stained dishes

Serving those tasty, beautifully-crafted organic meals you worked so hard to prepare on clean-but-slightly-stained dishes takes that “wow” factor you were going for down a notch. Whether you hand wash dishes or use a dishwasher, some stains just seem to stick, no matter how much sudsing and scrubbing you do. Cue the cleaning frustration.

Don’t let pesky set-in stains on your dishes and cups get you down, you eco-hostess. Use these super simple natural cleaning methods to get rid of coffee, tea, food and hard water stains on your tableware.

Coffee and tea stains

As a perfectionist, I get particularly irked when my shiny white coffee mugs come out of the dishwasher sporting the same dingy brown rings that I put them in with. I’m sure you clean freaks out there can relate. Luckily, several natural ingredients can easily erase stubborn coffee and tea stains from dishware. No bleach needed. Why would you ever want to put those toxic chemicals near the utensils you use to ingest food anyway? Try one of these green cleaning remedies instead:

  • Squeeze the juice of half a lemon onto the stained area. Use a damp cloth to scrub at the stain. It may take a bit of elbow grease, but the acid in the lemon juice will work through those annoying brown blemishes.
  • Soak persistent stains overnight in a solution of hot water and vinegar or hot water and baking soda.
  • Try this delightfully sweet scrub. Place about 1 tablespoon of sugar into a stained mug. Use a cloth or sponge dampened with hot water to work the coarse sweet stuff into the stain. The abrasive action of the sugar will remove set-in stains. (Yes, this actually works!) You could also try this method using salt.
  • For a little less labor, simply add some vinegar to the dishwasher cycle to remove coffee and tea stains from dishes.

Food stains 

Tomatoes, beets and other deep-colored food items can leave dishes with ugly orange blotches. Not exactly the dinnerware you want to showcase at your next get-together. Plastic dishes are especially susceptible to staining from red-colored foods, but it can happen to ceramic dishes as well.

You don’t have to tuck those dishes into exile in the back of the cupboard. Make them like new again with these natural methods:

  • Soak the dishes in a solution of water and vinegar overnight. Vinegar works especially well to make white dishes spotless.
  • Use the green cleaning go-to method of scrubbing stains with a concoction of vinegar and baking soda. The chemical reaction between the base and acid makes this pair a powerful cleaning agent.
  • Finally if none of these tried-and-true methods work, I got a doozy for ya. Stick the dishes in direct sunlight for four to five hours. Sunlight works as a natural bleaching agent and will remove stains from white and colored dishes. The sun’s rays will also eliminate any lingering odors.

Hard water spots

  • To remove hard water spots from dishes and glasses soak them in a solution of water and vinegar for a few hours.
  • Squeeze lemon juice on dishes plagued by hard water spots. Let the juice sit for a few minutes. Then rinse the dishes thoroughly with water.
  • To prevent unsightly hard water stains from forming on your pretty dishes in the future, add some vinegar to each dishwasher cycle.

To keep your dishes and cups sparkling clean always rinse the dishes immediately after use. Rinsing dishes will prevent gunky food stains from setting in. And if you do get a little bit lazy, don’t worry. You’ll always have these tips at your disposal.

image: Kevin H.