Tea is the drink of choice in our house. We make it with a tea bag which has to be squeezed and then moved to the tea bag pile.
Along the way, there are inevitable spills and then the worktop gradually starts to look brown and eventually loses its shine.
So, what can be done to prevent that, and are tea stains on kitchen worktops easy to remove?
To prevent tea stains, always wipe your worktop with a microfiber cloth after making the tea. The little scrubbers in the cloth will remove everything. If you have a stain that is set in and stubborn, sprinkle on some baking soda and then wipe with a damp cloth.
I have lots of options to choose from in this post, starting with the most gentle and natural, to the more aggressive cleaners.
Be careful, what you use to clean your worktop. Stone worktops need special care. Always test on an inconspicuous area before using a cleaner you have never tried before.
On first application, a cleaner may seem fantastic, but using it over and over can cause damage.
Read on for a list of cleaners that I don't recommend using on any type of kitchen worktop.
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Why does tea stain the countertop?
Tea contains a compound called tannin, which gives it a unique dark color.
When you make tea, little spills can build up over time. You might do your best to wipe down the worktop, but tannin has a habit of sticking.
Overtime, you will see a build-up of brown marks that can look a little unsightly.
How to get tea stains off worktops
The good news is that tea stains on worktops aren't usually permanent. There are ways to remove them.
I always recommend that you start with the gentlest options first and only move on to stronger solutions when required.
So, I've ordered the options from most gentle to stronger, so you can see what works best for you.
Natural ways to remove tea stains from worktops
Water and a microfiber cloth
Yes, you might find that all you need is water along with a microfiber cloth.
Microfiber cloths contain tiny fibers that are 1/100 the diameter of a human hair.
Each fiber acts as a little scrubber. One tiny fiber is super soft, but together they pack a punch when it comes to removing dirt.
To begin, I recommend you take a damp microfiber cloth and then scrub the surface. You may well find that the cloth has brown marks on it where it has taken off the tannin.
I find most stains come off the worktop with simple dish soap and water and perhaps a little scrubbing with a microfiber cloth. If you catch stains quickly, this is all that is needed.
Sprinkle a few dots of dish soap onto the tea stain and begin working it in with a damp microfiber cloth. Then rinse.
Baking soda or bicarbonate of soda
The best way to remove stubborn tea stains from worktops and stainless steel sinks is with baking soda or bicarbonate of soda.
The baking soda crystals work like little scrubbers, and before you know it, the stain is gone.
This is what I do:
- Wipe the stain to remove as much as possible first.
- Sprinkle some baking soda or bicarbonate of soda on the stained area.
- Work the crystals into the stain with a damp microfiber cloth.
- Wipe away the baking soda with another clean cloth.
Lemon and salt
Lemon and salt are another great combination for cleaning worktops. I love that this solution is natural and so won't taint the worktop with a chemical smell.
The salt is slightly abrasive and so can remove light stains.
This works well for laminate and wooden worktops, but do not use this on marble or granite as the lemon is too acidic.
- Take half a lemon and squeeze some of the juice onto the tea stain.
- Sprinkle some salt on the stained area.
- Use the lemon to scrub the salt and thus remove the tea stain.
Alcohol has a neutral pH level, which makes it safe for all types of worktop. It can also act as a disinfectant too.
- Combine equal parts of rubbing alcohol and water in a spray bottle.
- Spray the stained area.
- Wipe with a microfiber cloth.
- Buff with a clean, dry microfiber cloth.
Using chemical cleaners to clean worktops
Now you know all the natural ways to clean tea stains, let's look at some others.
Remember to always test on an inconspicuous area before using any chemical cleaner you haven't used before.
Dishwasher detergents are great for removing tea stains. They often contain enzymes which can eat up organic stains such as tannin.
Dissolve some dishwasher detergent in a spray bottle and apply to your worktop. Leave it to work and then rub the stain with a microfiber cloth. Then rinse.
I've never tried this, but apparently WD-40 is also a great stain remover.
