Can I Use Tempera Paint on Fabric?

Nowadays, it is a huge thing among parents and youngsters to use tempera paint on fabric permanently and do their DIY designs on clothes. From funky to doing the basic layout, everyone tries to follow everything. With this color, you can do any design you want without any problems. But the real question is, will tempera paint on fabric work? Or how to make tempera paint stay on fabric? Will it be on the cloth? or will it wash away quickly?

The thing is, Tempera paint is not permanent paint or has any pigment unless you use a medium to make it permanent. Unlike acrylic or any other paint, it is not water-based. So without a medium, the color will crack or peel off easily. Tempera paints get easily washed off even with just soap and water. Even just a small amount of watery things can ruin the pigment of colors.

However, here in this article, we will go into full detail about this topic. Such as how to seal tempera paint on fabric, how to make tempera paint permanent on fabric, is safe to use for kids or not, etc. We will also provide you with some instructions about how you can use it.

Can I use tempera paint on fabric?

What is the Variation Between Tempera Paint and Other Paints?

In the 13th and 14th centuries, Tempera paint was established in Italy by Duccio di Buoninsegna and Giotto. It became popular in the early 1400s. As it is not so expensive and easy to use, it is a perfect paint for kids. Because of the texture and everything, it is suitable for older kids to use for their projects.

Tempera has lower lightfastness than the other paints that you can use. It has a creamy consistency and when it dries, it gives a matte look. So you will get different finishes than the other colors you can use. But the sole problem is, that this color can get discolored over time.

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Can you use Tempera paint on the fabric?

Like the other paints, you can use tempera paint on fabric. But the fact is whether it will stay on the fabric or not. Usually, clothes or fabrics are soft and flexible. Tempera paints are harder to dry than other paints. So it has a high chance of getting cracked or peeled off.

But there are some extra steps that will help you to make tempera paint stay on the fabric without getting cracked or any other problems. With these few steps, you can use tempera paint on your clothes easily.

So yes, you can use tempera paint on clothes. But you need to maintain some rules regarding it to make it permanent.

How to seal tempera paint on fabric?

If you are wondering about how to make tempera paint permanent on fabric, then you don’t have to worry. This is because there are many ways to seal tempera paints on fabric. These are simple to do. All you need to do is follow the steps.

As tempera paint has low-power seeling agents compared to other paints, it is common to the paint gets flakes and peel off easily. Also, this type of paint takes a lot of time to dry. So it is hard to seal this one.

However one of the easiest and cheapest solutions is to get a water-based sealer. Because it will hold the paint and make sure the color doesn’t peel off. So mix your tempera paint with a water base color sealer and then see the magic.

And if you don’t want to wash away the color while washing, you have to heat-set the clothes before you start to wash them.

How to make tempera paint stay on the fabric?

By now, you must have known that you can use tempera paint in your fabric with some extra steps. And in this section of this article, we will tell you how to make tempera paint stay on the fabric.

  • Your desired fabric
  • Tempera Paint
  • Paint Brush
  • Extra cloth and gloves for protection
  • Water-based sealer or any acrylic paint
  • Pen Marker


The first thing you need to do is prepare a place where you are going to work. As painting can be a little difficult task if the place doesn’t have a proper environment. So you need to think about this point.

If the place is not perfect, then you can spill the color or spoil the design. Also, wear a glove and keep an extra cloth to clean the stain.


Now take out the fabric, color, marker, and brush. First, lay the fabric on a flat surface and take out the marker. You can draw any design that you would love. It will also help you to do the painting.


Now take your brush and start painting the fabric. As Tempera has a thin layer, so if possible, you can add some acrylic paint to it. It will give a better consistency and the colors won’t look dull either. Also, you will get a better finish.


Once the paint dries, you need to apply a coat of seal layer. You should do it only after it the paint is dry. Otherwise, you will face some issues like the seal will peel off with paint or you will not get a smooth finish. This step is important.

Tempera Paint vs. Acrylic Paint on Fabric

Although both of these are paints. But there is a huge difference when it comes to using them on a different surface. As fabrics are soft and stretchy, it might be tough to put paint on the clothing piece. That’s why here we have made a comparison between acrylic and tempera paint.


Other than water-based composition there is nothing similar between acrylic and tempera. The popular binder of Tempera paint is egg white and yolk. This soluble protein gives a pigment that works great.

There is another type of tempera paint that is popular nowadays. It is also called poster paint. It has a glue-based binder rather than its usual food-based protein.

When it comes to acrylic paint, it has gum arabic binder and synthetic polymer as a compound. Both of these give a better finish to a fabric that makes it comfortable for you to use on fabric. And they also dry easily.


When you are using color to decorate something, it should look colorful. So lightfastness is an important point when it comes to art. You should consider this point.

As we have previously told you in this article, tempera paint has low lightfastness. So they can get dull over time and don’t have the shiny vibe. It won’t remain the same color as it was previously.

Acrylic has more lightfastness. That’s why it won’t lose color and vibrancy even after a long time. It will always be in its original color. So for the longer plan, it would suit you better.

Consistency and Texture

Consistency matters when it comes to painting. Tempera paint is known for its creamy consistency. That’s what makes it comfortable for people to apply to the fabric. Tempera paint also gives a matte texture which can be great sometimes. But it might feel uncomfortable to hold the clothing after the painting.

On the other hand, Acrylic paint has a thick consistency. And it makes it tough to apply on clothing. But because of the thickness, you can say it gives a vibrant color vibe. Acrylic paint can give a glossy, plastic texture once it is dried. So it will give more time to build up.

Mixing Skill

A painting color needs to mix well. Because if it doesn’t have a better mixing capability then it means the paint won’t work for you either and you will not get a better finish.

As you know, tempera has glue and creamy consistency, so you could say you can mix it well. Its mixing power is great and you will have a better finish than you think. For fabric, you might need to add something extra, yet you will get something better result than you think.

Acrylic paint is also known for its mixing properties. So overall it is also great.


Coverage means how many layers you need to use on the surface where you are using. The paint should have enough coverage for you not to apply too many layers. Because too many layers can give a bad texture. So you need to care about this point.

When it comes to tempera paint, no one needs to worry about the coverage. Because of its creamy consistency, you might need only one or two layers on your fabric. But overall it works well.

Acrylic also does a decent job. As it dries fast, you need to apply it quickly. And you will also get permanent coverage with it.

Can Tempera Paint Be Washed?

Tempera paints are washable. You can wash it with warm water, soap, and a sponge. It won’t give you a permanent finish. But for a short time, you can use tempera paint. So you don’t have to worry about staining. So overall it would be a decent paint to use.


Any paint can be used for fabrics. There are no rules or regulations. However, if you are thinking about painting it permanently, then you need to consider many things.

Tempera is a decent paint to use even for fabrics. You can even do basic designs with it easily. But before it, you need to know about precautions. So you can say you can use tempera paint on fabric.

Have you ever used Tempera paint on fabric? If you have, then tell us your experience and results.

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