The Ultimate Guide To Cleaning And Removing Coffee Stains

You love coffee. But you don’t love the stain it just left on your favorite blouse. Don’t worry: help is on the way!

Mmmm, your morning coffee. It’s the absolute best ... until it spills on your shirt, or your carpet or ... yeah. Coffee’s the absolute best. But coffee stains? They’re the absolute worst. Stubborn and noticeable, coffee stains—no matter where they are (and they somehow end up everywhere)—can be incredibly frustrating. Luckily, there are some tricks of the trade that can help. Read on for our advice for how to tackle coffee stains quickly and effectively—no matter what kind of surface you’re dealing with!

Are coffee stains permanent?

The short answer: very, very rarely. (Which is very, very good news!)

Coffee stains typically only become a problem when they have been allowed to dry and set, so the main thing to remember is to act quickly. If you do, coffee stains are almost always removable (woohoo!). If you take one thing away from this article, let it be this: the sooner you take action on a coffee stain, the easier it will be to remove.

(And if you have the brain space to take away a second thing, let it be this: please don’t throw anything with a fresh, un- or undertreated coffee stain in the dryer. Doing so will only dry and set it and make it so much harder—maybe even impossible—to fully remove.)

How to remove coffee stains by surface type

If you’re a coffee drinker, you know that coffee stains can happen anywhere. And while coffee stains can be removed from pretty much any surface, different surfaces require slightly different approaches to stain removal. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a set of easy, step-by-step guides that will equip you with the know-how to tackle any kind of coffee stain you can imagine.

How to remove coffee stains from carpet

Your day is just starting out, and it’s looking bright: you’ve got your computer open, your phone out, your coffee in hand and then ... it spills. Right onto your white, freshly cleaned and deodorized carpet. Don’t worry! Here’s how to tackle that would-be stain efficiently and effectively (start with number 1 and move down the list as needed).

  1. Act quickly. This is the most important thing—don’t leave it until after lunch (or until tomorrow). Deal with it now. You’ll thank us. We promise.

  2. Start with cold water. Grab 2 towels. Then get 1 wet, and use it to blot the stained area. Next, use the dry towel to blot the area dry. Repeat until the stain is gone. If you act right away, there’s a good chance this will be all that you need to do to remove the stain. If it doesn’t work, however, don’t fret: just move on to Step 3!

  3. Mix a small amount of laundry detergent with some cool water, and gently rub it into the stain. (If you don’t have any laundry detergent on hand, a gentle dish soap, like Dawn, is actually a great substitute.) Let it sit for up to a few minutes before rinsing it with water. Gone? Amazing. No? Read on.

  4. Mix some distilled white vinegar with some cool water, and gently rub it into the stain. Yep, vinegar. If you weren’t already aware, white vinegar is one of the most amazingly effective multipurpose cleaners there is—and it’s also a stain-removing powerhouse. Allow it to sit on the stain for several minutes before rinsing it with cold water.

  5. If this stain somehow still exists, we’ve got one more ace up our sleeves: mix together baking soda and water to form a paste. Then rub the paste into the stain until you succeed in removing it. Rinse the area clean with water, and then blot it dry.

There you go! I dare you to remember where that stain was a week from now.

How to remove coffee stains from clothes

We’ve all been there: you’re in a rush and gulping down coffee while starting your car or rummaging through your bag or running to catch the train—and before you know it, you’ve jostled your cup ,and your coffee is all over the front of your favorite shirt. What should you do?

Follow the steps below as soon as you’re able! Remember: the more quickly you’re able to deal with your coffee stain, the more successful you’ll be at getting it out.

  1. First, gently blot up any excess coffee with a dry cloth. Avoid rubbing the stain, as doing so can damage the fabric (and you really don’t want to succeed at removing your coffee stain only to be faced with a much less fixable problem).

