How To Remove Coffee & Tea Stains From Mugs & Teapots

I’ll never forget the time, years ago, when I walked into the staff room of the company I had just started working for. They encouraged me to help myself to any of the mugs in the cupboard and pour myself a cup of coffee. I didn’t think to bring my own from home, so I was grateful.

ExampleI picked up one and out of habit I looked inside…it was all stained nasty brown. Yech. So I chose another, trying to be subtle since I didn’t want to offend anyone…same thing.

I decided to just go with it and use the last one I had in my hand…other than the bad staining, it was clean. I did not want to attract any attention by flipping through all the mugs on my first day at the job, oh boy!

I bided my time but within a month all the teacups & coffee mugs were looking brand spanking new. Was I a superhero with the rest of the staff? To tell you the truth, I don’t know if they even really noticed and if they did, it was a brief mention then forgotten about, lol. But I was sure happy about the improvement! And it was a relief not to have to give a nasty cup to a visiting VIP.

How did I do it? My method of choice is to use baking soda and water (you won’t believe how slick this works), but I have a few other tricks listed here as well. You’re sure to get your favorite mug back to looking brand new. These methods will work for both coffee and tea (including teapots).

*Each point below is a single tip


  • Wet a cloth then use it to rub surface with bicarb or salt.
  • Try a paste of corn starch and vinegar, apply and let sit for several minutes first before scrubbing.
  • Baking soda & lemon juice.
  • Salt and vinegar (leave on surface then wash off a few hours later).


Directions: Top up with boiling water, leave for several hours or overnight.

  • Baking soda.
  • Bleach OR vinegar (do not dilute these with water).
  • 2 spoonfuls of dishwasher detergent.
  • 2 denture tablets.

Note: After successfully removing the marks, rinse and wash well before using.


Directions: Toss in the ingredients (each line is a single method), fill pot with boiling water then leave overnight.

  • Squeeze the juice from a wedge of lemon (1/4) and throw in the peel, add 2 TBS of bicarb.
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup Realemon juice.
  • A couple denture tablets.
  • 4 TBS dishwasher detergent.
  • 1/4 cup of washing soda.


Here are a few more recommendations from the Comments section below:

  • Magic Eraser: Use it as instructed to lift the residue
  • Sugar: With a damp cloth to scrub surface
  • SOS Steel Wool Pads
  • Toilet Bowl Cleaner: Who woulda thought of that? Of course this would work! Rubber gloves are necessary for this job. Not a fan of this? I understand, but if nothing else works, why not try it.
  • Toothpaste: Scrub with a toothbrush, wash clean
  • Hydrogen Peroxide & Hot Water: Allow to sit through the day.

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    • Bret Wingert

    Thanks for this hints. We get this question all the time and you have many of the solutions in one convenient place!

    Bret Wingert

      • Snow

      Does this work on teeth? I dring tea and sometimes coffee.
      It would have to be easy on the gums to be practical.

    • linda brainerd

    I tried some of the cup cleaning methods offered here, but found the simplest was to spray the inside of the cup with kitchen 409. The brown stain just sloughed off. I rinsed the cup, washed it out — et voila, ready to go — and my cups were VERY stained.

      • tammy

      Green Works natural all-purpose cleaner worked as well.

        • Michelle

        I just used the bicarbonate (baking soda) in boiling water soak in a very badly stained tea cup, an it worked like a charm. All I had to do was let it sit there in the sink for 2 hours, and then I wiped it out with a sponge. Piece of cake.

        I prefer not to use bleach, or other cleaning chemicals because I don’t want any remnants of that in my food/drinks.

          • K Fitzgerald

          A colleague of mine is a US Navy veteran who was almost proud of his stained mug. Tradition of some kind apparently. One night after he left, I cleaned it with bicarb. He was mock angry, but he couldn’t believe I got it like new in a matter of minutes using the bicarb paste.

    • Patricia

    Hi! I have used hot water with a little bleach, filling the cup and letting it set while I wash the rest of the dishes, or I have also used hot water with a bit of ammonia in the same manner. (Remember to NEVER mix bleach and ammonia! Do not use ammonia for stainless steel pots and pans or tableware). Wash your cups very well after the soaking. I also add a lid full or two of bleach to sudsy dish water (use rubber gloves to protect you hands) to disinfect and make glasses sparkle. Rinse well with hot water. The gloves will protect you hands from heat as well. I hand wash dishes, so apparently I have already gone green!

      • Green?

      Ugh… hand washing uses more water than most modern dishwashers… so no. You haven’t gone green.

        • Diane

        That depends how much water you use when hand washing. Just because you heard a general statistic somewhere does not make it true. Some people can wash dishes with a sink full of water.

