Stain Removal: It’s Our Cup of Tea

Infuse the dried leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant in boiling water for approximately three minutes before straining. Sweeten with honey or sugar and add the juice of a lemon, or cow's milk, to taste.

This might seem like the sort of advice that may be handed out by a medieval quack, but it is in fact simply the instructions of how to make a cup of tea! Tea is the second most consumed beverage in the entire world (after plain water) and for good reason: it tastes good, wakes you up, refreshes you, and contains lots of anti-oxidants to keep you young.

Tea also has the ability to stain pretty much anything it gets in to contact with; because it contains a high concentration of tannins, a type of vegetable fibre. Because of this, tea has been used throughout history to dye and stain wood, papers and clothing. Unfortunately, a momentary lapse of concentration can lead to an unintentional dye-job with anything it comes into contact with!


The reason that tea and other hot beverages can create such difficult stains is actually down to their chemical makeup. These warm liquids are made up of very stable spherical molecules which proceed to evaporate in a regular pattern, from the outside in. Unfortunately this means that those tannins are left in the centre, leaving them all in one place as a concentrated stain on the clothes fibres, thus making them very difficult to get out.

What can I do?

If you spill some tea on your clothing, don't panic. Although it may be more stubborn than some other clothes stains, if you react quickly you should have no problem getting it out. First, run the material under a warm tap (cold will just help the stain to set) from the back of the stain, so it can exit the way it came in, rather than being pushed further in to the fabric. Once the majority of the stain has faded, then massage some Vanish Gold Oxi Action into the area, before leaving it for a few minutes to get to work. Once you've done this, wash the garment as you would normally, with a scoop of Vanish as well as your regular detergent, and the stain will be removed without leaving so much as a trace.

So put the kettle on, and put your feet up, as like the 70,000 other people in the world every second[1], you can enjoy a nice cup of tea - but without having to worry about any spillages!