• LibraryThing
  • Book discussions
  • Your LibraryThing
  • Join to start using.

Cleaning Tea pots


Join LibraryThing to post.

This topic is currently marked as "dormant"—the last message is more than 90 days old. You can revive it by posting a reply.

Jul 18, 2007, 11:24am Top

I was taught never to wash up tea pots, only ever to rinse them. I bought a new white one last year and it now looks a lovely smooth brown inside but I'm toying with the idea of putting it in the dishwasher as it's a thing of beauty and I want it to look nice. Also some of my colleagues (who must have been taugfht differently) seem to think of it as some sort of health hazard. Any opinions?

Edited: Jul 18, 2007, 11:57am Top

Well if it puts your colleagues off borrowing it, I should carry on as you are. I do notice that my wife's tea cups stain much more than my coffee cups. She soaks them in bleach when they reach a certain state — but then being Scotch she had a Presbyterian upbringing like our new leader.

Jul 18, 2007, 12:19pm Top

You know what works? Polident (those effervescent tablets for cleaning false teeth). Really.

Jul 18, 2007, 1:29pm Top

Baking soda's not bad too.

Jul 18, 2007, 1:36pm Top

I'll second the baking soda. I generally make a paste with some baking soda and a few drops of water and apply it to the tea stains. They come right out, and the baking soda rinses out well, too. I don't know how well it would work on unglazed pots, though.

Jul 18, 2007, 7:30pm Top

Toothpaste also works for cleaning.

For unglazed pots, the pot will pick up the flavor of the tea if you don't clean it. This is generally considered a good thing and one can end up with different pots for different teas.

Jul 18, 2007, 7:44pm Top

I second the Polident. I had a metal "go" coffee cup that was way beyond bad, inserted a Polident tablet, filled it with hot water. This morning it's a brand new cup. I also use Polident to clean vases.

Jul 21, 2007, 12:21pm Top

Wow, I'd have never thought of Polident, very neat idea! Do you reckon it would work on plastic? My teacup is a bodum one, in glass with a plastic perforated holder for tea leaves in the center. I'm afraid Polident would damage the plastic...

Jul 21, 2007, 12:26pm Top

> 8

I've no idea whether it would work on plastic! Why not try it out on something you won't mind damaging, and old plastic cup or the like? And let us know! ;-)

Jul 21, 2007, 1:46pm Top

I have two tea pots, one ceramic one, one made of glass.
I usually only rinse them, but when the brown stains become unsightly (especially in the glass one), I stuff them in the dishwasher. They are dishwasher proof.

I would never use bleach on kitchenware --even in professional kitchens it is not used/allowed here in Germany, as opposed to the UK and USA I think. I was really shocked when my "lady" asked me to clean the tea mugs with bleach, way back when I was an au-pair :-).

I use a scrubbing pad for teflon pots (non-scratching) for tea mugs, because I can actually get my hand inside them. Works fine with removing tea stains.

Edited: Jul 21, 2007, 1:55pm Top

I stopped scrubbing my tea cups: I might have been imagining it, but it seemed to me that scrubbing out the stains would gradually scratch the glazing on the inner surface of the cups and make them accumulate that brown color faster and faster. I threw out a bunch of cups; nowadays I just let my cups soak in baking soda solution.

Jul 21, 2007, 3:10pm Top

The tea stains are usually more a kind of flakes on the surface, if the teapot has a quality glazing. So scrubbing shouldn't harm the surface. I haven't seen any damage yet.

Jul 21, 2007, 3:20pm Top

Baking soda doesn't even require scrubbing - apparently it neutralizes the acid tea stains and the stains lift right off the surface with the baking soda. Soaking with baking soda will do it too.

I used to keep a small plastic container of baking soda in my desk at work to clean my often-used teacup. Once, one of my co-workers found it when looking for something in my desk and thought it was drugs! So maybe keeping baking soda in your desk at work isn't a good idea . . .

Jul 21, 2007, 6:52pm Top

re 13

Well, baking soda is a white powder and, therefore, I suppose, suspect.

