How To Remove Coffee and Tea Stains from Mugs

Sophie's Tips

Sophie Allport fine bone china bees mug on kitchen counter with matching bees Dualit kettle and toaster

If you are a tea and coffee lover like us, you will know the feeling of finishing your drink and realising that your favourite mug has an unsightly dark ring stain. Dark liquids, especially tea and coffee, can often leave cups stained, and this is normal for a well-loved mug, but not to worry, they can easily be cleaned and restored to their pristine condition. To help preserve the life of your favourite drinking mug, we have put together a cleaning tips guide on removing coffee and tea stains from cups, including fine bone china mugs, stoneware mugs, and travel mugs

There are a couple of different ways that you can remove tea stains from mugs without using harsh chemicals. Try one of our cleaning methods below, or perhaps all four for stubborn stains.

Sophie Allport washing her elephant white mug in the sink

The soaking method to remove stains from mugs 

Most tea and coffee stains can be removed by soaking your mug in warm water before washing. Leave to soak for around 30 minutes with a gentle washing liquid. Washing liquids are specially formulated to help remove dirt and grease and should help penetrate the stains. We have found that hand-cleaning your mug as soon as possible is the best way to avoid staining. Dry as usual with a tea towel and pop away ready for your next cuppa. 

How to clean tea stains from mugs using bicarbonate of soda

If soaking your mug does not work, you can create a cleaning mixture yourself.

  1. Use bicarbonate of soda, water, and vinegar.
  2. Pour one tablespoon of baking soda into your mug.
  3. Next, make a solution of half a cup of white vinegar and half a cup of hot water and pour this into your mug, ensuring all the stained areas are covered.
  4. Let this soak for approximately two hours or so, and then rinse.
  5. Let it sit for longer if needed or give it a gentle scrub at the end with a cloth.

woman holding stoneware mug covered in Sophie Allport hedgehog illustrations

How to remove coffee stains from mugs using lemon

Lemon is another natural ingredient that you can use to clean coffee and tea stains from your mugs. Slice a lemon in half and squeeze the juice onto all the affected areas. Let this sit for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Using a damp cloth, rub the lemon juice into each stain. If the stains are stubborn, then you should add a little sprinkle of salt onto them; this will work as an exfoliant. Once your tea or coffee stain has gone, rinse the mug clean. 

Cleaning your mugs in the dishwasher

It is also perfectly safe to wash your fine bone china and stoneware mugs in a dishwasher if you adhere to the following guidelines. Load the washer so that pieces do not touch each other, to avoid the risk of scratching. Do not overload the dishwasher, and do not exceed a temperature of 40ºC (104ºF) when washing fine chinaware. Use only the gentle, short wash or china and crystal cycle. Use a very gentle detergent; some eco-detergents are a better choice than harsh dishwashing powders and tablets. As soon as the wash water has drained, there should be an immediate rinse cycle to flush away deposits of detergent, this will also form a film if allowed to dry on the fine bone china.

two fine bone china mugs on kitchen side, covered in Sophie Allport fetch design

To keep all your mugs clean and to help maintain the quality of taste, we recommend washing them quickly afterwards, and avoid using scouring pads or abrasive detergents. Leaving tea or coffee-stained mugs longer than necessary may cause discolouration of the material. 

We hope this guide has helped to remove any tough stains in your mugs. If you have some top cleaning tips for removing stains after a cup of tea or coffee, then we would love to hear them - drop them below in the comments. Have you been looking for the best coffee mug but are unsure what to pick? Read our guide on choosing the best coffee mug.

4 comments

  • Hi Aimee, I’m so sorry to hear that you’re disappointed with the quality of the Hearts Mug. Please could contact our Customer Experience Team on customerservice@sophieallport.com, they’ll be able to look into this further for you. Best wishes, Paige from Sophie Allport

    Paige @ Sophie Allport on

  • I love my Sophie all port heart collection but have been disappointed with the quality of the heart mugs, despite following careful care instructions for cleaning, there appears to be damage at the bottom of the cup which results in permanent marks (not coffee/ tea rings) which appear to be linked to the China

    Aimee Morgan on

  • I use Steradent denture cleaning tablets. One in a mug of cold water over night. Works every time to perfection.

    Teresa Barnes on

  • Another possibility to clean it up is using denture cleaning pads. Put a pad in the mug or cup or what else, pour cold water in it and it will be clean after a few hours.

    Anne Wachsmann on


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