For so many of us, the morning cup of tea is undeniably a crucial part of our daily waking rituals, giving us a boost to sweep the sleep from our eyes. But whether you prefer to enjoy it freshly brewed and hot or as a cold iced tea, chances are, you’ve come across one particularly frustrating situation: tea stains.

Indeed, many of us love to enjoy our delicious cups of tea from our favorite mugs – but this can be a real source of frustration when the tea leaves a stubborn stain behind. Fortunately, though, you don’t need to just live with stains for your favorite mug; in fact, there are numerous excellent ways and methods that will help you to remove these stains without resorting to expensive measures! As such, today, we’ll be taking a look at some of the best methods you could try to remove tea stains from your favorite mugs – and, hopefully, this may help you find the most effective solutions for your cleaning needs.

Why Does Tea Stain Mugs?

What is it about tea that results in severe stains to our favorite mugs? Well, the primary cause of staining from tea has to be the tannin content in the tea, which is highly responsible for staining over time. With this in mind, it’s vital that you take care when drinking tea to minimize the chances of stains occurring – and we’ll outline some of the best ways to go about this shortly.

Tannins are also found in many other beverages and foods naturally, too, such as red wine and berries, and even blackstrap molasses. As such, any plate or glass you use for these treats will stand just as high a chance of staining (although chances are, you won’t have served these from your favorite mug).

Tea Varieties That Stain the Least

At this point, we’ve clarified that all teas will stain your favorite mugs – but did you know, certain varieties of tea are actually less staining than others. For example, white tea and herbal tea are both much less prone to staining than black and oolong tea varieties, simply because they contain fewer tannins overall. However, an exception to this rule is green tea, which can actually leave incredibly strong green stains on your favorite mugs – definitely something to look out for!

6 Great Ways to Remove Tea Stains from Mugs

There are several ways that you can remove tea stains from mugs, depending on how severe they are. Here are some of the six of the best ways to go about removing tea stains from mugs.

1. The Salt Method

If your mug has a very mild stain, all you may need to do is use salt and lemon juice! Simply mix the two together until you have achieved a paste-like consistency. Then apply it to the mug with a dish brush or dishwashing cloth; failing this, you could alternatively use an old toothbrush or rag. For a deeper clean, alternatively, a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser may be a good investment!

We should note here that whichever cleaning tool you use will likely get stained itself once you have cleaned your cup; so, preferably use one that can be disposed of afterwards.

Once you’ve removed the stains, simply wipe away any residue before rinsing out thoroughly with water. This method works best for light tea stains!

2. Using Baking Soda/Hydrogen Peroxide Solution

This solution also works well if there isn’t too much of a stain and you’re looking to stay on top of stain control for your favorite tea mug. Still, it should be noted that baking soda will not help as much when it comes to darker colored stains since it is only a very gentle abrasive.
Simply mix baking soda with hydrogen peroxide to form a thick paste. Apply it to the mug and let it sit for about 15 minutes before scrubbing away gently with an old toothbrush or rag. Rinse clean and allow to air dry.

3. The Toothpaste Method

If your stains are more stubborn, toothpaste can be a great option! Just apply some toothpaste directly to the stain, using an old toothbrush or rag to help work it in. Let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing off completely with water, and you should notice a drastic improvement in the severity of the stain. If it still persists, you could repeat the method or otherwise try scrubbing with a dishcloth and some washing liquid.

4. The Vinegar Method

For tougher tea stains that haven’t responded well to any of the other methods, vinegar may be necessary. Create a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water, then pour it into the mug. Let it sit for about 15 minutes before scrubbing away with an old toothbrush or rag. Rinse clean and allow to air dry.

5. The Dishwashing Liquid Method

When it comes to removing stains from your favorite tea mug, the dishwashing method can absolutely offer a great (and incredibly simple) solution! Start by adding a generous amount of dishwashing liquid directly into your mug (or, if you prefer, to your sink itself). Run hot water into the mug or sink, allowing the detergent to lather up; once it’s all fully mixed, leave the cup in soaking for around half an hour to an hour.

Then, with an old toothbrush or rag (or, for more stubborn stains, try a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser), start scrubbing away at the stains until they completely vanish, and you should be left with a shining cup once again! Simply rinse and dry, and return to using your cup as normal.

6. Oven Baking Your Mug

As a final option to consider for particularly stubborn stains, you may have come across the oven stain removal method. Indeed, this method is a commonly quoted option for removing stains from your favorite tea mug – but it may not be the most reliable option out there.

Nevertheless, if all methods thus far have failed, you may want to consider giving the oven method a try. Of course, before you do, we highly recommend you check that your mug is actually safe to be heated in the oven; for example, many materials such as terracotta, earthenware, and unglazed pottery will likely shatter when exposed to the heat of the oven.

Start by heating your oven to a high temperature, and gently wash and dry your mug before placing it in the oven. Leave the mug (supervised, of course) for around half an hour before removing it from the oven and gently rinsing with hot, soapy water. Slowly decrease the temperature of the water until it is a comfortable temperature to handle; however, take caution not to rinse your mug under cold water immediately, as the drastic temperature difference will likely cause any mug to crack.

Depending on the severity of the stain, this method may help make it easier to lift stains from the mug; simply give your mug a good clean with a little elbow grease after to watch the stains hopefully lift away.