You could keep a small container of vinegar as well and, possibly, prove non-drug status by combining a sample of the two together! It would, at least, be entertaining and dramatic.

I have used baking soda to clean several thermoses of coffee stains as well as to clean plastic, ceramic, glass, bone china, ceramic, and stainless, thermal mugs of tea stains.

Baking soda works fine as a fire extinquiser
as well. Have used it that way a few times. I always keep several boxes of baking soda easily available.

Jul 22, 2007, 5:30pm Top

1> ...seem to think of it as some sort of health hazard.

Unless it is moldy you should be just fine. The brown is the mainly tannin from the tea, and there is nothing wrong with that. Tannins are sometimes used as natural preservatives, and a part of a plant's defenses (which don't work very well against people). It is very unlikely that a thin layer of tannin staining your pot or mug is going to harbor any molds or such, possibly the opposite.

So, unless the coloration bothers you, just keep rinsing it out and smile when you tell your colleagues this way you don't have to worry about them borrowing it.

Jul 22, 2007, 11:09pm Top

>8 chlorine: and 9
Trying it out on plastic may help predict and may not. There are many kinds of plastic, with many different properties, including how they react (or don't) to different substances. So, just because it doesn't harm a test piece of plastic doesn't mean it won't harm the basket. And it's unlikely that the type of plastic is indicated anywhere on the basket, unless it's been marked to aid in recycling.


Jul 23, 2007, 3:29am Top

Thanks for all the responses. I'm not sure about the Polident or bleach as I'm worried that they'll leave an aftertaste. I think it might be the dishwasher in the end. It's the philosophical issues that I'm struggling with as well. I used to make my tea in a small blue teapot that was very cheap and is now very brown on the inside and at home I tend to use a Cornish blue that is well used and feels like a friend but for the past year I've been working for a company that actually makes teapots and treated myself to rather a beautiful one and now I feel a tinge of shame that it looks stunning outside (white and sleek but a bit deco like) and mangy and brown inside. Maybe I should ask a psychiatrist if I'm trying to attach (that's not the word but I can't think of the right one) myself to my teapot by being externally impressive, shiny and dynamic whilst remaining soft, friendly and maybe a bit shabby inside?

Jul 23, 2007, 9:29am Top

Does anyone know of any reason, other than aesthetics, for cleaning a teapot? I'm inclined to ignore the inside - it receives boiling water on a regular basis, so I'm not concerned about bacteria.


Jul 23, 2007, 12:55pm Top

re 18

I think it's mostly aesthetics. I use a glass teapot and it does not hold on to many stains.

I have, however, a collection of bone china mugs and they grasp tea stains and hold on. Those I clean regularly. I just can't stand the ugly, brown stuff on the inside of the mugs.

I'm told, although I have never used one, that tea pots without a glaze, absorb the flavor of a paticular tea and will change the taste of another tea if made it the same pot.

I don't know if these pots can be cleaned. If one drinks a variety of teas, one could have a tea pot for every variety of tea--that's a daunting thought--or just get a glazed teapot.

Jul 23, 2007, 4:57pm Top

> 9 and 16

Thanks for the advice.
Actually I think I have somewhere a duplicate of the plastic tea leaves holder, which I kept after breaking another tea pot of the same model. But since I wrote my post I learned that baking soda can be used for this type of cleaning (as somebody else mentioned in this thread), so I'll think I'll try that rather than Polident.

Edited: Jul 28, 2007, 11:56am Top

I think it's mostly aesthetics.

I specifically chose a dark-colored mug (cobalt blue) for work, because it doesn't show the stains. It works pretty well, though next time, I'll probably get a dark brown one :-)

Aug 4, 2007, 6:58pm Top

One trick I tried recently was lemon juice and boiling water. Let it stand for a while. Works quite well.

I might try the Polident on some really stubborn stuff, like my thermos mug. It really needs a good scouring, but my hands are too big.

