Why do I need to read about this?
You just toss it in the dishwasher and forget about it, right?
For some mugs that works just fine.
But if you have one with double wall insulation, you’ll quickly learn that water gets in between the two walls and is a huge pain to get back out. Often it’s impossible and your mug becomes useless.
So what’s the best way to clean your tumbler, then?
I’m glad you asked.
I’ll give you the best way to clean it in general and then some specific cases that may need a bit more rigorous of a cleaning.
How To Clean A Travel Mug
Here’s what works for a basic cleansing of any type of tumbler: rinse out the inside, while getting as little water as possible on the outside. Use some dish soap to scrub the inside lightly with a dish sponge or light scrubber.
If you can’t reach in, use a brush. If you don’t have one that works, there are sets like this one specifically made for tumblers and water bottles.
If the outside is dirty, wipe it down with a damp cloth. That should generally suffice. The important thing is to avoid getting a lot of water on the outside, to reduce the risk that it can seep in between the two walls on a double wall mug.
That is the reason you don’t want to use the dishwasher, even if you have a cup that is dishwasher safe. You also never want to submerge it in water while washing it. For single wall cups, you don’t need to worry about any of this, obviously.
To clean more stubborn stains or to get out smells that aren’t taken care of by using just dish soap, see below.
How To Clean The Lid Of A Travel Mug
An easy way to clean a travel mug lid is to use a toothbrush (or a brush included in a cleaning set like the one mentioned above). Put some dish soap on the brush and scrub dirty parts of the lid.
If this does not get rid of stains or smells, try soaking the lid in a solution of vinegar and baking soda. Disassemble the lid as much as possible, then submerge it in the solution and let is soak for 15 to 30 minutes.
After the soak, use the toothbrush to give it a good scrubbing. Rinse it well to remove all traces of the vinegar solution and let it dry completely. If this does not do the trick, try a product like Oxi Clean. See the section below on removing tea stains for more on that.
How To Get Coffee Stains Out Of Travel Mugs
To get clean tougher stains, like those left by coffee, dish soap will not always suffice. Instead, put 1 or 2 tablespoons of baking soda inside the cup and add 1/2 to 1 cup of vinegar.
You can just use the cheapest baking soda and vinegar you can find. There is no extra benefit to using expensive brands.
Let the mixture foam up and then sit in the cup for 15 to 30 minutes. After a good soak, use a brush that can reach into the cup (like the one included in the set mentioned above) to give problem areas a good scrubbing.
The lid will need extra care. Follow the instructions in the previous section for that.
If the coffee stains are not coming out, see the next section for some advanced options.
How To Get Tea Stains Out Of Travel Mugs
To remove tea stains, follow the instructions in the previous section. If those do not work, it is time to get tougher on those stains, be they tea or coffee or something else.
One option is to use ordinary denture cleaning tablets. Drop a couple into the cup and let them attack the stains. I have never used this method myself, but it is supposed to work well. The reason I have not tried it is because I do not have any denture cleaner handy, while I do have the next product in my home.
That product is Oxi Clean (or a similar stain remover). I know it is meant for laundry, but it works to remove stains from anything, really. In fact, I have never used it for my laundry, but use it all the time to clean my sinks and to remove stains from dishes.
Simply add a tablespoon to the inside of your mug and fill it up with water. Let it sit overnight and the stains will all be gone by morning. Make sure to rinse it out well. For the lid, simply leave it overnight in a bowl of the same solution.
How To Clean Stainless Steel Travel Mugs
Cleaning a metal mug is actually exactly the same as cleaning other types of mugs. Sometimes stainless steel coffee mugs are thinner and longer, which makes it hard to get inside them and scrub them clean. You can use a toothbrush for the sides, but getting the bottom is harder.
A specialized brush like the type included in the cleaning set mentioned above work the best. Personally, I don’t even bother scrubbing. I just soak it overnight in Oxi Clean as described in the previous section. Then you just need to rinse it out and you’re good to go.
How To Get The Stale Coffee Smell Out Of My Travel Mug
This problem is most prevalent with plastic travel mugs, but can happen with any other type as well. Usually with other types, the coffee smell is coming from the plastic lid. If you drink your coffee with milk and/or sugar, the smell will likely be even worse.
Luckily, it is easy to get rid of. Simply soak the inside of the cup and the lid in solutions of baking soda and vinegar as described above. If that does not work, try Oxi Clean. That procedure is also described above.
My Travel Mug Smells Like Mold
The moldy smell results from not letting your mug dry out completely. To remove the smell of mold, simply follow the instructions in the previous section for removing a coffee smell.
My Travel Mug Tastes Like Soap
If your tumbler tastes like soap, you simply need to rinse it out better. Often, it is the lid that was not rinsed well, so take extra care with it and the soapy smell should soon be gone.
If rinsing does not get rid of it, use a vinegar and baking soda solution to soak the inside of the cup and the lid for 30 minutes or so, then rinse. And, of course, stop using that brand of soap in the future.
How To Clean A Contigo Autoseal Travel Mug
The main difference between a Contigo Autoseal mug and a standard one is in the lid. The Contigo lid is more complex, but they did try to make cleaning as easy as possible.
You will see a tab that says push to clean. Push that (bet you never would have thought of that, right!) to flip up the inside section, making it easier to reach everything. You can now simply wash it in the top rack of a dishwasher.
If you are dealing with tougher stains that won’t come out in the dishwasher, follow our method from above to give the lid a deeper cleaning. The method described for the rest of the cup works for Contigo as well.
You can use the same brush set we mentioned above or any brush you already have that works for the purpose. If you prefer, Contigo also makes their own set of brushes specifically tailored for their products. You can find those here.
Here is a video that shows you hot to clean the Contigo lid:
How To Clean OXO Good Grips Liquiseal Travel Mug
You clean this tumbler using the same method described above. The only possible difference is that the lid has two sections. To make cleaning easier, you want to separate the two parts of the lid first, by holding the bottom part with one hand, while turning the to part counter-clockwise with the other.
Proper Use To Avoid Having To Clean
The easiest way to clean your mug is not having to do it in the first place. Of course, you will always want to give it the occasional deep cleaning, but if you handle it with the proper care, that will be required much less often.
Rinse your mug and lid after each use. If the lid can be shut, make sure it is open so that the water can run through the drinking hole.
Always store the tumbler without the lid, so that the insides can dry out and not get moldy.
One thing you don’t want to do is clean your travel mug with bleach. It is simply too harsh. Not only could it be harmful to your health, it is also likely to damage the color and design of your tumbler.