How To Remove Tea Stains From White Clothes (whiter whites secrets)

Categories Laundry
how to remove tea stains from white clothes

I am a big tea drinker. I am also a bit clumsy and find myself dealing with nasty tea stains more often than I would wish! If you are dealing with a recent (or old) tea accident and need to know how to remove tea stains from white or coloured clothes, this post is for you!

Here’s the quick solution for dealing with your tea stain (read on for the details):

If the stain has occurred on sturdy white cotton. Lay the stained part of the white clothing over a small bowl and put a rubber band around the bowl to hold it in place. Pour over some cold water. Then gently pour boiling water onto the stained area. The stain should fade away. If you still have a stain, soak the item in one cup of bleach mixed with ten cups of water. Check the tea stain after twenty minutes and continue soaking if the stain remains. Then launder as normal.

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How to remove tea stains from white clothes

For this demonstration, I am using a 100% cotton white pillow cover because that is all I could find to use today. The only white clothing we have now in our house are my son’s school shirts, and he wouldn’t let me touch them!

I put the stain on purposely using a hot tea bag. So although the stain is new, it is probably the most intense it could possibly be. So I hope this is a good example.

Step 1 – Check the care label

If the care label on your tea-stained white clothing says ‘dry clean only’, then you shouldn’t attempt to remove the stain yourself. Doing so can do more damage than good. Whenever I have taken stained clothing to the dry cleaners, they have always advised that I should never touch stains. Even dabbing with water can make their job harder! The best thing to do is to leave well alone and then make sure to point out the stained area and let them know what caused it so your dry cleaner can give it the right attention.

If the care label is not ‘dry clean only’ then in most cases you can safely treat the stain yourself.

Step 2 – Blot off the excess with a paper towel

If you are sure that your white item is washable, the next step is to dab off the tea.

Find a paper towel or anything absorbent and blot off as much of the excess tea as you can so that your job of removing the rest of the stain is easy as possible.

dabbing off excess tea stain from white clothing
Dabbing off excess tea stain from white clothing

Step 3 – Try hot water first (only for sturdy white fabrics)

I know this goes against the general advice. Folks normally warn you away from using hot water on stains because it is said that hot water will ‘set’ the stain making it harder to remove.

However, this little trick could work for you if it is a light and very new stain.

Only try this on sturdy cotton fabrics. Don’t do this if you have a delicate item of clothing.

  1. Place the stain over a bowl.
  2. Put an elastic or rubber band around the bowl to hold the fabric in place.
  3. Pour over some cold water.
  4. Boil a kettle of water.
  5. Pour the boiling water onto the stain gently so as not to splash (you might need to release the rubber band to let steam out).
  6. By the time the bowl underneath is full, the stain should be rinsed away.

If you still have a stain, a bleach treatment is your best next step.

Here’s how the tea stain looked before and after pouring over hot water:

tea stain before treatment with boiling hot water

Tea stain before treatment with boiling hot water

tea stain after treatment with boiling hot water

Tea stain after treatment with boiling hot water

The good thing is that the tea stain has lightened, but it is still very much there! If that is you too, then bleach should finish the stain off nicely.

Step 4 – Soak in cold water with a Milton sterilizing tablet or a small amount of bleach

If the hot water option in the previous step did not work for you, your next option is to use a bleach-based soaking solution. If you have a more delicate item, a Milton sterilizing tablet is best.

white clothing with tea stain soaking in bleach
White clothing with tea stain soaking in bleach
  1. Make up a solution of one cup bleach and ten cups of cold water, or dissolve one Milton tablet in the water. Only use bleach on sturdy cotton fabrics.
  2. Soak the item for twenty minutes.
  3. Check after twenty minutes and continue soaking if required.

If the stain is faint and you have some sun outside it will be kinder to your clothing if you finish off using the sun’s powerful rays. The last remnants of the stain should bleach out naturally.

Step 5 – Rinse and then launder

Once you have removed the tea stain, rinse away the bleach and then launder in the usual way.

The result

Success! After soaking in a solution of bleach and cold water I am happy to say that the nasty tea stain has gone!

Now all I need to do is rinse and launder as normal.

tea stain after soaking in bleach
Tea stain after soaking in bleach

Related reading:

Tips for stain removal

Here are my top tips for dealing with tea stains on white clothing:

  1. Don’t delay! Treat the stain as soon as possible that way you have a higher chance of success.
  2. Dab off the excess. Always dab the excess liquid first with a dry towel.
  3. Rinse in cold water. Rinse the stain in cold water before you start treating it.
  4. Always check the care label. If the label says ‘dry-clean only’, do not touch the stain. Let the professionals take over.
  5. Be gentle. Avoid rubbing the stain too harshly.
  6. Use cold water for soaking. If you are using bleach always mix with cold, not hot water. Use a small amount of bleach. One part bleach to ten parts cold water works well.
  7. Rinse away chemicals. If you are using a store-bought stain remover always follow the instructions and rinse it out before you try a different chemical.
  8. Avoid the tumble dryer. Do not tumble dry unless you are sure the stain has gone completely. Heat can set a stain.

