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Expert Cleaners Reveal How To Get Coffee Stains Out of Any Surface (Really!)

It never fails. Ready for work, dressed in your favorite blouse, bag over your shoulder, keys in one hand, fresh cup of coffee in the other. Then, you just lose your balance, or trip over the dog and boom, coffee on you, on your clothes on your carpet. Argh! Coffee stains can be the bane of caffeine lovers’ existence — and not just on fabrics, but on the inside of mugs or on countertops too. Luckily they don’t have to be permanent. And the effort it takes to remove them depends entirely on how long they’ve had to set. “Coffee doesn’t tend to produce tough stains if you remove the stain within a few hours or even a couple of days,” explains Kierriea Taylor, Cleaning Technician at The Dazzle Cleaning Company. “Dried on stains that have set for multiple days are much tougher to get out.” The good news: there’s a pretty simple process for how to remove coffee stains either way — it just depends on what surface it’s latched onto. Read on to learn how to get coffee stains out of anything.

How to get coffee stains out of from soft ‘surfaces’

coffee mug spilled coffee on carpet

When it comes to anything soft like apparel, upholstery or carpets, there are two things you need to do first:

1. If the coffee is wet: blot, don’t rub

Taylor recommends that your first order of business when learning how to clean coffee that’s still wet should be blotting at the stain with a clean cloth and “pulling up as much of it as you can like this.” Whatever you do though, don’t rub, no matter how tempted you may be. “Rubbing can hurt the fibers, especially delicate ones like silk,” Taylor explains. Even if you get the stain out by rubbing, you’ll likely ruin the nap of the fabric. Michele Christin, Head Trainer at American Maid Service suggests opting for a white cloth when blotting so you can see a transfer of the spot onto the cloth. (If the coffee is try, you obviously can skip this step.)

2. Dilute with cool water

While pouring some water on the stain is most effective when the coffee is still wet, it’s worth attempting on older stains too. It’s ideal if you can flush the item (like a shirt or rug) with water to rinse out the coffee (which will prevent a stain), though that method may not be doable to clean coffee from things like upholstery. “Once you’ve wet the stain with water, blot again and get as much up as possible before you move on to other strategies, because it’s at least less damaging,” Christin encourages.

3. Lift the stain *this* way

If the above steps didn’t completely remove the stain, try these steps based on the item type:

Upholstery and carpets

Christin swears by stain remover Folex (Buy from Amazon, $19.98) which is a surfactant meaning it allows water to penetrate into a stain and lift the dirt particles off, freeing them from the fabric. “Most of the time, it’ll just remove the stain, old or new, within seconds. It’s also safe on almost everything — we’re still supposed to test it, but I’ve never seen it damage anything.” The only problem, she says? If you don’t use enough, the stain can actually resurface as it dries. To avoid that, “we put the product on thick and let it sit for three minutes, then blot until we can’t get any more up.” Christin’s pro tip: If a spot needs a little extra attention, she’ll stand on the blotting cloth to get deep into the fibers.

For apparel, blankets, slipcovers and more

Here’s where you need to pay attention to the actual fiber contents:

Cotton-based fabrics: It’s trickier to loosen up a coffee stain on cotton, says Marieke van der Graaf, founder and owner of Laundrylicious. If the above steps didn’t work, “soak it in hot water — you can also add some vinegar to loosen the fabric fibers, that way it’s easier to soften the stain,” she explains. Add in a little dish soap to help break up and lift the stain.

How to clean coffee: Woman in dirty shirt at wooden desk with coffee spill, close up

This TikTok video from @carolina.mccauley shows how well the mix works:


☕️ Here’s a simple way to remove coffee stains from fabric. #laundrytok #laundrytips #laundryhacks #aestheticclean

♬ Athletic tune “heaven and hell” – Shinonome

Synthetic fabrics: Yanira Caballera, expert housekeeper at Nanny’s and Granny’s, calls these “Teflon’s smooth-talking cousin,” simply recommending you apply a mild detergent and water solution (a 1:1 ratio is common).

“If the coffee stain has set, try using baking soda to loosen it up,” van der Graaf advises. “For greasy additives to the coffee (like half and half, milk or cream), add a drop of dish soap on the stain, rub it and that will help.”

How to get coffee stains out of hard surfaces

Believe it or not, the melanoidins and tannins that give coffee its dark color can penetrate surfaces like porcelain, plastics like laminate and vinyl, stainless steel (you’ve seen that ring around the inside of your thermos) and more, but the luckily the solutions are fairly straightforward:

To start, Christin is a big fan of dish detergent because it’s gentle and able to be used on a wide range of surfaces, such as porcelain and stainless steel sinks, laminate countertops and vinyl floors. Her recommendation: “Spread it on the coffee stain and let it sit for five-ish minutes.”

If it doesn’t look like it’s getting lighter, chances are good it’s been there a while and it’s time to enlist vinegar. Vinegar is a hack for all kinds of cleaning qualms, but because of its acidity, it can’t be used on everything — keep it away from stone, damaged or unsealed grout, and waxed or unfinished wood. After testing a diluted version on an inconspicuous area of the surface (one part vinegar, two parts water is common), Christin will apply it to the stain for a minute and then thoroughly rinse it off. “If the vinegar lightens the stain, we use it again, adding a little bit more vinegar, and keep going until the stain is gone,” she explains.

For more on stain removal, click through the links below!

How To Clean a Wooden Cutting Board + the Salt Trick That Wipes Out Stubborn Stains

The Secret To Getting Rid Of Those Yellow Stains On Your Pillows

How to Get Lipstick Stains Out of Clothes — Laundry Pros’ Genius Tips for Every Fabric

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