One of the most popular crafts right now is DIYing stickers, labels, and decals for items like water bottles, coffee mugs, laptops, lunch boxes, notebooks, and more! Thanks to the rise of ready-to-print graphics and electronic cutting machines (e.g., Cricut, Silhouette, Scan-n-Cut), you no longer need to shell out big bucks to custom sticker shops. Instead, you can make your own with some great sticker sheets and a home printer! But before you jump into the world of sticker making, it’s important to know that not all sticker papers are created equal. And when it comes to making good, durable, high-quality waterproof stickers (that can stand lots of wear and washing), using the right paper is paramount. After lots of experimenting, I’ve found what I believe to be the best waterproof sticker papers for making decals and labels. Let me break down the best options so you can pick the right sticker paper for your next project!

A variety of waterproof sticker papers and printable vinyls.

It’s practically impossible to test every single waterproof sticker paper available on the market right now (since so many brands now have their own version). I narrowed down my testing pool by identifying the most highly-rated papers on Amazon, as well as those commonly used in the crafting community. This gave me the “best of the best” to test and ultimately find true winners!

Here are the products tested:

What Is Waterproof Sticker Paper?

Waterproof sticker papers are exactly what they sound like: self-adhesive paper that is waterproof…as in, the images won’t bleed, discolor, or run when submerged in water. These papers are designed to be run though your home printer; and are usually compatible with either inkjet or laser printers, and sometimes both.

A variety of waterproof sticker papers and printable vinyls.

Why Waterproof Your Stickers and Labels?

Stickers, decals, and labels can be made from a wide range of printable products. However, most sticker papers and printable labels are NOT waterproof. This means your printed images will bleed or distort when they get wet.

As such, if you are adding a label or decal to anything that is going to be exposed to water or moisture, you should use waterproof paper. Good examples are: water bottles, lunch boxes, coffee cups, phone cases, kitchen mixers, cleaning supply labels, soap dispersers, essential oils, lotions, lip balms, car decals, etc.

Black and blue water bottles and lunchboxes labeled with waterproof stickers.

Important Characteristics of Waterproof Sticker Papers

Sticker Paper vs. Printable Vinyl

There is a VERY important distinction between “waterproof sticker paper” and “waterproof printable vinyl.”

Waterproof sticker paper will not run or bleed, but the paper will absorb the water and look faded/discolored when wet. The image will not distort or smudge, and the color differentiation goes away when the paper dries…but “waterproof sticker paper” will not maintain its true color vibrancy while wet in the same way professionally printed stickers and decals do.

On the other hand, waterproof printable vinyl does maintain that color vibrancy whether wet or dry. When these papers are sprayed or even saturated, water will bead up and not permeate the surface at all. As such, if you are looking to make truly waterproof decals or labels that both look and function like professional versions, you want to make sure whatever paper you are using is printable vinyl.

2 packages of Neato Waterproof Vinyl Labels

Waterproof vs. Water Resistant vs. Weatherproof

The terms “waterproof,” “water resistant,” and “weatherproof” are NOT interchangeable in the sticker paper world. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Waterproof papers will indeed be waterproof when sprayed, saturated, or submerged in water. Water droplets will bead up on the surface and do not penetrate the paper in any way. This is the best paper to use on labels or decals that will be subjected to a lot of water or frequent washing.
  • Water-resistant sticker papers are designed to “withstand moisture,” as in they won’t easily run or bleed when wet, but they are not designed to be fully saturated. These papers are most appropriate for items that won’t be routinely washed such as phone cases, laptops, party decor, disposable water bottles, wine bottle labels, etc.
  • Weatherproof papers are usually fully waterproof, but will also be able to withstand UV light, making them fade-proof as well. These papers are best used for items that will be outside or near a lot of sunlight such as car decals, bumper stickers, or garden labels.

Waterproof Does Not Equal Scratch-Proof

Finally, there is one more important distinction to know when finding the best printable sticker papers for your projects: waterproof does not equal scratch-proof.

A paper can indeed be fully waterproof…in that it won’t fade, bleed, or smudge when wet. But because your printer ink sits on top of the surface, you can most often scratch the designs off with a finger nail or other abrasive substance (like a sponge).

Black lunchbox labeled with waterproof stickers.

