Traditional recipes

How to Safely Clean Your Gross Travel Mug Lid

How to Safely Clean Your Gross Travel Mug Lid

Ditch the dishwasher and use these simple solutions instead.

Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

I’m not that old, but I am old enough to remember when travel mugs were just that: a mug that you took with you, and you hoped the contents wouldn’t spill or splash all over. In fact, cars didn’t even have cup holders (at least, mine didn’t). We had to buy plastic cup-holding gizmos that slid into the door where the window goes down. (I did not, however, have to walk to school in the snow, uphill both ways.) Today, it seems I collect to-go mugs—bonafide, for-the-car containers to keep hot beverages hot—at school functions, as gifts, and at the store when mine start to smell bad or stop working properly.

Most travel-mug lids have a rubbery seal made of polypropylene, a food-safe plastic that has a high tolerance for heat—including the type of heat it receives in the top rack of a dishwasher. Many travel mug manufacturers’ product care guidelines recommend top-rack dishwashing as the safest and best way to clean their lids. Not all lids, however, are created equally. Some are made of other, less durable material.

If you’ve had (and dishwashed) a travel mug for any length of time, you’ve probably noticed that the seal begins to break down or warp. Your hot beverage doesn’t stay so hot, and the potential for leaks increases. You might also notice a funky smell. That’s because old coffee and bacteria can hide in all those grooves—more bacteria, in fact, than what’s in a dog bowl. Oh, and not to mention, your travel mug lid can actually grow mold.

So while these mugs are great for the environment, they’re not so hot for our health. Follow these steps to keep your gasket and lid in tip-top shape:

  1. Always rinse out the lid (and mug) with warm water after every use. Open and close all the parts while running the lid under the tap. If you’re like me, however, and you end up forgetting your mug in the car (and it sits in there all day and/or night), then read on.
  2. Take apart any pieces of the lid that you can. Soak them and the lid in warm dish-soapy water for 10 minutes. This will help soften and loosen whatever may be clinging to the lid. If the lid has an open/close mechanism, set it to “open.” Avoid cleansers or anything chlorine-based, but if your lid is particularly stinky, you can soak it in a warm water-baking soda solution for a couple hours instead.
  3. Rinse under warm water, opening and closing the seal to ensure all the soap gets washed away. For very complicated lids, consider using a bottle or spout brush, clean toothbrush, cotton swab, or pipe cleaner to get at all those hidden places.
  4. For the occasional deeper clean, Merry Maids, the home cleaning company, suggests putting 1 teaspoon baking soda in the mug and adding ½ cup distilled white vinegar. (This is a great science experiment for the kiddos, too!) After the bubbles settle down, cap the mug, leaving the drinking spout open but covered with your thumb or finger, and shake it. Be warned, as this will really agitate those bubbles. Pour it out, then follow steps 1-3.
  5. Allow the lid to dry completely, separately from the mug.

It’s worth mentioning that these steps will also work reusable water bottle lids. Happy cleaning!

Commuting: Have Mug, Will Travel

THE peripatetic nature of American society has spawned all sorts of strange creations, among them billboards, Winnebagos, Walkman radios and car telephones.

But the most unheralded product of Americans on the run may be the plastic sloshproof wonder known as the travel coffee mug or the commuter mug.

''They have become a dashboard icon,'' said Pat Ganahl, the editor of Rod & Custom magazine in Los Angeles, 'ɺ symbol of hearth and home on the road.''

The mugs, which come with holders that adhere to car dashboards and have fixed lids to prevent spilling, are sold mostly at convenience stores and fast food restaurants, and come with nicknames like Trip Sip and Zip Sip (the Diamond Shamrock gas and convenience stores advertise theirs as ''traffic cups'' that let commuters ''sip through traffic''). They are identifiable by their graphics - featuring turnpike favorites like ''New Jersey and You'' and the Pep Boys: Manny, Mo and Jack - and by a sloping lid with a small hole in it through which the sipper sips hot coffee or tea. Straws are used with some models.

''These mugs are a godsend,'' said Bruce Kirkpatrick, an actor who commutes daily from Philadelphia to New York. ''They allow me to drink coffee and still drive safely'' - although how safely one drives under the influence of 20 ounces of coffee from a jumbo-sized travel mug (the standard cup holds 6 ounces) may be open to debate. Laurie J. Scott, an assistant account executive at Grey Advertising, and Suzanne P. Loss, an accountant at Price Waterhouse, were recently seen on a train from White Plains to New York downing hot coffee from their orange-and-white commemorative Hee-Haw mugs. The roommates carry their briefcases in one hand and their mugs in the other.