How to Remove Tea Stains From a Stainless Steel Mug

What about your favorite stainless steel travel mug? More and more of us are reaching for these handy travel solutions, but there’s a catch – they’re incredibly prone to staining, and cleaning them can be a lot trickier. Indeed, any of the methods we’ve mentioned before that rely on scrubbing the stain will only damage your mug; with this in mind, you’ll need to take a gentler approach for your travel mug. Moreover, we recommend that you focus on long-term preventative measures for keeping your travel mug clean rather than leaving a stain to develop.

Instead, use a damp cloth to wipe away any stains. You can wet the cloth using either hot water or a mixture of dish soap and warm water. Then rub the cloth gently along the surface to remove any tea stains, taking care not to scrub as this can cause damage.

You should also avoid putting your stainless-steel mug in the dishwasher, as this can cause damage to both your mug and dishwasher. The only exception to this will be if your dishwasher is designed exclusively with flatware in mind, as you may be able to place your travel mug there; however, you should always check the exact instructions for your stainless-steel travel mug, as some may be damaged through dishwasher use.

Aside from the risk of dents and damage, there’s also the chance that the high pressure, high humidity environment of the dishwasher could damage the plastic and vacuum seals in your mug, making it far less effective at keeping your tea warm.

If you’re still having trouble removing a tea stain from your stainless-steel mug, try using a baking soda and hydrogen peroxide paste. Apply the paste to the stain and let it sit for about 15 minutes before wiping with a soft cloth or fabric. Then, just rinse the mug and, if desired, boil it out to ensure that it’s completely sterile and ready to use.

Removing Tea Stains from Plastic Mugs

If your mug has a plastic or rubber coating, you should avoid using any of the methods that involve using heat (the oven method or dishwashing liquid method). These may damage the surface of your mug. Instead, try using a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to remove tea stains from mugs – just be sure to test it on an inconspicuous area first to make sure it doesn’t damage the finish!

Can I Use Bleach to Remove Tea Stains from Cups?

Have you considered using bleach to remove tea stains from your cups? If so, then you may want to consider whether this is the ideal solution for your needs. Indeed, while bleach is highly effective for sterilizing your mug, its ability to remove stains may be a little less; as such, to get the best results from bleach alone, you will also need to rinse the mug thoroughly after bleaching and then clean it thoroughly with dishwashing liquid to help ease off the stains.

To use bleach for your mug, we recommend the following steps:

  • Fill a small bowl or cup with cold water and add about two teaspoons of bleach. Stir until it is fully dissolved, taking care not to splash any on your skin. We should note here that you should never use hot water, as this will decompose bleach’s primary active ingredient and leave it ineffective for cleaning.
  • Immerse the stained mug in the bowl or cup and let it soak for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, remove the mug and rinse thoroughly with cold water until all of the bleach is gone; then, clean gently using dishwashing liquid to try and ease off the stains.
  • Dry the mug with a soft cloth or paper towel.

Preventing Tea Stains From your Mugs

At this point, we’ve outlined some of the key ways to clean your mugs – but the best approach is always to prevent tea stains in the first place. As such, we’ve summarized some of the key preventative steps to stop tea stains from establishing on your mugs in the first place as follows:

  • Always try to use a coarser grind when brewing loose leaf tea. This helps to prevent any stray tea leaves from clumping at the bottom of your cup, which could increase the chances of staining.
  • A common mistake that many people make is to leave a half-finished cup of tea to sit there – however, this will drastically increase the chances of staining. Moreover, leaving the liquid in your mug may also result in some mugs developing rust over time, which is pretty easy to confuse for a tea stain.
  • Always clean your mugs on a regular basis with warm water and a soft cloth. This will help prevent the build-up of stains over time – after all, it’s much harder to remove a stain once it’s established. At bare minimum, if you don’t have time to clean your mug, empty any residue and rinse it, and give the cup a clean at the first possible opportunity.

If you still find that your mugs have gotten stained, though, don’t panic; the tips we outlined earlier may help you remove the stains and restore your mugs to their former glory!

Types of Mugs that Stain the Least

The type of mug you buy will play a significant role in the staining potential, and we’ve outlined several of these earlier on. As such, it’s always important to do your research before buying a new tea mug to ensure you’re getting a cup that won’t stain readily. However, it’s worth noting that even stain resistant mugs may still stain over time – so, please always follow our tips for preventing stains from building up in your favorite mugs as well.

Some of the most stain resistant mug materials include:

  • Plastic
  • Porcelain
  • Glazed Ceramic
  • Glass

Is it Safe to Drink from a Tea-Stained Mug?

Is it safe to drink from a tea-stained mug? Fortunately, the answer is (on the whole) yes. Indeed, tea-stained mugs, though looking unsightly, won’t harbor any more bacteria than a normal mug if cleaned with dishwashing liquid.

As such, while a stained mug won’t look overly nice, they aren’t going to be any more prone to bacterial build-ups than a pristine mug.

How Often Should I Wash My Tea Cups?

How often should you wash your favorite tea mug? Well, this will depend on your time availability and the like, but in an ideal world, you should wash your tea mug after every use. This will keep the mug hygienic and help prevent stains from building up. Failing that, at the bare minimum, you should rinse the cup immediately after use, and wash it at the first possible opportunity to prevent staining.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to your tea-drinking routine, having a fresh and clean mug can absolutely give you a little comfort! And, while stained tea mugs won’t necessarily offer health concerns, they are a little unsightly – so, we highly recommend you work to keep your mugs clean at all times!

There are many ways you could go about removing tea stains from cups and mugs, and we sincerely hope this article has helped you find a solution that works for you! And remember, you can avoid the hassle of removing these stains by preventing them using the tips we provided earlier – and rinsing your mug after every use will go a long way!