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Poor cleaning result removing coffee or tea stains in a dishwasher


Tea and coffee stains usually appear as brown rings in the cup, mug or on the saucer. The stain may cover the bottom of the cup or a significant portion of the saucer if a significant amount of the liquid has been allowed to dry.

This is not a fault with your dishwasher and no service or repair will help this issue

Please see below for suggested remedies for this problem.

Usually the result of:

  • Old or badly stored detergent
  • Poor quality detergent - bleach level too low
  • Detergent without phosphate
  • Hard water in the dishwasher
  • Using short and/or low temperature washes
  • Allowing tea or coffee to stand in the cup for a long time

Cause & Prevention


Poor bleaching is caused either by poor bleaching performance of the detergent being used or by conditions within the dishwasher.

We do recommend the use of Fairy Active Bursts as a good quality and proven detergent. However there are others that can be used also although we do not recommend the use of hard tablets unless you are using long hot cycles in your dishwasher.

Detergents which are old or that have been stored badly in a damp environment will give poor bleach performance because some of the bleach will decompose.

Hard water will reduce the efficiency of the bleach and this may be caused by a failure to use the softening system correctly or by using a nil phosphate product in a hard water area.

The problem is worsened by allowing cups to stand before they are washed.


Wash the cups in a dilute solution of a chlorine based sterilising solution, for example Milton, before rewashing and ensure that the item is well rinsed.


Use a good quality detergent containing phosphates that has been stored correctly.

Ensure that the water in the machine has been softened in hard water areas by adding salt to the salt container.

Place cups in the dishwasher as soon as possible and run a rinse and hold cycle.

Alternatively, rinse the cups before adding them to the dishwasher.


  How You Can Get Help With Dishwasher Problems

To offer support in helping people to determine the cause of dishwasher problems please use the dishwasher support forum.

It’s fast, free, easy and normally someone will pick up on the post that can assist you often with a few experts chipping in if needed. Just register if you don’t have an account, we don’t mail you, send you spam or any of that stuff.

Post up your question and give images if you possibly can and the guys in the forums will do the rest for you and try to identify the problem you have.

Cost you nothing, might save you some embarrassment or worse, a charge for a service visit that wasn’t needed.

  Photographs Of Damage

If you can post photographs of the damage or problem you are having this can be really helpful in allowing the dishwasher technicians to see what the problem is.

The guys have the knowledge to assist with most problems but the more information you give them, the better they can help you.

Stephen Carter
Tea stain
My old Bosch dishwasher (1996) always bleached the tea cups white again, but when it was replaced this year with a new Bosch, no matter what programme or tablets are used, the cups gradually get more and more stained. How can this be "not a fault with your dishwasher and no service or repair will help this issue"? I just bleach the cups in the sink occasionally and rewash.
Patsy Williams
Stains in cups tea or coffee in dishwasher
How to clean tea and coffee out of cups in dishwasher. Any tips please thank you

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