6 Tricks to Get Coffee Stains Out of Mugs

By Sharon Brandwein

Devout coffee lovers would likely tell you (and anyone who’ll listen) that coffee tends to wear many hats. In addition to being the perfect companion to a good book, coffee is also a warm, delicious way to shake off the cold and a great power-up for the 2 pm slump. And while it’s hard to argue that coffee is chock full of robust flavors and aromatic goodness, it has one drawback: stains.

If given the opportunity to sit for a minute or ten, coffee will definitely leave behind a (not so pleasant) reminder that it was there. If they’re honest, coffee lovers will also tell you that their favorite mugs bear the telltale signs of a healthy coffee habit.

While stains are almost a given, rest assured that there are a few ways to remove them and restore your favorite cup. This guide covers cleaning coffee stains from cups using some tried and true pantry staples.

stained ceramic coffee mug

Photo via Maura White

How to Get Coffee Stains Out of Mugs with Vinegar

Everyone has vinegar in their pantry, and when this magical liquid seems to come in handy for everything from food preparation to deep cleaning, it’s easy to see why. Not surprisingly, vinegar is a cheap yet effective way to clean coffee stains out of mugs; here’s how.

Tools and Materials Needed 

  • ½ cup distilled white vinegar
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • Dish soap 
  • Dish sponge

Step 1: Add Vinegar

Fill the mug halfway with the distilled white vinegar.

Step 2: Add Water 

Fill up the rest of the mug to the top with hot water.

Step 3: Let the Cup Soak

Leave the cup to soak for about 10 minutes. 

Step 4: Rinse and Wash Clean 

When the time is up, dump the vinegar-water solution out, clean the mug with a sponge and soap like you normally would, and do a final rinse with clean water.

How to Get Coffee Stains Out of Mugs with Baking Soda

From baking to tackling foul odors, baking soda is another multipurpose pantry staple that has many uses. Now you can add “cleaning coffee stains from cups” to that list; here’s a play-by-play. 

Tools and Materials Needed 

  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Dish sponge

Step 1: Add Baking Soda and Water

Sprinkle a bit of baking soda into the mug and add just enough water to form a paste. 

Step 2: Scour the Stain 

With a dish sponge, scrub the inside of the mug with the baking soda and water paste. 

Step 3: Rinse and Wash Clean 

Rinse clean and repeat if needed.

How to Get Coffee Stains Out of Mugs with Denture Tablets

Considering that denture tablets are used to remove stains (like coffee) from dentures, it’s certainly not a stretch to use them for cleaning coffee stains from cups. If you don’t happen to have denture tablets handy, they’re easy enough to find your local grocery or drug store and are typically under $10.

Tools and Materials Needed 

  • Warm water
  • 1 denture tablet
  • Dish soap 
  • Dish sponge 

Step 1: Fill Mug with Water

Fill the coffee mug with warm water. 

Step 2: Add Denture Tablet 

Add a denture tablet and let it fizz. 

Step 3: Wash 

Once the fizzing stops, dump out the denture tablet water and wash the mug with fresh, warm, soapy water, using the abrasive side of your dish sponge to clean.

Step 4: Rinse 

Rinse clean with fresh water.

How to Get Coffee Stains Out of Mugs with Melamine Sponges

Before you open a new browser tab and search melamine, let us clarify. Melamine sponges are readily available in your local grocery store; you probably know them as Magic Erasers. These bad boys are great for cleaning just about anything, and coffee stains are no exception; here’s how.


Tools and Materials Needed 

  • Melamine sponge (aka Magic Eraser)
  • Dish soap 
  • Dish sponge 
  • Water 

Step 1: Clean with Melamine Sponge

Dampen the melamine sponge and clean the inside of the mug (just as you would using a regular sponge). The abrasive nature of the sponge should scuff away any surface coffee stains inside the mug.

Step 2: Wash

Wash the mug with warm, soapy water.

Step 3: Rinse 

Rinse clean with fresh water. 

How to Get Coffee Stains Out of Mugs with Salt and Ice 

The large crystals of kosher salt and the sharp edges of crushed ice pack a powerful punch to clean coffee stains out of mugs. This is a fun way to clean coffee stains out of mugs, too, so much so that the little ones might be eager to help. 

Tools and Materials Needed 

  • Kosher salt 
  • Crushed ice 
  • Plastic wrap 
  • Dish soap 
  • Dish sponge 
  • Water 

Step 1: Add Salt and Ice 

Add some kosher salt to your cup, followed by a handful of crushed ice.

Step 2: Shake 

Cover the cup with plastic wrap and give it a good shake for about 10 seconds, holding your hand over the opening of the mug and the plastic wrap for added security.

Step 3: Wash

Take the plastic off the lid of the mug. Wash the mug with warm, soapy water.

Step 4: Rinse 

Rinse clean with fresh water.

three stainless steel travel mugs

Photo via Michelle James

How to Get Coffee Stains Out of Travel Mugs

Stains tend to happen in travel mugs because most folks can’t get their hands down to the bottom to clean them properly. To circumvent the issue, try using a baby bottle brush cleaner to wash your travel mug from day to day. If stains do happen to settle in, then follow the steps outlined below to get it clean.

Tools and Materials Needed 

  • 1-2 tablespoons baking soda 
  • 1 cup vinegar

Step 1: Add Baking Soda 

Add two tablespoons of baking soda to your travel mug.

Step 2: Add Vinegar 

Pour one cup of vinegar into the cup and let it bubble. Once the bubbling has stopped, snap the lid onto the travel mug. Be sure to wait until the bubbling has completely stopped, or you may inadvertently cause a small explosion as the baking soda and vinegar react. 

Step 3: Shake 

With the lid sealed, give the container a good shake (over the sink, in case any solution spills out) and then pour it out. 

Step 4: Wash with Warm, Soapy Water

Wash the mug with soap and water, rinse and set it to dry. 

How to Prevent Coffee Stains in Mugs

Stained or not, coffee mugs serve their purpose well. There are two things you can do to prevent coffee stains from forming in your cherished mugs:

  • Wash your mug immediately after every use; leaving coffee in your cup only encourages stains. 
  • Don’t use abrasive cleaners to scrub your cups. Overzealous cleaning can cause small scratches where coffee can settle in, making it much more difficult to get stains out.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever had to get coffee out of, and how did you do it? Tell us in the comments!

Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
  1 question
Join the conversation
 1 comment
  • Millie Millie on May 27, 2023

    Hurrah for using natural cleaners! I have found the Dawn Spray works wonders and I do make the DIY version to make it economical.