Skip to main content

How to Make Your Own Glow-in-the-Dark Art

Take a break from watching your lava lamp, and have some freaky fun with phosphorescence. Inspired by the Instructables project:


  • : Before you paint, apply a small amount of detergent to an inconspicuous part of your wall. Allow it to dry, then make sure you can remove it with a damp sponge. Some materials and paints may absorb detergent, which would make your masterpiece permanent.
  • Step 1: Pick your design Pick your design. Using a pencil, lightly trace an outline of the picture onto your wall.
  • Step 2: Prep your detergent Prep your detergent: If it's a powder, mix it in the bucket with water until you get a paint-like consistency. If you're working with a thicker liquid detergent, you may want to thin it with water to make it easier to spread.
  • TIP: Be sure the detergent contains a "whitener" or "brightener." This is what makes it glow when exposed to UV rays.
  • Step 3: Paint Using your brush, paint the detergent mixture over your pencil marks. After the first coat is completely dry, apply a second coat to fill in any missed spots. Keep a damp sponge on hand to deal with drips and mistakes.
  • Step 4: Set up the lights Assemble your black lights—which are also known as UV lights and can be found online—in their fixtures. Plug them into a surge protector, and set them up on either side of your design.
  • TIP: Don't use incandescent UV bulbs. They don't create enough light to produce a good glow, and they give off enough heat to be considered a fire hazard.
  • Step 5: Turn off the light To achieve the most spectacular effect, make the room as dark as possible by drawing the curtains, shutting the door, and turning off the lights.
  • Step 6: Revel in your artistry Invite a few friends over, flip on the black lights, and revel in your awesome artistry.
  • FACT: Other items that glow when exposed to UV light include petroleum jelly, tonic water, milk, and cat urine.

You Will Need

  • A pencil
  • Laundry detergent with whitener/brightener
  • A bucket
  • paintbrush
  • and water
  • A damp sponge
  • Two 18" fluorescent black light tubes with matching fixtures
  • Surge protector
  • A blank wall or other surface

Popular Categories