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How do I Remove a Coffee Stain?

To remove a coffee stain, act quickly! Blot the area with a dry cloth, then rinse with cold water. Apply a stain remover or a mix of vinegar and water, and gently rub it in. Launder as usual. For stubborn stains, repeat the process. Wondering about the science behind stain removal or need tips for delicate fabrics? Keep reading to become a stain-fighting expert.
B. Miller
B. Miller

It can be difficult to remove a coffee stain if you've accidentally spilled some on your clothes or carpeting. You do have a few options, though. If treated quickly, coffee stains can often completely disappear.

The most important thing to do to remove a coffee stain is to treat the stain immediately. Do not let it dry and set, and you may even need to dampen the stain again with a little water. The first step is to take some paper towels or a damp cloth and soak up the spill as best you can -- but do not rub. Blotting helps remove excess liquid, but rubbing can grind the stain into the fabric and make it even more difficult to remove.

A cup of coffee.
A cup of coffee.

Your best bet is probably to use a commercial stain remover on clothing. These come in sprays and liquids, but work well when pre-soaked on the stain before running the item through the laundry. If you do not have a specialty stain remover, you can apply some laundry detergent directly to the stain and allow it to sit on the stain for a few minutes before rinsing with cold water. If the stain persists, you can repeat this process a few times until the stain is completely gone.

A person removing a coffee stain from a carpet.
A person removing a coffee stain from a carpet.

If you prefer to use natural cleaners, a solution of one part white vinegar and two parts water can be effective when trying to remove a coffee stain. Some also suggest covering the stain with baking soda, allowing it to sit for approximately 20 to 30 minutes, then rinsing. These methods also work well when trying to remove coffee stains from the carpet.

Ground coffee.
Ground coffee.

Again, do not rub the stain when you are trying to clean it. Always blot the area with a clean cloth first, and if you want to try a commercial cleaner, these can also work well on carpeting. It is always a good idea to spot-test a new cleaner on an inconspicuous area of the carpet just in case.

You can also try the natural methods mentioned above to remove coffee stains from carpet. If you use the vinegar solution, remember to blot the carpet again with plain water to remove any leftover vinegar. If you put baking soda on the stain, you can blot it up or you can try to vacuum it up once the baking soda has absorbed the coffee stain. Some suggest using a mixture of dish detergent and warm water on the carpet, because it can be gentler than commercial stain removers. Coffee stains on counter tops and linoleum floors can generally be removed with a little soap and warm water.

Baking soda might absorb a coffee stain.
Baking soda might absorb a coffee stain.

If none of these methods work and the stain is persistent, or if it is an old stain, you might need to call a professional carpet cleaning service. You could also rent a carpet cleaning machine, which may be able to clean deeply and fully remove a coffee stain. If the stains remain on your clothing, a dry cleaner may be able to remove them.

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Discussion Comments


@Grivusangel -- I like the foam blocks, myself. My mom used to put a very weak bleach solution in her coffee cups to get the stains out, but that always scared me. Didn't seem very safe. So I started using peroxide. That works O.K. Sort of.

White vinegar and baking soda work on mugs if you're willing to do a little scrubbing.

For clothes, I just usually use a color-safe bleach for a coffee stain. That makes a difference, too.

But for cups and mugs, I'm with Grivusangel -- the foam cleaning blocks are the best things since brewed coffee!


Baking soda and white vinegar usually work pretty well. If they don't, and you don't have any stain remover in the house, try putting some liquid detergent -- or liquid dish soap -- on the stain and wash it in cool water.

Something the article neglected to mention: don't *ever* put something stained in the dryer. That's a good way to guarantee the stain will never come out. The heat will set the stain into the fabric.

If you're trying to get coffee stains out of a mug, try the white vinegar and baking soda, but even better is one of those foam block stain removers. They actually live up to the advertising.

Also, remember to rinse mugs and cups after drinking coffee to minimize the staining .

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    • A cup of coffee.
      A cup of coffee.
    • A person removing a coffee stain from a carpet.
      A person removing a coffee stain from a carpet.
    • Ground coffee.
      By: ronstik
      Ground coffee.
    • Baking soda might absorb a coffee stain.
      By: Vidady
      Baking soda might absorb a coffee stain.
    • Removing a coffee stain from electronics can be tricky.
      By: Feng Yu
      Removing a coffee stain from electronics can be tricky.