What is better than pouring a hot cup of coffee just before you step out the door in the morning and it still being hot when you get to work? Or packing a thermos of hot chicken noodle soup for your child and knowing it will still bring a warm smile to their face come lunchtime?
That’s what can be accomplished with the magic of a well-insulated cup. Insulated containers are an excellent addition to anyone’s home, car cup holder, or office. They can keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold for prolonged periods of time.
With proper use and care, insulated cups are long-lasting products that create ease and efficiency in our daily lives. Above all, it is important to clean and store insulated cups and vessels appropriately to ensure longevity.
The invention of the insulated, double-walled, and vacuum-sealed insulated cups that we know and use today started more than 100 years ago by a scientist, by the name of Sir James Dewar.
Dewar was looking for a solution to storing Palladium at a correct and near-constant temperature. He employed the vacuum insulation technology that evolved into the modern insulated to-go cup.
At the beginning of the 20th century, glassblowers in Germany learned how to implement this technology into more commercial use of keeping liquids cool or warm by creating early double-walled vessels.
Travel mugs and insulated vacuum-sealed double-walled cups appeared on the scene near the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st century. Demand was high for consumers who were constantly on the go.
To start, let’s talk about insulation. For hot drinks, such as coffee, heat dissipates over time. With a plain ceramic mug or container, heat is drawn directly into the air, via steam, and through the sides.
An insulated cup provides a heat retention barrier to this expulsion of heat.
If you think about fiberglass insulation in a house, the purpose is to put a barrier between the eternal and internal surface of the home. This ensures that the internal temperature remains cool in the summer, and warm in the winter.
An insulated cup is essentially a cup within a cup where the layers are adhered together. The multiple layers of the insulated cup slow down the loss of the heat from the liquid.
For cold drinks, the process is the same, but in reverse. In this case, the “heat” is everything on the outside of the cup trying to cool itself down by gaining access to the cold beverage held within the insulated cup.
That way, when you are lounging on the beach or taking a hike in the mountains this summer, your beverage will remain cool and refreshing.
There are also vacuum-sealed insulated cups, from popular brands such as Brumate, Corkcicle, and RTIC. Vacuum-sealed cups work by using the vacuum as the barrier to heat loss. Because heat cannot travel through a vacuum, the heat reduction is much slower than in a regular insulated cup.
Brumate products are generally not dishwasher safe
The term “insulated cup” refers to a wide array of insulated vessels, including insulated water bottles, travel mugs, thermoses, tumblers, and other insulated containers. All of which should follow the same care and cleaning guidelines.
Historically, double-walled insulated cups cannot be washed in the dishwasher. They aren't dishwasher safe. You should assume this is the case unless the manufacturer instructions or product website say otherwise.
Unless you’re certain it is dishwasher safe, don’t put insulated cups, mugs or bottles in a dishwasher
You might think that this is due to the dishwasher detergent somehow negatively impacting your stainless steel cup or travel mug. Not the case as many dishwashers have stainless steel tubs.
The culprit that lies within the dishwasher is the heat and water pressure. This combination of heat and water risk breaking down the adhesive between the layers, thus separating them and defeating the purpose of the vacuum altogether.
Vacuum-seal insulated cups fail to do their job of conserving heat if the vacuum layer is compromised. The vacuum is compromised if the inner or outer cup is damaged. This can happen if your insulated coffee cup is dropped or broken.
This vacuum compromisation is also possible in the dishwasher. Under sustained heat, the layers of the cup can either start to deteriorate or detach from one another. The high heat in the dishwasher prevents your insulated cup from being dishwasher safe.
When the vacuum layer breaks, the cup ceases to function. There is an increased risk of bacteria growth within the vacuum chamber of the cup, posing a risk to your health.
Unless your insulated mug or bottle indicates that it is dishwasher safe, you probably should assume that it isn't safe to put in the dishwasher.
This means that you should assume your insulated travel coffee mug, or other insulated drinkware isn't safe to put in the dishwahser.
That said, more and more manufacturers are making dishwasher safe insulated water bottles and mugs.
Insulated Coffee Cup
Yeti's drinkware products are now made to be dishwasher safe. This includes both the YETI tumbler and the YETI rambler.
Yeti Rambler Insulated Water Bottle
The newest Hydroflask water bottle and most Klean Kanteen products are also dishwasher safe. That said, you probably shouldn't put any insulated travel mugs or drinkware in the dishwasher unless you have manufacturer instructions confirming that it is dishwasher safe.
While tossing the dishes in the dishwasher is an easier and quicker process, it will greatly affect the usability and longevity of your insulated cups - none of which are dishwasher safe.
Hand wash your insulated cups with soapy warm water. A soft-bristled brush is ideal for this task.
This will both kill germs and remove any unwanted residue from your cup. Furthermore, it is gentle enough to prevent excessive wear and tear that may compromise the insulation properties of the cup.
Washing an insulated cup by hand
There are several innovative ways to clean your insulated cups and water bottles to freshen them and remove unwanted debris, staining, bacteria, and viruses.
You can use a vinegar solution and soak the cup, or even vigorously shake it for a short time. Other cleaning agents, such as baking soda and hydrogen peroxide work wonders on insulated containers.
Clean your insulated containers and cups regularly to avoid getting sick and transferring germs to other surfaces.
Insulated cups are useful in a variety of ways. Consider the following ideas to get the most out of your insulated cup that adds convenience and quality to your life.
Insulated cups are great for various foods as well as drinks. The unique temperature-preserving technology is ideal for soups, stews, or even oatmeal. What better way to enjoy meals while hiking or picnicking?
The insulated cup is also an excellent way to store, travel with, and enjoy a breakfast smoothie or post-workout protein shake. Give the cup a thorough clean before reusing to remove anything leftover that might cling to the inner surface.
Do you travel frequently and have a hard time transporting your or your pet’s temperature-sensitive medicines? The early uses of the original vacuum-sealed insulated containers were to keep chemicals and medicine at a stable temperature.
You can apply this to insulin, antibiotic liquids, and some topical creams.
What is a better use for an insulated cup than to give it to a friend, family member, or coworker? Insulated cups make for excellent gifts for those special people in your life.
Several companies have customizable insulated cups and bottles, including Shutterfly, Tervis, and RTIC. Options include specially made decals, stickers, patterns, and colors to match the personality and style of any user.
Finally, the sustainability of insulated cups over disposable, single-use cups is undeniable. They are perfect to use and reuse for any number of beverages throughout the day.