How to Remove Tea Stains

How to Remove Tea Stains

The Spruce / Bailey Mariner

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 mins - 12 hrs
  • Total Time: 10 mins - 2 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $0-$10

If you're a tea drinker, stains on clothing, carpet, upholstery, and china are an unfortunate reality. A tea stain may be light in color, but the discoloration may be difficult to remove. The high tannin content in tea makes its stains even harder to remove than coffee stains. However, there are several effective methods of removing the stain, several of which you can make using everyday pantry items. The best way to ensure tea stain removal is to address it while it's wet because the longer it sits, the more challenging the removal process will be. Never put a freshly stained garment into the dryer, as the heat can permanently set the stain.

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Click Play to Learn How to Clean Tea Stains

Stain type: Tannin-based
Detergent type: Regular liquid detergent
Water temperature: Cold
Cycle type: Varies depending on fabric

Before You Begin

Before removing a tea stain from clothes, upholstery, or carpet, read the item's cleaning instructions on its care label. While most cleaning methods are gentle enough for a diverse range of fabrics, knowing an item's specific care needs will help you choose the best stain removal option.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Sponge
  • Dish towel
  • Toothbrush

Materials

  • Cold water
  • Laundry detergent
  • Stain remover
  • Vinegar
  • Toothpaste
  • Baking soda

Instructions

Materials and tools to remove tea stains

The Spruce / Letícia Almeida 

How to Remove Tea Stains From Clothes

There are a variety of techniques used for removing tea stains on your clothing. If one method isn't effective, feel free to try another. Fortunately, many of the materials for tea stain removal on clothing are common household supplies, so you can experiment without wasting money on store-bought cleaning products.

  1. Rinse With Cold Water

    Turn the clothing article inside out and rinse the stain with cold water.

    Rinsing a tea stain under cold water

    The Spruce

  2. Apply Laundry Detergent

    Rub a laundry detergent onto the stain and allow it to sit for at least five minutes. If the stain is old or dried, apply the detergent, soak the clothing article in cold water for 30 minutes, and then rinse. If the tea stain remains, rub additional detergent into the tea stain and soak in warm water for another 10 to 15 minutes.

    Rubbing detergent into a tea stain

    The Spruce

  3. Apply Baking Soda

    Apply baking soda directly onto the stain if it is still wet. The baking soda will absorb the tea, pulling the brown color out of the fabric and into the powder. Let the mixture sit for 12 hours, and then scrape it off. Once the stain has lightened, you can wash the garment in your washing machine and hang it to dry. If the fabric's care instructions only permit hand-washing, you may do that instead.

    Applying baking soda to the tea stain

    The Spruce

  4. Soak Fabric in Stain Remover

    Soak the garment in a mixture of cold water and oxidizing stain remover. If ineffective, apply a stain remover stick, gel, or spray and let sit for five minutes before machine or hand washing.

    Soaking the tea stained garment in a solution

    The Spruce

  5. Repeat If Necessary

    Repeat removal methods or try a different approach if the stain resists removal.

    Checking that the tea stain is removed

    The Spruce

How to Remove Tea Stains From Carpet and Upholstery

You can apply several at-home cleaning methods when your carpet or upholstered furniture becomes stained with tea. Typically, there's no need to purchase a special upholstery or carpet cleaner. Here are a few simple methods to try using basic supplies you likely already have in your home.

  1. Create a Cleaning Solution

    Mix 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid, 1 tablespoon of vinegar, and 2 cups of cold water to make an all-purpose upholstery cleaner.

    Mixing a cleaning solution

    The Spruce

  2. Apply Solution to Fabric

    Use a clean cloth to dab the cleaning solution onto the stain until it is saturated. Then, blot the area until the excess liquid is absorbed completely.

    Blotting the cleaning solution onto the upholstery

    The Spruce

  3. Rinse and Dry

    Dab the area with a new cloth and cold water to absorb the solution once the stain has been removed. Blot dry with a dry cloth or towel and repeat the previous steps as necessary. 

    Blotting the damp area with a clean white cloth

    The Spruce

    Tip

    If these steps don't work, it may be worth trying a store-bought cleaner.

How to Remove Tea Stains From Mugs and China

Unaddressed tea stains can accumulate, making your mugs look dull and dirty. Prioritize using chemical-free cleaning products such as white vinegar, baking soda, salt, and toothpaste to avoid ingesting chemical residue. 

Pro tip: if you'd like to use a one-stop product, try the Magic Eraser. It takes tea and coffee stains off mugs in seconds with no soap.

Materials and tools to remove tea stains

The Spruce / Sarah Crowley

  1. Use Baking Soda

    Combine water and baking soda to make a mildly abrasive paste. The gentle yet effective mixture will help remove stains without using chemicals on your mug. 

    1. Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with enough water to form a paste.
    2. Rub the paste onto the stains and let it sit for five to 10 minutes. Use your hand, a cloth, or a toothbrush to apply the paste inside the mug.
    3. Finish by rinsing and drying the mug with a dish towel.
    Baking soda paste rubbed on edge of tea stained mug with rag

    The Spruce / Sarah Crowley

  2. Try Salt and Vinegar

    Like baking soda, you likely have salt and vinegar in your pantry. Combining the two natural ingredients makes an effective, non-toxic cleaning solution worth trying on your tea-stained mug.

    1. Wipe the inside of the mug with a damp cloth.
    2. Combine 2 tablespoons vinegar and 2 tablespoons of salt and mix well. 
    3. Soak the corner of a dish towel with the mixture and apply it to the stain.
    4. Pour the mixture into the mug and let it sit for 10 minutes.
    5. Rinse and dry the mug. 
    Salt and vinegar mixture rubbed on tea stained mug with rag

    The Spruce / Sarah Crowley

  3. Employ Toothpaste

    Just as toothpaste effectively removes stains from the enamel of your teeth, its gentle abrasives can also remove stains from ceramics.

    1. Place a dab of toothpaste onto a toothbrush and scrub the stain.
    2. Let it sit for 10 minutes, then rinse and dry.
    Toothpaste scrubbed in tea stained mug with old toothbrush

    The Spruce / Sarah Crowley

When to Call a Professional

If the garment is labeled dry clean only, take it to your dry cleaner as soon as possible. Point out and identify the stain to help your professional cleaner choose the proper treatment. The same applies to a stain that damages silk or vintage upholstery; you need to contact a professional cleaner, or else you are likely to do more damage if you try to remove the stain yourself. If you have a very valuable or collectible teapot or cup, consult an expert before cleaning, as some solutions may corrode the china.

Additional Tips For Handling Tea Stains

In addition to the above steps, you may cut one or two denture tablets into quarters and drop one piece into a stained teapot or cup. Allow the tablets to dissolve and sit for one hour. If you address a tea stain while it's still fresh, you shouldn't have a problem with removal. However, a stain that has dried, or has been through the dryer, will be harder to remove. If the stain is resistant, repeat your preferred removal method as many times as you see fit. The surest way to prevent tea stains in mugs is to wash your drinkware immediately after finishing your tea. The longer the tea sits in the mug, the more challenging the stain will be to remove.