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How to Remove Tea Stains From Cups

Tea is one of the most popular morning beverages in the world, but tea stains can be a problem for regular tea drinkers when it comes to their teacups and glassware. Luckily, there are several home remedies you can use to help safely remove tea stains from cups without damaging them. 

Below you’ll find a list of the most common homemade solutions for removing tea stains from cups and how you can apply them. These tips will help you keep your favorite teacups looking clean and bright for years to come. 

What Causes Tea Stains on Teacups?

The substance in tea that causes tea stains in teacups is called tannin, also known as tannic acid. Along with being a common botanical substance in many plant leaves, tannin is used as a natural dye for tea dying paper and leather goods.

The reason that teacups and mugs tend to collect tea stains is because these vessels are made out of porcelain and ceramic. These materials are naturally porous, which causes the teacup’s surface to take up the brown coloring of the tannic acid. Tea stains are even more obvious in light-colored teacups, such as white teacups. 

Tea stains on cups fall into two major categories: surface stains and porous stains. Surface stains on teacups are often easily removed through regular cleaning practices such as running the teacup through the dishwasher. However, porous stains set deep into the surface of the teacup and can be more difficult to remove. 

How to Remove Tea Stains From Cups 

Several different solutions are available for removing tea stains from cups. Even though tannic acid is a dye, it can be lifted by other abrasive agents and chemicals. Many of these substances can be easily found around the house. Here are a few of the best cleaners for removing tea stains from cups: 

  • Baking soda: Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is a naturally-occuring leavening chemical that acts as a gentle abrasive agent in cleaning solutions. Baking soda can also be used to naturally bleach items.
  • Salt and vinegar: If you’re looking for natural tea stain solutions, salt and vinegar are easily found in most kitchens. The vinegar provides an acidic solution to bleach tannin, while the salt acts as a mild abrasive to lift surface stains.

Once you’ve picked a cleaner, the process of removing the stains from your teacups is pretty straightforward. Follow the guides below to learn how to use different solutions for removing tea stains from your cups. 

natural products to clean tea stained cups
Before you pull out the chemical cleaners, try natural products first.

Using Baking Soda to Remove Tea Stains

Baking soda is one of the easiest substances you can use to clean tea stains from cups. Before applying the baking soda, be sure to carefully scrub and rinse the cup to remove any surface debris. After the cup has been rinsed, use the following method

  • Make a baking powder paste. Mix baking powder with a little water until it forms a spreadable paste. Half a teaspoon of baking soda should be enough to clean a single cup. Place the baking soda in the bottom of the cup, then pour a little water over it and mix it together.
  • Rub the inside of the cup with a soft sponge or soft microfiber cloth. Scrub the interior of the cup until the stained part of the cup has been coated thoroughly with the baking powder paste.
  • Continue to scrub. Scrub the baking powder paste into the interior of the cup until the tea stain begins to lift.
  • Rinse the cup. After allowing the baking soda paste to sit on the surface of the cup’s interior for a few minutes, rinse the cup thoroughly and inspect the cup for additional stains. If any evidence of the tea stain remains, repeat the process with fresh baking soda until the stain is lifted. 

Baking soda should be strong enough to get most tea stains out of cups. But if you want to try another home remedy, check out salt and vinegar. 

baking soda and lemon cleaning
Natural ingredients in your kitchen work great on tea stains in cups.

Using Salt and Vinegar to Remove Tea Stains

The major advantage of using salt and vinegar to remove tea stains is that these are common household supplies easily found in most kitchen pantries. To use salt and vinegar for removing tea stains, perform the following steps

  • Soak a cloth in white vinegar. Take the corner of a microfiber cloth and dip it in a container of vinegar until the fabric is saturated. 
  • Salt the cloth. After the microfiber cloth is wet with vinegar, dip the cloth in a container of salt. This will act as your chemically neutral abrasive agent. 
  • Rub the cup. Once the vinegar-damp cloth has been dipped in salt, rub the salted part of the cloth along the interior of the teacup where the tea stain is. You can also leave the vinegar solution on the stain for a few minutes to help the acid have a chance to set in.
  • Rinse the cup. After allowing the salt and vinegar solution to sit on the tea stain for several minutes, rinse the cup thoroughly and inspect it. If the tea stain hasn’t been completely lifted, repeat the process again until it lightens. 

At the end of the day, the easiest way to prevent tea stains from developing on cups is to rinse your teacups directly after using. This rinsing keeps any surface tannin from having the chance to soak into the cup’s surface and dye it. 

Tea Stains Can Be Removed Naturally

Don’t want to take strong cleaners or commercial bleaching agents to your delicate teacups? The good news is that natural cleansers like salt, vinegar, and baking soda are capable of removing all but the worst tannin-based tea stains. If you drink a lot of tea, be sure to keep these cheap household staples on hand to keep your teacups sparkling clean. 

how to remove tea stains from cups