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Keeping your travel mug clean!

Updated on January 7, 2010
The source of your morning energy...sometimes the source of a dishwashing nightmare!
The source of your morning energy...sometimes the source of a dishwashing nightmare!

In a perfect world, most of us would have the time to enjoy a perfect cup in the morning over a newspaper at our kitchen tables.  However, in this fast-paced world we live in we have to fill our trusty commuter mug instead.

And you may have noticed that these mugs can hold onto odors long after you've had that cup of joe.

This predominantly happens with the plastic variety of travel mugs. Plastic is a porous material and as such, your coffee along with sugar and milk can get into those pores and create some pretty offensive odors.

The first and foremost way of avoiding this is to simply rinse it RIGHT AWAY when you're done or when you get where you're going. This should go without saying but I can't count the number of half-full plastic travel coffee mugs I've seen sitting in car cup holders patiently waiting for their turn in the dishwasher. Bring it in with you and wash it out.

However, if it's a bit late for that, enter the wonderful world of washing with Baking Soda! Yes, baking soda when mixed with water creates a solution that even the strongest coffee odors can't withstand. It really foams up, gets into the pores and clears them out.  You can also cut it with very little water to make a paste and then apply it to problem areas of the mug such as the threads where the top screws on.

And at the end of all that, the quickest and most efficient fix would be to simply get a good quality stainless steel or ceramic travel mug.  The cost is more, but it's definitely worth it.

Also keep in mind that travel coffee mugs are usually double walled; there's the outside and the inside surfaces with a space in between that is supposed to be vacuum-sealed to provide insulation. However sometimes water gets in here during washing or because the construction of the travel mug is poor quality and over time will grow a significant amount of mold...and if the water can get in, then the mold can get out and into your drink.  What you need to look for is a travel mug that is constructed so that the chamber is either completely sealed off or otherwise easy to get to. Newer ceramic travel mugs have silicone plugs in the bottom for easy access, and good stainless steel travel mugs at least have a way to get at the space to drain any water or coffee that gets in there.

You can't put a price on keeping your coffee warm and delicious throughout your commute, but it takes a bit of care. If you follow the above steps, your travel tumbler will provide you tasty cups of joe for years to come!


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    • profile image

      Martin M. 

      4 years ago

      What's a newspaper?

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great article. I think the trick is also having a travel mug that is easy to clean. I found one at and you can take it apart and wash each piece.

    • madtown_jeremy profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Madison, WI

      Duchess: Thanks. I figured now with XMas behind us it was time to remind people that this most simple of household devices doesn't clean itself. :)

    • profile image

      Duchess OBlunt 

      8 years ago

      eeew mold! Yuk! I guess it's time to throw mine out and purchase a good one!

      Great information


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