How To Remove Tea Stains From Plastic

Spring is here, and that means starting to make some iced tea for many.

Many of us use large plastic containers to make batches of tea, whether it is sun tea or not.

Unfortunately, continued use of plastic containers for tea will result in an unsightly tea stain on your plastic containers.

Do not worry! We have been there and done some research to find out the best methods on removing tea stains.

Follow the detailed instructions below to learn how to remove tea stains from plastic. 

What You’ll Need

After you’ve grabbed the few things you need, read on for detailed step-by-step instructions on how to remove tea stains from plastic.

1. Pour A Bit Of Baking Soda Into A Plastic Container

Pour around a teaspoon or more baking soda into your tea-stained plastic container.

Keep in mind the size of the plastic container and the extent of the tea stain when judging how much baking soda to use.

You can always add more baking soda if you need it, so do not go overboard with the baking soda. 

2. Pour Water Into a Plastic Container

Pour into the plastic container a small amount of water.

Again, you can add more water so do not over-add water to the container. 

Use your fingers to stir the mixture together.

Decide if the mixture needs more baking soda or water.

The water and baking soda should create a thin paste with enough baking soda to create an abrasive paste, but not too much so that it is thick and not quickly spread.

Add more water or baking soda as necessary to get the best consistency. 

3. Scrub Plastic Container With Fingers

Once you have created the desired consistency for the baking soda and water paste, still using your fingers, scrub the plastic container with the paste.

You should see the tea stains begin to lift off the plastic container’s surface.

Do not forget to pay particular attention when scrubbing the tea-stained areas of the plastic container.

You will want to address these areas more than others. 

4. Fill The Plastic Container To The Top With Water 

Next, fill the plastic container with water to the top.

Do not rinse out the water and baking soda mixture.

Let the water and baking soda sit in the container for at least an hour overnight.

The longer you let the mixture sit in the plastic container, the more work the baking soda will be doing on the plastic container.

Doing this will help to deodorize the plastic container and address any stubborn tea stains. 

5. Rinse Out Plastic Container With Fingers

Once the water and baking soda have sat in the plastic container for long enough, you can rinse out the container.

Then briefly wash the plastic container with liquid dish soap.

If you notice there is still some tea stain remaining on the surface of your plastic container.

Feel free to repeat any of the steps above. 

Video Instructions

  • Step 1 (:33) — Pour in a small amount of baking soda
  • Step 2 (:38) – Pour in a small amount of water
  • Step 3 (1:09) – Scrub the inside of the container with fingers
  • Step 4 (1:24) – Fill the container to top with water
  • Step 5 (1:38) – Rinse with dish soap


Can I Use A Scrub Brush To Clean Tea Stains From Plastic?

You will want to avoid any sort of heavy-duty super abrasive tools.

These tools may end up creating tiny scratches in the plastic.

New stains will form in these new scratches, and it will be even more challenging to get tea or other stains out.

Beyond new stains, these scratches create crevices in which germs and bacteria can hide and grow!

How Does Baking Soda Remove Tea Stains?

Baking soda does many different beautiful things in the world of cleaning.

The baking soda, when mixed with water, creates a gentle abrasive.

This abrasive is gentle enough not to scratch the plastic but also rough enough to work to lift off the tea stains from the plastic’s surface.

In addition to its abrasive qualities, baking soda also absorbs stains, which is why it is a beneficial ingredient in many DIY cleaning solutions.

Finally, baking soda will help deodorize the container if the tea stain causes a bitter smell. 

What If These Steps Do Not Fully Remove The Tea Stain?

When tea stains are particularly persistent, maybe just the baking soda will not do the trick.

You can try other methods.

One is to use salt. Wet your plastic container using a wet cloth.

Pour salt onto the areas of the plastic container that have tea stains.

Doing this can be difficult if the stains are in curved or rounded areas of your container.

If this is the case, you can put some salt on a cloth or paper towel and hold it against the stains.

Then you can scrub the stains with the salt gently.

Like baking soda, the salt will not scratch the plastic because it will dissolve.

You can rinse and follow up with a baking soda scrub if you want to try to brighten the container up. 

Can Dishwashing Detergent Remove Tea Stains From Plastic?

You can also try to use dishwashing detergent.

You can fill your plastic container with hot water, but not too hot that it will damage or melt the plastic.

Then add the dishwashing detergent of your choice.

Use an amount appropriate to the size of the container.

Let the water and detergent sit in the plastic container for about 15 minutes.

You can then rinse the plastic container out.

Does Vinegar Remove Tea Stains From Plastic? 

Finally, you can use white vinegar to remove the tea stains from your plastic container.

Create a mixture of white vinegar and water.

Add the mixture to the tea-stained container and let it soak for at least 30 minutes overnight.

Then wash out the container. 

How Do You Remove Old Tea Stains From Plastic?

If you have had a tea stain on your plastic mug for quite a while, the vinegar method above is going to be your best option.

The soaking process is what will remove the old tea stain.

Are Tea Stains Harmful?

Tea stains contain tannins that will cause discoloration and possibly change the flavor of your future cups of tea if not removed.

However, tea stains are not considered harmful to you.

Even so, it’s best to remove the tea stains as soon as you notice them to ensure a flavorful cup of tea.