How To Remove Coffee Stains From Cups? (The Best Solutions)

Last Updated on February 2, 2022 by John Moretti

A cup of your favorite hot beverage might turn against you when it leaves behind unattractive marks on those beautiful mugs. And mind you, not any ordinary stain but stubborn mug gunk which lingers on even after multiple cycles through a dishwasher. 

Worry not, as you can save your coffee cup from the evil of mug muck by using materials you probably already have in your house. 

This article will tell you about the best solutions to overcome this issue and keep your mugs squeaky clean. 

How To Remove Coffee Stains From Cups?

The Best Way to Remove Coffee Stains From Cups

There are multiple approaches that you can take in order to remove stains from your coffee mug. Bleaching is one of my personal favorites due to its ability to ward off even the toughest stains quite easily. 

All you need to do is fill your mug with a bleach solution and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Scrub it gently and ta-da! The crystal clear coffee mug. 

On the other hand, household items such as lemons or isopropyl alcohol can also be very useful if you have some smaller stains. 

The only thing you need to look out for is using an abrasive sponge by mistake. Even though the surface may look good initially, the abrasive texture of the sponge may draw various scratches on the surface. 

You can add to the sheen of your cups and prolong the clean look by washing them using a soap solution after every drink so that the residue doesn’t cling onto the surface. 

The 6 Solutions for Removing Coffee Stains

Washing cups

All beverages have certain flavor-enhancing agents in them called tannins. What these tannins do is that they cling to the porous surface of mugs which leads to staining formation. Tannins can also be found in red wine, which is a reason why red wine stains are difficult to remove. 

You should know about the kind of mug you have so you can decide which method for removing stains will be most applicable. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place where I will share the best methods for removing coffee stains from your favorite cups, starting with the oldie but goodie: Soaking With Soap.

1. Soak with Soap 

Materials required : 

  • Dish soap 
  • A soft scrubber 
  • Water

When it comes to removing coffee stains from cups, your easiest bet is to use dish soap, which is designed to remove stains. 

Splurge the stain with some soap-water mix and stir the mixture around. In order to remove the stain, let it remain in the dishwasher for a few minutes (or longer if the stain has set in). After the soap has had time to work, use a sponge to scrub the discoloration. 

The scouring side of a sponge may be used on other materials, such as normal ceramic dishware, but only with a mild touch. You can use a soft sponge to remove coffee stains from stainless steel travel cups. With abrasive scrubbers, it is highly likely that you will end up scratching the surface. 

2. Take the Natural Road with Lemon 

Lemon and Sponge

Material required :

  • A thin slice of lemon 
  • A sponge and a paper towel

Lemon solution or vinegar extract is a very good cleaning agent and has been used by individuals all over the world for a long time. If I was on a budget, then this is the method I’d go for. You can get some vinegar solution easily between $2-$4. 

Fill the bottom half of your mug with distilled white vinegar, whereas the upper half should be filled with hot water. Let the mixture sit for ten minutes so that vinegar can start showing its action. 

The cleaning action stems from the acid content inside the solution. This helps counteract even the toughest icky buildups and can dissolve soap scum and coffee stains easily. 

After soaking, rinse with some soap solution and scrub away all the stains using the sponge. 

3. Use Some Alcohol

Clean Cup

Materials required : 

  • Isopropyl alcohol 
  • A paper towel

An old bottle of isopropyl alcohol can do what even the best chemical cleaners cannot do. Given that alcohol is a degreasing agent, it can easily break down the stains. You can also turn to other alcohol-based products such as straight vodka if you happen to have it. 

Many people also recommend using hair sprays, but in my testing, this method wasn’t so effective as a hair spray only has roughly 10-15 percent of alcohol. Take some alcohol on a paper towel and rub it over the stain in a circular motion. 

4. Pour in Some Baking Soda 

Lemon And Baking Soda

Materials required : 

  • Lemon 
  • Baking soda (1-2 tbsp)
  • A cleaning cloth 

This method works best when you also use some lemon to rub the insides of the mugs. The working principle behind this method lies in the basic pH value of baking soda. 

When it comes into contact with lemon, which happens to be on the acidic side, you can notice a buzzing sound along with the release of some carbon dioxide which lifts off all the stains with it. 

Start by gently rubbing the lemon on the surface. Alternatively, you can also spritz the wedge into the cup and then brush the whole thing with a silicone cooking brush.

Now sprinkle some baking soda on the stain, followed by adding some water. Stir them together to make a paste. Now scrub the stain with a damp sponge. Finish the process by rinsing the mug when the stains are gone. 

5. Use Denture Tablets 

Cleaning Tablets

Materials required :

  • Denture tablets 
  • Water 
  • Soft scrub 

Denture tablets are another form of baking soda mixed with some citric acid to help remove the stains. It also contains cleaning agents like potassium monopersulfate and EDTA. 

A denture tab (or two) and a few gallons of water are all that’s needed to get rid of the stains. Just throw the denture tablets along with water into the mug and let it sit for a while. The stains will come right off as soon as you use a dishcloth to rub the surface. 

6. Here’s One for the Really Stubborn Ones : Bleach

Water And Bleach

Materials required : 

  • Half a tablespoon of bleach 
  • Hot water 
  • A spoon

I know you would rather save your lemons to add flavor to your beverages rather than use them as cleaning agents. Trust me; I would too! So why not use a method which only involves bleach and gets rid of the stains in one shot? 

Pour the bleach into your mug and swirl it around so that it covers the inner area completely. Use a spoon so that the gel bleach does not stick to the edges of your mug. Make sure to wear an apron or swirl gently if you don’t want a whole new stain on your clothes. 

Now fill your mug with hot water and let it rest for 15 minutes. The ideal water temperature for this practice should be around 50 degrees Celsius. Empty your mug to enjoy a crystal clear mug of coffee. If some stains are still left behind, you can get rid of those using a bottle cleaning brush. 

Additional Tips For Cleaning

  1. If your mug is made up of delicate materials like porcelain, do not rinse and scrub it using an abrasive scrubber. 
  1. Pick the right tools for your mug if you want to get the best results. Purchase a bottle brush that can reach the bottom of the bottle without much struggle for easier cleaning.
  1. If you keep rinsing your mugs every time you drink coffee, there’s no chance that any stain will appear. 
  2. You can use all the methods listed in this article for cleaning travel mugs as well.

Aftercare and Usage Tips 

Cup Of Coffee

Getting stains on your cups made of stainless steel or porous metals like china and ceramic is almost inevitable. Having said that, here are some tips regarding their usage which can help you keep your mugs clean for longer. 

  1. Do not leave a tea bag in your drink while you are drinking it. This can have detrimental effects on both your teeth and the mug. 
  1. Always try to use filtered water as much as you can. If you use clean water, the tannins will have lesser molecules to bond to, which will decrease the probability of dark stains. 
  1. Always rinse your cup right after you drink your morning joe. You can also keep a water bottle nearby and put some water in the empty cup once you are done drinking coffee. This prevents any residue from sticking to the surface. 

So there you have it – all the best hacks to get those nasty stains off your beloved & beautiful mugs!

I hope this article helped. Feel free to connect with me and tell me about the method that worked out to be the best for you. 

Enjoy your coffee!