I do put teapots through the dishwasher, but not very often. As long as you make sure it's well rinsed out, it shouldn't affect the flavour. Obviously you wouldn't do it on an unglazed pot or something like that.

Aug 4, 2007, 8:56pm Top

I don't wash my teapots (tannin stains = flavour!), but I do remove the stains from my bone china mugs using a trick I learned at my local hospice, where I do volunteer work. They keep a spray bottle filled 3/4 with water and 1/4 with bleach next to the sink. When a guest at hospice has finished with their cup, the cup is sprayed, left for a few moments, then placed inside the dishwasher. This helps both to disinfect the cup and to remove stains.

At home, I keep a 1:4 bleach solution on hand just for my bone china mugs. Not having a dishwasher, I carefully rinse the bleach solution out of the mug after a few moments; then I wash the cup very diligently with plenty of soap and hot water. The bleach gives a slick feeling to the cup surface which is very distinctive; I keep washing, washing until it's gone. (And then I wash a little more, to be on the safe side ;-)

Bleach is fantastic for removing tannin stains, but you definitely don't need to use it at full strength!

Aug 5, 2007, 12:06pm Top

I just bought a small bottle brush to clean my teapot's spout. That's the place where I can't seem to get the stain out otherwise. It was very hard to find a small bottle brush! I looked in all kinds of kitchenware stores and housewares stores, department stores and grocery stores with no luck. Online, I found one for $1.49 but the shipping would have been $5.95! So I didn't get that one. Finally, I went to a hardware store to get some painting supplies and thought to look for one there. Et voila! It was about $1-something, and no shipping charges.

Aug 5, 2007, 12:37pm Top

Another place to look for small bottle brushes is in pet stores; they usually have a small brush on one end, and a more standard size on the other. They'd be in the section for small animal care, as they are used to clean their water bottles.

Aug 7, 2007, 8:54am Top

You may also want to look for a bottle brush at a brewery supplier for home brewers. I've also found one at a baby supply store.

27PeterAJones First Message
Aug 24, 2007, 10:05am Top

Clean the inside of a teapot? JUST DON'T!

Sep 19, 2007, 6:43pm Top

I've 3 glass teapots, but I've tried this with the Adagio ingeunitea as well (plastic with a filter): Use a 1/4 scoop of Oxyclean, and fill up the teapot with near boiling water. No really, it works wonders. Let it soak overnight if you can, and it should be just fine and dandy in the morning.

That said, with the Ingeunitea, it also was great for cleaning out the filter too (which looked horribly brown). Make sure though that you wash it out extremely well aftewards!

Sep 27, 2007, 8:49am Top

The tannin stains in the teapot improve and deepen the flavors over time, but I do find many people, especially in todays *AAAAAHHHH A GERM* world freak out if the pot looks unsightly.

Personally I would rather have a deep complex flavor then a good looking inside of a pot.

On a cleaning of various things note: lemon works good for anything you want to "bleach" without the bleach ikk be it clothes or dishes or pretty much anything

Oct 9, 2007, 3:18am Top

I'll admit it. I have two main teapots one for me and a few close friends and one for "company". The company one gets polished with a Magic Eraser and the other one gets a gentle bath from time to time.

Oct 9, 2007, 5:49am Top

#27 and #29: I drink a wide variety of teas, from herbal teas and the lightest Darjeeling to green teas and Assam blends, plus spiced teas and stuff like Earl Grey. So I prefer to have my teapot "virgin" rather than having my Darjeeling with a whiff of Earl Grey or Chai :-). I am not religious about it, but my teapots (one for brewing "floating style", one for serving) get a treatment in the dishwasher every now and then.

Oct 9, 2007, 9:55am Top

Ugh..my new roommate is a freak about not leaving dirty dishes in the sink. She saw my teapot nearby and washed it! With soap and water! GAK!

Oct 9, 2007, 6:52pm Top

>30 Ferox:
My 'company' pot is a dark brown ceramic, so it's pretty well camouflaged. My personal pot is white porcelain (though it's no longer white on the inside).


Oct 18, 2007, 10:28am Top

Seething with rage.

