11 Ways To Remove Coffee Taste From Plastic

how to remove coffee taste from plastic

Plastic is prone to absorbing smells and flavors and can introduce these flavors and smells to food and drinks. Plastic as a material is widely used for kitchen equipment and utensils such as plastic cups, plastic coffee makers, plastic canisters, coffee scoops, and travel mug lids.

Coffee contains oils and complex compounds that give it its distinct aroma and flavor. The coffee tannins, oils, and other complex compounds tend to stick to surfaces leading to coffee stains and residual coffee smell and taste especially in coffee cups, travel mugs, canisters, and scoops. So, how do you get the coffee taste out of plastic?

Before commencing the procedure to remove the coffee taste from plastic, first, clean the plasticware with warm soapy water to remove any coffee residues. These procedures not only get the coffee taste out of plastic but also remove the yellow stains that may be present in the plasticware.

1. Using Cafiza to Remove the Taste of Coffee From Plastic

Cafiza is a cleaning agent for espresso coffee makers but also works magic on other kitchenware. It, however, requires very thorough rinsing. Add one part cafiza cleaner to 30 parts of warm water in a large bowl or bucket.

Soak the plasticware for half a day. Rinse the plasticware under fresh running water until all the cleaning agent is removed. Dry the plasticware. Cafiza removes yellow stains from plastic as well as the coffee smell, and taste.

2. White Vinegar to Get the Taste of Coffee Out of Plastic

Mix white vinegar with equal parts of water (1:1) and soak the plastic parts of your tools overnight. Remember to also soak the plastic lid of your travel mug or canister.

To get rid of the vinegar residues, rinse thoroughly under fresh running water. Vinegar is an excellent descaler and removes the smell and taste of coffee from the plastic as well as the yellow stains.

2. Use Baking Soda to Get Rid of the Coffee Taste

Baking soda is a great absorbent for odors. When using baking soda to get the coffee taste out of plastic, mix one cup of baking soda with 2-3 cups of hot water in a large bowl and soak the plastics preferably overnight.

Scrub some baking soda against stubborn coffee stains with a nylon brush or a soft sponge. Rinse the plastic under running water and leave it to dry.

Here is a separate guide on how to clean coffee stains from stainless steel.

3. Lemon Juice

Lemon juice not only gets rid of the coffee taste and smell from plastic but also imparts a fresh citrusy aroma. A mixture of lemon juice and baking soda makes an excellent home-made air freshener.

Applying some lemon juice on the stains and then rubbing with salt will remove the coffee stains from the plastic cup or the plastic lid of your travel mug.

To remove the coffee flavor and smell from plastic using lemon juice, roll 2-3 whole lemons on a cutting board to soften the skin and inner membranes. Cut the lemons into halves and squeeze out the fresh juice into a bowl.

Add one cup of warm water and soak the plastic for 4-6 hours. Rinse the plastic under running water and air-dry it upside-down. You can also rub lemon peels on the coffee stains to remove them.

For very stubborn stains, apply and soak fresh lemon juice on the coffee stains for 10-20 minutes and scrub with salt.

Alternatively, boil lemon quarters and leave the mixture to cool. Pour the warm solution to fill the plastic cups or travel mug and soak the lid separately. Rinse after 4-6 hours and air-dry the plasticware.

4. Sterilizing Fluid

Sterilizing fluid such as Milton sterilizing fluid is a type of diluted bleach with 2% sodium hypochlorite and common salt as the main ingredients.

Sterilizing fluid is meant for cleaning weaning bottles for babies but you can also use it to clean fruits and vegetables as well as removing the coffee taste from plastic. The fluid kills bacteria and fungi and leaves no smells or aftertaste, unlike white vinegar.

Add five liters of water to a large bowl and one capful (30ml) of the sterilizing fluid. Soak the plasticware including the plastic travel mug and cups for at least 15 minutes.

Soaking for longer yields better results. Rinse the plastics with fresh water.

