How To Remove Coffee Stains From Stainless Steel

Coffee is notorious for staining all manner of surfaces and equipment and stainless steel is not safe from coffee stains. Tea and coffee contain tannins (organic substances) that stick to surfaces and discolor them.

Discarding old coffee into a stainless steel sink causes a temporary discoloration that becomes stubborn when it’s not cleaned promptly. Stainless steel percolators, carafes, and travel mugs that are used with coffee or tea develop stains that are yellowish or brownish over time.

Coffee stains not only invade the stainless steel parts of the travel mugs and coffee pots but also the plastic lids. Coffee percolators and tumblers also become stinky over time.

The stained stainless steel travel mugs and pots are likely to introduce off-flavors and smell when used with other types of drinks such as milk.

Therefore, when removing coffee stains from stainless steel, especially for coffee percolators, pots, and coffee tumblers, use a cleaning method that also removes the smell and the residual taste of the coffee.

how to remove coffee stains from stainless steel sink

How To Remove Coffee Stains From A Stainless Steel Sink

Materials: 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup white vinegar, liquid dishwashing soap, a spray bottle, a soft sponge, a toothbrush a bowl


  1. Clean the sink basin with soapy water and remove any food residues from the drain strainer
  2. Mix a half-cup baking soda and 1 cup of vinegar in a bowl and let it fizz
  3. Soak the sink’s stopper and strainer in the mixture for 5 minutes
  4. Add 1 cup undiluted vinegar to the spray bottle and spray on the sink and wait for 10 minutes
  5. Meanwhile, use the sponge to clean the sink’s strainer and stopper that you soaked before. Scoop some of the baking soda in the bowl to scrub the stubborn stains. Scrub with the toothbrush in the crevices and holes.
  6. Scoop some of the baking soda with the sponge and gently scrub the sink along the grain of the stainless steel
  7. Run the water to rinse the sink, the strainer, and the stopper
  8. If there are stubborn stains, repeat the process but leave the sink to soak longer before scrubbing
  9. Add 10 pieces or more ice cubes to the drain, run the water and switch on the sink disposal until the ice is gone. The ice cleans the blades of the sink disposal. Throw in some lemon peels or old lemon slices down the sink drain to freshen the garbage disposal
  10. Rinse and dry the sink

How to Remove Coffee Stains From a Stainless Steel Travel Mug

how to remove coffee stains from a stainless steel tumbler
Starbucks tumbler

Stainless steel is one of the most preferred materials for coffee mugs as it is durable, has a high resistance to thermal shock, and is neutral. Most travel mugs including the Yeti and Starbucks tumbler have a stainless steel interior and a plastic cap.

When the drink moves up and down in the mug as you travel, the coffee tannins and oils stick to the cap. The lid and the interior of the mug discolor over time.

Materials: 1 cup baking soda, a nylon brush, hot water


  1. Rinse the mug in water to remove coffee particles
  2. Add a half-cup baking soda into the travel mug and fill the mug with hot water
  3. Cover with the lid and wait for 2-4 hours or overnight depending on how stubborn the coffee stains are
  4. Empty the stainless steel mug and rinse it under tap water
  5. Use the nylon brush or a faucet sprayer to spray any gunk that is still left in the mug and dry the mug

How to Remove Coffee Stains From a Stainless Steel Coffee Pot

how to remove coffee stains from a stainless steel pot

Materials: A nylon brush, hot water and a cleaning agent such as baking soda, denture tablets or dishwashing tablets.


  1. Empty the coffee pot and rinse it to remove coffee residues
  2. Add the cleaning agent (one cup of baking soda or 1 dishwashing tablet or 2 denture tablets) into the coffee pot.
  3. Add boiling water to fill the stainless steel pot and cover with the lid
  4. Wait for 2-4 hours or longer for persistent stains
  5. Empty the pot and rinse with tap water
  6. Spray with a faucet sprayer or scrub along the grain with a nylon brush to remove the remaining stains
  7. Rinse the pot until no more bubbles are forming and dry it

How to Remove Coffee Stains From a Stainless Steel Coffee Percolator

An old-school coffee maker is great for camping as well as making old-fashioned coffee at home. The percolator’s cover, as well as the basket assembly (the stem, grounds basket, and the basket’s lid), tend to stain pretty fast because of the steam that is generated when brewing coffee.

Materials: A nylon brush, baking soda, water


  1. Remove the grounds basket and the lid
  2. Add 1/2 cup of baking soda into the percolator
  3. Add water to the maximum fill line
  4. Put the basket back and add 1/2 cup of baking soda to the grounds basket
  5. Cover the basket and the percolator
  6. Switch the percolator on or place it on a stove-top if it’s not electric
  7. Wait for the water to boil
  8. Switch the percolator off or remove it from the stove in the case of a stovetop percolator
  9. Leave the percolator to soak in the mixture of boiled water and baking soda for 20-30 minutes
  10. Empty the percolator and remove the lid and the basket assembly
  11. Rinse all the percolator parts including the carafe with tap water and agitate with the nylon brush in the case of stubborn stains
  12. Dry the percolator

Does your plastic drinkware have a stubborn coffee flavor? Read our guide on how to remove coffee taste and stains from plastic.

Why Does Stainless Steel Stain?

Stainless steel is a marketing gimmick as stainless steel is stain-resistant but not stain-proof so don’t expect your stainless steelware to remain spotless. However, with proper care and cleaning, your stainless steel appliances and equipment can last longer.

Stainless steel is easy to clean and domestic detergents are unlikely to damage it. It also has a high resistance to fire and gives smooth and shiny surfaces.

Proper Care For Stainless Steel Coffee Pots and Tumblers

  1. Avoid using abrasive cleaning aids that can scratch the metal. A microfiber sponge or fabric is the best choice when wiping stainless steel
  2. Wipe along the grain of the stainless steel for easier and thorough cleaning. The grain in stainless steel is the thread-like faint lines that run in one direction
  3. Polish the outside of the coffee pot or mug with olive oil after cleaning for a shiny finish. Add two drops of olive oil to a sponge and wipe down the stainless steel surface
  4. Avoid leaving coffee or tea overnight in the mug or pot. Daily cleaning with warm soapy water prevents the build-up of slime and stubborn stains


Stainless steel is not stain proof hence the reason that it stains from coffee and tea. Stainless steel is easy to clean and does not require special chemicals to remove stains.

Domestic cleaning agents are safe to use with stainless steel. Baking soda and vinegar are very effective when removing coffee stains from stainless steel. Polishing stainless steel surfaces with olive oil gives a magnificent finish.


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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