I have a new colleague (since last Monday) who is also english and has come over to work and has joined our little afternoon tea group (now 3!). I just went to make the tea now only to discover that without discussion he has washed the teapot, fortunately only with water and a brush, but it is too much....

....he'll have to go!

Oct 18, 2007, 10:58am Top

Once in a very long time, our largest ("company") teapot migrates into the cupboard, fully drained but with the teabags still in it... which makes for a very interesting "tea" the next time you look into it.

On those rare occasions, you can bet I give it a wash!

Jan 8, 2008, 12:43pm Top

White Vinegar.
Soak 10 minutes, wipe out.

For pots you can not get into, salt & ice cubes.

I don't think it's a hazard, but I can't see how it adds flavor, either.

I have a white cup at work that I only use for tea that has a nice, brown patina. When my co-workers are revulsed, I just say, "You can't clean a tea cup! It's like a toilet! It'll lose all of it's character! When Barry Manilow Wrote 'Mandy', no way was he sitting on a clean loo!"
/obscure reference


Jul 14, 2008, 10:34pm Top

What would you suggest for those who have tea kettles that get lime-build-up even when only using filtered water? Is there some magic solution for that?

Jul 14, 2008, 11:08pm Top

If it's really lime, then the classic treatment is vinegar. If a plain soak in vinegar doesn't do it, then (carefully) try boiling vinegar. The heat helps the chemical reaction that breaks down the lime, making the vinegar a stronger "solvent" so-to-speak.

Rinse well afterward, obviously. You don't want vinegar-flavored tea!

Jul 15, 2008, 5:51am Top

i wash my teapot and my tea cups...and...hhhh.....other people's tea cups at work..the few of us that drink tea.
touch of OCD. ;-)

Jul 16, 2008, 1:55pm Top

Baking soda is my miracle cleaner for almost anything. It gets the tea stains out of my white porcelain kitchen sink and also out of my tea pot. For mineral buildup in my electric kettle, I fill it about 10/90 vinegar/water and flip it on to boil. Then I let it sit all day and rinse it well the next. Clears it right up.

My philosophy is that if baking soda and/or vinegar doesn't work to get something clean, it's supposed to have a patina!

Sep 8, 2008, 11:02am Top

some people think that you should never clean a teapot as it adds to the flavour. A friend of mine's grandma hasn't cleaned hers for something like 70 years! He won't drink any other tea!

Sep 21, 2008, 11:53pm Top

As for #10
My mother was a dietary supervisior for a nursing home. She was taught that the brown tannin in coffee and tea pots gives mold and mildew a foot hold into the pot. Although placing hot water into the pot may kill some of the spores the thicker the coating the deeper the spores can go. The smooth sides of the pot prevent this. To clean them they were to rinse out the pots with hot water then wipe the inside out with a towel wrapped around a bottle brush. They put them into the dish washer to sterilize them once a month.

Sep 22, 2008, 10:31am Top

Re small bottle brush for spout (#24):
I just found out that bottle brushes for baby bottles often have a twist-off top of the handle containing a small brush. I think you're suppose to clean the nipple with it, but it works fine on spouts too.

Sep 28, 2008, 11:49am Top

Makes perfect sense, and that is a concern in a nursing home where immune systems are weaker.

Perhaps for healthy adults, this would be a good way to be exposed to attenuated spores and actually improve our immune systems. I think the new "everything must be sterile" attitude may be more harmful than good.

I have no freakin' idea- just a thought.


Sep 28, 2008, 3:19pm Top

Washing Teapots and Cups with anything other than very hot water, or using plastic in any part of the preparation of a cuppa is just blasphemy.

Sep 28, 2008, 4:19pm Top

I think you may be right about seniors immunity vs. those of a healthy adult.
I'm not a fan of "Anti-Bactirial" fad that is going on. Still I always clean my pot with hot water and don't allow a build up .

Group: Tea!

1,999 members

7,353 messages


This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.


No touchstones

You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 114,444,489 books! | Top bar: Always visible