By September 7, 2011

How to Clean Your Nasty Stainless Steel Coffee Mug

I’ve owned my incredibly awesomely excellent Thermos King stainless coffee travel mug for over fifteen months now. I went to a coffee shop last week and handed my mug over for an Americano.

“Would you like me to clean your mug?” the lady behind the counter asked.

“Uh, no thank you,” I replied reflexively. It makes me feel lazy and weird when people clean my stuff, especially people I don’t know very well.

When I got home I started thinking about how dirty my mug was. I realized I’d never really cleaned the inside other than a water rinse and occasionally ran a soapy dish scrub brush around in there. I guess it was time to do something about it.

So, here’s how to clean out your nasty stainless steel coffee mug.

This is for travel mugs with a stainless steel body only. Do not use these directions if you have a plastic liner inside of your mug.

  1. You will need dish soap, Jelmar CLR (calcium, lime, rust) or equivalent, hot water, a sponge with an abrasive side, and a dish scrub brush. I never put any part of my coffee mug in the dish washing machine.
  2. Rinse your stainless steel travel mug out with water. Spray a few bursts of CLR inside, and then slowly fill the mug up to the brim with hot water. If you’re extra fancy, use very hot water from an electric water kettle or equivalent.
  3. Clean your lid. You should be doing this on a regular basis. My benchmark is to clean the lid when I start to see or feel debris where I put my mouth. I should probably clean it a little sooner, but hey. See this post if you want to see directions on how to clean the Thermos King’s lid. If it won’t compromise the integrity of your lid, I recommend disassembling it for a deep cleaning.
  4. Let the mug sit for awhile.
  5. Rinse out the CLR with hot, hot water. Apply dish soap to your dish brush and scrub. You may be amazed at the nasty stuff that comes out. Make sure that you wash the mug out very thoroughly since you don’t want to drink any CLR left behind.
  6. Repeat the CLR treatment if necessary. I wasn’t entirely happy with the first round, so I did a second.
  7. Finish up with the sponge, using the the abrasive side. Depending on your level of OCD you may want to scrub off every last stain on the inside of your mug. I still have a few spots on mine, but it was good enough for me.



Not bad for about a minute of work and ten minutes of the mug just sitting there 🙂

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3 Comments on "How to Clean Your Nasty Stainless Steel Coffee Mug"

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  1. Ed says:

    That is a big difference. (begins freaking out about things he hasn’t cleaned but should have)

  2. Nick says:

    A barista at Caribou took one look at my mug, which was completely black on the inside, and handed me a denture tablet. I dropped that in my mug with water, and the next time I looked at it, it was like brand new.

  3. Jenner says:

    There is a product called “dip-it”. It’s a coffee pot cleaner for all kinds of pots. I use the powdered version. I find it in old fashioned general stores or the hugest of supermarkets. One half teaspoon with boiling water, let stand five minutes and rinse. I don’t have to brush or anything. Makes my thermos mug bright and shiny and I can do it every week or so. It also won’t harm the rubber ring. I’m afraid CLR would. You’d also be amazed at what can come off the inside of an apparently clean glass coffee decanter.