mug with tea stains

How to Get Tea Stains Out of Mugs

Tea stains are one of the most frustrating things to deal with when it comes to mugs and teacups.

It can feel very exasperating to scrub at the inside of a mug and simply not succeed in even budging that pesky stain.


The Two Types of Tea Stains

mugs with tea stains

Sometimes you may look into your mug and see a mark that looks exactly like a permanent tea stain. However, you may not have to worry about it as there are actually two types of stains!

The first is caused by simply allowing tea to go cold in the mug without finishing it completely, and then maybe not washing the mug as well as needed to fully remove the stain.

The second type of tea stain is a little more serious but isn’t necessarily impossible to remove. This type of stain is caused by the long-term use of a mug or cup, and frequent stirring with spoons that steadily scratch the insides of the mug over time and leave the ceramic quite porous.

When the surface becomes porous then it is easy for the tannins in the tea to stick to the sides and become much harder to remove.

In scientific terms this is called polymerisation, which is where two molecules react together, creating one bigger molecule. In this case, one molecule is an organic chemical found in the tea or coffee, and the other is oxygen.

With stains like this, the longer you leave them, the worse they will become.


How to Remove Tea Stains from Mugs

methods to remove tea stains from mugs

Here are three simple methods for getting tea stains out of mugs.

1. Bicarbonate of soda

As with many other common household cleaning conundrums, bicarbonate of soda comes to the rescue again!

The method is fairly simple. First, wash your mug as you usually would, and leave the inside nice and wet with warm water.

Next pour some bicarbonate of soda into the mug and use your fingers to rub it into the sides of the mug until it forms a nice paste, especially on the areas with brown marks.

Leave the paste to dry for about five minutes and then use a clean cloth or sponge to properly scrub the stained areas until you start to see the marks lifting.

Once you’ve effectively removed the stains, wash the mug as usual before using it again.

2. Salt and vinegar

If you don’t have any bicarbonate of soda in the house, then another effective method is salt and vinegar.

The method is very much the same as in step one, but you will need to mix the salt and vinegar together to form a paste on the side of the mug and leave it for five minutes so it can work its magic on the tea stains.

Then scrub it properly with a cloth or sponge and the stains should be gone!

3. Toothpaste

Toothpaste is designed to whiten and clean your teeth, especially when they are often faced daily with things like tea and coffee!

If you don’t have any of the other ingredients on the list but you do have a good tube of toothpaste, try squeezing some into the stained mug and use a hard brush to really scrub it into the sides.

Leave the paste for a few minutes and then scrub down the inside of the mug with a cloth or sponge before washing properly with soap.



Tea stains may be annoying and daunting to clean, but once you start seeing them then it’s good to tackle them right away!

If you get in there quickly enough, then it’s likely that the bicarbonate of soda will work immediately and you won’t have to look at those troublesome stains for too long.