Introduction: UV Fun

Picture of UV Fun

Simple, fun, and outrageously cliched (for me at least, since Im in a dorm and all) project to decorate for Halloween using a blacklight.

Step 1: Parts

Picture of Parts

All that is needed is a blacklight and some uv paint. A cheap substitution for the paint is liquid laundry detergent; I used tide with bleach alternative, but almost any kind will do. Laundry detergent glows under UV light because phosphors are added so that when the clothes are in sunlight they appear brighter. A pretty clever/sneaky (depends on how you look at it) trick by the detergent companies.

The black light I used is a 30 in. Phillips 20W bulb stuck in a plastic holder that used to hold the light for my fish tank.

Step 2: Paint It On

Picture of Paint It On

I just poured some detergent in a cup and started painting the skull on the outside of the plastic blind for my window. It is good to work with the UV light on so you know where you are painting. I didnt have any brushes so I just painted it on with paper towels. I was dissapointed when I went outside and saw that it was hard to notice, maybe the blue just does not stand out enough.

I ordered some green UV paint on e-bay. Ill probably have it sometime next week, and hopefully it will stand out more.

Step 3: Update: Instructional Video

The folks over at have created an instructional video based on this project.


SHOE0007 (author)2016-09-29

Has anyone attempted to convert tide dish detergents from UV into purple color then try to cause a blue or green glow stick to glow? Becareful since Phenol oxalate is toxic the active chemical in some glowsticks.

SHOE0007 (author)2016-09-28

The laser is at 405 nm 100 mw laser line. Absorption 405 nm.

SHOE0007 made it! (author)2016-09-28

Hi does anyone have any ideas what chemical may be inside green palmolive soap???? Here are a few images of in water to help that person figure it out. Any info would be greatly apparicated.

SHOE0007 (author)2016-09-28

You should do a instructable on perhaps Dye lasers that can be easily done with a Nitrogen laser.

SHOE0007 made it! (author)2016-09-28

Here is quinne solution in tonic water with a few drops of 1 M Sulfuric acid to enhance the glow under UV light.

SHOE0007 made it! (author)2016-09-28

Here is another image of a grenish blue color laser light when acetone water, tonic water and yellow marker dye is added.

SHOE0007 (author)2016-09-28

Some how the acetone water mixture changes the solubility of the dye and changes the light output.

SHOE0007 made it! (author)2016-09-28

Hey have you ever tried acetone with different glowing dyes. Here are a few dyes yellow marker dye in acetone, Palmolive green soap in acetone with some water. This is done with a 100 mw 405 nm line laser.

John Smith (author)2006-11-29

What if you mixed that(detergent) with fake blood?

Tetranitrate (author)John Smith2006-11-29

Then you would get clean blood.

Bam95 (author)Tetranitrate2009-10-04

LOL awesome comment..clever...

jdog1 (author)Tetranitrate2007-02-23


sharlston (author)2009-08-08

nice ible its really cool and well written :)

thetech101 (author)2009-05-30

Oily handprints also glow well under a blacklight.

bfellner (author)2006-10-21

The blothces on your clothes under a black can be a sign that your washer isn't rinsing out all of the detergent. Run another rinse cycle and then take a look :) And try using RIT Fabric Whitner & Brightner under a black light. It is the concentrated form of what they put in detergents. You can get powdered form or the concetrated liquid. Under normal light it is comepletely transparent but under UV it glows like it is radioactive! Even diluted with water a couple times over it glows. Word of caution... This stuff is hard to wash off. I didn't see it on my hands in normal light but even after scrubbing my hands with soap and hot water 5 TIMES my hands STILL Glowed. It wore off after a few days but I am glade you can only see it under UV! :)

Audio51 (author)bfellner2006-10-23

Do you know if it would make suds if used in...say...a fountain?

DeusXMachina (author)Audio512007-07-05

Find a bunch of highliters with ink that glows under a blacklight. Bust a few open and soak the ink cartridges in water for a day, then strain out the ink cartridges leaving you with yellow liquid that turns bright yellow-green in UV. I have a 'radioactive' fountain in my basement but I haven't figured out how to keep it from spattering everywhere so I don't use it much. And also, after two or three years detergent will start to bake onto whatever surface you're working with, depending on the surface, so later on it can be really difficult to get off.

