How to Remove Tea Stains From Mugs and Cups?

how to remove tea stains from mugs and cups?
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Tea, one of the world’s oldest drinks, and still one of the most satisfying ones, is more enjoyable in a proper mug that retains the temperature of the liquid and makes it fun to pour and sip.

Sadly, a lot of us enjoy our liquids darker and more flavorful, which means that we need to pay closer attention to how exposure to caffeine affects the actual teacup. It is no different than checking other drinks, such as soda and coffee, darken our tooth enamel. When it comes to bone china, porcelain, and other delicate pieces, dark liquids can wreak havoc on any delicate material. What is one to do?

Here are some ideas on how to prevent staining, how to fix it, and what options are available for us to enjoy our favorite drink

How to clean and remove stains from teacups?

The first step to clean your mugs or teacups is to rinse the mug or cup as soon as you are finished. Remember that water molecules will interact with the oxygen polymers as a powerful reactor that washes away everything. 

You do not need to scour and scrub the cups; you do not want to treat bone china abrasively. Just a very good rinse is a great first step.

1. Baking soda

As far as actual detergent solutions, you can blend baking soda, water, and a clean (new) toothbrush. Think how you use these type of brushes for polishing silver. It is the same process. 

Make the paste with a tablespoon of baking soda and a couple of drops of water. Then, gently brush the toothbrush in circular motion to ensure that the stain is removed. Do it gently, as you do not want to scratch off the surface of your fancy china. Let the mixture rest for a few minutes, and then rinse it off.

2. White vinegar and sugar or salt

This famous mix is also used to clean other delicate surfaces. The important thing is to make a paste with the ¼ cup of white vinegar and a tablespoon of sugar or salt. Again, using a brush, or even a washcloth, scrub the surface gently until the spot is gone. 

3. Whitening toothpaste

A baking soda-based whitening toothpaste is also a solution for whitening a delicate surface. If it works on tooth enamel, it can also work with porcelain. Once again, use a toothbrush or a washcloth with a gentle texture to gently brush away the stain. 

It is important that you let the cleansing mixture to rest and go to work on the surface prior to scrubbing and rinsing. 

It is also important to take into consideration what your pieces are made from. If it is porcelain, bone china, or something even more delicate, do not attempt to wash those delicate materials with harsh detergents or dish soap. 

Most importantly, do not wash these pieces in your dish washing machine, as the powerful water cycle, and the temperature of the washing cycle, may shatter the cup altogether. 

However, stoneware, Polish pottery (except the Unikat models), and other dishwashing safe mugs are strong enough to withstand a washing cycle.

Why does tea stain?

Coffee, sodas, broths, and anything else that is a dark liquid have the capability of leaving stains on any type of porous material. This is true for other things such as teeth, tabletops, and other, more porous surfaces like Formica.


The reason why dark spots come up in our cups is because the molecules in all dark drinks, when mixed with oxygen, bind together. The molecular mass within this combination, once it hits a surface, will adhere to it. This is a microscopic process called polymerization, or molecules coming together. However, even the tiniest things can grow over time if they are not taken care of. 

Dark spots in porcelain are no different than darkened teeth. The more exposure to the darkening element, the more the effect on the surface.

Fortunately, just like when you are told to brush and rinse your teeth after drinking dark liquids, you can also prevent the cup staining process from continuing to build up by quickly rinsing and washing away your cups. 

However, as it happens with those annoying rings left by sweating beverages on tables in the absence of a coaster, the longer the drink sits out, the worse the staining it will get.

Don’t let it happen: How to prevent stains

Just like we prepare our teeth to preserve their pearly whiteness, we can take measures to allow for our delicate porcelain pieces to avoid staining. 

  • Immediately after you finish using your bone china or porcelain pieces, rise the teacups with water.
  • Keep a clean, damp washcloth set aside in the kitchen. Dab it with just enough baking soda to do a quick wipe off right after you stop using your pieces.
  • Have a “bath” set aside for the teacups for when the party is over. Just fill the sink half way, add the baking soda, and let the cups rest in the water for half an hour. Then, wipe off each teacup.
  • If possible, prior to purchasing an expensive teacup set, check what it is made from and whether you are investing in something that may be a bit too delicate. Get a set that fits your daily life, and your friends and family.

You can enjoy the world’s more versatile drink and still preserve the beauty of your porcelain and bone china pieces. Simply gather around some everyday items that you may already have at home, and go to work. 

Things as simple as baking soda, salt, sugar, toothpaste, and white vinegar can help reverse the process of polymerization. This process, by which molecules combine with oxygen and create the stains we dislike so much, can be entirely reversed by simply taking good care of each cup. 

Tea sets are heirlooms that are passed down from generation to generation. Keep making memories with yours, and be sure to protect each piece for many more years to come.

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Mary L

When you discover something you love you want to share it with the world, that’s only natural. My passion had become my way of life, and I am finally able to share a cup of the good stuff with the ones I love. Proof that dreams really do come true when you can share your favorite brew.

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