Taste The Earth Blog

How To Get Smell Out Of A Travel Mug? No More Stink!

by Mark Morphew on Jun 27, 2022

How To Get Smell Out Of A Travel Mug? No More Stink!

If you've ever owned an insulated travel tumbler, you know that they tend to have a funky smell after some time. It doesn't matter if they're made from BPA-free plastic, stainless steel, or glass, the odor becomes so bad that you often have to discard the mug and invest in a new one.

There are certain travel mugs that don't have this problem, and if you stick around until the end, I'll tell you which is the best travel mug that doesn't smell or will change the taste of your drinks.

But if you already own a mug and are faced with unwanted smells and odors, keep reading.

In most cases, removing those lingering smells from a travel mug is possible; and all you need is a few pantry essentials.

What Causes Travel Mugs To Smell?

But before we get ahead of ourselves, it's probably a good idea to look at the root cause of those unwanted smells.

Poor Cleaning Routine

One of the major causes of a smelly travel mug is not cleaning it properly after each use.

Travel mugs are perfect if you have a hectic lifestyle or for keeping yourself hydrated at work, but make sure to set some time aside to clean your mug thoroughly.

Ideally, your mug should be cleaned daily with a deep, thorough cleaning at least once a week.

If you don't want a stinky travel mug, keep it clean!

Material Used for Travel Mugs

Travel mugs and tumblers come in a wide range of materials, from plastic to stainless steel, glass, and even bamboo.

But there is one material that is more prone to retaining smells - plastic.

After using your plastic tumbler or mug for some time, you will notice a smell. No matter how hard you try to clean your mug, the smell won't disappear.

The lingering stink can worsen if your plastic mug suffers from abrasion and scratches. Drink residue, coffee oils, and bacteria will become lodged in scratches, leaving a stale aroma when you open the travel mug.

> Ceramic-coated travel mugs don't have this problem!

Improper Cleaning Procedures

Even if you follow a strict cleaning routine, you may not be following the best practice set out by the manufacturer.

For example, Some mugs are dishwasher safe while others are hand wash only.

Making sure you follow the correct cleaning procedure for your particular travel mug will not only keep lingering smells at bay but will also help prolong the life of your mug.

Placing your travel mug inside a dishwasher when it shouldn't can cause problems, and it can mean the end of your favorite mug.

Water can become trapped inside the vacuum of the mug, causing rubber seals to break down, and the dishwasher can damage any enamel finish on the outer wall of the mug.

If in doubt, always handwash your travel mug.

Coffee Oils

Insulated travel mugs are perfect for enjoying coffee on the go or sitting at work.

But over time, coffee, and more specifically the oils from coffee, leach into your travel mug and are almost impossible to remove, especially if your mug is made from plastic.

Coffee oils are not easily dissolved in water. Even if you regularly wash your mug, these oils will remain and will cause a stale old coffee smell; not so great if you're using your mug for storing other beverages.

How To Remove Odor From A Travel Mug?

But all is not lost.

You still may be able to save your travel mug or tumbler. So, before you go running out the door to buy a new one, try some of the below methods to remove odors from your travel mug.

Baking Soda

The cheapest and simplest way to get rid of tumbler stink is by using baking soda.

  1. Put 1 teaspoon of baking soda powder into the tumbler and fill it with lukewarm water.
  2. Let the mixture sit for about one hour or longer, depending on the strength of the odor.
  3. Rinse thoroughly will water and allow to air dry.

Denture Cleaner Tablets

Available practically at any convenience store or just grab grandpa's denture tablets from his bathroom cabinet.

As strange as it sounds, denture tablets work a treat at removing stubborn smells and stains from insulated travel mugs.

  1. Fill the tumbler with water.
  2. Place two denture tablets inside the mug or tumbler for regular cleaning.
  3. For tough stains and lingering smells use 4 or 5 tablets.
  4. Let the solution do its magic overnight, and you should be greeted with a fresh-smelling mug the following day.
  5. Rinse the mug thoroughly with lukewarm water before using it.

Vinegar Solution

Vinegar has been used for decades for cleaning and deodorizing items around the home and kitchen. It's powerful stuff that can bring life back to your stinky travel mug. Here's how.

  1. Fill a wash basin with hot water.
  2. Add ½ cup of vinegar (for bad stubborn smells, add 1tbsp baking soda to the vinegar).
  3. Soak the lid and the mug or tumbler in the solution.
  4. Allow it to soak overnight.
  5. Rinse all parts of the mug or tumbler well with warm water to ensure there is no vinegar solution left lingering.

Buy A Ceramic Coated Insulated Travel Mug

If all else fails and your travel mug is detained for the trash, make sure the next mug you buy is better quality and won't retain smells or odors.

Forget about plastic or stainless steel.

We recommended buying a ceramic-coated insulated travel mug.

Here's why.

The problem that plagues stainless steel or plastic travel mugs is that they start to smell after some time. It doesn't matter if you have a travel mug that cost a few bucks or one that came with a hefty price tag; this issue will still be noticeable.

But what if I told you that you could take a regular insulated stainless steel travel mug and make it even better.

By adding a durable ceramic layer, you can elevate a regular stainless steel travel mug and tumbler: no more unwanted smells and no more metallic tastes.

The ceramic-coated tumbler is far superior. You have a protective layer, and drinks (hot or cold) taste as they should. Ceramic also won't hold any smells or odors, and it's just like drinking from a regular coffee mug at home.

Don't own a good insulated tumbler? Thinking of buying a ceramic-coated travel mug?

📌 Head on over here and take a look at our popular range. Our insulated tumblers and mugs have a ceramic coating that forms a layer between your beverage and the stainless steel metal body.

Stinky travel mugs are a thing of the past 👉 check them out here.


Mark MorphewMark Morphew is a freelance writer specializing in digital marketing and the hospitality sector. He helps coffee, catering, and food tech businesses create better content that drives more traffic and increases customer engagement.