Are Scratched Coffee Mugs Safe? – Essential Things To Know

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For many coffee fans, lovely mugs can be indispensable items at home or the office. Why are those cups so popular? This is because sipping coffee every day has become a habit of many people of different ages.

However, regardless of the materials of mugs, scratches will start to appear on them over time. That makes many people wonder: are the scratched coffee mugs safe? Is it time to say goodbye to their favorite mugs?

Scroll down the writing to discover!

Are Scratched Coffee Mugs Safe?

Yes, scratched coffee mugs are still safe to use. You can continue to use those mugs as long as the scratches are superficial and easy to remove. The safety of scratched coffee mugs depends on the depth level of scratches and material of the coffee mugs. On the other hand, if the scratches are deeper, mugs can leak some toxic substance.

Moreover, there are some low-quality products on the market containing high levels of lead or cadmium. That’s why absorbing these substances can affect your health in the long term. Here are some signs of degraded mugs that you should throw away.

Steel Coffee Mugs

Steel mugs are well-known for their durability. Many people assume that steel can avoid any damage. But it doesn’t mean they can resist the test of time without damage.

In reality, their surfaces are not perfect due to clashes with metal spoons or something sharp. 

Many of them come with a plastic cover. Hence, in case your cup has a scratched plastic finish, you had better stop using the cup right away. 

For those who do not want to switch coffee holders soon, use plastic or silicone spoons rather than metal ones to prevent scratches. 

Plastic Coffee Mugs

Plastic mugs are often made from polyethylene or polymers in general. These substances, undoubtedly, cause potential health problems for humans. 

Once scratches run along the inside and the lip of plastic mugs, there will be space for bacteria or stilts where the toxic substance exposes the coffee. 

Eventually, coffee will be contaminated with chemicals and bacterial, causing digestive and poisoning symptoms.

Ceramic Coffee Mugs

Porcelains or ceramic mugs are prevalent as they are long-lasting and inexpensive. Makers often paint them with lacquer – a compound containing lead.

As lead is a harmful substance, users should be aware of the position of scratches. A red flag is when you see a scratched glaze inside the mugs.

Glass Coffee Mugs

Glass coffee mugs are among the most popular items found in many families. Stylish as these cups are, they easily suffer from scratches. 

Even if the scratches are outside, glass cups are still unsafe to use. They can cause dangers such as breakage or cracking when the coffee cups are full or the temperature immediately increases. 

Test The Scratched Mugs

Fortunately, you can check whether the scratches affect the quality of the mugs or not with the following steps.  

First, add baking soda (2-3 tablespoons) with fresh water ( 1-2 tablespoons) to create a soft paste.

Then use a micro cloth to apply the mixture to the scratches. Rub them gently. You can add some drops of dishwashing soap to the mixture, yet this step is optional. Wait a few minutes and rinse the mugs with fresh water.

There will be no problem as long as the mugs are clean without visible scratches. Otherwise, it is time to shop for another one. 

Potential Health Risks Of Using Scratched Coffee Mugs 

If people drink coffee with cups scratched inside made of toxic material, they are more likely to suffer from lead or cadmium poisoning.

In particular, lead poisoning can bring an unexpected developmental delay, psychological problems, reproductive issues, or learning disabilities. 

Meanwhile, exposure to cadmium for some time seriously affects digestion and kidney. So, you’d better spend some time researching the products in terms of origin, materials, and brand before buying to minimize almost all potential risks.

What To Do With Old Scratched Coffee Mugs

Some people do not want to put their old coffee cups into the garbage for some reason. For many, these mugs are pretty companions or beautiful gifts from their friends. 

Some others want to protect the environment. Here are some suggestions to take advantage of unused mugs. 

Plant Pots

You can use the mugs to plant herbs or small trees. These adorable pots can add some green space and serve well as decorative things in your living space.

Dishwashing Wands And Sponges Holder

It is also a great idea to put dishwashing wands or sponges into the mugs. They can make your kitchen look clean and tidy. 

Mug Candles

Another idea is to make coffee mug candles. This task is especially suitable for those who are skillful only. Some creative people can even earn money by recycling mugs this way. 

Mosaic Art

For art lovers, they can create great mosaic art by sticking the mugs into a picture. Designing work with mugs is a good way to keep their old present and show how they cherish it. 


How can you know there is lead in mugs?

Some mugs with high lead have decal images or logos applied inside or outside. When touching these logos or images, you may feel it raise above the rest of the mug’s surface. 

Are there any better options than ceramic coffee cups?

Yes, there are. Stainless steel or glass coffee mugs usually offer better quality. To ensure the quality, remember to check the brand and the origin of these mugs.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, until these last lines, you have reached useful information on the topic – are scratched coffee mugs safe? In short, this depends on the depth and position of the scratches. 

Normally, people have to replace the old mugs to avoid poisoning as the scratches are often unseen. Hence, remember to choose a product with a trustworthy brand to protect your health!

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Almost 20 years already spent committed to coffee and more than 3 years of experience as a barista at Starbucks. Madelyn Doyle graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutritional Science from the University of California and finished the Coffee Skills Program at the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA).