The inside of the coffee mug that I use at the office as a tea mug had acquired such a rich patina that it was impossible to tell what color it had once been, so I brought it home and gave it a good going-over with a Brillo pad, which I thought would take forever but ended up lasting no more than a couple minutes, and that was including the time it took to rinse it and scrub again when I noticed I missed a spot.
I’ve never let a coffee/tea mug go for so long without washing it out, but in my experience there is a long tradition among coffee drinkers for this sort of thing, and I’ve heard that tea drinkers will do the same thing with their teapots, so I didn’t feel my health was in danger. No one was looking into my tea mug and saying things like, “Geeze, Dave, better get your tetanus booster if you’re going to keep drinking out of that mug!”
But the other morning as I was giving the mug a rinse at the sink in the kitchenette in preparation for making my morning cuppa, I noticed that the bottom of the mug had taken on such a rich dark hue that it looked almost like the bottom of a post hole I’d dug in the garden last year. Didn’t smell like dirt, but it didn’t rinse away and I couldn’t scrub it off with ordinary paper towels, so when I was packing up after work yesterday I stuffed the mug into my man-purse and brought it home.
When it came time to wash the dishes that night, I waited until I had cleaned up all the other glasses, bowls and utensils before giving the tea mug a dunk in the dish water and letting it soak for a couple minutes, thinking that might somehow loosen up the stuck-on tea even though my efforts in the kitchenette that morning should have indicated that no magical loosening-up was likely to occur. This was a job for Brillo pads, pure and simple, and I just happened to have a box of them squirreled away under the sink.
I truly did anticipate that, even with the combined power of steel wool and chlorine cleanser, aided by a generous helping of elbow grease, I would be scrubbing the insides of that tea mug for the next generation to get every last bit of the stain out. No such thing. Two minutes, tops, and the whole operation was finished. After making one quick swipe all the way around the sides, the Brillo felt as though it was gliding silky-smooth across the surfaces, so I wadded it up in the bottom of the mug and gate it a couple quick twists, then rinsed to get eyeballs on the situation and zow! All but the ring around the bottom was gleaming back at me, bright and shiny as a new quarter.
Drinking tea the next morning was a new experience, even though I drink the kind of tea that comes in bags stapled to a little string with a paper tag.
So, what do you do with a soggy Brillo after you’ve used it to clean just one thing? Stuff it in an empty cat food tin and save it for later? Yeah, me too. Those things are like gold to me. It seems like a waste to toss it when I can see even a little bit of blue clinging in the deepest recesses of the steel wool. I usually don’t toss ’em until rust starts to take hold.