How to remove dry and old tea stains from white clothes

Sometimes stains can be missed. We’ve all done it. You throw your whites in the washer and then the tumble dryer, only to find a horrible stain later on.

So, if you are wondering how to remove tea stains from white clothes after washing them, your best option is will be to use bleach.

  1. Make up a solution of one part bleach to ten parts cold water and mix.
  2. Let the item soak in the solution for twenty minutes.
  3. Check the stain.
  4. If the stain is faint, put it out in the sunshine and the stain should go completely. If not, let it soak for longer.

How to get green tea stains out of white clothes

hot green tea

If you have an ugly stain on your white clothes from green tea, don’t worry because you should be able to get it out just fine.

As soon as you notice a green tea stain, treat it as soon as you can, otherwise, it will be more difficult to remove. If you spilt hot green tea on your white clothing, don’t let it dry, because hot tea is more likely to stain.

What causes green tea to stain?

When you add boiling water to tea leaves, tannin is produced and it is this that causes stains. Green tea is no different from other teas in that respect. However, the tannin content in green tea is generally less than other types of tea, which makes stains easier to remove.

How to remove green tea stains from white clothes:

  1. Rinse in cold water to get as much of the stain out as possible.
  2. Let the item soak for twenty minutes in a solution of bleach and water using the ratio of one cup bleach to 10 cups of cold water.
  3. When the stain has gone, rinse and then launder as normal.

How to get tea stains out of unwashable clothes

If your item of clothing can only be dry-cleaned, I recommend that you do not touch the stain. Take it to your dry-cleaning company. Point out the stained area and let them take over. They won’t thank you if you try to deal with it yourself!

For other items that can’t be washed you will need to try spot cleaning instead. For that, I recommend a Vanish bar. I find Vanish bar or spray great for all types of stains. Rub the Vanish bar into the stain, let it sit for a while and then dab off.

If you don’t have Vanish, use a small amount of biological washing liquid or some washing powder mixed with water to make a paste.

Using lemon juice to remove tea stains from white clothing

If you have a white item and you love a more natural approach to stain removal, lemon juice is your answer.

Lemon juice is a natural stain remover and it’s great for white fabrics because it has a natural bleaching effect.

Simply rub in some lemon juice and dab it off with a clean damp cloth. If the stain remains, add some more lemon juice and let it dry naturally, preferably in a sunny spot so that the sun can bleach it.

Related reading:

Why does tea stain?

tea in a white cup

It’s the tannin present in tea that causes staining to cups, fabrics and even teeth.

Tannin in tea leaves is activated once hot water is added. So it’s unavoidable if you like to drink hot tea!

If you have tea stains in cups, I find they usually come out in the dishwasher as long as you use a good dishwasher detergent. If you use a homemade dishwasher detergent tea stains don’t come out so well.

If you have stubborn tea stains in your cups and mugs, the best way to get them out is by soaking them in some baking soda or soda crystals along with hot water. After a few minutes, you should find you can simply wipe away the brown marks. I also find rubbing with a microfiber cloth can get tea stains out but you do need to rub fairly hard.

Frequently asked questions

Are tea stains permanent?

Tea stains are not usually permanent. You can get tea stains out of your clothes effectively if you do it before the first wash. If the stained item has already been through the tumble dryer then it will be more difficult to remove.

You can get tea stains out with Vanish stain removers, lemon juice, or soak in a small amount of bleach. If the tea stain is on cotton, pouring very hot water over it might work for you too.

Does bleach remove tea stains?

If the tea stain is on white clothing then you can safely use bleach to remove it. Let the item soak in cold water for a minimum of half an hour. Then soak in a solution of one part bleach to ten parts water. Or, launder as you normally would adding a small amount of bleach to your wash. Be careful not to add too much bleach because it can produce too many suds.

My favourite product for bleaching and getting rid of stains on white clothing are Milton Sterilizing tablets or liquid Milton. They contain a bleaching agent but produce no suds.

Soak the item in Milton or add it to your wash.

Does Vanish remove tea stains from clothing?

You can remove tea stains from clothing by gently rubbing with a Vanish stain remover bar and then washing normally. If you have the powdered kind of Vanish remover, mix a quarter scoop of powder with a little water to make a paste and then rub it into the stain. Leave it to sit for ten minutes and then wash as normal.

How does lemon remove tea stains from clothes?

Lemon is a natural stain-remover and it has natural anti-bacterial properties too.

You can clean tea stains off by squeezing some lemon juice onto the tea stain and then gently scrubbing it. Then run the fabric under the tap as hot as the fabric will allow. Use cool water for delicate fabrics. If you still have some staining present. Squeeze some more lemon juice on the area and leave it to dry naturally. Dry outside in the sunshine for the best natural stain removal.


Penny | SparklingPenny

Hi, I'm Penny. A busy mum of two boys and one dog, with the aim to enjoy life to the full.