          • Arthur

          A modern dishwasher washes and rinses clean(most people don’t rinse soap scum from the dishes,more chemicals ingested), a days washing in water too hot for the average hands( so less germs) in about 18ltrs of water.
          For those that dry their dishes with a tea towel try this.Smell the towel first!
          Cockroaches just love getting a snack from a wet tea towel from the wash before!

            • Andrew

            Many of us still use traditional teapots that were made long before dishwashers were around and do not have a strong glaze over the pattern; a dishwasher is likely to remove the pattern, as will vigorous scrubbing. Be gentle.

        • Barry

        I had a cousin stay who installed her dishwasher on the basis it was “greener”. It heats the cold water to a high temperature. Then it runs for 2 to 3 hours. It must heat again along the way as it will cool down. Heating takes a lot of electricity plus power for the time the motors and pumps run. As a complete picture they are not as green as you would love to believe. My power bill went through the roof. Her front loader washing machine did the same with heating cold water and running for hours. Pays to look deeper. I’ll try the methods here for cleaning stained cups and teaspoons. Thanks

          • Ruben

          A dishwasher uses vey little electricity, about 1,800 watts. If you lay $0.10 per kwhr for electricity, that’s under 50 cents for a two hour load.

    • Nancy

    I know it’s a purchased product but they work great on any stained dishes and many other surfaces that are stained; thoes magic erasers that can be found in grocery store cleaning ailes and at many “dollar” type stores.Using one rescued my counter top from what I thought was a permanent stain.

      • Mark

      Oh, yes! I was a first grade teacher, and I can tell you that Magic Erasers will clean just about anything. Even permanent marker ink! Tea stains would be easy peezee , as they say in first grade. Plus you don’t have to use nasty things like vinegar, salt, sugar or toothpaste!

        • Alicia

        I love the magic erasers for tea stains. But I have a glass jar that I can’t fit my hand in to use it. I either need one made round on a good handle or another method to clean the stains out of the inside of a square jar.

        I also use them for floor scuffs, finger smudges and anything else a little soap and water can’t remove. But alway test on a small spot first. It can leave a dull or shine spot on surfaces like linoleum or paint.

    • HuwOS

    Just use some sugar in the mug and use a damp cloth to get all the stains with it.

    • Vicky

    I always use SOS pads (steel wool). Quick, no fumes. Never noticed any damage, even to nice porcelain (rub gently on any gold rims etc.). Great for tea strainers and stainless steel sinks too (though there are gentler products out there made for sinks, which don’t scratch…but that’s only if you have a fancy sink you really care about!).

    • Pat Hill

    To remove tea stains from cups.Very easy. Happens instantly. Pour a small amount of toilet bowl cleaner on a dish rag. Wipe stains . Poof gone. You are welcome . Wear rubber gloves. Rinse everthing incold water. You are welcome.

      • GK


      I question cleaning anything I’m going to eat or drink out of with something you recommend I should where gloves for. Your welcome.

    • Clara

    WOW! thanks so much, HuwOS… the sugar suggestion worked FANTASTIC! no soaking necessary… no animal-tested, polluted-factory produced chemicals or products necessary! amazing, i tell you… absolutely amazing! (cleaning my dishes with bathroom cleaner just sounds wrong anyway. no offense.)

      • Marie

      I totally Agree!!! The sugar worked wonders, no need to soak and no need for chemicals, instant removal of the stains!! Worked great!

      • Rebekah

      I must admit, I was skeptical at first about the this, but I thought I’d try it anyway. It worked so great! I just dumped a small pack of sugar (the kind you get at restaurants) into a dry, stained mug, and then used a damp, hot washcloth to scrub the stains. It required a little elbow grease, but it worked a lot better than I expected it to. A+ for creativity and practicality!

    • GK

    Why would you want to clean a well seasoned coffee mug? It’s a labor of love when your coffee mug has that beautiful brown seasoning inside. It makes the coffee taste so much better.

    I bet REAL coffee drinkers around the world are cringing, much like I did, reading this.

      • Leah

      I agree. My white cup is washed daily, but it still contains tea stains. I left it at my neighbor’s one day and she bleached it. It took me a month or more to get the stains back in it so it would have the right taste. If its not broke don’t try to fix it.

    • Gerda

    About using bleach to remove tea stains from cups/mugs – be aware bleach will weaken the finish and stains will be harder to remove. The finish inside the cup will also deteriorate over time. My mom used to do that, and that’s what happened.

    I do appreciate and enjoy all the tips here – thanks to all who contribute!

    • Erica

    I never had much success withthe bleach method. I have never heard of wanting your mugs to be stained brown. I much prefer sparkling. I have usually just cleaned mine with a SOS pad, lightly no scouring.

    • Joe

    The baking soda method worked great. Thanks for posting!