Michael J. Bernstein, a Chicago salesman of marketing services who logs an annual 45,000 to 50,000 miles on the road, recalls buying his first mug at a Movin' convenience store in Crescent City, Ky. When he reached his destination, mug in hand, the potential client smiled conspiratorially and said, ''Hey, I have one of those.''

The proliferation of plastic travel mugs, which dates from the early 1980's, is largely the result of 'ɼoffee club'' promotions by convenience stores. When a customer buys a mug (generally 99 cents to $1.79 for an 8-ounce or 12-ounce mug) at a Dunkin' Donuts, a Circle K, a Cumberland Farms, a Wawa, an A Plus Mini Market or any other of the nation's 67,500 convenience stores that has a coffee club, he or she becomes a member and is entitled to buy refills there at a discount.

'ɺ coffee club member is anybody who's got a travel mug and goes back for a refill,'' said Bob Sokolski, president of Whirley Industries Inc. of Warren, Pa., which is generally credited with having initiated the mass marketing of plastic travel mugs to convenience stores.

There are no statistics on the impact travel mugs have had on coffee sales, according to George Boecklin, president of the National Coffee Association. But at convenience stores, the mugs and attendant promotion 'ɺre a fact of life,'' said Wayne Pierce, the publisher of Convenience Store Management, a trade publication.

Mr. Sokolski estimated annual sales of travel mugs at more than 10 million a year. ''The American people have a social attachment to a favorite cup or mug,'' said Roger K. Oakes, president of Aladdin Synergetics Inc., which makes them for, among others, Texaco, Chevron, Dairy Mart, Twitty City and Opryland USA.

Aladdin mugs, which have foam insulation but no holder for dashboards, were the result of happenstance, Mr. Oakes said. In 1981 the company manufactured an insulated mug for hospitals. By chance, Mr. Oakes used it one day at the office and ''recognized the coffee was much hotter than I was accustomed to.

''We didn't invent the concept, but we had the idea: if you put a handle on it with a drink-through lid, it would be great for commuters.''

The problem of how to drink coffee while in motion has long plagued car designers and commuters. In the 1950's some cars had glove-box doors that opened to make a shelf to set a cup on, though the design was satisfactory only when the car was at a standstill. Since then auto supply stores have done a brisk business in accessories like cup holders and lap trays, while the recreational vehicle industry has perfected the design of consoles to hold cups.

In 1978 Joseph F. Corey, a real-estate developer in Whittier, Calif., received a patent for an open-top nondrip mug with baffles inside that, in his words, ''kept the slosh down.''

Consumers were ripping holes in the plastic lids of Styrofoam coffee cups, sometimes by hand, sometimes with teeth, long before the introduction of plastic lids with premade tabs.

The travel coffee mug seems an inevitable link in this evolutionary chain. ''They give the illusion of saving time,'' said Alan Hess, a California architect and author of ''Googie: Fifties Coffee Shop Architecture'' (Chronicle Books, 1986). ''They're like a portable coffee shop you take around in your car. And like the bumper sticker and the car itself, they have become a way to express an opinion through personal or regional affection.''

That affection can be deep. Keith Summa of Manhattan, for instance, has an extensive collection of travel mugs even though he does not own a car.

He bought his first mug at a Starvin Marvin's last year while on a business trip to Atlanta. He is particularly partial to the 20-ounce insulated mug from an Inland Food store outside Panama City, Fla. 'ɻut I love them all because they're inane,'' he said. ''In every little town, you find a different coffee mug. They're certainly more interesting than postcards.''

The mugs do have detractors, however. Will Prindle, a California industrial designer, finds them ''impossible to clean, and they end up dribbling coffee on your chest.'' The nation's largest convenience-store chain, 7-Eleven, recently stopped carrying them. 'ɼonsumers were complaining about the quality of the coffee,'' said Don Cowan, a company spokesman. 'ɻut our research indicated they weren't cleaning the mugs properly.''