Neato Vinyl Label (without lamination) after 1 month of every day use.

I did find one paper that was much more scratch-resistant than others, but none were completely scratch-proof. Thankfully, there is a really easy trick to making whatever kind of sticker paper you use completely durable to scratches (see the how-to at the very bottom of this post!)

My #1 Choice: Avery Waterproof Film Labels

3 packages of Avery Waterproof Film Labels

Without a doubt, my favorite of the waterproof sticker papers I tested is Avery Waterproof Film Labels. Here’s why:

Pros

  • Print Quality – The print quality of this paper is similar to the professional looking labels on your favorite soaps, lotions, candles, and other commercial products. The color is vibrant and saturated; and the matte finish has a really high quality sheen to it.
  • Truly Waterproof – I was able to run this paper under running water for long periods of time without any hint of fading, bleeding, or discoloration. Water beads right up on the surface and doesn’t affect the image at all.
  • Stain Resistant – Without any protective laminate covering (more on this below), I was able to easily wipe off any stains and smudges.
  • (Mostly) Scratch Resistant – In “normal daily use,” (e.g., water bottle in a backpack) this paper was MUCH more scratch resistant compared to the others I tested. That said, when fully saturated with water, I was able to scratch some ink off with my fingernail.
  • Superior Stick – I left glass bottles with these labels in our shower for over a week and have been running our water bottles through the dishwasher. Not only does this paper not bleed or distort, but the labels don’t peel off, lift up, or create bubbles at all. This paper had the most superior stick of everything I’ve tried.
  • Label Variety – In true Avery fashion, this particular paper is available lots of different formats, including a full sheet label as well as common pre-cut sizes (e.g., 3″ squares). Avery also provides online labels templates that ensure your designs end up within the label boundaries when printed.
  • Availability – A wide variety of these label packs (with different quantities of sheets) are available for a great price on Amazon, but the Avery.com website has even more options for purchase.
Glass cleaning spray bottles with red, blue, and turquoise printable cleaning labels.

Avery Waterproof Film Labels with lamination

Cons

  • Laser Only – This paper is only compatible with laser or pigment ink printers, which means they aren’t a possibility in most households. However, home and small businesses tend to have laser printers, so you might consider asking around!
  • Matte Only – This paper only comes in a white matte finish; a glossy finish is not currently available. If you want high gloss labels with this paper, I recommend using the laminating instructions at the bottom of this post.
Cleaning bottles labeled with Avery Waterproof Film Labels.

Avery Waterproof Film Labels after 1 week getting sprayed in the shower.

Bottom Line

The Avery Waterproof Film Labels Full Label Sheets is my #1 favorite paper OF ALL, especially when making full sheets of 100% waterproof stickers with great durability and adhesion. Based on my tests, it’s worth seeking out a laser printer in order to use these papers!

Neato Printable Vinyl Papers

2 packages of Neato Waterproof Vinyl Labels

In full disclosure, I was super excited when Neato offered me a bunch of waterproof sticker papers to test. I have seen them all over the craft world, acclaimed as the best sticker paper for waterproof labels and decals. To be clear, the Neato Printable Vinyl Papers are very good waterproof products, but there were a few things about the papers that made them not quite my #1. Here are my thoughts:

Pros

  • Print Quality – The print quality of this paper is really good. The colors are vibrant and saturated.
  • Multiple Finishes – These papers come in both glossy and matte sticker paper finishes.
  • Truly Waterproof – I was able to run this paper under running water for long periods of time without any hint of fading, bleeding, or discoloration. Water beads right up on the surface and doesn’t affect the image at all.
  • Label Variety – Like Avery, this paper is available lots of different formats, including full sheet labels as well as other pre-cut sizes. Templates are provided, but I have not tested them to see how well the designs line up when printed.
  • Availability – A wide variety of these label packs (with different quantities of sheets) are available for a great price on Amazon. You can also order directly from the Neatolabels.com website.
  • Laser AND Inkjet Compatibility – These papers are compatible with both laser and inkjet printers. In fact, if you only have an inkjet printer, this is likely your best choice!
  • Easily Removable – I was able to peel up these stickers quite easily, and they did not leave any residue behind.
Shampoo and conditioner bottles labeled with Neato Waterproof paper.

Neato Labels after 2 weeks getting sprayed in the shower.

