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How to Clean Stainless Steel Flatware with Tea Stains

Updated February 21, 2017

When you have tea stains on flatware, the colour of the stain can vary based on the type of tea and the level of tea accumulated on the surface of the stainless steel. Some stains simply dull polished surfaces with an almost clear film. Others leave behind marks in colours such as brown and red. As polished flatware can scratch easily, the key to removing the tea stains and returning the flatware to its former shine is using a mild acid or a commercial stainless steel cleaner to weaken and break up the tea.

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  1. Place your flatware in a large basin. If your kitchen has two sinks, place it in one the sinks. Cover the flatware with distilled white vinegar and soak for about 20 minutes.

  2. Remove the flatware and rub it with a microfiber cloth to see if the tea wipes away from the surface. Continue rubbing until you've removed the stains.

  3. Put the flatware in a large pot if you can't remove all of the tea stains. Cover the flatware with vinegar and heat to a rolling boil. Remove the pot from the burner and set it aside to cool.

  4. Rub the flatware with a fresh cloth to see if the combination of heat and vinegar weakened the stains. Continue to rub away the stains as necessary.

  5. Apply a commercial stainless steel cleaner to the flatware if some stains remain. Wait for the cleaner to weaken stains as directed on the cleaner labelling or about 20 minutes. Wipe the flatware again to rub the tea from the stainless steel.

  6. Wash your stainless steel flatware thoroughly in hot soapy water after you've removed all of the stains.

  7. Rinse the flatware with hot water and then dry with soft microfiber cloths.

  8. Warning

    Never use abrasives, chloride-based cleaners, harsh chemicals or steel tools such as steel brushes or steel wool to clean your stainless steel flatware.

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Things You'll Need

  • Large basin
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Pot (optional)
  • Commercial stainless steel cleaner (optional)
  • Mild detergent

About the Author

Irene A. Blake

Based in Southern Pennsylvania, Irene A. Blake has been writing on a wide range of topics for over a decade. Her work has appeared in projects by The National Network for Artist Placement, the-phone-book Limited and GateHouse Media. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Shippensburg University.

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