    • Aileen

    fill the mug with water and put a little washing up liquid in it then microwave it for 10 minutes, the mug will clean, the microwave will clean and you can use the hot soap to clean stuborn stains~!

    • Jamie

    You can also use salt just like the sugar method…just apply and rub with a damp cloth. If that doesn’t work, apply equal parts salt and vinegar, rub, and let sit for a little while and it should come off.

    • Jim

    I don’t know about coffee stains because I don’t drink the stuff, but I’ve been using bleach for years to remove tea stains, and I’ve never noticed any change in the finish of the cups, not even to cheap cups (which is about all I have). I suspect full strength bleach might be harmful, but I just put a tablespoon or so in the cup, then fill with water to the rim. Takes five to twenty minutes to work, depending on the grunge factor, and the cups are like new. No scrubbing at all, just rinse well.

    • Carolyn

    Up until recently my mugs with daily tea stains were cleaned in the dishwasher and the stain would be gone. bought a new box of detergent, same brand, and now the stains don’t wash out. I know about soda and bleach but I want them destained in the dish washer not by hand. I called the manufacturer and her suggestions haven’t helped and I have used this brand over others because it did work. Help! What brand works best for you?

      • Linda

      Sorry, Carolyn. You have just been affected by the environmentally correct police. Even though the phosphates in dish soap are a miniscule amount of the total pollution (most is from animal waste in feedlots and fertilizers), they have been removed from the product. The lack is more apparent in some areas due to the mineral content of the water.

    • Corrin

    Thanks 2 the gal that posted the SUGAR remedy!!
    I only have one mug & I love this thing, a week ago it got a terrible stain that I couldn’t scrub out for
    the life of me, & I’m sorry — I wasn’t about to bleach or
    toilet cleanse something I knew I’d be drinking out of — anyhow, the sugar & water scrub worked
    great, good as new! Thank you 🙂 PS– ladies it’s just not right to
    have “seasoned” mugs — dirty dishes are very un-lady like. Consider how you’d feel drinking from a dirty mug at a restaurant… – the sugar & hot water rub works wonders, please give it a whirl 🙂

    • Gabriel

    Ok I just tried a toothbrush and some toothpaste. Took me 2 minutes to completly clean my mug to like new condition.

      • Billy

      Yep toothpaste and toothbrush worked great. No chemicals

    • Sarah

    Thank you very much. I’ve been looking for a soaking method for my tea pot – cups are easy because I can just scrub them – FYI, those Magic Erasers & knockoffs are great for tea and coffee stains, no soap required – but pots are hard to scrub inside, especially in the spout.

    • Dave Mcr

    One teaspoon of bio washing powder in a mug of warm water left overnight = gleaming clean mug, nice and white inside

    • Linda

    get a steel wool pad (Brillo) and walla!

    • Mr. Clean

    I have several white porcelain mugs that get quite stained as I am a coffee and tea drinker. About once a week I put a couple of tablespoons of bleach in the largest mug, fill it with cold water and let it set for about 10 minutes. Then I pour its contents into one of the other mugs and so on, refreshing the bleach/water to fully fill each cup as needed.

    I pour the last mug of bleach/water into the garbage disposer which helps sanitize that appliance.

    I rinse all the mugs well with hot water, wipe dry.

    • Sue

    Great tips, but I cleaned my horribly stained tea cups in just about two minutes. I put a teaspoon of oxy-clean (the powder type) in my cup, filled it to the brim with very hot tap water, waited about two minutes and wiped it clean. I tell you my cup sparkled like it was brand new! The second cup I did was even more stained. On this one, I had to do a tiny bit more scrubbing, but really not much (and I only used a paper towel for this, nothing harsh or abrasive)and it too sparkled in no time.

    • Angelina

    Mr Clean Magic Erasers work AWESOME!!

      • Sandy

      I totally agree. Magic Erasers are the way to go. The generic brands work too. That’s all I’ve used since they first came out. That way, no chemicals are used and VERY little elbow grease.

    • Heyu

    1.Baking soda and water paste on my fingertip on prewashed always works for me. If necessary,try mixing in “Calgon” and salt.
    2.I have read that Whole Milk is used for brown staining in crazed glazing.
    3.For mugs and teapots with stubborn stains that for some reason have not responded to the above, try a thin wipe of “Softscrub with Bleach”. Allow to dry overnight,wash next day.
    4.If all else fails,find “ZUD” in the cleanser section. Do not worry, it is not a cleanser, and can be safely washed out.