Spray on and leave it to work, then wipe the surface clean. It can remove things like tea and coffee from countertops with no trouble at all. So, if you have some WD40 to hand, give it a try.
What NOT to use for cleaning your countertop
Barkeepers Friend and other cream cleansers
Barkeepers Friend, along with cream cleansers such as CIF, contain abrasives that can damage natural stone countertops like marble and granite. I also don't recommend you use these types of cleaners on laminate or wood for the same reason.
Magic erasers seem to remove stains like magic, but they are abrasive and remove stains by removing the surface. This can damage kitchen worktops and makes the surface more likely to stain in the future.
Avoid acidic cleaners on stone worktops
Anything with an acidic content, such as vinegar or lemon juice, should not be used on granite and marble as it can react with the sealant and even discolor it.
Do not use bleach on your counter top because it can damage the surface of all types of countertop, including laminate, wood, granite.
I'm told toothpaste can also remove stains from worktops. Toothpaste is mildly abrasive and often contains baking soda, so can help to remove stains.
Toothpaste is harmless when used on your countertop. But personally, I wouldn't use toothpaste for cleaning my worktop, as it's quite expensive stuff. I'd rather save it for cleaning my teeth and use actual baking soda instead.
So whilst toothpaste shouldn't damage your countertop, I don't think there is any benefit over using baking soda.
How to prevent tea stains on worktops
Now you know how to remove a tea stain, how do you stop it happening in the first place?
Here are some tips:
- Make your tea on a tray. That way, all you have to clean is the tray from time to time.
- Catch and absorb drips as you make the tea with a tea towel or disposable kitchen towel. Tea can stain cotton, so don't leave it too long between washes.
- Wipe the surface after you make the tea with a microfiber cloth. If you can get into the habit of wiping drips immediately, it will be easier than having to clean a tray or wash an extra kitchen towel.
I've read several recommendations around the internet to spray your kitchen surfaces with antibacterial spray every day. I don't believe they are effective cleaners, plus I don't want to breathe them in every day.
This is what I do instead:
- Dot some dish soap directly onto the countertop
- Take a damp microfiber cloth and wipe the whole surface.
- Follow with a clean dry microfiber cloth
Your worktop will be free of dirt, and it will be nice and shiny too. This is a gentle but effective method of cleaning all types of countertops.
The best option for removing tea stains from your worktop
Wipe over with some hot soapy water and rub with a microfiber cloth. You should find the tea stain comes out with gentle rubbing.
If the stain remains, spray the tea stain with a weak solution of vinegar and water, then rinse and dry.
If a tea stain has set in, first try simple dish soap and water along with a microfiber cloth. Failing that, apply some distilled white vinegar and water and then rub the stained area, then rinse.
Quartz worktops are much less porous than granite and don't tend to stain so easily.
However, always avoid strong chemicals, including bleach.
You can remove tea stains from granite using a 30%-40% concentration of hydrogen peroxide with a microfiber cloth.
Avoid any type of acidic cleaner, such as vinegar or lemon juice.
Granite worktops look fabulous in kitchens. But unfortunately, they are liable to stain because they naturally are quite porous. The shiny surface is deceiving!
You can make your granite worktop resistant to stains like tea by having your worktop professionally sealed once a year and cleaning it with a preparatory granite cleaner.
For marble countertops, you should always avoid acid-based cleaners such as vinegar or lemon juice.
You should find that tea stains come off easily with dish soap and water and a little rubbing.
For wooden worktops, you should always use gentle cleaning products. Never use anything harsh, such as bleach.
Always wipe off spills as soon as they happen.
I recommend warm soapy water for cleaning wood.
If your countertop is not lacquered, make sure you always keep it well oiled so that water and stains will be repelled.
You can test for this using the water-drop test.
Sprinkle some water on the wood, and if it beads up nicely, you have enough oil. If it sinks in, you will need to oil it.
Having a well-oiled wooded worktop will stop stains like tea from settling into the wood. Once stains settle, the only way to remove them will be to sand down the wood and re-treat it.