Color code hot and cold water taps with nail polish

Amazing how a little change can help kids get what they need on their own. Here's kittenpie's great idea:

My girl understand that red=stop and green=go, so in the bathroom, I have painted (in nail polish for durability) a large red spot on top of the hot water tap, and a large green spot on top of the cold water tap. Now she can wash her hands or have some waterplay without me hovering, because she knows which tap she can use safely and which she can't. I'm a big supporter of more independence! (Oh, the hidden perks of an un-renovated house – I just don't care about those taps!)

Related: LED faucet light "changes water color" when too hot

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  1. Kate in Iowa says

    We did something similar: We put a zip tie on the handle of the cold water faucet. Non permanent in our newly-refinished bathroom.

  2. Kevin says

    I bought the LED faucet attachment from thinkgeek:

    One for the kitchen, one for the main bathroom. It’s great because it changes from blue to red when the water’s too hot, and it just flat out looks cool. The only problem we’ve had is that the kitchen one tends to leak in to the compartment that holds the circuit board, so I’ve taken it off until I can replace its gasket.

  3. tulip says

    We use a red ponytail holder on the hot water tap to let our daughter know that it is not to be used.
    I love the LEDs but I need to keep our hacks low tech! :)

  4. Parent Hacks Editor says

    Kevin: Thanks for the reminder! We posted about that LED tap a while back. I’ve added that post as “related” to this one.

  5. Oh Baby Gifts says

    I really like the LED one but what if your kids like the color red? lol how would that work?

  6. Christy says

    This is also useful for kitchens that have light switches next to disposal switches. The previous homeowners of our house had painted the disposal switch red — anyone who visits never touches it.

  7. Abel says

    Nice hack with little twist of mind. As mentioned, make sure the water temperature is fine.

  8. Anonymous says

    If your kids are color blind (or not sure but you know it runs in the family) you might want to choose other colors. I know for me, being color blind, red and green wouldn’t mean anything to me.

  9. none says

    Or… turn down the temperature on your hot water heater so it isn’t hot enough to burn. You’ll save energy and your kids hands at the same time.

  10. Stef says

    Good point on the color blindness: 7-10% of western males are red-green color blind, so it’s a significant factor and one that parents might not have picked up on. Red & blue may be a better choice?

  11. Parent Hacks Editor says

    Jim: I’ve deleted your extremely unhelpful comment. Keep it constructive, please.

  12. Rachelle Goldenberg says

    I love the idea. :) Maybe even tape a little stop sign above the hot water and a go sign above the cold water. :)

  13. Sue says

    Great idea! We usually stick a toy rubber cockroach on the things which we forbid them to touch it. haha. I know it sounds crazy.