How to clean travel mugs after your iced latte on the go

Everything you need to know about cleaning travel mugs

Gray travel mug repeating on green background
(Image credit: Future)

You're gonna need to know how to clean travel mugs after a few drinks in yours. Can’t leave home without your reusable water bottle? Or maybe you opt for a travel mug that keeps your coffee warm all morning. Either way, travel mugs have become our trusty sidekicks during a long day of errands and a must-have if you’re traveling. 

While they certainly come in handy, when it comes to cleaning travel mugs, a quick rinse doesn’t always do the trick (and it doesn’t provide your cup with a deep clean). Plus, many reusable mugs and water bottles aren’t dishwasher safe. 

So, how can you truly get a deep clean without throwing your cup into the dishwasher? We’ve put together a step-by-step guide to help you ensure your go-to kitchen accessory stays sparkly clean. Don't forget to wash the straws that come in your water bottles and tumblers like these Stanley Cup alternatives or Shay Mitchell's favorite tumbler.

Good to know

Time: 10 minutes (not including drying time) 

Difficulty: Easy

Helpful hints: If you have a dishwasher-safe mug and don’t have the time or supplies for a deep hand wash, place your mug on the top shelf of the dishwasher for the best clean possible. Placing it on the top shelf can help eliminate potential damage in the dishwasher. 

Here's what you'll need

How to clean travel mugs

Step 1: Add your cleaning ingredients to your mug

Pour 1⁄2 cup of distilled white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of baking soda directly into your mug. We recommend pouring the contents into the mug while it’s held over the sink in case there’s any spillage. 

Let the mixture sit for a few minutes. It should bubble together, creating a light foam consistency.

 Step 2: Seal and shake

Replace the lid on your travel cup. If it has a sliding opening, make sure it is completely closed and sealed. If it has a straw opening, make sure you cover the opening tightly. Shake the mixture inside your travel mug, almost as if you’re mixing a margarita in a cocktail shaker.  

 Step 3: Rinse it out 

Dispose of the vinegar and baking soda mixture into your sink and rinse the cup with warm water. 

 Step 4: Get ready to soak

Fill a bowl with hot water and a few drops of dish soap. Soak your mug in this mixture for approximately 10 minutes. Add all components of your travel mug into the bowl. If you have a lid with a rubber seal or detachable parts, remove those and soak them together.  

Step 5: Give it a final rinse 

Rinse off any remaining residue off the mug and lid. 

Step 6: Dry your mug

The best method is to allow your mug to air dry overnight, but if you’re in a rush, drying it with a clean dish towel or paper towel will work just fine. 


How do I know if my travel mug is dishwasher safe?

When you purchase a new travel mug, be sure to look at the packaging to see if it notes that the product is dishwasher safe. If you don’t remember or already tossed the packaging, then look for a dishwasher-safe symbol, stamp, or label. On mugs, these labels are typically located on the bottom and look like a square box containing plates, glasses, or both symbols. 

How often do I need to clean my travel mug?

In an ideal world, we recommend rinsing it out after every use but life happens, right? One day your travel mug might be filled with water, the next it might be used to house coffee, then back to water. If you can get one deep clean in at least once a week, you should be good to go.

Tip: If you want a good, but not necessarily deep clean, soak the mug in warm soapy water overnight. When you are ready to fill it in the morning, rinse it out to get all the suds out. 

Put those cleaning supplies to work and get started with our fool-proof method.  While you're at it, look around the kitchen for other items you may be forgetting to clean like attachments and accessories.

Kara Thompson

About me: 

Kara Thompson is a Denver-based journalist with over five years of experience writing lifestyle content. She has written for a variety of publications, including,,, and Parents, where she covered all things home, food, fashion, travel, and holidays. During her time on staff at Parents, Kara launched her own home decor and organization column named Save My Space. In 2022, she left her full-time job as an editor and started her own writing, editing, and social media firm, Kara Thompson and Co.

Tennis, New York City, bourbon cocktails, and her sister's German Shepherd are a few of her favorite things.