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How to remove tea stains quickly and easily

Spilled tea on your favourite top (or worse, the carpet)? Don’t panic. Here’s what to do.


Reading Time: 7 minutes

By Cleanipedia Team

T-shirt with a tea stain
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Whether you’re a darjeeling fan or just love a good ol’ builder’s brew, if you enjoy a morning cuppa you’re going to need to know how to remove tea stains. The odd spillage is a fact of life, but luckily it doesn’t have to ruin your day. Here’s what to do.... 

Remember – before using any stain removal technique or product, check the care label on your garment first. Only use hot water if the label says it’s OK to do so. If something is dry clean only, keep it well away from water. 

If possible, test on a small, hidden area of the fabric first, just in case. 

Watch our video or follow our easy step-by-step guide.

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How to get tea stains out of clothes

Just spilled your cuppa? Act quick before the stain sets. 

1. Rinse as much of the tea out as possible.

Rinsing a stained white garment under running water
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2. Soak the garment in some warm water, with a dash of stain remover. Check the bottle or packet to see how much you need.

3. Take the garment out after an hour and wash it in a washing machine as normal.  

Don’t have any stain remover handy? Try the following method instead:

1. Pour warm water onto the stain slowly, so that it runs through to the other side. Keep doing this for at least 15 seconds.  

2. Rub a few drops of laundry detergent directly onto both sides of the tea stain. Keep rubbing until it lathers.  

3. Rinse the detergent out.

4. Throw the garment in a washing machine and wash as normal.

How do you remove old tea stains from clothes?

If your favourite shirt has come out of the wash with a stubborn tea stain still on it, all is not lost. You can fight the stain with white vinegar.

1. Mix together equal amounts of white vinegar, laundry powder and water until you have a paste (you’ll need about two tablespoons of each).

Teaspoon coming out of a jug containing a mixture of white vinegar, laundry powder and water

2. Use an old toothbrush to work the paste into the stain. If your garment can’t take being brushed (e.g. because it’s woollen or delicate), just use a clean white cloth or your fingers.

Using a toothbrush to apply a stain-removing paste to a white garment

3. Rinse the paste off.  

4. Repeat if the stain is still very noticeable.  

5. Wash in a machine as normal.  

6. You can also use baking soda (aka bicarbonate of soda) to remove tea stains on clothes.  

7. First, wet the garment with warm water.  

8. Pour a teaspoon of baking soda on the stain and rub it into the fabric.  

9. Leave it for at least an hour before rinsing it off.

Now you know how to remove tea stains from clothes, let’s move on to carpets…

How to remove tea stains from carpet

Let’s face it, a stain on a t-shirt is annoying. But a stain on carpet can be disastrous (especially if it’s not your carpet). 

Some carpets can be scrubbed with hot water and carpet cleaner, but not all. So do check before you try cleaning yours. 100 per cent wool carpets can fade if you wash them, so take care. 

And we certainly don’t recommend that you try removing a stain on an antique silk rug – leave that to the professionals. 

1. Try to soak up as much of the tea as possible with some kitchen towel or a clean cloth.

A sheet kitchen paper soaking up a stain on a carpet

2. Mix a little carpet cleaner with some warm water (check the bottle to find out the quantity you need.)

3. Scrub the stain with a clean cloth or sponge. Keep rinsing the sponge in the water/carpet cleaner solution. Work towards the middle of the stain, rather than outwards, to avoid spreading the stain.  

4. Empty your bowl and refill it with warm water.  

5. Rewash the stain with the water, to get as much of the carpet cleaner out as you can.  

6. Blot as much of the water up as possible with a clean towel.  

7. Leave the carpet to dry.

Don’t have any carpet cleaner? Try making your own stain-beating solution using a tablespoon of white vinegar diluted in a cup of warm water.  

1. As above, soak as much of the tea up as you can before you start trying to clean it.  

2. Then dab the stain with your homemade stain remover.

3. Leave it to sit for 10 minutes.

4. Scrub it with a sponge or clean cloth, working in towards the middle of the stain.

5. Rinse the vinegar solution off using warm water and the sponge.  

6. Blot as much of the water up as you can.  

7. Leave it to dry.  

The methods above should get rid of the stain, but if not, it’s time to call in the professionals. 

Removing tea stains from upholstery

Spilled tea on your sofa? We’ve all been there. As with carpets, not all upholstery fabrics can be washed, so do check the care label. 

And we do suggest that you try any stain removal solutions on a hidden area first, just in case. 

1. First, blot as much of the tea up as you can, using kitchen towels or an old cloth. Keep moving the cloth and pressing down, but be careful that you don’t accidentally transfer any of the tea to another area.

A sheet of kitchen paper being used to dab a stain on a cushion

2. If you have an upholstery cleaner, mix a dash of that with water, as directed on the label. Otherwise, mix together one tablespoon of washing up liquid, one tablespoon of white vinegar and one cup of lukewarm water. 

3. Dip a clean sponge or white cloth (an old white t-shirt is ideal) into your stain-busting solution. Rub the stain gently. 

4. Keep rinsing the cloth in the solution and rubbing the stain until it’s faded. 

5. Refill your bowl with warm water and sponge the stain to remove as much of the solution as possible. Repeat as necessary. 

6. Blot up as much of the water as you can. 

7. Leave it to dry.

Do tea stains wash out?

If you spill tea on your top and put it straight in the wash, you might be able to avoid a stain. 

But tea contains tannins, which usually leave a brown mark, so we recommend treating with stain remover before washing. If you decide to risk it, and your top still has a noticeable stain, try to tackle it before it dries. Once it ‘sets’, it’ll be much harder to get rid of. 

Person puring tea into a mug

How do you get tea stains out of cups?

If you wash up by hand, your favourite mug may well get a bit stained. Thankfully, it’s easy enough to remove tea stains from mugs and cups

How to remove tea stains from walls?

Removing tea stains from walls can be done with a few simple steps. Start by mixing a solution of warm water and mild dish soap or a gentle all-purpose cleaner. Dampen a clean cloth or sponge with the solution and gently blot the stained area, working from the outside towards the center. Avoid scrubbing vigorously to prevent damaging the paint or wallpaper. Rinse the cloth or sponge frequently and continue blotting until the stain is lifted. If the stain persists, you can try using a diluted solution of white vinegar and water. Remember to test any cleaning solution on a small, inconspicuous area of the wall before applying it to the stain.

What about coffee stains?

Prefer a flat while or Americano to tea? We hear you. However, old coffee stains can be treated in much the same way as tea stains. You can find out more about tackling coffee stains in our guide .

Originally published