How to Print Images on Tea Cups

Updated February 21, 2017

You can print images on teacups to personalise your favourite cups, or to give as gifts to your loved ones. Businesses might print images on teacups and coffee mugs and distribute them to customers and community members as a way of advertising. You could hire a professional printing company to print the images for you, but this can be expensive because many companies require you to place a minimum order. You can save expensive printing costs by printing the images onto waterslide decal paper with your home printer and applying them to teacups you already own.

Clean the teacups thoroughly to remove any dirt, dust or grease that could prevent your image from bonding properly to the cup.

Measure the teacup and determine the image size you will need for your project.

Upload the digital image onto your computer or scan a hard copy photo to create a digital copy. Edit your image with photo editing software. Use this software to crop out unwanted sections of the photograph, adjust the size of the image, change or enhance the colours, apply touch-ups to faces, or add text to the image.

Change your printer's settings in the print dialogue box to print at the resolution of your image. Refer to your printer's user manual for instructions specific to your brand of printer.

Print a sample image onto regular copy paper to make sure you are happy with the results. Make any additional edits to finalise the image.

Load waterslide decal paper into your printer. Make sure you purchase suitable decal paper for your inkjet or laser printer.

Print the image onto the waterslide paper and spray with fixative spray to keep the ink from running. Follow the manufacturers' instructions on the waterslide paper and fixative spray products for proper application.

Cut the image from the waterslide paper once the ink and fixative sprays have dried completely.

Place the image in a shallow dish of water until the paper curls and the decal begins to separate from the paper backing. Set on a paper towel to absorb the excess water.

Wet the teacup and position the decal paper on it. Wipe with a clean sponge from the centre of the image to the outside to remove moisture and wrinkles from the decal.

Slowly peel the paper away from the decal, pushing the decal back onto the mug with a pair of tweezers if it begins to peel away with the paper. Blot the decal gently with a paper towel to dry it.

Seal the image with a resin sealer so the teacup can be washed without fading the image.


Look for your supplies wherever craft or office supplies are sold. Choose from white or clear waterslide decal paper.

Things You'll Need

  • Digital image
  • Editing software
  • Waterslide decal paper
  • Fixative spray
  • Scissors
  • Shallow dish
  • Paper towels
  • Tweezers
  • Resin sealer
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About the Author

A former cake decorator and competitive horticulturist, Amelia Allonsy is most at home in the kitchen or with her hands in the dirt. She received her Bachelor's degree from West Virginia University. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and on other websites.