Is It Safe To Drink From A Scratched Mug?

As humans, we have all faced tragic situations in our lives. None more so than opening the top kitchen cupboard on a cold winter’s morning, drooling at the prospect of a delicious warm beverage, only to find that your beloved mug has an undeniably deep scratch. These deep scratches leave people wondering as to the safety of their daily mugs and if the time has come to dispose of them.

Depending on the depth and severity of the observed scratches on your sentimental mug, it is still safe to use. Mugs will obtain superficial scratches from general usage and regular cleaning; however, if those scratches cannot be easily removed, it may lead to the mug leaking toxic substances. 

While we usually don’t notice superficial scratches on our indispensable and often creatively decorated mugs, deeper scratches generally worsen to a point where mug enthusiasts deeply ponder the safety of their pottery. When is a laceration severe enough to render the mug unsafe for human use? Scroll down to find out more.

What Type Of Mugs Can Be Safely Used If Scratched?

Generally speaking, mugs are made from ceramic, glass, or stainless steel. As a rule of thumb, glass and stainless-steel cups are safer regarding superficial scratches.

On the other hand, ceramic mugs usually contain cadmium and lead, which is enormously toxic for human use. While the United States has strict guidelines regarding ceramic mugs, many are imported or purchased in different regions, which can lower their longevity or usability upon the appearance of any superficial scratch.

Most ceramic mugs, which have traditionally been the most widely utilized mug in the United States, contain toxic levels of lead within their structural makeup. However, to access the lead content of the mug, deep scratches or chips must be present. Superficial scratches will make no difference to the toxicity contained within the mug.

Moreover, many ceramic mugs contain a glazing coat over the ceramic content. The mug’s glaze includes a soft and very toxic metal called cadmium. When exposed to hot and acidic beverages such as coffee, cadmium can leak into the mug’s contents. This may induce a multitude of severe and long-term negative impacts upon the person drinking from the mug.

While superficial scratches can mostly be removed using age-old cleaning techniques, deeper scratches can leak harmful metals into the chosen warm beverage.

Different Forms Of Purchasable Mugs

Thankfully, ceramic mugs are not the only option available for human use. Modern glass and stainless-steel mugs are far safer for general human use.

While ceramic mugs are, by a significant margin, the most popular consumer choice in the United States, they are not the safest option currently available.

Many people have recently discovered the significant danger of drinking from a mug containing superficial or deeper scratches. In previous generations, modern glass and stainless-steel mugs were not widely available, making ceramic mugs the number one choice for American consumers.

Glass and stainless-steel mugs do not contain the same aesthetic appeal; however, they do not contain any form of a toxic substance, meaning they are far safer for human consumption.

The popularity of stainless-steel mugs has recently exploded. Stainless steel mugs can be easily purchased online or from the local store. The ease of access, combined with its cadmium and lead-free properties, has made stainless steel mugs the obvious choice. Similarly, glass mugs are entirely void of harmful chemicals, making them a desirable option.

Are Any Scratches On My Mug Dangerous?

While having no scratches on your mug is the optimal choice, superficial scratches do not present any danger for human use.

You should be concerned about superficial scratches, especially on ceramic mugs, that do not disappear when cleaned. Superficial scratches that have persisted for a long time may be deeper set than they appear, increasing the likelihood of the mug leaking cadmium and lead.

It is difficult to identify symptoms of cadmium and lead poisoning, although experts state that developmental delays, psychological issues, learning disabilities, or reproductive challenges may be early indicators.

Conversely, cadmium poisoning is more prevalent and dangerous. Symptoms of cadmium poisoning include kidney damage, loss of eyesight, and even death.

The symptoms mentioned above of lead and cadmium poisoning indicate the severity of drinking from a mug with deep scratches. 

Can I Avoid Buying Mugs That Are Prone To Toxic Leaks?

To decrease the probability of consuming toxic chemicals from scratches in your mug, you will have to make sure that the mug was produced in the United States.

It is widely accepted that ceramic dinnerware and mugs produced in the United States are subject to stringent guidelines by the FDA. The FDA is known to have a wide range of strict safety guidelines regarding ceramic products, especially mugs, as they are the best-selling item in the United States despite having toxic chemicals within their makeup.

Moreover, American-made mugs containing visible superficial or surface scratches on the outside are still safe for human use. However, if those same scratches persist on the inside of the mug, it means that the likelihood of you consuming toxic metals is drastically heightened.

To permanently remove the probability of consuming toxic heavy metals from scratches in your beloved mug, consumers should resist the urge to purchase ceramic mugs and instead choose safer options, namely stainless steel or glass mugs. 

Can Scratched Mugs Be Repaired?

Scratches can be avoided by using a plastic or silicone spoon instead of a metal spoon. In addition, by handwashing your mug and not putting it in the dishwasher, its lifespan can be extended.

If your favorite ceramic mug has minor visible superficial scratches, it is possible to safely and permanently remove them using proven cleaning techniques. Some highly recommended methods include combining baking soda and water, which creates a thick white paste.

Applying the thick white paste with a dollop of dishwashing formula to the inside of the mug can permanently remove most superficial scratches. If the superficial scratches can’t be removed, the method should be repeated a few times until the mug is as good as new. 


Scratched mugs are safe to drink from; however, there are a few exceptions to this general rule of thumb. The scratches must be superficial, on the outside of the cup, and easily removed.

If the scratches are on the inside of the cup, more profound, or not easily removed, then the cup should be disposed of.

By purchasing modern ceramic alternatives, such as stainless steel or glassware mugs, consumers lower their chances of absorbing toxic heavy metals, developing health problems, or being unsure about the safety of their beloved mug. In addition, only buying ceramic mugs made in the United States and not China will decrease the probability of being poisoned by your favorite mug.


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