17 Of The Best Tips For Removing Tea Stains From Cups

There’s nothing more off-putting than a tea-stained cup, especially to a visitor, so how can we keep those teacups as clean and sparkly as possible? Before we start removing tea stains from cups let’s take a look at why they get stained in the first place!

There are usually two types of tea stains in your cups.

Surface tea stains

The first of the stains are just surface stains, which sits on the cup when the tea has been left to go cold and the cup has not washed properly.

These stains are pretty easy to remove but are particularly off-putting to visitors as it’s clear that the cup hasn’t been washed properly.

remove tea stains from tea stained cup

Porous tea stains

The second type of tea stain looks worse than the other one, but isn’t necessarily caused by poor dishwashing, it can be particularly prevalent in china cups.

This type of tea stain is caused by the surface of the cup getting scratched, probably by a teaspoon over years of use, once the surface of the china has been scratched, it becomes porous and the tannin in the tea sticks to it over time and becomes difficult to remove.

The longer the stain stays on the cup the bigger it gets and the grosser it looks!

Most of the time, even the dishwasher fails at removing the tea stain from your best china. So what can we do to keep our cups visitor ready?

Removing tea stains from cups .

There are many many different tried and tested ways to remove tea stains from cups, so here are just some of them!

Wash the cup as usual to remove coffee or tea remnants.

Before trying any of these tips always test on an inconspicuous place like the bottom of the mug or cup to ensure it will not cause any damage to the surface.

After you have removed the stains always wash the cup thoroughly before using it to drink with.

Why not check out grandma’s favourite traditional cleaning products and how to use them in this post!

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17 tips for removing tea stains from cups

  1. Baking soda.

    Wet the cup on the inside with warm water.
    Cover the brown tea or coffee stains with baking soda to form a paste.
    Allow it to sit for a few minutes.
    Using a damp cloth give the area a good scrub.
    Wash as usual with soapy water.
    The baking soda is a mild abrasive and scrubs the surface of the cup without causing any damage.

    baking soda, vinegar scrubbys

  2. Salt and vinegar.

    Using the same method as above, form a paste with the salt and vinegar then scrub until the coffee mugs are clean. You could add a few drops of lemon juice if you can’t stand the smell!

  3. Hydrogen peroxide.

    Using the same method as above, use hydrogen peroxide and baking soda to form a paste, cleaning all the areas of the stains. Wash well after cleaning.

  4. Magic eraser.

    Dampen the magic eraser and scrub at the stains until they are all gone.

  5. Sugar scrub.

    Mix sugar with baking soda to form a paste and scrub well as directed above.

  6. Toothpaste.

    Use toothpaste and a hard brush to remove surface tea stains from cups.


  7. Denture tablets.

    Drop one denture tablet into the cup with warm water and leave to stand until all the stains disappear.

  8. CIF cream/ Bon Ami / Barkeepers friend.

    Sprinkle barkeepers friend into a wet cup and scrub until all the stains disappear.

  9. Oxi Clean.

    Add a teaspoon of Oxi Clean to hot water and allow to stand, gently rub with a cloth or paper towel until the stains disappear.


  10. Astonish cup cleaner.

    Use as directed on the pack and watch your cups fizz clean!

  11. Kleeneze cup stain.

    Use as directed on the label and watch these stains disappear.

  12. Washing up liquid.

    Use strong soapy water with a stainless steel scrubber to remove the tea stain, test before using the scrubber.

  13. Milton Fluid

    Dilute as directed and leave until the stains disappear.

  14. Sterilising tablets

    Drop one tablet into the cup with warm water and leave until all the stains disappear.

  15. Soaking overnight

    You could try soaking your cups overnight in boiling water with a mixture of EITHER:
    Baking soda
    OR bleach.
    Leave overnight then clean thoroughly.

    WARNING: NEVER mix bleach and vinegar as the fumes can cause fatal toxic fumes, you can read more about it here.


Please note that Milton, bleach, hydrogen peroxide and most sterilizing tablets will only discolour the tea and coffee stains rather than remove them, so you will likely find that they will return as soon as you have your next cup of tea.

Cups with porus scratches will always be more prone to staining than newer cups and mugs .

To read how to remove stains from granite check out this amazingly helpful post!

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Frequently asked questions 

Is it safe to clean teacups with bleach?

I prefer not to use bleach to clean tea stains as it’s such a toxic chemical. As you can see from above, there are so many more effective ways of getting tea stains out of mugs than using bleach.

Why does tea stain cups?

The tannin in the tea is what stains your cup. People who live in areas which have hard water are more likely to have tea-stained cups than folks who come from areas with soft water.

I want to know how to clean tea stains from stainless steel mugs.

Wash your mug in soapy water.
Put 1/4 cup of baking soda into the mug and add white distilled vinegar until it’s halfway, taking care to add it slowly incase it fizzes over.
Add hot water to the top.
Leave for 15 minutes then rinse and wash as usual.

How do you remove coffee stains from cups?

Using any of the methods above should work just fine for coffee cup stain removal.

I’d like to know how to remove tea stains from cups without using bleach.

You need to use an abrasive cleaner and a scrubby to remove the stain. Follow any of the steps above.

Does potato remove tea stains?

Good question! I’ve never used a potato to remove tea stains. They do contain starch which makes them pretty absorbent, so may be ok for wet tea stains, however, I’d prefer to use any of the methods above for dried on tea stains.

17 ways to remove tea stains from cups

4 thoughts on “17 Of The Best Tips For Removing Tea Stains From Cups

  1. Michelle Fleming says:

    Mixing vinegar and baking soda is ineffective and silly. It shows you weren’t paying attention in grade school chemistry class. Mixing vinegar and baking soda results in a chemical reaction that produces carbon dioxide, water and sodium acetate — none of which are particularly effective cleaners. (Look it up if you don’t believe me.) Vinegar is an effective cleaner because it’s a mild acid. Baking soda is effective because it’s a mild base. Mixing just inactivates them and leaves you with a salt and a little bit of left over vinegar or baking soda, depending on which there was more of. It does produce fizzing as it releases carbon dioxide, which people may incorrectly see as a sign that cleaning is happening, so maybe that’s why people recommend it. This may explain why it’s such a common mistake on cleaning websites — which is too bad because it’s wasteful and ineffective.

    • Clare Davison says:

      I probably would stick to removing the tea stains by hand as it only takes a few minutes. If you’re struggling to get rid of the stains, it could be that the inside of your mug or cup is scratched, and the stains are ingrained, which might suggest it’s time to replace your cup.

  2. Helpful Friend says:

    Good grief – Michelle Fleming may have been to science classes, but clearly bunked off the charm, sensitivity and manners classes! Without wishing to be rude, Michelle, I would recommend night school before posting any more responses…

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