Can Starbucks Cups be Dishwashed: A Comprehensive Guide

In this article, we delve into the often-debated topic of whether Starbucks cups can be safely cleaned in a dishwasher. Many coffee enthusiasts are familiar with the iconic white and green cups that Starbucks serves its delicious brews in. These cups have become a symbol of the Starbucks experience, but can they withstand the heat and pressure of a dishwasher? We aim to answer this question comprehensively and provide you with all the information you need to keep your Starbucks cups looking pristine.

Starbucks has a devoted following of coffee lovers who enjoy sipping their favorite caffeinated beverages from the company’s distinct cups. However, it’s not uncommon for Starbucks cup owners to wonder if these cups are dishwasher-safe. After all, convenience is key in our busy lives, and nobody wants to spend precious minutes handwashing dishes if they can be safely cleaned in a dishwasher.

Starbucks Cups: Material Matters

To determine whether Starbucks cups can withstand the rigors of a dishwasher, we first need to understand the materials used in their construction. Starbucks primarily uses paper cups for their hot beverages and plastic cups for cold drinks.

Paper Cups

Starbucks’ paper cups are lined with a thin layer of plastic to prevent leaks and protect your hands from hot liquids. While this plastic lining makes the cups suitable for holding hot beverages, it poses a challenge when it comes to dishwashing. The high heat and moisture in a dishwasher can cause the plastic lining to break down and potentially release harmful chemicals into your dishwasher.

Plastic Cups

Starbucks’ plastic cups are made from polypropylene, a durable and heat-resistant plastic. These cups are designed to withstand the cold temperatures of iced beverages, but they are not impervious to heat. Subjecting plastic cups to the high temperatures of a dishwasher can lead to warping, melting, and the release of harmful chemicals.

The Dishwashing Dilemma

Given the materials used in Starbucks cups, it’s essential to consider the potential risks of washing them in a dishwasher:

  1. Warping: Plastic cups may warp when exposed to high heat in the dishwasher, causing them to lose their shape and structural integrity.
  2. Chemical Release: Both paper and plastic cups can release chemicals when exposed to extreme heat, potentially contaminating your dishwasher and dishes.
  3. Color Fading: The vibrant colors and logos on Starbucks cups may fade or peel off when subjected to the dishwasher’s abrasive conditions.

Dishwashing Dos and Don’ts

While it’s generally not recommended to put Starbucks cups in the dishwasher due to the aforementioned risks, there are some dos and don’ts you can follow if you’re determined to give it a try:


  • Use the Top Rack: If you must attempt dishwashing Starbucks cups, place them on the top rack of your dishwasher. This reduces their exposure to direct heat.
  • Low Heat Setting: Opt for a low-heat or gentle cycle to minimize the risk of warping and chemical release.


  • Avoid Harsh Detergents: Do not use harsh detergents or bleach when cleaning Starbucks cups in the dishwasher, as this can accelerate color fading and chemical release.
  • Skip Pre-rinsing: Contrary to regular dishwashing, it’s best not to pre-rinse Starbucks cups. The dishwasher’s mild detergent should suffice.

The Safer Alternative: Handwashing

Considering the potential risks of using a dishwasher, the safer and more reliable option for cleaning Starbucks cups is handwashing. Here’s a simple guide to handwashing Starbucks cups:

  1. Gentle Scrubbing: Use a soft sponge or cloth to gently scrub the inside and outside of the cup. Avoid abrasive scrubbers that can damage the cup’s surface.
  2. Mild Detergent: Use a mild dishwashing detergent to clean the cup. Avoid harsh chemicals.
  3. Rinse Thoroughly: Rinse the cup thoroughly with warm water to remove any soap residue.
  4. Air Dry: Allow the cup to air dry by placing it upside down on a clean dish rack or towel.


In conclusion, while it may be tempting to toss your Starbucks cups into the dishwasher for convenience, it’s not the best practice for maintaining the quality and integrity of these iconic cups. Starbucks cups, whether made of paper or plastic, are best cared for through gentle handwashing with mild detergent and warm water.

Remember, the unique designs and vibrant colors on Starbucks cups are part of what makes them so special. By taking the time to handwash them, you’ll ensure that they continue to look as good as the coffee tastes.

So, can Starbucks cups be dishwashed? Technically, yes, but it’s not recommended if you want to keep them in pristine condition. Opt for the safer route of handwashing to preserve the charm of your Starbucks cups for many coffee-filled moments to come.

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