5. Charcoal

Charcoal is a great absorbent for bad odors and can remove both the coffee smell and coffee taste from your plastic equipment. Add crushed charcoal, lump charcoal, or charcoal briquettes to the plastic cup or travel mug and close the lid. Leave the charcoal inside overnight. Clean the cups with dishwashing soap and rinse thoroughly.

Lump charcoal is natural and contains no additives, unlike briquettes. Activated charcoal is more porous and absorbs odors and moisture much better than briquettes and lump charcoal.

6. Denture Tablets

Denture tablets primarily remove stains including coffee stains from teeth but can also work with kitchenware and appliances. Denture tablets contain citric acid that gets rid of stains, sodium bicarbonate that alkalizes water, and a cleaning and bleaching agent among other ingredients.

Dental tablets not only get rid of the coffee taste from plastic but also remove odors and yellow stains. Put two tablets into a bowl and add warm water. Soak the plastics overnight. Clean with dishwashing soap and rinse with fresh tap water.

7. Cleaning Tablets

Cleaning tablets for bottles and utensils remove the coffee oils, stains, and odors from plastics leaving them clean and fresh. Add two bottle tablets to warm water and soak the plasticware for at least four hours. Rinse the plastics and leave them to air-dry.

8. Vodka

Vodka is widely used to remove undesirable odors from clothes, furniture, upholstery, and some kitchenware. Pour some undiluted vodka into the plastic cup and cover the cup before shaking to wet the inner sides of the cup with vinegar.

Alternatively, pour undiluted vodka into a spray bottle and spray inside the plasticware until it’s soaked in vodka. Leave the plasticware for at least 15 minutes and rinse under running water.

You may also wash the plasticware with dishwashing soap to get rid of the smell of vodka.

9. Cinnamon

Boil crushed cinnamon or cinnamon sticks and soak the plastic to remove the coffee taste and smell. Cinnamon imparts fresh smells into the plasticware.

10. Clorox

Clorox bleach sanitizes and removes coffee odor, stains, and flavors from plastic cups and canisters. Add one tablespoon of Clorox to a gallon of water and soak the plastic ware for not more than 10 minutes.

Plastics can absorb the strong smell of Clorox if soaked for too long. Wash the plasticware in running water until the smell of Clorox is gone.

Caution: Never mix bleach with other cleaning agents or soaps, especially, cleaners that contain ammonia. The mixture can produce toxic fumes that can be lethal.

11. Sunlight

Air-drying the plasticware under direct sunlight after cleaning can eliminate bacteria that cause bad odors. However, avoid persistently exposing plasticware to extreme heat.

What if the Coffee Taste or Smell Still Lingers in the Plastic?

It’s probably time to replace the plasticware if it still has a coffee taste even after following our cleaning tips. Alternatively, use the plasticware for coffee only and buy other plasticware for the other drinks or food items.

If the plastic lid of your travel mug is still causing your drink to taste or smell like coffee, buy replacement lids and discard the old one.

Quick Tips When Using Plasticware for Coffee

Proper care for the plasticware that you use for coffee ensures that the plasticware stays fresh without imparting coffee tastes or smells when you use it with other drinks.

  1. Rinse the plasticware thoroughly immediately after emptying the coffee
  2. Avoid leaving coffee in your plasticware for too long especially for cups and travel mugs
  3. Avoid causing abrasions on the plasticware as coffee oils are likely to stick on the scratches.
  4. Clean the plasticware with warm soapy water or in the dishwasher at the earliest opportunity. For example, clean the travel mug at the office or immediately you reach home.
  5. Frequently descale the plasticware, for example, once in 3 months for plastic cups and once a month for travel mugs and lids

Wrap up

Plastics absorb the coffee taste and aroma and impart these flavors and smell into new drinks. A proper cleaning routine for your plasticware including frequent descaling can prevent the plastic from acquiring a stubborn coffee taste, smell, and stains.


Patrick is first a coffee lover and then a trained barista. His bucket list includes sky diving and sipping on Java in the Himalayas.

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