How to Remove Coffee Stains from Common Surfaces

How to Remove Coffee Stains from Common Surfaces

Discover effective methods for removing coffee stains from a variety of surfaces, as well as tips for preventing them.

The 30 Days of Cleaning with Puracy

Coffee stains, whether they end up on clothes, carpet, or dishware, can be tricky to remove – but with the right supplies and cleaning methods, they can be easily tackled. Discover effective methods for removing coffee stains from a variety of surfaces, as well as tips for preventing them.

On Clothes

Fortunately, coffee stains on clothing aren't usually permanent since the liquid's brown-colored tannins dissolve when washed away. As with most stains, though, the sooner they are treated, the easier they are to remove.

What You’ll Need

  1. Thoroughly rinse the affected area with cold water for up to 15 minutes.
  2. Apply laundry detergent (or dish soap) and cold water directly on the stain, and let it sit for up to 5 minutes. Gently agitate the stain with a finger every 5 minutes to loosen it from the item's fibers. Do this for up to 30 minutes.
  3. Pretreat the stain with an enzyme-based stain remover, and let it sit for up to 15 minutes.
  4. Wash the item according to fabric care instructions.
  5. If stain remains, repeat the above steps until the spot is completely removed.
  6. Do not use a dryer on a stained item – instead, simply air dry for best results.

Pro tip: Enzyme-based detergents are your best bet for tackling coffee stains since they fully break down and digest stains, odors, and any remaining elements that might be wedged in fabric fibers.

On Carpet, Couches, and Upholstery

The longer a coffee stain sits on a carpet, the deeper it is able to set into a carpet’s fiber. However, with the right carpet or upholstery cleaning solution, it can be effectively removed.

What You’ll Need:

  1. Rinse the affected area with a towel saturated with cold water, and then thoroughly blot it dry with a clean towel.
  2. Rub a small amount of laundry detergent (or dish soap) directly on the stain, and let it sit for up to an hour. Rinse it off with cold water, and blot it dry with a clean towel.
  3. Create a solution from white vinegar and water, and scrub it onto the stain using a clean towel. 
  4. Spray the stain with carpet stain remover, and let it sit for at least 15 minutes, occasionally gently agitating it with a soft-bristled brush. The longer the spray sits, the better.
  5. Soak a clean towel in carpet shampoo and gently blot the stain. Take another cloth and saturate it with warm water, and use it to continue blotting the stain to lift any remaining shampoo and stain particles. Repeat this until all the shampoo is gone.
  6. Use a clean cloth to blot up excess moisture. Let the area air dry.

Pro tip: If you are using vinegar to clean stains, avoid using baking soda as well. Since baking soda is a base and vinegar is an acid, they essentially neutralize each other, resulting in a less effective clean.

On Cups and Mugs

Coffee stains on a white mug can sometimes evade your dishwasher, especially if you have hard water or your water temperature is too low. Instead, here is an effective hand washing technique for coffee stains on dishware.

What You’ll Need:

  • Baking soda
  • Scouring sponge
  1. Make a paste from water and baking soda.
  2. Use the sponge to thoroughly clean out the cup or mug.
  3. Rinse thoroughly with water.

Pro tip: Baking soda's abrasiveness makes it good for cutting into grime and gunk. Avoid using it on glass, or other materials that are prone to scratches.

On Coffee Pots

Coffee pots are an easy target for coffee stains, but with a surprise ingredient –uncooked rice– tough grime can easily be washed away.

What You’ll Need:

  • Dish soap
  • Uncooked rice
  • Baking soda
  • Microfiber towel
  1. Fill the coffee pot with warm water, dish soap, and a scoop of uncooked rice.
  2. Swirl the mixture around the pot to unlock grime and debris.
  3. Thoroughly rinse the pot clean.
  4. For any remaining stains, apply a paste of baking soda and water, and they rinse it clean using water and a microfiber towel.

Pro tip: For stubborn stains on stainless steel coffee pots, add 2 tablespoons of baking soda and ½ cup hydrogen peroxide to your coffee pot. Top with boiling water, wait 1-2 hours, and the stains should lift away without too much struggle.

How to Remove Old Coffee Stains From Clothes

If you’re not able to immediately treat a coffee stain, there are steps you can take to remove a dried, older blemish.

What You’ll Need:

  • White vinegar
  • Laundry detergent
  1. Create a mixture using 1 quart lukewarm water, 1/2 teaspoon detergent, and 1 tablespoon vinegar.
  2. Soak the item in the solution for up to 15 minutes, and then rinse it thoroughly with cold water.
  3. Let the item air dry.
  4. Repeat the above steps if the stain remains.
  5. Once the stain is gone, wash the item according to manufacturer care instructions.

Quick Tips to Prevent Coffee Stains

Follow these tips to keep your clothing, furniture, and carpets free of coffee stains – or at the very least, easy to clean in the case of a spill.

  • Always pre-treat stains.

If you have a stain, always pre-treat it, preferable with an enzyme-based stain remover. The enzymes gets in between cracks, crevices, and fibers to break down stains and odors until the particles are totally eradicated.

  • Skip the dryer.

The tannins found in coffee can set deeper into fabrics and fibers with heat. Stick to cold water when washing, and don't put an item in the dryer until the stain is completely gone.

  • Use bleach with caution.

For white clothes or items, it may be tempting to immediately break out the bleach. However, there are effective bleach alternatives that don't use caustics or optical brighteners that are more gentle and safer on skin and pets.

  • Act quickly.

It can't be reiterated enough: try to clean up coffee stains as soon as they appear, as the longer they sit, the deeper they set into a surface.