How to Clean Tea Stains

Tips for Cleaning Clothing, Carpet, Upholstery, Mugs, and Cups

Coffee stains on a table
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Tea stains may be light in color but the brown discoloration they leave on a mug, clothing, carpet, or upholstery is to remove. There are some tips and tricks to getting the blotch of brown to disappear, from soaking to spot cleaning to rubbing with soap. Choose which method is best for you, and if that one doesn't work, give another technique a try. 

When to Remove Tea Stains From Clothing

The best strategy to remove tea stains from clothing is to take care of it as soon as possible—the longer it sits the more difficult it may be to remove.

What You Will Need


(You can try one of several methods)

  • Cold water
  • Vinegar
  • Toothpaste
  • Baking soda

Rinse With Cold Water

Try to rinse out as much of the stain as you can working from the back of the clothing to try to flush the tea off of the surface instead of through the fabric.

Rub in Liquid Detergent

Use a liquid detergent and rub gently into the tea stain. Allow the detergent to stand on the tea stain for at least five minutes. If the stain is old or dry, rub the tea stain with detergent and allow to soak in cold water for 30 minutes. Rinse the clothing thoroughly. If tea traces remain, rub liquid laundry detergent into the tea stain and soak in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes.

Apply Baking Soda

If you prefer, instead of soap and cold water, you can apply a thick layer of baking soda directly to the stain while the tea is still wet. The powder will absorb the tea, pulling the brown color out of the fabric and into the powder. Leave it on overnight and then scrape the powder off. Most of the stain should be removed, and then you can toss the clothing into the washing machine to try to finish cleaning.

Soak in Stain Remover

For stains that are stubborn or for thicker fabrics, soak in a solution of cold water and oxidizing stain remover (such as OxiClean) as the product recommends.

If traces of the tea stain still remain after these attempts, apply a stain remover stick, gel, or spray and let stand for five minutes before washing normally.

Removing Tea Stains From Carpet and Upholstery

Many people savor a cup of tea while cozying up with a good book or watching a favorite show, so chances of spilling on furniture are likely. But there's no need to run out to get special upholstery cleaner; there is a simple method you can try using basic supplies you have in your home:

  • Mix 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid and 1 tablespoon of vinegar with 2 cups of cool water.
  • Use this solution and a clean white cloth to sponge the spot. The carpet or upholstery should be as wet as necessary to remove the stain. Then blot until the liquid is absorbed.
  • Repeat these steps until the tea stain is lifted.
  • Once the stain is removed, sponge the area with a new white cloth and plain cold water to remove the cleaning solution. Blot dry.

If these steps don't work, you can try removing the tea stain with a dry cleaning solvent or carpet or upholstery cleaner.

Removing Tea Stains From Mugs and China

Rings of light brown tea stains can accumulate and make your mugs and china look dull and dirty. It's important to use natural products—such as white vinegar, baking soda, salt, and toothpaste—to remove the build-up from your mug as you don't want to ingest any chemical residue. 

Baking Soda Method

You can make baking soda into a mildly abrasive paste by combining it with water. The gentle yet abrasive scrubbing will help remove those rings without adding any dangerous chemicals to your drinking mug. Use these steps:

Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with a little water to make a paste. Let the paste sit for five to 10 minutes and then rub the paste onto the stains with a rag or a toothbrush if it's awkward to get your hand in the mug.

Once you notice the mug is clean, give it a rinse and dry with a towel.

Make a Salt Vinegar Mixture

First, wipe the inside of the mug with a damp cloth. Then, in a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons each of vinegar and salt and mix well. 

Pour this mixture into the mug and let it sit for 10 minutes. Using a dishtowel, rub the paste against the inside of the mug.

When the stains appear to be gone, rinse the mug and dry. 

Use Toothpaste

You use toothpaste to remove stains from your teeth, so try these steps to remove tea stains from drinkware:

Using white toothpaste, place a bit on an old toothbrush.Brush the inside of the mug or cup until the entire surface is coated, making sure it gets into the crevices.

Let sit for 10 minutes and then rinse.