Less Mess Arts and Crafts! A Few of My Favorites!

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My kids love art but are SO messy! I feel like I have tried every arts and craft item on the market and have carefully curated a collection of art supplies that will inspire their creativity while maintaining what's left of my sanity.

My kids love to do art and create.  And I LOVE how creative they are. Honestly. BUT, they might be the two messiest children on the planet. I love them dearly but they are a hot mess. My little artists have colored and painted on almost every surface imaginable. My walls bare the reminders of their mural masterpieces. Because of their *ahem* affinity for unconventional canvases I have become somewhat of an expert on washable and mess free art supplies. I feel like I have tried it all and have carefully curated a collection of art supplies that will inspire their creativity while maintaining what’s left of my sanity. Here’s my list of the best ones.

Crayola Ultra-Clean Washable Crayons

These are the only crayons I allow in my home. I threw all of the other ones away. These are INCREDIBLE. They wipe off with just plain water. To date I have had to clean them off of walls, wood furniture, glass, upholstery, laminate flooring, carpet, and clothing. They have never failed me. They come in larger sizes for little hands and the regular size. I find them a bit more brittle than traditional crayons but I will gladly accept more broken crayons in the name of clean walls.

Crayola Ultra-Clean Washable Markers

These are good but not *quite* as good as the crayons. If your child MUST have markers (mine do) these are what you want. They will wash off most surfaces with water. There are both skinny and broadline markers available and we have both.

Crayola Color Wonder Products

The Crayola Color Wonder line is an array of markers, paints, stamps etc that will ONLY work on special paper. Your child can scribble on the floor until their heart’s content without a single mark. I liked these a lot when my kids were toddlers. Now that they are older they want more creative control and we don’t use them as much. They also get frustrated that the color takes a few seconds to appear. So these are a great option for little ones but older kids won’t be as impressed.

Kwik Stix

These might be the Holy Grail of art supplies. I LOVE these and so do my kids. They are always begging to paint and I secretly hate it because of the mess. These are tempera paints in little sticks similar to a glue stick. They apply like paint but dry in 90 seconds and wipe off clean with water. They are amazing! One of our favorite activities right now is to use the Kwik Stix on empty boxes. They have created jet packs, airplanes, school buses and many other fun creations.

Dot Markers


My kids love dot markers not just for dot sheets like this one but also for free hand art work. They are cleaner than painting for us although there can be some splatter with overzealous dotting. Because of that I need to supervise pretty closely. We like the Do-A-Dot brand and also Dauber Dawgs.

Melissa and Doug Water Wow Pads

My go-to mess free art activities are these Melissa and Doug Water Wow pads. These use a small brush filled with water to reveal pictures. The pictures dry and can be completed over and over again. Because these only use water they don’t stain and there is minimal clean-up required. I use these for doctor appointments and church frequently. They’re also good for when I’m trying to get work done and the baby wants to color. I don’t feel the need to supervise as closely as I do with dot markers or crayons.


The Aquadoodle is a similar concept to the Water Wow pads except it is made of fabric. The pen is filled with water and reveals color when you write on the cloth. We have owned both full size versions and a travel version of these. I like the travel version because it is great on the go.

Educational Insights Playfoam

This Playfoam is a good alternative for people who hate the mess of play dough. We still have play dough but some days I’m just not up for it. This playfoam makes a good alternative. It still develops fine motor skills like play dough but it doesn’t get all over the place. We have a set that comes with letter and number cards and the kids form the letters on the cards with the foam.


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Doing art and having a creative outlet is SO good for kids but the mess can be so stressful for parents. These are some of my favorite tips, tricks, and supplies for less mess arts and crafts with kids and toddlers.


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