Are Scratched Coffee Mugs Safe?

Your favorite coffee mug is scratched — are scratched coffee mugs safe? While stainless steel and glass coffee mugs tend to stand the test of time, the same isn’t always true for ceramic coffee mugs.

Are Scratched Coffee Mugs Safe
Ceramic coffee mugs contains lead and cadmium that may result in long-term-health issue

Ceramic coffee mugs (especially those made in countries other than the U.S.) may contain lead and cadmium. Scratches can cause these harmful metals to leech into your coffee, resulting in long-term health issues.

Here, we’ll learn about how you can decide whether it’s time to toss your favorite coffee cups once they’re no longer good as new. 

What Are Coffee Cups Made Of?

In order to understand the concern of whether it’s ok to drink out of scratched coffee cups, it’s important to understand what’s actually in your favorite mug. 

Many ceramic coffee mugs contain high levels of lead. The glaze used to give your coffee mug a shiny finish may contain a soft metal called cadmium. 

Over time, exposure to lead and cadmium can result in negative effects. Coffee is very acidic, and studies show that it’s possible your favorite coffee mug may be leaching lead over time. 

Ceramic coffee mugs, tumblers, water bottles, and teapots (especially those made in areas without FDA regulation) are most likely to contain high levels of lead that can lead to lead poisoning. 

If your ceramic coffee mugs become scratched, it’s more likely that lead or cadmium could reach your body. 

Different Types Of Coffee Cups

Thankfully, ceramic coffee cups aren’t your only option. If you’re concerned about scratches on your coffee mug, you may want to choose non-ceramic dinnerware. 

Stainless steel mugs are lead-free and cadmium-free, and are easily ordered from Amazon. Glass coffee mugs are another fantastic option to keep your coffee chemical-free, as glassware does not contain lead or cadmium. 

Bone china may sound like a good option since it’s a natural choice, but this type of dinnerware tends to contain lead and cadmium as well. 

Are Scratched Coffee Mugs Safe To Use?

A hand holding a scratched coffee mug
Scratched coffee mugs would eventually result to several health issues

You’re smart to be concerned about lead and cadmium leaching into your body from ceramic dishware. 

First, you’ll want to be sure your stoneware, dinnerware, and ceramic coffee cups are made in the United States. Dinnerware made in China is not subject to the same stringent safety requirements as dinnerware made in the United States. 

If the scratch is on the outside of the mug, and your tea cup or coffee cup was made in the U.S., you’re safe to continue using it. 

If the scratch is on the inside of the mug, it’s time to start shopping for some new earthenware. 

Your best bet: stay away from ceramic coffee mugs altogether, and choose a glass or stainless steel coffee mug instead. 

Protecting Your Favorite Coffee Cups

If you love your favorite ceramic mug and don’t want to make a switch to a stainless steel or glass option, you can take a few simple steps to reduce the likelihood of scratches and chips. 

First, never use a metal spoon to stir your coffee. Use a plastic or silicone spoon to reduce the likelihood of scratches on the inside of the cup. 

Second, even if your mug says it’s dishwasher safe, hand wash instead. The high hot water and drying temperatures of your dishwasher can be dangerous for ceramic mugs. Hand washing can help preserve the life of your cup and stop it from leaching lead due to the formation of cracks. 

Can You Repair Scratched Travel Mugs Or Ceramic Cups?

Two coffee mugs with scratches
There are still different ways to fix your scratched travel mugs or ceramic cups

Good news: if your favorite Corelle, Corning, or ceramic coffee cup has scratches, there are some home remedies that you can try to fix the problem. 

Try these steps to remove scratches and prolong the life of your favorite mug: 

  • Combine a teaspoon of water with two tablespoons of baking soda to create a thick paste. 
  • Apply a few drops of dishwashing liquid to a scouring pad, then dip the scouring pad in your baking soda paste. 
  • Scrub the scratches inside of the mug. 
  • Wash and dry your mug, and continue use until visible scratches appear again. Repeat the process as necessary.

The Final Word On Are Scratched Coffee Mugs Safe?

In a word: maybe. If your favorite ceramic mug was made in the United States and therefore adherent to FDA regulations, you can likely continue to drink out of it without fear of cadmium or lead poisoning. 

If your mug was made in China or another company not subject to FDA regulation, it’s not a good idea to continue using it once it’s scratched.

FAQs About Are Scratched Coffee Mugs Safe?

Is it ok to drink out of a scratched coffee mug?

If your scratched coffee mug was made in the United States, it’s likely safe. If it wasn’t, you’ll want to drink out of another mug. 

Is there a better option than ceramic coffee cups?

To eliminate the risk of lead and cadmium poisoning, switch to a stainless steel or glass coffee mug.



  • Amanda Berkey

    Amanda has an M.S.Ed degree from the University of Pennsylvania in School and Mental Health Counseling and is a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer. She has experience writing magazine articles, newspaper articles, SEO-friendly web copy, and blog posts. Find Amanda on LinkedIn.