How Do You Get The Coffee Smell Out Of A Mug?

Have you ever noticed that your coffee starts to taste a little bit strange after a while, especially if you use the same mug every time? That is because coffee mugs retain the smell of coffee, no matter how many times you wash them. There is a distinct lingering odor that refuses to go away. So, how do you get the coffee smell out of a mug?

There are a few ways to get rid of the coffee smell in a mug: filling it up with filtered water, adding a tablespoon of baking soda, and letting it sit in the kitchen sink overnight. You can also make an abrasive paste out of water and baking soda and give your mug a good scrub down.

Most people across the globe depend on a cup of coffee to get their day started. The last thing you need in the morning is a foul-smelling and tasting cup of joe! This article will discuss various ways to get rid of that old coffee smell in your mug once and for all!

How To Get Rid Of The Stale Coffee Smell In A Mug

Whether you enjoy your coffee in stainless steel, porcelain, ceramic, melamine, or plastic mug, the smell of coffee has a way of sticking around longer than you want it to.

Before we get started, it is important to know why the coffee smell remains in your mug, even after you have washed it over and over. If we know what causes it, we can prevent it next time. After all, prevention is better than cure!

What Causes The Smell Of Coffee To Linger In A Mug

There are a few reasons why the smell of coffee remains in your mug, such as;

You Did Not Clean It Properly

Many of us simply rinse our coffee mugs before making a new cup. While it may look clean, the leftover residue is still there, even though you don’t see it.

Over time the residue builds up, and even if we give it a good scrub now and then, we can’t remove everything. There is always an invisible layer of residue that clings on for dear life! The build-up slowly accumulates and eventually decomposes, hence the dead coffee smell. Yuck!

You Have Allowed The Coffee To Sit In The Mug For Too Long

In our busy lives, especially while we are at work, the opportunity to finish our entire cup of coffee does not always present itself. Sometimes we are called into a meeting or get so caught up in a task that we forget to drink our coffee altogether.

When we eventually get back to our desk, the coffee is cold and unappealing. So, we do what we always do; we carry on with our work until teatime when we simply rinse out our mugs and pour in more coffee.

Sometimes we even forget to rinse our mugs before we go home and return to a stale, moldy mug the next morning. It is normal to think that a bit of dish soap and a sponge will do the trick, but unfortunately, it does not remove all the built-up coffee residue.

You Did Not Follow The Manufacturer’s Cleaning Instructions

The cleaning instructions help to extend the life of a mug. It will tell you whether it is dishwasher-safe or hand-wash only. Sometimes the cleaning instructions also stipulate at which temperature to clean it.

Failing to follow the care instructions can lead to poor cleaning. Eventually, the mug will obtain abrasions and scratches, creating the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and even more residue build-up.

This is because not all mugs are made from the same materials. If you were to scrub a melamine mug with an abrasive sponge, eventually, you would scrub off the protective layer (enamel), making the mug porous on the inside.

Over time, tiny coffee molecules fill these little holes, and after a while, no cleaning agent in the world will get that smell out of your mug. Then, the only thing you can do is throw out the mug and replace it with a new one.

Effective Ways To Get The Coffee Smell Out Of Your Mug

Now that we know what causes this unpleasant coffee smell in our mugs, we can look for solutions. I want to share some highly effective, tried, and trusted methods that you can try using ingredients from your kitchen and liquor cabinet. Let’s get cleaning!

Water & Vinegar Solution

Vinegar is a deodorizing agent and natural disinfectant. Prepare the following solution;

What You Need

  • A large plastic bowl (or you can use the kitchen sink)
  • Vinegar (apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar will do the trick)
  • Boiling water


  1. Boil water to fill the bowl or kitchen sink.
  2. Add the vinegar to the boiling water (1/2 cup of vinegar for every 4 cups of water).
  3. Place your mug in the solution and leave it to sit overnight.
  4. Wash your mug with dish soap and hot water in the morning and rinse it well.


Vodka might be perfect with orange juice, lemonade, or on the rocks with a slice of lime, but it is also great at getting that awful coffee smell out of your mug. This method works well for travel mugs with lids.

The alcohol in the vodka is a less-polar solvent and removes the coffee oil build-up on the inside walls of the mug.

What You Need

  • 1 x Shot of Vodka


  1. Wash and dry your travel mug.
  2. Measure and pour one shot of vodka into the mug, close the lid, and shake and swirl the vodka around vigorously for about one minute or more, depending on the condition of the mug.

Denture Cleaning Tablets

Don’t worry, we also thought this was a rather strange solution, but it turned out to be very effective. If you do not have denture cleaning tablets, don’t hesitate to borrow a few from your parents or grandparents (only if they wear dentures, of course).

What You Need

  • 2 x Denture cleaning tablets (or more if the coffee smell is strong)
  • Tap water
  • Lukewarm water


  1. Fill your mug with ordinary tap water.
  2. Place two or more denture cleaning tablets into the mug, and leave it to sit overnight.
  3. In the morning, rinse the mug thoroughly with lukewarm water. The smell should be gone!


