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How to Remove Coffee Stains (Tips & Tricks)

Spilled coffee

Everyone prefers to keep their coffee in their mug, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way. A curious cat, a rambunctious dog, or our own carelessness could easily lead to a nasty coffee stain on our favorite sweater. Coffee is notorious for leaving indelible marks on clothes, carpets, and even teeth, but we’re here to tell you that most coffee stains are easy to remove if you act quickly.

Before we get started, we should say that the easiest way to remove coffee stains in most cases is to use a commercial stain remover. Some products are gimmicks designed to get you to buy something you don’t really need, but stain removers are the real deal. In some cases, you can make your own stain remover at home, but a commercial stain remover will usually work better. They’re not that expensive and are worth the investment, in our opinion.

Ok, enough preamble, let’s get to stain removing.

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How to Get Coffee Out of Clothing

First, we’ll tackle stains on clothing. If you want to use a homemade stain remover, you can treat synthetic fabrics and cotton the same way. This stain remover recipe is a great first attempt at stain removal, and, in many cases, it will get the job done. The most important factor is time. You want to address the stain immediately before it gets a chance to soak into the fabric and dry.

Coffee stain
Image Credit: Pheelings media, Shutterstock
  • Blot the stain with an absorbent cloth or paper towel. You want to pull any excess coffee out of the stain.
  • Mix 1 quart warm water with ½ teaspoon of dishwashing detergent and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar.
  • Soak the stain in the solution for 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Rinse with warm water.
  • Use rubbing alcohol on any remaining stain.
  • Rinse again with warm water.
  • Wash the piece of clothing as you normally would.

This process will take care of most minor stains. If the stain is still there after you’ve washed the clothes, you can give this procedure another try. After two attempts, you’re probably better off bringing out the heavy artillery.

A word of caution: don’t put any clothes that are still stained in the dryer! Using a clothes dryer on a stained piece of clothing will bake the stain in and make it impossible to remove.

We mentioned in the introduction that commercial stain removers work the best, and you’ll have to break down and buy one if this homemade solution doesn’t work. Make sure you read the label on a commercial stain remover before using it on your clothes. Some stain removers are meant only for cotton and can damage synthetic fabric.


How to Get Coffee Out of Carpet

Next up, we’ll look at carpet stains. It can be more difficult to remove carpet stains because the fibers in most carpets are very absorbent and have a lot of surface area that coffee can soak in to. Once again, speed is your friend. You don’t want to give the coffee a chance to soak into the carpet or spread. A commercial stain remover will work best here, too, but the same solution we used before is a good first line of defense.

Coffee stain
Image Credit: Andrey_Popov, Shutterstock
  • Again, you want to blot the stain, but this time there’s a little strategy involved. You want to blot from the outside of the stain towards the center. Carpets are like sponges, and if you blot from the inside first, you risk spreading the stain and making it even larger.
  • Soak a sponge or rag in the same cleaning solution we used for clothes. Make sure the rag or sponge is a lighter color than your rug. The lighter the rag’s color, the less likely the dye from it will stain your rug.
  • Apply the solution liberally to the stain with your sponge or rag. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes.
  • If you have a wet vac, it’s best to use it to sop up the solution. It will do a better job of removing all of the liquid from the carpet. If you don’t have one, use a towel to blot up the excess liquid.

Commercial stain remover is a great option and is great to have on hand when you spill coffee on your carpet. If you don’t have commercial stain remover and our homemade solution doesn’t work, you could try adding a cup of hydrogen peroxide to the mix. Adding hydrogen peroxide is a good halfway point between a store-bought stain remover and the homemade one.


How to Remove Coffee Stains From Teeth

Unfortunately, a lifetime of coffee drinking can leave you with stained, discolored teeth. The good news is you’re not sentenced to stained teeth for life if you notice your teeth are becoming stained from regular coffee consumption. Here are three ways you can combat coffee-stained teeth from least involved to most involved.

Man drinking coffee

Hydrogen Peroxide

Our first recommendation is something simple that most people can try at home with ingredients they probably already have. Hydrogen peroxide is a good stain remover and is safe to have in your mouth. It’s hard to apply hydrogen peroxide to your teeth, though, so combining it with baking soda to make a paste is a great way to fight stained teeth at home.

  • Put a few drops of hydrogen peroxide in a cup and slowly add baking soda, stirring as you add more.
  • Stop when the consistency is a wet paste.
  • Apply the paste to your teeth and let it sit for about 15 minutes.
  • Brush your teeth with regular toothpaste to remove the homemade paste and rinse.

Teeth-Whitening Strips

Teeth-whitening strips are another example of a commercial product that actually works. The primary ingredient in teeth whitening strips is hydrogen peroxide, just like our homemade paste. Buying whitening strips is mostly paying for convenience. Rather than mixing up your own paste, whitening strips allow you to slap on a strip and be done with it.

  • It’s important to follow the instructions on the package.
  • Whitening strips can be damaging if you overuse them, so make sure you read the directions before using them.

Professional Cleaning

The last method is to get a professional cleaning from a dentist. This is the most involved option but also is the safest and will produce the best results. Whitening treatments are not very involved and also not too expensive.

  • Consult your dentist if you are interested in getting a tooth whitening treatment. They will work with you to find the best option for you.

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Conclusion

Coffee stains are the stereotypical example of a hard-to-remove stain, but that reputation is somewhat unwarranted. If you act quickly and follow the instructions we laid out, coffee stains can be removed from most materials.

Homemade options exist for removing stains from clothes, carpets, and even teeth, and in most cases, they’ll get the job done. Commercial stain removers are also good options and are relatively cheap. In most cases, a commercial stain remover will outperform a homemade solution and be more convenient. Whether you opt for a homemade stain remover or a commercial one is up to you, but either way, we hope you’ve found these tips helpful. Now, next time your cat knocks a full mug of coffee onto your white carpet, you’ll be ready.

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Featured Image: Kevin Fricke, Flickr

Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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