How to remove tea stains from plastic cups

Tea is a well-loved beverage by many people all over the globe. Sadly, this can leave behind unappealing brownish stains on your favorite plastic cups or mugs. The standard cleaning methods that involve warm water and dish soap are not enough to remove this type of stubborn stain, while scrubbing with a ball of steel wool can leave deep scratch marks. Some might use chlorine, which is an effective product, but it will cause fading of the colors and eventually degrade the plastic over time. Read further to learn ways to remove tea stains from plastic cups properly. 

Steps on how to remove tea stains from plastic cups

Let’s take a look at the steps to remove tea stains from plastic cups with the help of baking soda.

  • Moisten a cleaning rag or towel with warm water. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of baking soda on the rag or towel.
  • Wash the cup with the towel or rag, paying close attention to the stained areas. Rinse thoroughly and wipe dry once all the stains have been removed.
  • If this doesn’t get the job done, fill the cup with warm water and 2 tablespoons of baking soda.
  • Let this solution sit in the cup for 30 minutes to up to an hour.
  • Inspect the cup and repeat the process if needed. 
  • Rinse the cup thoroughly and wipe dry once all the stains are removed.


Why does tea stain?

The brown or black color of tea makes it one of the worst culprits for staining, since it can stain almost everything. In some parts of the world, tea and coffee have even been used as a dye for clothing. 

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The reason why tea stains are difficult to remove from plastic is due to polymerization. This occurs when two or more molecules react together, creating a single large molecule. In coffee and tea, one molecule is an organic chemical present in the beverages and the other is oxygen. When the stain is left on a cup for some time, there is a higher chance for polymerization to occur, and the bigger the stain becomes. If the stains are not dealt with immediately, they will widen over time until the entire cup seems to be completely stained. 

Prevention of stains

It is better to prevent tea stains on your cups. It is more convenient if you keep your cups and mugs clean as you go along with these tips.

  • After finishing your beverage, rinse the cup or mug thoroughly with water.
  • If you notice a brownish ring around the top of your cup or mug, scrub it lightly with a sponge under the tap along with a small amount of dishwashing detergent. 

This will help prevent the stains from setting in the first place and keep your cups clean. 

How do you get tea stains out of Tupperware?

If plastic containers such as Tupperware are given proper care and maintenance, they can last for many years. Although tea stains will not damage these plastic containers, they can still be unappealing to look at.

Getting rid of tea stains on Tupperware can be a challenging ordeal if you do not know the right techniques. Let’s start the cleaning process by using any of these techniques below.

  • Slice a lemon in half and scour it throughout the stained area on your Tupperware. Place your plastic container outside under the sun and leave it there until the sun goes down. Repeat as necessary until the stain completely vanishes.
  • Combine baking soda and table salt in equal amounts and add enough water to create a dense paste. Scrub the stained area using a sponge or clean cloth that was dipped into the paste until the stain vanishes and rinse thoroughly.
  • Fill the plastic container with lemonade and let it sit for 10-15 minutes before washing it with warm foamy water.
  • Pour 2 tablespoons of dish detergent in powder form into the plastic container and add sufficient hot water to completely saturate the stain. Let it soak for at least 15 minutes before rinsing thoroughly with clean water. 
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Remember to avoid using any harsh chemicals and abrasives that could damage your Tupperware. 

How do you get tea stains out of cups?

Once your cups end up with unappealing tea stains, you might want to check out these cleaning techniques that are easy to follow using products that you have at home.

Baking soda

  • This is one of the recommended multi-functional cleaning products that you have at home. It functions like a mild abrasive that works on stains without causing any damage to fragile materials. 
  • Wet the interior of the cup with cold water and sprinkle a thin coating of baking soda. Make sure that the stains are completely covered. 
  • Let it sit for a few minutes.
  • Use a sponge or cloth to wipe around the cup. You need to exert a slight effort while scrubbing. 
  • Wash after using your preferred dish soap.

Salt and vinegar

  • This technique will also work on tea stains in your cup. It is similar to the baking soda method, except that you wet the interior of the cup with white vinegar and use regular table salt in place of baking soda. Salt also works as a mild abrasive that is highly effective at lifting stains without causing any damage. Make sure to thoroughly wash your cup after with dish soap. 

How do you remove iced tea stains from plastic?

During summer, most are enjoying a refreshing iced tea, especially during lazy afternoons. Although it is a delicious beverage, it tends to stain almost anything it comes in contact with, particularly your favorite plastic pitcher or reusable party cups. 

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Getting rid of stains on plastic due to iced tea or coffee can be challenging, but don’t decide on switching to a new one just yet. Luckily, you can get rid of the lingering stains by following these steps.

  • Fill your plastic pitcher or cup with hot water.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of dry or liquid dish soap.
  • Let this mixture sit in the pitcher for up to 15 minutes.
  • Rinse the pitcher or cup and the stains should lift right off the plastic. 
  • If the stains linger, simply repeat the process.

Final thoughts

Tea stains on your favorite cup can be undesirable to look at in the long run. Before deciding to replace your cup or mug with a new one, you can still save your favorite cup. With the methods described on how to remove tea stains from plastic cups, you can effectively get rid of the stains and continue to enjoy your beverage in your favorite cup or mug.

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