    • ~Dennis

    I have a 15-year-old stainless steel thermos that is used daily for tea; I don’t mind ‘seasoning’ in my mug, but the stain degrades the heat-retention qualities of the thermos. So far I have used a brillo pad on the end of a wooden spoon to scrub it back to fairly shiny, (at least the parts I can reach,) but it takes a LOT of scrubbing and quite a while. I was hoping for a chemical scrub of some kind that would get ALL the inside clean and shiny, (and save my old tennis elbow…)

      • Shelley

      Put a denture cleaner tablet inside the thermos with hot water..voila! Also, when storing an empty thermos put a dry herbal tea bag inside and it will stay fresh smelling. Dump it out before using again.

    • Brenda

    None of these worked on my stained Terva mug… It is plastic or acrylic..not sure… help

    • Hazel

    Try two denture tablets with hot water and let it sit over night ,hubby cleans his every week end this way.

    • Ted

    Thanks for the 409 suggestion, I actually tried fantastic and it worked amazingly well, washed mug with soap afterwards and looks brand new

    • Karen

    I rinsed the coffee cup with water to get it wet, put a little baking soda on a sponge and just wiped the stains away from inside the cup. It was a miracle and the coffee cups are sparkling white and look like new again.

    • Jon

    I just tried the warm water and sugar, worked like a charm! biggest issue I had was cleaning the cup in the office where there is no sink… so I had to deal with sticky fingers for a bit.

    • Peggy Nickolotsky

    I have clear Tervis tumblers and used a squeeze of lemon or lime’s in my water. I have put them in the dishwasher but still have spots I guess from the juices. I have tried baking soda, vinegar, etc and still no luck. Directions did not come with them when I bought them. Now too late. I did not think juice would do this but too late now.
    Any suggestions greatly appreciated. I don’t want to use them except with family for they look dirty.

      • Peggy Nickolotsky

      Also, part two to the above questions. I have tried stain away that I bought it is a denture cleaner, did not work, tried sugar this also did not work, and again baking soda as a paste which did not work. They are not stains, well they are a smudge like if you would smear lip balm on the tumblers. I am still waiting if you have come up with anything.

    • Joyce

    I put ff 1/2 & 1/2 in my stainless tea mugs, and didn’t mind the stain too much at 1st until it started flaking off (ugh!), but only where it wanted to come off. I’ve tried baking soda, which occasionally takes some of it off, but can’t really fit my hand in to scrub, and have 3 or 4 of them I fill every day, so don’t want to spend much time on them. A toothbrush doesn’t do well, particularly on the bottoms, and I’ve never gotten anything much to clean with those powdery “magic” erasers. Any ideas,anyone?

    • Rahel

    The sugar worked! In my case, I used 1/2 pack of a single serve brown sugar. Free and easy!

    • Jennifer

    These are the methods I use to get tea/coffee stains out of my Tervis mugs:
    Make a paste of sugar and water, baking soda and water or chlorox soft scrub. Does a great job every time.

      • Vanessa Ranger

      NONE of these methods worked. I have a Corning wear percolator. So dirty. I wanted to sell it but cannot get it clean.

    • beverley

    if u have a rusty mark on your shower floor pour on lemon juice leave over night its gone # to clean your kettle pour in water half full some lemon juice and boil kettle ALL GONE NICE AND CLEAN To kill weeds in 5 minutes no joke it works put into a container of your choice i use a watering container can i put 3 x 2 litre containers of vinegar from cooking section not the cleaning isle it is too dear only $1-10 in the cooking isle all dead in 5 min you can stand and watch them die i do my court yard about every 4 weeks cost $3 each time cheaper than weed killer safer if u have an animal and children crawling on pavers good luck

    • Gabriel

    Tooth paste and a toothbrush, is far faster on hard surfaces than any of the solutions involving soaking.

    • Jackie

    I have glass pitchers we make iced tea in and they get a brown stain, as you can imagine. The bottle brushes don’t get into the nooks easily.

    I used hydrogen peroxide and hot water and let it sit today and it’s doing a great job.

    I started the task to clean the white plastic caps and they are better after soaking, but not perfect. Might need a stronger solution. Peroxide comes in a plastic bottle, so it should be okay.

      • Jamie

      Thank you! We use an old glass milk jug to store tea in, and you can’t get to the inside to really clean it. I am gonna try this today and see if I can “de-gross” that thing!

    • Gerhard

    Colgate total toothpaste and non scratch cleaning pad ! Done in 15 seconds!

    • Cee Grant

    I can’t believe how often this solution is proposed. It works only if the coffee stains are recent and superficial i.e. haven’t gotten into the finish. If the stains have gotten into the cup finish (i.e. are not superficial) this doesn’t work at all. Nothing will pull the brown dye out of a finish unless you actually sand down the finish with an abrasive, or eat at it with an acid. And coffee pigments don’t bleach.

    • Clampy

    Fill stained cup with water. Add few drops of baby steriliser such as Milton and wait a couple of minutes. Rinse well. Solution can be used on multiple cups.

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