Causes of Discoloration on the Outside of Coffee Mugs?

September 20, 2017

My wife and I are regular coffee drinkers. We perk a pot almost every day. If we don't drink all of the pot, we may reheat it in the microwave later. Some of our white painted coffee cups have started to discolor (primarily on the outside).


Is the paint disappearing with repeated microwave and dishwasher action? We would appreciate the feedback.


Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 105 Posts
September 20, 20170 found this helpful
Best Answer

This could easily be just a coffee stain on your mug.

Step 1
Use a sponge or soft scrubbing pad with baking soda to clean the outside of the mug.

Step 2
Mix your baking soda with a few drops of water to make your paste.

Step 3
Apply the baking soda and water mixture to the outside of the mug. Rub it gently to cover the surface.

Step 4
Let sit for 30 minutes and use a soft scrubbing pad to finish cleaning the mug.

Step 5
This should remove the yellow or discoloring stains from the outside of the mug.

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Gold Feedback Medal for All Time! 949 Feedbacks
September 20, 20170 found this helpful
Best Answer

Probably most of us do exactly the same thing but I believe you will find cups are not made of the same materials and some may discolor faster than others.


  • Have you noticed if it is the same brand/type cup that seems to be staining the most?
  • Since cups do not have a list of material content (only if it is microwave/dishwasher safe) so there is no way to compare one to another.
  • As an example, I believe we all know that not all cups that say "microwave safe" really are - they can get very hot in a few seconds and are not safe to use very long. Cause - material content? most likely.
  • Suggestion: Pick out a cup that you feel is safe to use in the microwave and use it to reheat your coffee. Pour it in your favorite cup and keep those out of the microwave.
  • It may just be the constant heat/heat/heat that is causing your cups to stain but staining on the outside seems unusual to me.
  • There are several ways to try and remove the stains - a baking soda paste is good and generally safe to use.

  • There is a product called "Soft Scrub" that does a good job and may remove more stains.
  • Also, Barkeepers Friend works on stuff like this.
  • If this is only happening with one brand of cups, I would suggest not buying them again.

Just a word of caution: bleach will remove the "coating" on most things and that in turn makes the cup (or whatever) absorb more of the liquid and that many times stains even faster and gets more and more difficult to remove.

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Bronze Answer Medal for All Time! 242 Answers
September 21, 20170 found this helpful
Best Answer

Stain Removal For Ceramics
Following are some things that I have used with success.

  • Baking Soda applied with a damp cloth. Rinse well.
  • Barkeepers Friend applied with a damp cloth. Rinse well.
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  • Soft scrub applied with damp cloth. Rinse well. (use this method cautiously as it can be a little harsher than the 1st 2 options)
  • Comit cleaner applied with a damp cloth. Rinse well. (Also use with caution. The bleach can be a bit hard on the finish, but it works good to remove stains.)

Be sure to rinse any method well and even wash normally after any attempt at stain removal to remove any residue.

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Diamond Post Medal for All Time! 1,246 Posts
September 20, 20170 found this helpful

It could be from high water temperatures and high drying temperatures. Try to lower the temperature when washing and drying.

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