Cons

  • Poor Stain Resistance – Without any protective laminate covering (more on this below), these papers are NOT stain resistant. In fact, my soap dispensers behind my kitchen sink are splotched with food and water stains that do not come off.
  • Sticky – I find the glossy sticker paper tacky (sticky) to the touch, rather than smooth.
  • Not Scratch Resistant – During “normal daily use,” (e.g., lunchbox in a backpack) this paper scratches fairly easily. In fact, I believe this paper must be protected with a laminated layer (as described below) in order to prevent scratches.
  • Poor Stick – I was fairly surprised that this paper didn’t have quite the durable adhesion I was expecting. No matter the size and shape, most of my cut stickers peeled up at the corners over time.
Black and grey water bottles labeled with waterproof sticker paper.

Neato Labels (with lamination) after 1 month of every day use.

Bottom Line

The Neato Printable Vinyl Sticker Paper is a truly waterproof paper that will give you gorgeous labels with great color with either a laser or inkjet printer. While the poor stain- and scratch-resistance can be mitigated through laminating (discussed below), their poorer adhesion is what makes these papers my 2nd choice overall.

Other Waterproof Sticker Papers

Milcoast

3 packages of Milcoast Waterproof Sticker Papers

I actually first started on this journey to find the “ultimate waterproof sticker papers” a few years ago. At the time, it was practically impossible to find papers that worked with laser printers. After a lot of research, I stumbled upon Milcoast waterproof papers for both inkjet and laser, and I initially LOVED them (I used them here and here), especially since they were the only waterproof clear sticker paper I could find.

Unfortunately, if you look at the packaging, they say “waterproof sticker paper” instead of “vinyl.” As I noted in the beginning of this post, these papers will not bleed or smudge, but they do discolor slightly when wet. As such, these products are great for items that will only get slightly/barely wet or for disposable items like party supplies and party favors.

NOTE: These products aren’t currently available anywhere, but I will keep this post updated if/when they become available again.

Zicoto Printable Vinyls

This printable vinyl has rave reviews on Amazon, and is noted for its thicker quality compared to most other papers. Back when I first ordered some Zicoto products, they were only compatible with inkjet printers so I gave them to my crafty sister and never tested them myself (she loves this paper for her stickers, by the way). They have since re-leased the product to be laser printer compatible. Once I test them myself, I will update this post with my findings.

Making Labels Scratch Resistant

Black lunchbox labeled with waterproof sticker paper.

Neato labels after 1 month of every day use.

Finally, I want to address why and how to make printable labels scratch-resistant, no matter which paper you use. After experimenting with lots of papers both laminated and not, I’ve determined that the laminating step is needed in order to make labels that both look professional and stand up to wash, wear, and tear.

Thankfully, laminating your printable labels is really easy thanks to these self-laminating sheets from Avery.

Avery Waterproof Labels shown with Avery Self-Laminating Sheets.

How to Laminate Your Printable Labels

  1. Print your labels or stickers onto whatever waterproof sticker paper you prefer.
  2. Place a clear Avery Laminating Sheet, sticky-side-down, onto your stickers. Smooth out any bubbles or creases.
  3. Use a scissors, paper trimmer, or electronic cutting machine such as a Cricut or Silhouette (set to kiss cut) to cut out your stickers.

NOTE: It’s important to understand that the laminating step will NOT waterproof just any sticker paper. It is purely a protective coating against scratches and stains. In order for your labels to be waterproof, you must still start with waterproof vinyl papers.

Watch the Laminating Process!

Below, I share a full video tutorial on how to assemble both non-laminated and laminated labels! (Video not loading? You can watch it here.)

Bottom Line

This laminating step not only protects your stickers from fading, staining, and scratches, but is ultimately what will gives your DIY stickers a professional, glossy quality.

Black and blue water bottles labeled with waterproof stickers.


When I first started attempting to DIY my own stickers for our water bottles a few years ago, I’d be continuously frustrated at the lack of true “weatherproofness” I was able to achieve. In the time since, waterproof printable papers have come such a long way; and now it is indeed possible to make professional-quality stickers right at home!

Whether you just want to add a cute logo to a coffee mug or create long-lasting labels for your entire home, the products I shared in this post will give you easy and impressive results!

See You Soon!
Megan