How to Remove Stains from Teacups and Teapots

Enjoy tea time, and its benefits, with stain-free drinkware

How to Clean Stains From China Teapots and Cups

The Spruce / Alex Dos Diaz

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 1 - 12 hrs
  • Total Time: 1 - 12 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $8-20

Tea is a wonderful beverage that has been enjoyed for centuries. While this drink is known for its myriad of health benefits, there is one thing that does not benefit from long-term exposure to tea—your teapot. Traditional china teapots and cups eventually build up stains after frequent use, as do pots and cups made from ceramic, and even so-called "stainless" steel. So, it won't be long before your favorite vessels show their wear and will need a little freshening up.

While tea stains can be stubborn—perhaps even nearly impossible—to remove, there is one simple and quick solution. With this ingenious trick, you can ensure that your china continues to look its best for many afternoon teas to come.

Why Tea Creates Stains

Green and black tea contains polyphenols, chemical substances (or tannins) found in most plants. These compounds are bitter and astringent in nature, helping to protect the plant from bugs and pests. Polyphenols—along with Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and beta carotene—are also considered antioxidants, which help rid the body of harmful free radicals that could cause disease. But the same tea constituents that keep us healthy, also create stains on our precious drinkware by bonding with solids, like calcium, that are found in water. Hard water contains more of these solids than soft water. And, the longer you leave your tea in a cup, the higher the chances of it staining.

How Often to Clean Teacups and Teapots

Teacups and teapots should be washed with soap and water, and rinsed thoroughly, after each use. This simple washing may help to assure less tea stain buildup. However, a thorough destaining of your fine china or stainless steel should be done once every six months. Items used for daily tea drinking may need a more frequent stain removal protocol.

Before You Begin

While other options—like making a baking soda paste or dabbing the stain with distilled white vinegar—may also clean superficial stains, the secret trick we outline below takes very little elbow grease and can work on even the toughest tea stains. Stainless steel, ceramic, and china teapots and cups can also be cleaned with lemon and cornstarch, though results may vary.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Soft towel


  • Tea-stained cups or teapot
  • Denture cleaning tablets
  • Hot water
  • Dish soap


The process of removing tea stains is not difficult, though it does require patience. You need to allow ample time for the denture-cleaning tablets to do their work and clean the surface of the china. At a minimum, it will take an hour, but stubborn tea stains may require an overnight soak. Be sure to leave yourself plenty of time.

materials for cleaning stained china
The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa
  1. Rinse the Pot or Cup

    Take the chill out of the pot or cup by rinsing it with warm water.

    rinsing the tea cup with warm water

    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa

  2. Add Hot Water

    Use very hot or boiling water to fill the teapot or cup enough to cover the stained area. Be sure that the hot water goes into the teapot's spout so it can be cleaned, as well.

    filling up stained chine with boiling water

    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa

  3. Add the Denture Tablet(s)

    For a teacup, cut a denture tablet into quarters and drop one piece into each cup. For a teapot, drop one or two denture tablets into the pot. Allow the tablets to work their cleaning magic for one hour.

    denture tablet and teacups

    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa

  4. Check the Stain

    Check to see if the stains are gone. For very stubborn stains, leave the water and tablets overnight to give the solution longer to work.

    letting the china sit to let the denture tablets do their work

    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa

  5. Wash the Pot or Cup

    When the stains have disappeared, wash the teapot in hot soapy water. Rinse thoroughly with warm water to ensure all the cleaner is removed.

    was the tea cups in warm soapy water

    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa

  6. Dry the Pot or Cup

    Wipe the teapot or cups dry with a soft, absorbent towel.

    drying the teacups

    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa

Tips to Keep Your China Cleaner Longer

  • For valuable or collectible teapots and cups, consult an expert before using any corrosive cleaner on the piece.
  • Carefully wipe and air-dry the teapot before you replace the lid and store it. Let it set out overnight to ensure all the water evaporates.
  • If you have a particularly stubborn stain, try wiping it lightly with a soft, damp rag dipped in baking soda. Rinse and dry.