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Best Microwave-Safe Travel Mugs

By: Amy Livingston on May 15, 2017

Plastic and ceramic travel mugs go from microwave to cup holder

The biggest problem with stainless-steel travel mugs (covered in their own section) is that they can't be heated in a microwave. That's not a problem for most users, since these mugs provide good insulation and can keep hot drinks hot for hours. However, if you like to prepare your hot drink right in the microwave – say, nuking the water before popping in a tea bag – using a stainless-steel mug adds an extra step. You have to heat the water and make the drink in a separate container before pouring it into your travel mug, then wash the first container before you go. That can be a real hassle on a busy morning.

For users who need a microwaveable mug, there are two choices: plastic and ceramic. Unfortunately, these types of mugs don't get nearly as many recommendations on retail sites as the most popular stainless-steel mugs, and most professional tests don't cover them at all. TheSweethome.com, for example, chose to exclude plastic and ceramic travel mugs from its roundup because earlier tests by other reviewers showed that they can't retain heat for much more than an hour, and they also tend to break easily. Also, user reviews for plastic mugs, even the most popular ones, complain that they tend to retain odors over time, even with regular washing.

Since professional tests don't cover plastic and ceramic travel mugs, we relied on reviews from users to find the best choice. These steered us toward the Lenox Travel Mug (Est. $12), a top pick at both Amazon.com and BedBathandBeyond.com. This travel mug has an ultra-simple shape that resembles a paper or Styrofoam coffee cup, but it's actually made from double-walled ceramic, with an insulating layer of air sandwiched between two layers of porcelain. The lid is made of flexible silicone with a small hole for sipping through. It's sold in a variety of colorful patterns featuring birds, butterflies, and trees.

We found hundreds of reviews for this travel mug on retail sites, with overall ratings averaging 4.5 stars out of 5. Owners say it's attractive and, for a ceramic mug, surprisingly durable; several owners report that they dropped it on the floor and it didn't break. They also say the double-walled construction protects your hands from heat and does a reasonably good job of keeping coffee warm. The fact that it's microwave-safe is also a huge plus, as is its low price tag. Finally, the simple design makes the mug very easy to clean by hand. (Putting it in the dishwasher isn't recommended, although some users say they have done so with no problems.)

The main drawbacks of this mug have to do with its unusual design. This travel mug comes in two sizes, 10 ounces and 12 ounces, and users say even the larger size can only hold a full 12 ounces of liquid if you fill it to the very brim. You wouldn't want to do that, though, because the lid of this travel mug doesn't actually close fully. A mug filled to the brim with hot coffee is sure to splash some out through the open drinking hole. Also, a few users say the silicone lid doesn't seal very well, allowing liquid to drip out around the edge. Finally, some users say that the lid has an odd, rubbery smell, particularly when it's new.

Another budget-friendly option is the Copco Acadia Mug (Est. $8). It has the same paper-cup shape as the Lenox Travel Mug, but with a few differences. First, it's made from double-walled, BPA-free plastic rather than ceramic, with a grippy textured sleeve in a choice of eight colors. Second, it has a larger capacity of 16 ounces. Finally, unlike the Lenox mug, it's fully dishwasher-safe as well as microwave-safe.

Most users say this travel mug is a good value: reasonably sturdy and comfortable to hold, with a secure-fitting lid that's easy to drink from. Cleanup is also a breeze. However, several owners say the mug doesn't hold heat well, and since its drinking spout is always open, leaks or spills are common. Also, there are quite a few complaints that the plastic starts to retain tastes and smells over time, even with regular washing.

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What every best Travel Mugs has:

  • Excellent heat retention.
  • Leak-proof seals.
  • One-hand usability.

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