How To Remove Coffee Stains From Plastic Cups

Everyone knows that coffee stains super easily.

It even stains things it does not spill on.

Unfortunately, coffee will stain your plastic cups even in the brief period it takes you to down your morning cup.

We can help with this.

We’ve done some research and if you want to learn how to remove coffee stains from your plastic cup continue reading below.

What You’ll Need

Now that you have everything that you will need, keep reading for step-by-step instructions on how to remove coffee stains from plastic cups.

1. Add Lemon Juice

Take out all the coffee-stained plastic cups that you want to clean the coffee stains.

Add a couple of squirts of lemon juice.

The lemon juice will help act as a bleaching agent to remove the stain from the coffee.

You can use any lemon juice you would like but I recommend Lucy’s Family Owned – Lemon Juice, 32 oz. Bottle (Pack of 2).

I love Lucy’s brand in lemon juice and vinegar plus they get great reviews on Amazon.


2. Add Water To the Plastic Cup

Now add hot water to the cup.

Add enough to cover the entire bottom of the cup and up as high as the stain covers the wall of the cup.

If the stain also is present around the rim of the cup, you may want to add more lemon juice to compensate for the amount of hot water you will be adding to the cup.

3. Let The Mixture Sit

You will need to let the hot water and lemon juice mix sit in the cup for them to weaken the coffee stain.

Let it sit for about 15 to 20 minutes unless the stain is nasty.

Then you can let it sit for longer if necessary. 

4. Pour Out Mixture 

Once you let the hot water and lemon juice sit, pour out the mixture from the cup. 

5. Create Paste Of Baking Soda and Dish Soap

Make a paste of baking soda, hot water, and dish soap in the now empty cup.

Put a small amount of dish soap in the cup.

Remember, with dish soap, a little goes a long way.

Be sure to add enough water to ensure you get the right consistency, but not too much to make it watery.

6. Scrub The Plastic Cup

Use the sponge to scrub the coffee stain in the plastic cup.

I recommend using MR.SIGA Non-Scratch Cellulose Scrub Sponge, Dual-Sided Dishwashing Sponge for Kitchen.

The Mr. Siga brand received the best reviews from qualified purchasers on Amazon.

You should start to see the stain coming off the cup.

Be sure to give a good thorough scrub, as some stains will take quite a bit of elbow grease to get removed. 

7. Rinse With Hot Water

Once you are done scrubbing, rinse out the plastic cup with hot water and check to ensure that that coffee stain has been removed.

If it has been removed, you can go ahead and put it through the dishwasher for a regular clean. 

8. Repeat The Steps If Necessary

If you notice the stain remains, you will want to repeat the steps above.

Consider adding more lemon during the soak and letting it soak longer.

In addition, you can add more baking soda to make a more abrasive scrub.

You can also choose to scrub it longer before rinsing it out.

All of these options may help you to remove more of the coffee stain.

Video Instructions

This video shows how to remove coffee stains from a mug but the same steps apply for removing coffee stains from a plastic cup.

  • Step 1 (:25) — Add lemon juice
  • Step 2 (:28) — Add water
  • Step 3 (:35) — Let sit
  • Step 4 (:43) — Pour out mixture
  • Step 5 (:45) — Create paste
  • Step 6 (:55) — Scrub
  • Step 7 (1:02) — Rinse


How Does Lemon Juice Remove Coffee Stains? 

Lemon juice works as a great natural stain remover, no matter the stain.

Lemon juice works as a natural bleaching and whitening agent.

Letting a stained surface, like a coffee-stained cup, sit with lemon juice will help lighten the stain due to this ability to bleach surfaces naturally.

In addition to bleaching and whitening the surface, the acidity of lemon juice helps to remove stains. 

Be careful when using lemon juice, however.

Do not allow the lemon juice to sit on any surface that you want to keep unblemished!

Lemon juice can also stain and bleach other surfaces that you do not wish to whiten or lightened.

How Does Baking Soda Remove Coffee Stains? 

Baking soda is a top-rated natural cleaning agent for people to use in their homes, and for a good reason!

Baking soda, when used to make a paste, creates a gentle abrasive scrub to remove stains.

Because it is pretty gentle, it can be used in most cleaning circumstances.

Even though it is gentle, it will still remove even the most stubborn coffee stains.

How Can I Avoid Creating Coffee Stains In My Cups? 

The best way to avoid causing coffee stains in your cup is to rinse the cup right after you have finished your coffee.

Even the remaining dregs of coffee that remain after your last sip are enough to create a coffee stain in your cup—rinsing the cup out with remove most of the remaining coffee. 

You can even give the cup a cursory scrub without just water to remove most of whatever set-in stains have started to settle in the cup.

Do not let your coffee cups sit with that little bit of coffee in the sink or at your desk.

Doing this will cause you to need to deep clean your cup more frequently. 

In addition, you can do a mini-version of this cleaning method every couple of weeks, with a shorter soaking time.

Doing this can help you avoid having to do a more intense cleaning. 

What Causes The Coffee Stain In My Cup? 

Even if you are the type of person who inhales your morning cup of coffee, your coffee cup will likely still get dark coffee stains.

The tannins that are present in the coffee are what leave the stains.

Tannins are used as dyes to stain other materials, like wood, leather, and making ink.

Because of this, coffee will stain your plastic cups without even trying. 

Will My Dishwasher Remove Coffee Stains From My Cups?

Coffee stains are very stubborn and will likely not be removed from the cup just by being washed in the dishwasher.

You will still need to use this as a pre-dishwasher treatment before placing it in a dishwasher to be cleaned.