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!
These are not a true etch nor engraved tumbler, but they sure do look like it for a fraction of the cost!
Supplies Need to “Etch” Tumblers
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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):
- Finedine white tumbler
- BJPKPK teal water bottle
- Iron Flask Sports Water Bottle (peach)
- Stemless tumblers (aqua)
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.
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.
- Any Cricut machine
- Transfer Tape
- 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.
- 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.
- Cut vinyl or vinyl stencil on setting from the custom scroll down menu.
- Since we are using the vinyl as a stencil, weed out the letters and images leaving the surrounding vinyl.
- 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.
- Press it down well with your fingers or a scraper. Then peel off the transfer paper.
- 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!)
- 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:(
- 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.
- After the time was up, I used my weeding tool to gently pull at the paint to make sure it would come off.
- Then I wiped all the gel off with a paper towel and pulled the stencil off.
- 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!
- Keep scrubbing and scrubbing until you get it all off! Then wash the tumbler and admire it!
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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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.
You can grab my free Dog Mom SVG here to make your own Citristrip tumbler!
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!
Oh, the possibilities when it comes to making Citristrip tumblers!
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Thanks for stopping by and have a creative day!