the harder it will be to prevent leaks.
  • To rub off the paint, I tried a tooth brush, Dobie sponge, Scotch-Brite blue sponge, and paper towels. I personally think the paper towels, slightly damp worked the best and the blue sponge was a close second. Check out the video to see the paint coming off in action!
  • The Citristrip will run a little down the sides while it’s resting for the 60-90 minutes. I checked on it every 10 minutes or so and used a paint brush or paper towel to wipe off the drips.
  • Use blue painter’s tape to tape off any areas that are close to where the stripping gel will go. If it runs or gets on other parts of the tumbler, you won’t be happy!
  • To prevent bleeds, press down the the vinyl as well as you can around the edges of letters, insides of letters, and images. Use an embossing heat gun or hair dryer to heat the vinyl a little and them press it down really well to make the adhesion super strong!
  • You’ll want about an inch of vinyl on all sides of the image or words you will be etching to protect the rest of the tumbler from the gel. Add blue painter’s tape to sides that don’t have enough protection.
  • If the paint is hard to scrub off, use a weeding tool to gently pull it up so it’s loose. Then scrub it off.

I wanted you to have printable directions on etching a tumbler, so I put everything in a How To card below with my YouTube video if you want to see etching a tumbler in action.

diy etched tumblers

Etched Tumblers with Citristrip

Yield: 1 "engraved" tumbler
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Active Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Difficulty: Medium
Estimated Cost: $15

Learn how to etch tumblers easily with Citristrip and a Cricut cutting machine. Make a colored tumbler look like a professionally engraved tumbler for cheap!

I was making four different etched tumblers at the same time so my pictures might be of different images and tumblers, but the steps on how to make a Citristrip tumbler are the same no matter what material or tumbler you use!



  • Any Cricut machine
  • Transfer Tape
  • Scraper


  1. Design whatever you want engraved on your tumbler mugs in Cricut Design Space. Size to fit your specific tumbler. I made mine less than 3 inches across. It's best if the SVG design fits on the flat part of the tumbler.
  2. Before you cut the vinyl decal, move the image in and down about an inch on the Prepare screen. This gives you extra vinyl on all sides to protect your tumbler.Screenshot
  3. Cut vinyl or vinyl stencil on setting from the custom scroll down menu.cricut tumbler etching
  4. Since we are using the vinyl as a stencil, weed out the letters and images leaving the surrounding vinyl.weeding vinyl stencilweeding stencil for etched tumbler
  5. Apply the stencil to a clean stainless steel tumbler with transfer tape. Put the transfer tape over the vinyl, scrape it down well, peel off the backing and place it on the tumbler.applying stencil for citristripremove backing of stencilplacing stencil on tumbler
  6. Press it down well with your fingers or a scraper. Then peel off the transfer paper.removing transfer tape
  7. Now press down the vinyl really well, especially where you see bubbles around the edge of the letters or images. I use my fingernail or scraper and push the air out towards the opening so it lays flat. You can also run a hair dryer or heat gun over it a few times to warm it up (activates the adhesive) and then press it down (just be sure to be careful because the metal will be hot!)preparing painted tumbler for etching
  8. Now it's time to add the Citristrip to all the exposed areas of the design. Shake the Citristrip bottle up and pour some in a disposable cup. Use a foam or paintbrush to dab it all of the sections that you want etched. (you should use gloves when working with the chemical! It's hard to take pictures with gloves, so I was bad:(applying citristrip to powder coated tumbler
  9. Once it's all covered, let it sit for over an hour. I left mine on for about an hour and 15 minutes. Watch for drips down the sides and wipe off with paintbrush.using citripstrip to etch tumbler
  10. After the time was up, I used my weeding tool to gently pull at the paint to make sure it would come off.etched tumbler diy citristrip
  11. Then I wiped all the gel off with a paper towel and pulled the stencil etched tumbler citristrip engraved
  12. Now comes the fun part and a little bit of arm strength! Use a slightly damp paper towel or slightly damp blue sponge (rough side) to scrape off the paint. I used my index finger in a paper towel and rubbed pretty hard and everything came up!how to etch tumblersrubbing off citristrip stencil
  13. Keep scrubbing and scrubbing until you get it all off! Then wash the tumbler and admire it! citristrip engraved tumblersetched tumbler with citristripetched tumbler with citristrip how toengraved tumbler citristrip cricut


See post for tips on etching tumblers and make sure to watch the video on how I made my Citristrip tumblers!

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Did you make this project?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

how to etch tumblers

You can see where I had a few bleeds of the solution on the mugs where I didn’t get the edges pressed down quite well enough.

etched tumblers citristrip how to

You can grab my free Dog Mom SVG here to make your own Citristrip tumbler!

etched tumbler leak

This peach Citristrip Cricut tumbler was the hardest to scrub off. I didn’t think it worked. But after a few hours I tried scrubbing it again with a blue sponge and it came off!

This is an older tumbler that I had applied stickers to. I made the monogram in Monogram It Lite app.

powder coated tumbler engraving

Oh, the possibilities when it comes to making Citristrip tumblers!

engraved tumbler citristrip cricut

If you need to engrave flasks in batch, make sure to check out my new fun tool, the xTool F1 laser engraver!

If you’d like to share or save this tutorial on etched tumblers, simply hover over the image below and Pin It now!

how to etch tumblers

Thanks for stopping by and have a creative day!

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