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A Clean Break


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May 29, 2011, 6:43am Top

A mention in another thread of scouring old tea residues from a cup prompts the following:

I follow the minimalist school of washing up when it comes to mugs for tea, of which I almost exclusively prefer green and oolong varieties, with some lapsang souchong. About five mugs full per day. This usually results, after a few days, in a dark (eventually crusty) deposit.

I find some mugs rather more prone to this than others, and ... worse ... some mugs are subsequently harder to clean. This is presumably related to the chemical composition and smoothness of the glaze used in the mug. Scouring - an aggressive mechanical process - is likely to cause physical damage to the glaze, in particular making it rougher.

I usually eventually resort to household bleach, using a few hours of soaking in a diluted aqueous solution but with some health-aware unease which leads to several rinses and washcloth rubbings.

It would be good to find mugs/cups with a glaze optimised for cleaning, but I can just picture the faces of shop assistants after such a question is asked. Perhaps an approach to an upmarket tea blending company is called for, although somehow I doubt whether such would have access to adequate research facilities.

Any suggestions? A Nobel Prize awaits!

May 29, 2011, 3:00pm Top

do you rinse your cup in between uses? I understand not washing it all the way, but perhaps even a little rinse can help....

also, I work in a restaurant and we use a product called "dip it" to clean our coffee and tea makers....it is really fabulous and gets out all the scum. We usually just pour some in about once a week and let it soak overnight, and by morning everything is shiny, sparkly clean. Maybe try soaking your cups in it that place of the bleach? I'm sure its also some toxic but at least its formulated to be used on cookware, so you can feel some better about it.


May 29, 2011, 3:04pm Top

Try Polident. Seriously. (Another thread on the subject.

May 29, 2011, 4:03pm Top

I recommend oxobrite/oxiclean/etc. Sodium carbonate or percarbonate based things.

I looked up the ingredients of polident and it's 11% sodium carbonate plus 10% sodium perborate so I would expect that it would work well though I've not tried it.

May 29, 2011, 6:59pm Top

#2> I don't rinse, because I go straight from one cup to the next. At the end of the day, yes, I rinse it and put it back on my desk. I hate coming into work to a cold cup of tea. Yuk.

I scour my mug with salt - in a wet cup, just dump in a teaspoon or two, and then scour away with your fingers. It can take a few goes (if the cup is seriously crusty, a hot water soak in between also helps). My workmate gave me the tip, she learnt it while at boarding school. (It's also a good exfollient, my hands always feel smooth afterwards as well. ;)

You must rinse your mug thoroughly afterwards, however, because salty tea is an acquired taste.

May 29, 2011, 7:32pm Top

Salty tea? Not for me!

May 30, 2011, 11:34am Top

Thanks, everyone!

It turns out that 'Dip-It' isn't sold outside the US (probably a trademark dispute as there's a craft toy of this name over here), but I'll try the sodium carbonate hint. This is available here cheaply by the kg, as 'washing soda'. If that isn't good on its own then I'll try the commercial products. Carbonate is fairly harmless, I believe.

May 30, 2011, 4:28pm Top

I've got sparkling results with whitening toothpaste.

May 31, 2011, 1:12am Top

Baking powder works like a charm for me.

Jun 1, 2011, 1:44am Top

Am I the only one who uses Ajax? Make sure to rinse twice, though...

Jun 3, 2011, 11:10am Top

I drop one of those denture cleaning tablets into a mug full of water from time to time to break up that stains and residue that forms. It’s easy, no fuss and I assume perfectly safe since it is made to be used on someone’s dentures.

Jun 4, 2011, 12:39pm Top

>10 Yamanekotei:

I've avoided using abrasive cleaners since I would expect them eventually to attack the glaze, and I would expect a rougher glaze to get stained more quickly.

Have you noticed any deterioration over time?

Jun 4, 2011, 5:22pm Top

>12 CliffordDorset: CliffordDorset

Not that I noticed... I don't scrub with steel wire ponpon, nor Scotch-Brite scrub. I usually use microfiber mesh (?) sponge on the inside of the cup only. Don't scrub on the rim of the cup if it has silver/gold line. It WILL destroy the decoration.

Jun 9, 2011, 7:51am Top

Just to report that my experiments show that Washing Soda (sodium carbonate), made up to a concentration of about 5% (w/w) using hot water works very well if I let the solution stand for about 24 hours. Light rubbing removes the brown deposit. I expect to be able to get many clean cups out of each solution.

Sodium carbonate is more environment-friendly than bleach, I believe.

Group: Tea!

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