How to Remove Tea Stains from Cups

A daily retreat into a warm cup of tea often results in an unsightly ring stain around the inside of your favorite teacup. Removing tea stains from cups is an easy task when using a mild abrasive, especially if you take the time to remove tea stains as they first appear. Allowing them to remain only causes them to build over time, resulting in a harder-to-remove stain.

Remove Tea Stains from Cups

How to Remove Tea Stains from Cups and Ceramic

Organic stains, such as those caused by tea, respond well to alkali cleaners, such as baking soda. The University of Wisconsin Department of Food Safety and Health recommends the use of baking soda as a frugal, all-around cleaner for kitchen use.

  1. Simply apply a thick paste or baking soda to the inside of the stained ceramic mug or cup.
  2. Allow to sit for a few minutes
  3. Rub the tea stain gently with a sponge or washcloth to gently polish the stains away.
  4. Rinse well and dry as normal.

Other gently abrasive cleaners that gently remove tea stains from the interior of ceramic cups and mugs include:

  • Salt
  • Washing Soda
  • Denture Cleaning Powder
  • Commercial abrasive cleaner, such as Coment or Barkeeper's Friend. 

Apply any of the abrasive cleaners in the same way as you applied the baking soda.

  1. Make a thick paste of the chosen cleaner
  2. Spread it heavily over the stained area 
  3. Allow to remain on the stain for a few minutes to loosen the stain
  4. Rub gently using a washcloth or sponge to remove the tea stain from the cup.

Removing Tea Stains from China

Fine china requires special care to avoid damage to decorative glazes and delicate trims. Heat, scratching and harsh detergents can all damage china tea cups. They are more likely to break if they knock against each other or the sink. To safely remove tea stains from cups made of china, start by lining the bottom of your sink with a dish towel. This will protect your cup in the event that it slips from your hand while cleaning. Use tepid water and baking soda to create a thick paste. Apply the paste to the stained interior of the teacup with a washrag or a sponge. Gently rub the baking soda into the stain. Continue rubbing until the stain is removed. Use caution to not rub the baking soda on the trim area around the lip of the cup. The abrasion can remove the platinum or gold trim from the china. Gently wash the clean cup with a mild dishwashing detergent, rinse and allow to dry in a safe place.

Removing Tea Stains from Tall Mugs

The size of tall mugs and glasses often makes it hard to thoroughly clean the bottom. When it is difficult to fit your hand into a mug or glass, use a toothbrush or dishwashing wand to apply an abrasive cleaner to tea stained areas. Use the toothbrush to gently work the baking soda or other abrasive cleaner over the stain. Continue rubbing until the stain is removed.

Preventing Tea Stains

To prevent tea stains from building up, wash cups as soon as possible with warm soapy water and a mild dishwashing liquid. Pay attention to easily stained areas, such as the bottom and where the handles attach. If not able to wash quickly, take the time to rinse the cup thoroughly so that excess tea is not sitting in the bottom of the cup. Wash cups and mugs with a mild dishwashing liquid as glazed surfaces can be worn down over time with the use of harsh washing agents. If your favorite cup tends to tea stain, consider using baking soda occasionally as an extra cleaning step. This will help prevent the stain from building up to the point it is visible. When looking to purchase new cups and mugs, look for high-quality cups featuring smooth glazing. Top manufacturers design teacups and mugs to resist staining by applying stain-resistant glazes. 

Removing tea stains from cups allows you to enjoy a fresh cup of tea in your favorite cup or mug. Tea stains cups, mugs and other ceramic surfaces over time. These stains can often be removed faster than you can brew a new cup of tea by using simple cleaners such as baking soda or salt.