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How to Remove Tea and Coffee Stains from Cups and Mugs

Updated: Feb 23, 2023

“There’s nothing like starting your day with coffee or tea in your favourite mug. But if your mug is stained and sad looking, it can deflate your mood as well as that caffeine kick just as easily.

Stained cups and mugs are not just annoying to look at, they can be embarrassing when you’re having someone over for a cup of coffee or afternoon tea.

If you’re worried that your stained mugs will tarnish your stellar track record of being a neat freak, throwing them out is not the only option. Luckily for you, there are many common household cleaners that will come in handy to remove tea and coffee stains.

Here are six nifty methods to remove tea and coffee stains from cups and mugs.

Method 1: Use Baking Soda and Water

Baking soda works to remove coffee and tea stains chemically as well as physically. Being alkaline in nature, it eats away at the stain pigments, weakening them. Sadly, this alone is not enough to remove the stains. The weakened stains will require a bit of scrubbing and the abrasiveness of baking soda helps facilitate that deeper cleaning.

Things you’ll need:

Baking soda (weakens stubborn stains) – 1 tablespoon


Dish towel

Step 1. Put baking soda and water in the mug

Put 1 tablespoon of baking soda in the stained mug.

Pour in a little bit of water to make a thin paste.

Let it sit for about 5 to 10 minutes.

Step 2. Scrub and buff with a dish towel

Use a dish towel to scrub the baking soda paste over the weakened stains.

Cover your finger with the towel and rub at the stains in the narrow areas.

Once the mug is stain-free, rinse it out with water.

Wipe it dry with a dish towel.

Method 2: Use Magic Eraser

Magic Erasers and similar products are made with melamine foam and only need water to work. They efficiently remove otherwise irremovable stains like inks, crayons and scuff marks. While soft and pliable to the touch, this foam acts like extremely fine sandpaper and can effectively remove tough stains like that of coffee and tea from mugs.

Step 1. Wet the Magic Eraser

Pour water into a bowl.

Dip the Magic Eraser in it.

Squeeze out the excess liquid.

Step 2. Scrub out the stains with it

Scrub at the stains with the damp Magic Eraser.

Once you’ve erased all the stains, wash the mug as usual and dry it with a dish towel.

Method 3: Use Vinegar and Salt

Removing tea and coffee stains from a cup or mug is just one of the many uses of vinegar. Vinegar and salt is a very effective combination to deal with tea and coffee stains on most surfaces, including your mugs. Vinegar is mildly acidic and can chemically dissolve the pigments that constitute the stain. Salt aids in this reaction and also lends its abrasive power to scrub off the stain.

Things you’ll need:

White vinegar (effective cleaning agent) – 2 tablespoons

Salt (abrasive cleaner) – 2 tablespoons


Dish towel

Step 1. Wipe the mug with a damp dish towel

Slightly wet a dish towel.

Wipe the stained mug with the damp dish towel to remove the surface stains.

Step 2. Mix salt and vinegar

Pour 2 tablespoons of white vinegar into a bowl.

Add 2 tablespoons of salt to it.

Mix the ingredients well.

Step 3. Clean the stains with the salt and vinegar solution

Pour the salt and vinegar mixture into the stained mug and let it sit for 10 minutes.

Scrub the cup with the mixture using a dish towel.

Keep buffing until you get at each and every stain on the mug.

When it’s stain-free, rinse out the mug with plain water.

Dry it with a dish towel.

Method 4: Use Toothpaste

Plain old white toothpaste is not just good for whitening your teeth. You can also use it to remove coffee and tea stains from your favorite mug.

Toothpaste contains mild abrasives like calcium carbonate, dehydrated silica gels, magnesium carbonates, phosphate salts and silicates that remove residual surface stains. The stain removal mechanism is quite similar to what happens when you brush your teeth daily.

Things you’ll need:

Generic white toothpaste (acts as a mild abrasive)


Dish towel

Step 1. Brush the toothpaste over the stains

Brush the toothpaste over the stained mug surface with an old toothbrush.

Make sure to get the paste thoroughly into the bottom curves of the mug.

Let the paste sit for about 10 minutes.

Step 2. Buff the mug with a dish towel

Buff the mug with a dish towel until the stains disappear.

Rinse out your stain-free mug and dry it with a clean dish towel.

Method 5: Use Bleaching Powder

If you’ve got a badly stained teacup or coffee mug that no longer looks respectable, a nice long soak in bleach can get rid of the most stubborn stains. The only word of caution here is that you need to rinse off the bleach very thoroughly from the cup.

Step 1. Mix water and bleaching powder

Pour 1 quart of warm water into a large bowl.

Add 1 teaspoon of bleaching powder to it.

Step 2. Soak the stained cup in the bleach water

Place the stained cup into the bowl so that it is completely immersed in the liquid.

Simply let the cup soak overnight to allow the stains to dissolve.

Step 3. Rinse and dry the mug

Rinse out the cup thoroughly to remove any traces of the bleach. You may also wash it out with dish soap just to be sure.

Dry the cup with a dish towel and it’s good to go.

Method 6: Use Liquid Dish Soap

If the stains are not that hard and deep set, a good scouring with liquid dish soap should be enough to clean the stains from your beloved mug, especially if you normally use a dishwasher. It may take some elbow grease, but it’s also the most inexpensive way to accomplish the task.

Things you’ll need:

Liquid dish soap (effective cleaner) – 2 teaspoons

Water – 1 cup

Household sponge

Step 1. Combine dish soap and water in a bowl

Pour 2 teaspoons of liquid dish soap into a bowl.

Add 1 cup of water and mix well.

Step 2. Scrub at the stains with the sponge and soapy water

Soak the sponge in the soapy water and squeeze out the excess liquid.

Scrub the mug thoroughly, zeroing in on the stains.

Scrub the rim of the mug as well as any nooks and crannies where stains have deposited.

Step 3. Rinse the mug

Once you’ve scrubbed the mug clean, rinse it out with plain water to remove the soap.

Dry it with a dish towel.


If the stains are not deep set, the bleach soak will remove the stains within an hour. Keep an eye on the cup or mug and remove it when you see that the stains have disappeared.

Never use abrasive scrub pads or steel wool to clean your mugs and cups, as they can scratch and dull the finish.

If in the mess of baking soda, toothpaste, dish soap or salt and vinegar, you can’t quite figure out if the stains are gone, just give the cup a rinse to zero in on the remaining stains."


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