how to remove tea stains from a travel mug

Travel mugs can develop stains from tea and coffee on the rim and inside the cup quite easily if you don’t clean them out as soon as you are done drinking from them. And let’s face it, seeing as how these types of mugs are designed for travel, this simply isn’t possible all of the time. As a tea drinker, you may be all too familiar with this. Luckily, removing tea and coffee stains from travel mugs can be easy and fairly quick if you know what you are doing. For when soaking with soapy water just won’t work, this article will teach you how to remove tea stains from a travel mug using three simple methods. By the time you are done reading, you should be all set to restore your travel mugs to their original stain-free glory.

Getting Started: Stained Cup Basics

Can You Prevent Tea Stains from Happening?

As we mentioned, removing tea stains from travel mugs and coffee mugs isn’t all that difficult, but you can do a few things to help prevent stains from developing in the first place.

Travel mug in daylight

When you are done drinking from your travel mug, dump out any leftover tea that you don’t finish. The longer the tea sits, the more likely it is to stain.

Whether you have a stainless steel or ceramic travel mug, a quick rinse after each use can help prevent any leftover tea from adhering to the cup and developing stains. Even if you plan on putting the cup in the dishwasher, give it a rinse first.

Lastly, take care not to over-steep your tea. Leaving a tea bag or tea strainer inside the cup for too long can increase the chance of stains developing.

What Supplies Will You Need to Remove Tea Stains?

When the dishwasher or hand washing with dish soap and elbow grease alone simply won’t work on your stainless steel or ceramic travel mug, it is time to move on to more powerful cleaning agents. With just a few common ingredients, cleaning tea stains is easily accomplished.

What you’ll need:

  • Baking soda (methods #1 and #2)
  • White vinegar or a lemon (method #2)
  • Denture cleaning tablets (method #3)
  • Paper towels, clean cloth, sponge, or scrub brush
  • Dish soap

How to Clean Tea Stains On Travel Mugs: 3 Simple Methods

Method #1: Baking Soda and Water

Baking soda, also called sodium bicarbonate, makes a great cleaning agent. When mixed with a small amount of clean water and left to soak, baking soda is often able to break down tea stains on a coffee mug or stainless steel travel mug. In addition to coffee and tea stains, baking soda is also good for removing unwanted odours and flavours left over in your cups.

  • To start, give your travel mug a quick rinse with water and dump it out. You want to get the entire inside of the cup wet so that the baking soda sticks to the stains.
  • Using a spoon, sprinkle baking soda inside the cup on the base and walls as well as over the rim, where stains often develop. Make sure to get a light coating on any stained areas. The baking soda should form a paste-like mixture when mixed with the water.
  • Leave the paste to sit for several minutes while it works its magic.
  • After a few minutes, use a slightly damp paper towel or cloth to wipe down and scrub away any stains inside your cup. Make sure you wring out your cloth very well. If it is too wet, the baking soda will not be abrasive enough to wash away the stains.
  • To finish up, wash your cup with dish soap and give it a rinse before you drink out of it again. Or, if it is dishwasher safe, you can run it through the dishwasher.

Method #2: Baking Soda and White Vinegar or Lemon

A woman holding some natural cleaning ingredients

This method is good for removing a dark stain caused by a drink like black tea or coffee, yet it is still gentle enough that it will not scratch your stainless steel mugs or ceramic cups. This is our favourite method as it is highly effective and simple, and chances are you already have the supplies needed in your home to get the job done.

Baking soda is particularly effective at removing stains on cups caused by tea and coffee when it is combined with something acidic, like lemon or vinegar. The combination causes a chemical reaction that releases carbon dioxide and foams up to clean the walls and different parts of your travel mug.

  • If you are using lemon, cut a wedge of lemon and squeeze the juice inside and over the rim of the cup. Swirl the lemon juice around so that the walls are coated. If you are using white vinegar, coat the surfaces of the mug with vinegar. You can also use lemon juice but we find fresh lemon works best.
  • Similar to the previous method, sprinkle baking soda inside the mug and over the rim so it sticks to the vinegar or lemon and creates a thin coating.
  • Let the mixture soak for several minutes. As the chemical reaction between the baking soda and lemon or vinegar occurs, the mixture will start to foam up and fizz. The bubbles will help break down the stains inside the mug, making them easier to wash away.
  • After a couple of minutes, scrub the walls and rim of the mug with a damp cloth or paper towel. Again, make sure it is only slightly damp so it retains some level of abrasiveness.
  • To finish, wash your travel mug with dish soap and give it a thorough rinse. You can also put your coffee mug or travel mug on the top rack of your dishwasher if it is dishwasher safe.

Pro Tip: If you have multiple cups with tea and coffee stains, line them up so you can clean and rinse them all at once to save yourself some time and effort.

Method #3: Denture Cleaning Tablets

Another simple method that you can use to remove tea stains inside of your travel mug or coffee mug involves using denture cleaner. Denture cleaning tablets can actually be used to clean a variety of items.

Like vinegar, it is powerful yet gentle enough for use on most surfaces, including stainless steel and other material travel mugs. Denture cleaners also bubble and fizz, which helps lift tea stains and eliminates the need for a lot of effort on your part. However, this method is not the best when it comes to removing stains on the rim, as the cleaner does not coat the top of the mug.

  • Depending on the size of your travel mug, place one or two denture cleaning tablets inside.
  • Fill your travel mug with water and let it soak while the tablets fizz.
  • When the bubbles subside, or after about 15 to 30 minutes, empty the mug and wipe it down with a paper towel or cloth. The stains should wipe away easily.
  • Clean the mug like normal with dish soap and give it a rinse to finish up. Of course, you can also run it through the dishwasher if it is dishwasher safe.

Say Goodbye to Tea and Coffee Satins

The time has come to say goodbye to your tea stained mug. Now that you know how to remove tea and coffee stains on stainless steel and other material travel mugs, which method do you think you will try first? We think the best method is #2 because of how effective lemon and vinegar are at lifting these particular kinds of stains. However, if you do not have any lemon or vinegar on hand, you may want to try method #1 or #3 if it is more convenient. Either way, we are sure you will do great!

Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Additional Resources

One Comment

  1. Tried using steradent on travel mug to remove tea staining to no avail

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