How to Remove Coffee Stains from Mugs and Cups

Closeup of stained coffee mugs

The Spruce / Ana Cadena

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 15 - 20 mins
  • Total Time: 15 mins - 8 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5 to 10

We love our coffee, but not the stains it can leave behind on mugs and cups. The stains are unsightly and affect the flavor of your next cup of coffee.

Just like the coffee stain on your clothes or carpet, the stains in mugs are caused by the tannins and oils in the coffee. The stains can cling to porcelain, plastic, glass, and stainless steel. Even black cups can have stains that you can't see.

Learn how to remove coffee stains from mugs and cups with just a few products you probably have on hand—and a little patience.

Tip

These coffee stain removal tips work equally well on tea-stained mugs, cups, and teapots.

How Often to Clean Stained Coffee Mugs and Cups

As with any container or tool used for food preparation and eating, coffee mugs and cups should be washed after every use—or at least rinsed out before your second or third cup. If you notice discoloration after washing the cups by hand or in the dishwasher, take steps immediately to remove the stains. They won't go away on their own.

Before You Begin

If your coffee cups are fine porcelain, always scrub gently to avoid breakage. For handmade mugs, follow the artisan's care instructions and avoid harsh abrasives. Do not scrub the exterior of hand-painted cups.

After each stain removal method, be sure to wash the cups thoroughly by hand in hot, soapy water or in the dishwasher.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

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

Materials

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

Instructions

Overhead view of materials needed to clean coffee cups

The Spruce / Ana Cadena

How to Remove Coffee Mug Stains With Chlorine Bleach

  1. Create a Soaking Solution

    Fill a dishpan with warm water and add one tablespoon of chlorine bleach per gallon of water.

    Making a chlorine bleach soaking solution

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  2. Soak the Coffee-stained Mugs

    Add the stained cups and mugs and allow them to soak for at least two hours, or overnight is fine.

    Submerging the coffee cups in chlorine bleach solution

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  3. Scrub the Mugs

    Remove the mugs from the solution and discard the bleach water. Use the abrasive side of a sponge to scrub the interior of the mugs. Wash as usual before using.

    Scrubbing the mugs with chlorine bleach solution

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

How to Remove Coffee Mug Stains With Baking Soda

  1. Make a Paste

    In the coffee cup, sprinkle baking soda with enough water to make a paste—approximately one-fourth cup of baking soda and one-fourth teaspoon of water.

    Making a baking soda paste in the coffee cup

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  2. Scrub the Cup

    Dampen a sponge with water and scrub the interior of the coffee cup. The baking soda acts as a gentle abrasive to remove the stains.

    Scrubbing the cup with the baking soda paste

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  3. Rinse and Wash the Cup

    Rinse away the baking soda and repeat the steps if the stains remain. When they are gone, wash the cup as usual.

    Rinsing out the cup in the sink

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

How to Remove Coffee Mug Stains With Denture Tablets

  1. Make a Soaking Solution

    Fill each coffee cup or mug with warm water. Break each denture tablet in half and drop one half of the tablet into each cup.

    Placing a denture tablet into a coffee cup

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  2. Soak, Scrub, and Wash

    Allow the cups to soak for at least 30 minutes, several hours or overnight is fine. Empty the solution and scrub the interior of each cup with the abrasive side of a sponge. Wash as usual.

    Coffee cup in the dishwasher

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

How to Remove Coffee Mug Stains With a Melamine Sponge

  1. Dampen the Sponge and Scrub

    Dampen a melamine sponge (Mr. Clean Eraser) with water. Gently scrub the interior of the cup or mug. You will see the stains transfer from the cup to the sponge.

    Using a melamine sponge to clean a stained coffee cup

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  2. Wash the Mug

    Rinse the mug well and wash as usual.

    Rinsing out the mug in the sink

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

How to Remove Coffee Mug Stains With a Scouring Powder

  1. Select a Gentle Scouring Powder

    Bar Keepers Friend, Bon Ami, or a gentle homemade scouring powderworks well to remove coffee stains from cups. Do not use harsh powders that could scratch surfaces.

    Choosing a scouring powder

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  2. Dampen a Sponge and Scrub

    Dampen a sponge with water and sprinkle it with the scouring powder. Scrub the inside of the cup. Rinse and wash as usual.

    Dampening a sponge and sprinkling on scouring powder

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

How to Remove Coffee Mug Stains With Distilled White Vinegar

  1. Mix a Soaking Solution

    Fill the mug halfway with hot water. Add enough distilled white vinegar to reach the top.

    Filling a stained coffee mug with white vinegar

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  2. Soak, Scrub, and Wash the Cups

    Allow the cups to soak for at least 30 minutes. Use the abrasive side of a sponge to scrub the cups and then wash as usual.

    Allowing the vinegar to sit in the coffee mug

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

Tips to Keep Coffee Cups Clean Longer

  • Rinse out or wash the coffee cup immediately after each use to remove sediment or small amounts of coffee that can cause stains.
  • Use a bottle brush to scrub the interior of travel mugs or tall, narrow cups that are difficult to scrub by hand.
  • Use one of the stain removal tips as soon as you notice a stain.