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I've been given a bone china mug I'd like to take to work. Unless it has my name on it, it will get lost among all the other mugs. (I'd like to leave it on my desk and wash it myself, but some people are just too conscientious, and might think it is a work mug).

My understanding is that I can't:

  • Put a name label on with permanent marker on the bottom, as this will come off with subsequent washes
  • Put a sticker with my name on it for the same reason
  • Get my name engraved on it (because China doesn't engrave)

How can I put a dishwasher-proof name identifier on my bone china mug?

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  • write backwards on the sticky side of clear tape and super-glue the edges to the bottom of the mug? The ink won't wash off then.
    – J. Musser
    Dec 25, 2014 at 19:53

5 Answers 5

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All markers, pens, labels are remarkably non-dishwasher-resistant if we wanted them to stay with the exception of those unwanted tags and stickers that for obscure reasons won't go off.

Having said that, there are a wide range of products especially designed for use on ceramics which survive many dish-washing procedures, or are even dishwasher resistant.

  • Colors used for painting on ceramics using a brush
  • Special pens or markers to label ceramics
  • Decals for printing on inkjet or laser printers
  • Ready made decals for use on ceramic

They all have in common that they need baking in an oven to make the colors heat- and dishwasher-resistant.

So when looking for such a product confirm it was designed for use on ceramics, and it needs baking as a last step.

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Make a pressure-sensitive mug holder that beeps when someone lifts the mug off of it. Put a switch on it so that you can turn it off when you are sitting at your desk.

Yes, I do have such a device on my desk. It took about two hours to make including finding the parts to use from other projects around the house. The beeping mechanism was the hardest part to find, I salvaged a children's bicycle siren for the job. One day I intend to add a mug heater to the device.

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  • Down voted because the answer has nothing to do with the question.
    – Jon
    Dec 25, 2014 at 16:29
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    @Jon: Lifehacks are about out-of-the-box solutions.
    – dotancohen
    Dec 25, 2014 at 19:14
  • The question was how to put an identifier that was permanent on the mug. The OP had a solution as to how to protect the mug and was asking about that solution. Read the question again, your answer had nothing to do with the solution or hack the OP was looking for.
    – Jon
    Dec 25, 2014 at 22:37
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    @Jon That's not true. The OP had a problem, and thought that he might have a solution, but dotan said that there's a better solution to the problem presented. The OP is not guilty of the XY problem, but I think that reasoning applies to your logic here.
    – Shokhet
    Dec 31, 2014 at 1:23
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I’m getting washer & dryer safe labels, putting it on the handle, and sticking the ends together. I chose this bc they’re waterproof (washer) and can stand temps of up to 240 F (dryer). AFAIK, dishwashers only get up to about 200 (google says) so this should work.

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Tie a short length of ribbon or cord to the handle.

If that by itself isn't enough to identify it as personal property, embroider your name on the ribbon (or use a marker and occasionally refresh it).

Or attach a small keychain or bracelet or something that people will easily associate with you.

Or for a permanent solution, unless your mug has a special meaning to you, buy a new mug that has been customized with your personal mugshot and/or name on it. (Searching for "photo mug" finds many for under $10.)

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No need to buy specialty labeling products. Here's a cheap, unobtrusive, time-tested solution: write with permanent marker on plain white masking tape on the bottom of the mug, then run through the dishwasher or wash with hot water (yes, the very thing you were afraid would destroy your label). The heat actually turns the adhesive from easy to remove (as masking tape is designed to be) to very hard to remove (by accident at least; it's still easy to remove deliberately).

I discovered this by accident 8 years ago when I labeled some plastic containers with Sharpies and masking tape, then ran them through the dishwasher. It was not at all the easily removable labeling solution I was hoping for. The tape did not wash off, and the Sharpie remains as dark and crisp as the day I labeled it. I still have containers with 8-year-old tape on them to this day. That's when I realized I could lean into this phenomenon and make it a feature, not a bug. I label all kitchen items that need permanent labeling with Sharpies and masking tape in unobtrusive spots, typically the bottom (because let's face it, it's not an attractive addition). In your case, the bottom is an even better place because your coworkers will see your name when the mug is loaded upside down into the dishwasher. In my case, I now have clear labels on my cups and mixing bowls showing their capacity and weight, on my plastic containers showing what lids go with what bases, and so on. I'm a bit of a labeling nerd. I've tested many permanent markers on kitchen items, and they all wash off eventually, but permanent markers plus masking tape makes for a very durable, readable combo. For the record, the tape is nothing special; it was a $1 generic roll from Staples.

And if you do want to remove it? The tape can still be peeled off with minimal effort, but it'll leave a sticky adhesive residue. Not to worry. Brush some oil on it (another life hack: no need to waste good oil; do this with leftover cooking oil after dinner). Let sit a few hours. The adhesive is oil-soluble; it just needs time to dissolve. Then scrub the dissolved mess lightly to loosen it, rinse with hot water, and wash with dish soap and a sponge just like a dirty dish.

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