  2. Next, check the tag: if it says dry-clean only, do what the tag says and take it to the dry cleaners. Similarly, if it’s an especially delicate fabric, like silk, consider consulting with a professional. We’d say it’s worth it to err on the side of caution.

  3. If it’s a sturdier fabric and you’re tackling the stain yourself, though, rinse it with cold water. Sometimes this is all you need to do to get the stain out. If it is, yay! Let it air dry, and get back to enjoying your stain-free clothing item!

  4. If cold water alone didn’t quite do the trick, though, mix up a solution of equal parts vinegar and liquid laundry detergent. Cover the stain in the solution, and let it sit for at least 5–10 minutes. Then rinse it. Examine the stain. If it hasn’t changed much, repeat this step, and rinse again. When the stain is nearly gone, you can safely wash your clothing item in your washing machine. However, before putting it in the dryer, check to make sure you’ve succeeded in removing the stain. If it’s still there, do not put it in the dryer; doing so will set the stain, and then all bets are off. Instead, use your vinegar and laundry detergent solution once more.

  5. If the above doesn’t work, you’ve got one tough stain on your hands! It might be time to treat the stain with a store-bought stain remover. It’s rarely necessary, but sometimes it’s your best course of action.

Pro tip: if you’re the kind of person who is, well, prone to spilling coffee on your clothes (no judgment, we swear), carrying a ready-made stain remover in your bag might be a good idea. It’ll let you treat any stains right away—even if you don’t have easy access to a bottle of vinegar, laundry detergent or a sink.

How to remove coffee stains from upholstery

Whether it’s your office chair or your couch, coffee stains absolutely do not belong on upholstery ... but somehow they always seem to end up there anyway. Luckily, tackling these stains is pretty straightforward. Removing coffee stains from upholstery is quite similar to the process for removing them from clothing–with the important caveat, of course, that you can’t just throw your armchair into the washing machine! With that in mind, if you just spilled your morning brew, don’t panic, take a breath, and follow these steps.

  1. Immediately after spilling your coffee (and again, we really do mean immediately), use a dry towel to blot up any excess coffee. Don’t rub the stain; this is even more important in the case of furniture (it’s a lot more expensive to replace a damaged couch than a damaged T-shirt, after all).

  2. Mix 1 tablespoon of liquid laundry detergent, 1 tablespoon of distilled white vinegar and 1 cup of water to make a cleaning solution. Look at that, vinegar saves the day again!

  3. Use a clean rag to blot the cleaning solution into the stain. Remember: go gently.

  4. Then use a dry rag to blot it dry.

  5. Alternate between blotting in the solution and blotting it dry until the stain is gone. Magic. (Or, you know, good solid cleaning advice.)

Voila! Your upholstery lives (stain free) to see another day!

How to remove coffee stains from mugs

If your mug isn’t dark brown or black, coffee stains are basically unavoidable. (You are literally pouring coffee into it every morning.) But, happily, your mug is probably the easiest surface to deal with when it comes to coffee stain removal! Here’s what to do.

  1. Start by spraying your mug with some Dawn Platinum Powerwash Dish Spray. A lot of times, you just need a good, strong dish soap—and with Dawn Powerwash, you just spray, wipe and rinse. (We told you mugs were easy!)

  2. If you don’t have any Dawn on hand, break out the baking soda. Like vinegar, baking soda is one of those cleaning all-stars you probably already have lying around the house. (And when we say all-star, we really do mean it. If that’s doubt we’re seeing in your eyes, check out this list of cleaning hacks for just a few of the ways in which baking soda is about to revolutionize your cleaning game. You’re welcome.)

  3. Sprinkle some baking soda on the stain, and then use a damp cloth to scrub. Don’t be afraid to put some muscle into it: unlike your clothing, your mug can handle it.

  4. After scrubbing, rinse your mug clean. The stain should be gone!

That’s all there is to it! Time to pour another cup and stain it again!

So there you have it: everything you need to know to sip that cup of joe with a little more confidence in the morning—because when if you spill, you now know exactly what to do.

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