And while they may be a folk item, some people find them plain ugly. Bob Wittmer, operations manager for Fugazy Limousine Ltd. in Manhattan, said he would never allow the mugs in his limousines. ''We don't use them,'' he sniffed. ''They're not professional.'' Barry Sokol, a New York City cabby for 35 years, pondered the broader question of mugs in modern life while drinking coffee from a ceramic mug at the Market Diner on 11th Avenue. ''If they have one hand on the cellular telephone and the other on a coffee mug, how are they going to drive?''

How to Clean Everything From Your Decanter to Your Travel Mug

Finding the perfect decanter can be intimidating. Whether you’re looking for the ideal vessel for storing your finest scotch or bourbon, or just looking for a place to pour your wine into so you can really watch it bloom, we’re here to help.

First, it’s important to understand the differences between different kinds of decanters. As mentioned, pouring your wine into a proper wine decanter will help the liquid aerate and express its best flavors and aromas to its fullest. Left inside the bottle, the liquid to oxygen ratio is much smaller, and there’s little room to swill your wine around (and loosen any sediment). Of course, we could talk your ear off about selecting the best decanter for your wine, but luckily we’ve compiled all our best tips here into this article.

A spirits decanter on the other hand is largely used for decoration. While yes, a decanter will also help your spirits aerate, this is less of a concern with fine whiskey or tequila and so many decanters are just an awesome way to customize your favorite serve and showcase your spirit in something nicer than its bottle.

That said, no matter why you’ve chosen your decanter there will come a time when you need to clean it. While many of our favorite picks in the articles listed above are dishwasher safe, we understand that it can be a mental hurdle to pack any crystal alongside your daily table settings. So for those who are looking for the best, safest ways to clean your decanter read on to discover the tools you cannot live without.

Decanter Cleaning Brushes

These Decanter Cleaning Brushes take all the work out of cleaning your decanter. Simply slide them in and watch them sweep through every crevice in your decanter, leaving all your most delicate crystal and glass spotless and streak-free. Each brush is super limber so you know it will bend to meet every tricky corner while ensuring a thorough — albeit very, very gentle — clean.

Each set comes with two reusable brushes made with high-tensile foam. These brushes are truly the best way to clean your decanter without accidentally scratching your precious vessel, and make a great gift for any wine lover.

Decanter Cleaning Beads

For all those deep-clean moments that call for a little more than your standard brush, look to these Decanter Cleaning Beads to get the job done. Simply mix these stainless steel beads with a bit of water, pour them into your decanter, and swirl. The beads will quickly lift tough stains and loosen any pesky sediment, and clean so well they’re a gadget you really have to see to believe.

Not only are they perfect for cleaning your decanter, but you can also use these beads to swipe through and polish your favorite carafe, coffee pot, flask, or travel mug so they’re a great home cleaning tool for anyone. Completely reusable, each set comes with over 250 beads so you can tackle every deep-clean with ease.

There's Mold Hiding in Your Travel Tumbler Lid &mdash Here's Exactly How to Clean It Before You Get Sick

When was the last time you hand washed your YETI mug? Exactly.

We all know that reusable cups and straws are the way to go. The tough part, however, is making sure that what we're drinking out of is actually clean. Even though most popular tumblers are dishwasher-safe, it doesn't mean that your dishwasher safely and effectively cleans them.

In fact, many travel mugs have removable seals to trap in heat or cold &mdash and if they aren't properly cleaned and dried, these seals also trap moisture. Mold, which is a type of fungus, flourishes in moist, dark areas. Yep, that means with every sip of coffee, you're probably also drinking mold if your lid hasn't been properly cleaned.

After hearing that this was causing people to get sick, Veronica Lucas took a closer look at her travel mug and discovered tons of mold hidden underneath the lid's removable seal. She shared photos to Facebook, and the post went viral with 16,000 likes and more than 2,000 comments.

Veronica's not alone. In October 2018, Dr. Beau Pierce, a sports chiropractor based in Santa Maria, California, posted a now-viral video titled "A Yeti Style Cup Almost Killed My Patient." In the video, he explains how one of his patients mentioned how he was struggling to beat an ongoing sickness. After asking a series of questions, Dr. Beau noticed his patient's tumbler sitting on the counter and upon taking a closer look, discovered mold hidden underneath the lid.

It's a bit extreme to say that a tumbler was killing his patient, but the connection between a moldy lid and sickness is very likely. Consuming mold, at any degree, isn't good for your health. "Some molds cause allergic reactions and respiratory problems. And a few molds, in the right conditions, produce 'mycotoxins,' poisonous substances that can make you sick," according to the USDA.

