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How Can I Remove Tea and Coffee Stains From Mugs and Cups?

By Edited Sep 18, 2016 1 4

Stained Cup

There’s nothing quite like a mug of coffee to kick-start your morning or a soothing cup of tea after a hard day in the office. In the UK alone, over 165,000,000 cups of tea are drunk every single day[1] but there’s a darker side to the humble ‘cuppa’ – the stubborn stains it leaves on mugs and cups.

Normal washing, whether by hand or a dishwasher, has little affect on the dirty brown ring that forms in the mugs and cups of regular tea or coffee drinkers. Getting rid of these stains takes a little more effort, but the end results are more than worth it.

There are two main methods of removing tea or coffee stains: scrubbing or soaking. The scrubbing method requires an abrasive paste and a cloth; the soaking method between four to twelve hours of your time (leaving the mugs or cups to soak overnight it usually the best option. Neither option calls for any special equipment or products – a surprising number of everyday household items have been proven to leave cups and mugs looking like new. If your stains are ingrained, you may need to choose a combination of both methods for best results.

Scrubbing Method

Here are the top four pastes for removing stubborn stains from crockery and silverware:

  1. Dampen a cloth with water and dab into baking powder (baking soda) until a paste has formed. Rub vigorously on the stain. If this doesn’t remove all the staining, then fill the mug with a solution of hot water and baking powder and leave to soak for a minimum of four hours. Rinse thoroughly.
  2. Dampen the inside of the mug with water. Add one tablespoon of salt and scrub the mug until the stains are removed. For stubborn stains try making a paste with salt and white vinegar and rubbing the affected areas using circular motions.
  3. Make a paste of baking powder (baking soda) and lemon juice. Use a damp cloth to rub the paste all around the inside of the mug until the stain has lifted. Rinse thoroughly.
  4. Sprinkle washing powder inside the mug and rub with a damp cloth. Rinse thoroughly.

Clean Mug


Soaking Method

  1. Squeeze a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice into the mug. Wipe half a lemon around the inside of the mug and leave overnight. Wash as normal.
  2. Fill the mug with a solution of washing powder and boiling water. Leave for a minimum of four hours and then wash and rinse.
  3. Pour enough cola into the mug to cover the stained areas. Leave overnight. Wash as normal.
  4. Add a squirt of bleach to the mug and fill with hot water. Leave to soak overnight. Wash thoroughly in soapy water and rinse several times; it’s important no bleach residue is left inside the mug.
  5. Fill the mug with hot white vinegar and leave to soak overnight. Rinse thoroughly.
  6. Fill the mug with hot water. Drop in one denture tablet and leave to soak. Rinse clean.


Aug 27, 2013 4:16am
Great ideas for both ways, rather drink the wine though myself. I used to have trouble removing stains from thermos flasks.
But I use dynamo washing liquid now. Although you need to wash out thoroughly after unless you want to have the soapy taste.
Aug 27, 2013 11:55am
Ha! I'm with you on the wine! Is Dynamo a US brand? It's not one I'm familiar with but an additional tip for those who can access it. I decided to write this after we struggled to get tea stains off some white mugs. I asked everyone I knew for tips and compiled a list; hopefully it'll help others too :)
Oct 2, 2013 5:48pm
You mentioned some really cool things in this article. I didn't know you could use baking soda to clean mugs. I've always done the bleach trick. This will give me something else to think about. Thanks for the informative article.
Oct 4, 2013 8:24am
You're very welcome, Bambiraptor :)
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  1. UK Tea Council "The Home of Tea: All You Need to Know About Tea." UK Tea Council. 25/08/2013 <Web >

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