Newspaper is wonderful for getting the coffee smell out of a mug. Yes, it turns out newspapers are not just for reading about events around the globe! Newspaper dries the inside of the mug and absorbs the coffee smell.

What You Need

  • Dish detergent (mild)
  • Warm water
  • Newspaper


  1. Wash your mug thoroughly with mild dish detergent and lukewarm water. Do not dry the mug.
  2. Crumple up a newspaper page and stuff it into a mug.
  3. Close your mug with a lid or foil, and let it rest.
  4. After a while, open the mug and remove the damp newspaper. Replace it with a fresh piece of newspaper. Keep replacing the damp newspaper until the mug is completely dry on the inside.

Baking Soda & Baking Soda Paste

Baking soda is the cheaper alternative to denture cleaning tablets. Many people use baking soda to deodorize several household items such as refrigerators, cupboards, jars, and coffee mugs.

What You Need

  • Baking soda
  • Lukewarm water
  • A sponge


  1. Measure one teaspoon of baking soda and add it to your clean, dry coffee mug.
  2. Fill the mug to the rim with lukewarm water and allow it to sit for about an hour (or overnight if you prefer).
  3. In the morning, rinse the mug with lukewarm water.
  4. Should this not be as effective as you hoped, continue to make a paste out of baking soda and water.
  5. Gently rub the abrasive paste on the inside of the mug with a sponge, then rinse the mug once more.
  6. Repeat steps 1-3 one more time. You should have a clean-smelling coffee mug ready for your next coffee break!

Salt & Vinegar

This is not just a potato chip flavor; it is also an extremely effective way to rid your coffee mug of that unbearable stale coffee smell.

What You Need

  • Vinegar (apple cider-, or distilled white vinegar)
  • Salt
  • Warm water


  1. Add three parts warm water to 1 part vinegar in your mug.
  2. Measure and add 1 to 2 teaspoons of salt to the vinegar water and give it a good stir.
  3. Place a lid on the mug, shake vigorously for a few seconds, and allow it to sit and soak for a few more minutes.
  4. If you are using a travel mug, do not discard the water but instead pour the water in on top of and around the lid.
  5. Finally, give the mug a good rinse with warm water, and the smell should be gone.

Vinegar & Baking Soda

This should bring back a few memories from your childhood days because this is how we made our volcano experiments for science class! Well, now you can use the same method for getting the coffee smell out of your mug.

What You Need

  • Vinegar (apple cider-, or distilled white vinegar)
  • Baking soda


  1. Place your clean, dry mug in the sink
  2. Fill your mug halfway with vinegar.
  3. Measure two teaspoons of baking soda and add them to the vinegar.
  4. When the mixture starts to fizz, top it up with boiling water and allow it to sit overnight.
  5. Rinse your mug with warm water until the vinegar smell is gone in the morning.

Mustard Powder Paste

Mustard powder is a highly effective deodorizer and can even be used to remove odor from your hands. Although this method sounds bazaar, we have tried it, and it works like a charm!

What You Need

  • Mustard powder
  • Warm water
  • A bottle brush


  1. Make a paste using water and mustard.
  2. Apply the mustard paste to the inside of the mug and use the bottle brush to scrub the paste onto the mug’s interior until the entire inside layer is coated.
  3. Place the lid (or foil) on the mug and allow it to sit overnight.
  4. In the morning, use the bottle brush and warm water to rinse the mug.

Warning: Please do not use bleach! Even though bleach may seem like the perfect solution for getting a coffee smell out of a mug, it is not recommended. It would be best to keep any dish used to serve food away from bleach.

Not only is bleach a toxic chemical, but you will be left with a mug that smells like bleach, which to me seems even worse than an old coffee smell.

What If None Of The Methods Have Removed The Coffee Smell?

On the off chance that not a single one of these methods has effectively removed the coffee smell from your mug, it’s time to take the obvious next step, the last resort. It is time to say goodbye to your smelly mug and make way for a brand new one!

Before buying a new one, look at what types of mugs last longer and retain the least odor.

Mug MaterialConsPros
Stainless SteelAffects the coffee’s flavor.Not ideal for expensive, high-quality coffee.Unbreakable.Perfect for travel mugs.Holds heat very well.
CeramicDoesn’t keep contents hot for too long.Chips easily – allowing odors to settle into cracks and pores.Doesn’t affect the flavor of the coffee.Doesn’t retain odors easily.
GlassFragile.Doesn’t keep contents hot for too long.Doesn’t affect the taste of the coffee.Does not retain odors easily
StonewareExpensive.Becomes porous over time.More chip-resistant than ceramic mugs.Holds heat very well.
PlasticCoffee oils start leeching into the plastic.Retains coffee odors easily.DurableLightweightInexpensive


As you can see, each type of mug has its good and bad qualities, and the best mug depends entirely on your requirements. However, when it comes to a mug that is the least likely to retain coffee odors, then ceramic and glass mugs would be your best bet.

However, with these deodorizing tips, the days of having an unpleasant coffee smell lingering in your mug, whichever type of mug it may be, are over! These clever tips will refresh your coffee mug and make it smell new again.


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