While the YETI name is being thrown around, this is a common problem with all tumblers that have removable seals, no matter the brand. YETI, however, responded to with the following statement:

On their FAQ page, YETI explains that just sticking it in the dishwasher won't necessarily do the dirty work: "And here's an extra tip to prolong the life of your YETI cup: before it goes in the dishwasher, remove the rubber lid gasket to prevent any grime build up in the lid. Then throw it in the silverware basket." So, there. The solution has been in front of our faces all along.

To prevent mold, Carolyn Forte, Director of the Home Appliances and Cleaning Products Labs at the Good Housekeeping Institute, recommends that you scrub any areas that the dishwasher can't reach. "To get rid of all the residue and resulting mold, you should totally disassemble the tumbler and scrub all the pieces by hand in hot, soapy water to be sure they are clean," she explains. "These cups and thermal carafes have removable seals for a reason."

Her top tip: Stick it in the dishwasher before you wash it by hand. "While the dishwasher is great, it can&rsquot do everything, and it can&rsquot clean under these seals. In fact, water from the dishwasher can actually get trapped in there, which causes mold to grow." No, thanks!

To be clear: We're not telling you to ditch your tumblers altogether. This is simply a friendly reminder to give your reusable to-go cups a regular deep clean.

Performance: Works well in extreme conditions

To test the mug’s heat retention, we made hot chocolate at 9 a.m. and took it to work with us. When we opened the Thermos Stainless King at 2 p.m., the drink’s temperature was still on the hot side of drinkable. We were impressed, but we also wanted to see how well the Thermos Travel Mug would retain heat in more extreme conditions, such as for people who work outside.

The lid has openings on either side, making it comfortable to use whether you’re left- or right-handed.

To test this, we put boiling water into the cup and placed it in our car on a cold, 20-degree day. After seven hours, the liquid was still above 130 degrees, which is within the ideal temperature range for drinking coffee. We’re happy to say that this travel mug stands up to its claims and will keep your coffee hot for most—if not all—of your shift, even on a cold day.

As far as keeping liquids cold, we tested found that the Thermos Stainless King kept ice water refreshingly cold for almost 24 hours. The ice didn’t last that long, though.

Here&rsquos what I scooped up from Walmart.

I&rsquove never bought denture tablets for obvious reasons, so I have to admit that when I had to scoop some up from Walmart, I was a bit skeptical. I thought, &ldquoHow can denture tablets possibly be a good cleaning hack?&rdquo

I bought the smallest boxes of denture tablets I could find. My local Walmart had two brands available, Efferdent and Polident, so I scooped up both boxes.

The best travel coffee mugs

If you&rsquore looking to cut down on purchasing products that can&rsquot be recycled, investing in a reusable travel mug for hot drinks can be a simple and effective tweak to your daily routine.

But which one to choose from the many currently available?

The Good Housekeeping Institute has tested 22 travel mugs to see which is best.

Best overall travel mug

Bodum&rsquos Vacuum Travel mug came out on top scoring 96/100.

Testers liked the stylish design and the option to buy the mug in a range of colours (including red, turquoise and black).

The design was judged to be: &lsquostylish and iconic&rsquo and excellent at retaining heat &ndash while the mug remained comfortable to hold on the outside.

Testers thought the lid was a little stiff at times and that the mug was a little bulky.

Runner up travel mug

The Nespresso Touch Travel Mug was the runner up scoring just a couple of points below Bodum with 94/100.

Like the winning mug, Nespresso&rsquos cup scored full marks for design thanks to the sleek, ribbed, stainless steel finish.

It retained its heat well and didn&rsquot get too hot on the outside. It was also dishwasher safe making it easy to clean.

Once again, testers found the plastic lid a little stiff to open and close at times.

Best budget travel mug

The ecoffee reusable coffee cup scored 91/100 and at under £10, is a great affordable buy.

It gets top marks for design and is available in a range colours and patterns. It&rsquos also 100% natural, made form bamboo fibre and is biodegradable.

It retained its heat well and was comfortable to drink from with testers also saying the lid felt secure.

The silicon grip band was great for comfort but did get a little hot when filled with liquid.

The cheapest was Greggs Travel Cup which scored 90/100 and costs just £2.

