How to Get Rid of Unsightly Stains on Tea Cups

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Last Updated on August 21, 2022 by Scott

If you’re a coffee or tea drinker, then you already know that the number one problem with filling up that mug every day is the stains left behind by these beverages. Not only are they unsightly, but they can also be really hard to remove. 

Thankfully, there are a bunch of different ways to scour that mug and get it looking as bright and clean as new. From lemon to baking soda, Bar Keepers Friend to white vinegar, several cleaning methods can be deployed to help you get your favorite mug cleaned and stain-free in no time. 

In this article, we’ll go over the different methods that can be used to get rid of those stains, and which ones are the best, overall. 

Lemon Wedge

One of the biggest benefits of using lemon wedges to clean your tea cup is that it’s a natural remedy that’ll leave behind no traces of chemicals or particulates. 

Lemon Wedge for Removing Stains from Tea Cups
Lemon Wedge for Removing Stains from Tea Cups
  • Wash your mug to get rid of any residue that might remain. 
  • Cut a lemon into wedges. 
  • Dip the wedge in salt. 
  • Rub the lemon wedge against the stains, using the salt as a mild abrasive. 
  • Rinse. 

This method is not as effective as other ones, but it does have the benefit of being both natural and therefore safe for any products, and smelling nice so you don’t have to worry about leaving behind a chemical scent on your tea cup. 

Bar Keepers Friend

For this method, you’ll need a bottle of Bar Keepers Friend and some steel wool. 

  • Wet the mug. 
  • Sprinkle some of the powder inside and leave it to sit for up to ten minutes. 
  • Using your steel wool, scour the mug. 
  • Rinse well to ensure you get rid of all residue. 

Since Bar Keepers Friend is a strong abrasive, it is very effective at removing stains from ceramic mugs and the like. If your mug is made of plastic or another, more porous material, you might have to try this method a few times to get the results you want. 

White Vinegar

Once you’ve washed out your mug and have prepared it for cleaning, this method is fairly simple to accomplish. 

  • Pour in a ¼ cup of vinegar.
  • Fill the mug to the top with boiling water. 
  • Let it sit for five to ten minutes. 
  • Use a sponge and scrub. 
  • Make sure to wash the mug out afterward. 

The reason that white vinegar is effective in removing stains, is that it has a mild pH, enabling it to get through the grime and residue that remains from the tea or coffee or whatever else has left stains in your mug. 

Stained Tea Cup
Stained Tea Cup

This method isn’t as effective as others might be, but with a good amount of elbow grease and some time, you should be able to get the majority of stains out of your tea cups. If you still see stains once you’ve given it a good scrub, another method is probably required. 


Because of the powerful nature of this chemical, it’s not recommended to use this method unless you feel you have exhausted your other options. Bleach is a strong chemical and once you’ve used it, you’ll want to make sure you thoroughly wash the mug afterward to remove any remaining traces. 

  • Pour ½ a tablespoon of bleach into your mug. 
  • Carefully swirl the bleach around until it’s coated the inside of the mug. 
  • Fill with hot water and let it sit for ten to fifteen minutes. 
  • Empty the mug, scrub it clean, and make sure to put in extra effort to get rid of all the bleach. 

While this method is highly effective, it does use powerful chemicals that can not only be bad for your health if any remains, but it can also damage your cups, particularly if they are not ceramic. 

Baking Soda 

Easily one of the best methods to use to get those tough stains out of your tea cups, baking soda is a good abrasive and potent stain remover. 

  • Place a teaspoon of baking soda in your mug. 
  • Add a small amount of warm water and mix it with the baking soda to make a paste. 
  • Using the paste and a scouring sponge, work to scrub off the stains. 
  • Rinse well when you’re done. 

This method has been proven to be one of the most effective at removing those stuck on stains. I

Helpful Hint:

Baking soda is not only able to get tea and coffee stains off of ceramic mugs but plastic and other materials as well. 


Ultimately, the choice of which of these cleaning methods will be the most useful in removing tea stains is left up to you. I find that baking soda is the most effective overall, and works with any material while avoiding the use of stronger chemicals that are less safe. Whichever method you use, they should all prove to be effective at getting rid of those stuck-on stains. 

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