How to Remove Tannin-Based Stains from Drinkware

White cup and saucer with coffee stains on wooden table

Songsak Rohpraist/ Moment/ Getty Images

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 - 15 mins
  • Total Time: 10 - 30 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5-10

Coffee, tea, beer, wine, and distilled spirits contain tannins or plant-based organic compounds. The tannins add an astringent quality to the liquids and dyes that can stain fabrics and glass, porcelain, and stainless steel drinkware. If drinkware is not properly cleaned, tannin-based stains can build up over time and become more difficult to remove. The tannin residue not only looks unappealing but also affects the taste of drinks.

Removing tannin-based stains is not difficult but it should be done regularly. Learn several methods to keep your drinkware stain-free.

 Stain Type  Tannin-based
 Detergent Type  Dishwashing liquid and stain removers
 Water Temperature  Hot
 Cycle Type  Hand-wash and Machine-wash
How to Remove Tannin-Based Stains from Teapots and Mugs

The Spruce / Joules Garcia

How Often to Remove Tannin-Based Stains

Drinkware should be rinsed out as soon as possible after each use if the drink contains tannins and then thoroughly washed. If visible stains remain, they should be removed as quickly as possible.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 sink or dishpan
  • 1 automatic dishwasher
  • 1 sponge with abrasive side

Materials

  • 1 box baking soda
  • 1 bottle distilled white vinegar
  • 1 container Bon Ami or Bar Keepers Friend powder
  • 1 bottle chlorine bleach
  • 1 bottle dishwasher detergent
  • 1 bottle dishwashing liquid
  • 1 melamine sponge (Mr. Clean Eraser)
  • 1 box denture cleaning tablets

Instructions

How to Remove Tannin-Based Stains From Drinkware With Baking Soda

  1. Create a Paste

    Sprinkle about two tablespoons of baking soda into each glass or mug and add a few drops of water to create a paste.

  2. Scrub the Drinkware

    Dampen a sponge with water and scrub the interior of the glass or mug. Don't forget to pay attention to the rim and exterior surfaces that have stains. The baking soda is a mild abrasive that will loosen the tannin stains.

  3. Wash the Drinkware

    Rinse out the baking soda and wash the drinkware as you usually would in the dishwasher or by hand. Repeat the steps if stains remain.

How to Remove Tannin-Based Stains From Drinkware With Chlorine Bleach

  1. Prepare Bleach Soaking Solution

    • Fill a sink or dishpan with warm water and add one tablespoon of chlorine bleach per gallon of water.
    • Add the stained drinkware and allow it to soak for at least two hours, or overnight is fine.
  2. Scrub and Wash the Drinkware

    • Remove the drinkware from the solution and discard the bleach solution by pouring it down the sink.
    • Use the abrasive side of a sponge to scrub the interior of ceramic and stainless steel coffee mugs.
    • For delicate porcelain cups and wine glasses, use the non-abrasive side of the sponge.
    • Rinse and wash as usual before using.

How to Remove Tannin-Based Stains From Drinkware With Denture Tablets

  1. Create a Cleaning Solution

    • Fill each piece of drinkware with warm water.
    • Break a denture cleaning tablet in half and add to the water in each vessel.
    • Allow the solution to work for at least 30 minutes but overnight is fine.
  2. Scrub and Wash

    • Empty the soaking solution.
    • Use the abrasive side of a sponge to scrub the interior of coffee mugs.
    • Use the non-abrasive side of the sponge to scrub wine glasses and delicate porcelain.
    • Pay extra attention to the rims and the outside of the drinkware.
    • Wash drinkware by hand or in the dishwasher.

How to Remove Tannin-Based Stains From Drinkware With a Melamine Sponge

  1. Scrub Away Stains

    • Dampen a melamine sponge (Mr. Clean Eraser) with water. Gently scrub the interior, rim, and stained exterior of the drinkware.
    • Rinse the mug and wash as usual.

    Warning

    Do not use a melamine sponge on delicate wine glasses or any drinkware with metallic or hand-painted decoration. It can cause scratching or remove the decorations.

How to Remove Tannin-Based Stains From Drinkware With Distilled White Vinegar

  1. Create a Soaking Solution

    • Fill each piece of drinkware half full with hot water and add enough distilled white vinegar to reach the top.
    • Or, fill a dishpan or sink with a 50:50 solution of hot water and distilled white vinegar and add several pieces of drinkware.
    • Soak for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Scrub and Wash

    • Use a sponge to scrub the drinkware. Use the abrasive side on ceramic and stainless steel mugs and the non-abrasive side on delicate wine glasses and porcelain cups.
    • Wash the drinkware as usual by hand or in the dishwasher.

How to Remove Tannin-Based Stains From Drinkware With a Scouring Powder

  1. Use a Gentle Scouring Powder

    • Bar Keepers Friend, Bon Ami, or a gentle homemade scouring powder will work well to remove coffee stains from drinkware. Do not use harsh powders that could scratch surfaces.
    • Dampen a sponge and sprinkle it with the powder.
    • Scrub the interior, rim, and outside of the stained drinkware.

    Warning

    Do not use any type of scouring powder on delicate wine glasses or any drinkware with metallic or hand-painted decoration. It may remove the decorations.

  2. Wash the Drinkware

    Rinse the drinkware to remove the residue and wash as usual.

Tips to Keep Tannin-Based Stains From Forming on Drinkware

  • Rinse out or wash drinkware immediately after each use to remove sediment or small amounts of liquid that can cause stains.
  • Use a soft-bristled bottle brush to scrub the interior of travel mugs or tall, narrow drinkware that is difficult to scrub by hand.
  • Use one of the stain removal tips as soon as you notice any discoloration or stains.