The mug kept drinks hot and remained at a comfortable temperature to hold, even though it doesn&rsquot feature a grip like other mugs.

Downside were it isn&rsquot dishwasher-safe although it washed up well by hand.

Bad News: Your Travel Mug Lid is Probably Full of Mold

It turns out that the thing you love most about your favorite travel mug (its magical ability to keep your beverage either hot or cold) could also be making you sick.

Unfortunately, even regular runs through the dishwasher won&apost properly clean the removable seals many travel mugs have to trap in heat or cold. And as Veronica Lucas recently learned the hard way, these seals can become breeding grounds for mold and bacteria if they aren&apost thoroughly cleaned and dried.

Lucas, of Asheville, North Carolina, recently went viral after she took a closer look at her Yeti travel mugs and discovered an alarming amount of mold hidden beneath the removable seals of their lids.

"Seriously y&aposall. go check your lids! (This applies to ALL brands of cups. not just Yeti.)" Lucas wrote on Facebook alongside four alarming photos of the mold she discovered.

That&aposs right: you could be drinking mold.

According to the USDA, consuming mold can make you very sick. "Some molds cause allergic reactions and respiratory problems," the organization&aposs official website explains. "And a few molds, in the right conditions, produce &aposmycotoxins,&apos poisonous substances that can make you sick."

And Yeti mugs aren&apost the only ones that pose a threat. Any tumbler with a removable seal could be harboring mold.

WATCH: Is It Dangerous to Eat Moldy Bread?

Carolyn Forte, Director of the Home Appliances and Cleaning Products Labs at the Good Housekeeping Institute, recommends hand-scrubbing any and all areas that your dishwasher can&apost reach to keep your beloved mug mold-free. "To get rid of all the residue and resulting mold, you should totally disassemble the tumbler and scrub all the pieces by hand in hot, soapy water to be sure they are clean," she explained to Good Housekeeping. "These cups and thermal carafes have removable seals for a reason."

Best Travel Coffee Mugs on Amazon Under $50

Best Overall Travel Mug: Zojirushi Stainless-Steel Mug

No matter what you&aposre looking for in a travel mug—good insulation, ease of use, or the ability to throw it into a bag without worrying about leaks—you&aposll find it in a Zojirushi. These mugs consistently keep drinks hotter than competitors with their best models, scalding water will still be enjoyably hot a full 24 hours after you pour it. They&aposre also the easiest to use, with simple flip-up lids that lock in place with the slide of a finger (and stay completely shut, without dripping, even if they bounce around in a tote or backpack).

The standard 16-ounce stainless mug, which is small and sleek enough to tuck into a purse, comes in a wide variety of colors and designs. If you&aposre looking for something a little more rugged, try the flip-and-go model, which also has a fold-up handle that can be attached to a carabiner (and, in some tests, kept liquids even hotter than the other models).

How to choose the right travel coffee mug for you


We place big demands on the right travel coffee cup. Because if coffee were to spill, well that would surely ruin our day on-the-go. Things to consider:

Material: The most popular travel cups for coffee are made with stainless steel with double-walled insulation to keep drinks hot or cold. However, they require certain care and are not microwave safe. Other alternatives are silicone and glass, which can be placed in the microwave, and are usually dishwasher safe. Glass is also a popular choice as it does not affect the taste of the coffee, but it is the most fragile. Plastic has grown less popular, as it is known to absorb smells and odors, doesn't keep temperature, and will likely be hot to carry.

Leakproof/Spillproof: Depending on your level of activity, how leakproof a cup is will vary greatly. If you're just going in a car and carrying it in your hand like a normal disposable coffee cup, leakproof might not be your most important factor. However, if you're truly on the go, and want to be able to place your travel mug in a bag, leakproof will be a priority.

Size: Coffee cups vary greatly in size. The cups in our list ranged from 4 ounces to 34 ounces, but will typically be found in sizes between 12 and 20 ounces. Consider if you need your cup to fit in a cupholder, under a single-serve coffee machine

Ease of Use and Durability: When it comes to travel mugs, their ability to go in the dishwasher varies quite widely, and a lot of them are handwash only. If you're the type who hopes to just toss it in the top rack of your dishwasher, then you're going to want to look out for those specific models. Otherwise, be prepared to handwash your cup. Additionally, consider weight and comfort when holding your mug. Do you require a handle, or are you OK gripping a tumbler? If you drop it, will it break or spill.