How to remove coffee & tea stains

Published by rudy Date posted on January 31, 2009

Dear Tanya,

I’m a stay-at-home mom and I do a lot of household chores. How do I remove coffee and tea stains from cups and mugs? They’re ugly to look at. Also, how do I make the smell of fresheners on newly washed clothes stay longer? I have this problem, especially with denim pants. I have three sons who wear lots of them and I want them to stay cool and fresh all day long. I use an automatic washing machine to wash the clothes.

— Lolit

I feel you, sister. I’m a caffeine addict myself and starting the day without coffee is like going to work naked or driving with a flat tire. The world just doesn’t make any sense. It makes me very cranky, so my husband R. — who never drinks coffee because he says the smell of the beans alone makes him want to go to the toilet — knows well enough to keep the pantry stocked with coffee.

A few months ago, two friends and I went on a detox weekend. We ate healthy food and drank detoxifying drinks; the food was good, but the latter tasted like dextrose and made you want to puke. Of course, it was good for the body to get rid of all the toxins and start you off on practicing good nutrition and making you feel light. That meant that coffee, cigarettes and alcohol were prohibited. I wanted to hang myself before the night was over. I missed my coffee and the warm feel of my South Park mug with my hands around it. Some days when I wake up really early I have coffee in the small patio of our house and watch the light turn, ruminating on why, as Pablo Neruda lamented, oblivion is long and love short. Needless to say, I think about why life sucks — while watching the sunrise. As you can see, I’m a very optimistic person.

Anyway, I had the same problem with unsightly brown rings inside my mug. What I do is simply pour boiling water and let it sit in the mug before washing it with soap and using the abrasive part of a Scotchbrite to clean it. You’ll find it easier to remove the stains while the mug is still hot. recommends rubbing the inside of the mug with baking soda, or soaking it overnight in hot water or vinegar before using baking soda. Or rub a paste of cornstarch and vinegar, let sit for a few minutes before scrubbing. The last method is to “drop two denture tablets in the mug, pour hot water over the top and soak overnight” before washing.

The last seems easy enough, but the thought of my cup and anything to do with pustiso is just…icky to me. It reminds me of when I was a child and catching my grandfather putting his dentures in a glass of water. (What?! Lolo has fake teeth?)

If the stains still can’t be removed, buy new cups. They’re not that expensive, you know. If they’re heirloom pieces, just keep them in your china cabinet, because two generations from now, those stains will be proof of how much those cups were used and loved.

As for the second question, soak the jeans in fabric softener longer than the usual rinse cycle of the washing machine. When it’s about to drain, turn the machine off and let the clothes sit for a few minutes more, and then put it on spin. There’s nothing like the smell of fresh laundry, right?

When Clean came out with its line of colognes in Manila, I went crazy over its Fresh Laundry scent. The smell makes you feel like you just stepped out of the shower — or the washing machine — even at the end of the day. I was so disappointed when the salesperson at Rustan’s Essenses told me that they were no longer distributing it.

Also, for that really nice-smelling scent, try liquid detergents. They’re a bit pricey, but I love their smell, especially Perwoll Black.

When your three sons come home all sweaty and their jeans smelly, you just have to be grateful that they didn’t think of rolling in the mud. –Tanya T. Lara, Philippine Star

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Home 911 answers questions about the home — cleaning problems, DIY projects, decorating ideas, home store resources, and things you’ve always wanted to know about but never had the friends to ask. Send e-mail to All questions will be answered through this column — Tanya is too chatty to send individual e-mails.

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