This one is pretty badass. I really want to build something like this



UV LED Pin Art LampI made this lamp for a gift on Christmas. It isn't as cool as the time fountain BUT, it is cool none the less.

it's actually very very easy to make

yes, most deffinetly.

PanadoL (author)2008-07-17

How safe is it ????

postapoc (author)2006-10-05

Cool. I wondered why my jeans had spots all over them when under a black light.

badrang4 (author)postapoc2007-10-28

maby little spill? lol

pooandwee (author)badrang42008-02-13


locofocos (author)pooandwee2008-02-13

:P I've heard it shows up under a UV light. I would try it, but that would be kinda weird if someone walked in on you. "Oh nothing, just seeing if my sperm glows in UV light"

pooandwee (author)locofocos2008-02-15

lol i took a uv light with me on holiday once and shone it allround the hotel room, it was sick, there was allkinds in there. (especially on the bed) yuck.

locofocos (author)pooandwee2008-02-16

u see that episode of family guy? the new station had a really big uv light and put it in a seemingly clean hotel room to see what was really in it, and there are like farm animals everywhere.

pooandwee (author)locofocos2008-02-16

I did see that one actually lol its funny when stewie sits on the bed and you can hear a sheep baa-ing at him lol, its funny the way stewie says semen

dunnos (author)pooandwee2008-05-17

wich season and episode is that?

pooandwee (author)dunnos2008-06-04

I'm sorry i can't remeber, but im sure if you searched for it on Wikipedia you would most likely find it.

Tetranitrate (author)postapoc2006-10-05

Actually the detergent should cause clothes to glow evenly. If you have specific spots then its probably drops of something else (protein stains anyone?). ;)

Subvert (author)Tetranitrate2007-08-31

False. Detergent is often in powder/crystal form, so if it is not properly dissolving, it would be drying out on your clothes in that solid form. Or more properly, we should be referring to this stuff as the brightener, not detergent. What postapoc is probably talking about is more of a "dandruff" appearance than a splotchy appearance that you're implying.

gillan (author)2008-05-27

Whatever idea you think of, someone else has already done it. I've been wanting to explore the uv time fountain for a while now. I wonder if you can do the same with a uv bubble machine?

laernmoer (author)2007-04-01

highliters also work - you can have fun with girlfriends who are into creative fun. (-:

badrang4 (author)laernmoer2007-10-28

hm.. i wonder what youre thinking of?

rplatter (author)2007-04-27

Another thing that glows in black light. Tonic water. (As in Gin and Tonic) Makes your drinks look radio active in black light. Nice blue glow.

noahh (author)2006-10-24

can you wash it off?

Vendigroth (author)noahh2007-04-22

It's detergant. What do you think?

karen608 (author)2007-01-03

I think also there are UV chalks as i saw a chalk artist and then when a black light was turned on and houselights turned off, the additional parts of a painting in the sky showed through! look under chalk artist chalks. Good instructable!

graphak (author)2006-12-07

I saw an "instructable" at that showed how to make a cool water/time fountain. Do you think detergent and UV LED lights would work the same as this? instead of using the flourescent highly staining dye stuff that he used?

Tetranitrate (author)graphak2006-12-07

The detergent would probably start to bubble in a fountain.

bobftx (author)2006-11-28

You can mix the detergent with some white glue, like Elmer's, which will make it stick better and be easier to handle. But that will NOT wash off, not very easily, anyway. It's more like actual paint. Plus you can see it in regular light.

KoolKat (author)2006-11-13

Sometimes the simple projects are the coolest. I have some great Christmas projects in mind now. Thanks for this!

rkgroups (author)2006-11-11

too cool. u can scare with this one in dark room. :D

losermike (author)2006-10-06

any idea how long you can see the detergent under the uv light? i could get some uv paints and make some really fun layered paintings.

0.775volts (author)losermike2006-10-15

until it washes off, it'll stick around for a long time. All works as well. keep in mind detergent is a PITA to clean off (takes a whole lot of water)

zachninme (author)2006-10-06

Ha! Me a moron! I finnally realized that a blacklight and UV light are the same thing! Ding-dong! Nice instructable! I was making a set for a play, and they wanted to do a fancy thing with UV, so I suggested this.

iman (author)2006-10-05


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