Coffee stains – How to deal with them

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Coffee stains are always the worry of coffee drinkers, but why can it be so hard to get out?

The answer is tannin. Tannin is a natural vegetable dye present in bark and plants like grape skin. Other stains caused by the tannin present are tea, wine, soft drink and fruit juice stains. Luckily, these stains can be removed with the right technique and within a short window. However, it should not be mistaken that putting your stained object in the dryer will cause the stain to set. So, make sure the stain is removed before putting your fabrics in the dryer.

Pre-treating Coffee Stains

If you can, blot the fresh stain and then run cold water over it. This is important, so after rinsing the stain, gently rub in a detergent with hands or a soft-bristled toothbrush. Repeat if necessary to completely get rid of the stain. This is for most loose fabrics like clothing, table cloths, sheets and the like.

Removing Coffee Stains from White Clothes

Let’s say you’ve spilled your coffee while at work, or in a restaurant. Either way, you’re not taking off your white shirt anytime soon, but need to get rid of this stain before going about the rest of your day. Don’t panic, a simple fix is to cover the stain in salt to try and soak up some of the liquid. On the other hand, you can also try blotting the stain with a napkin and plain or fizzy water. Do not rub. Hopefully, this does enough to life the discoloration before the stain sets in.

coffee stains on clothesRemoving Coffee Stains from Other Fabrics and Shoes


It is important to start the process before the stain dries. It will become much more difficult to remove the stain if it is allowed to set. The fine fibres of the fabric make it much more difficult to get the stain out once it sets, so it’s best to get your precious silks dry cleaned. But assuming you didn’t wait and got out most of the stain early, removing the rest won’t be much of a problem.

To get the stain out from a fresh spill, flip the fabric over quickly, shaking it gently to get the liquid off the surface without letting it get onto other parts of the fabric. Use a clean sponge or cloth soaked in cold water to gently pat coffee stains until it begins to lift. If there is still a stain, mix the water with some vinegar and dip the sponge or cloth into the mixture before gently patting the stain again. You should do this until the stain is completely gone. Another alternative if the stain is particularly stubborn is to apply the vinegar directly to the stain and let it soak for a few minutes. Then, using a thick paper towel or cloth, press into the fabric until the moisture is completely absorbed.

A final alternative if the stain is still not out is steam. Lay a folded clean rag on an ironing board, lay the fabric – stain down – on top of the rag sprinkling some corn starch onto the area. Then place another rag on top of the fabric. Place iron settings to steam and press over the rag. The silk will remain protected by the rags while the steam loosens the stain out of the garment and into the rags.

Leather Shoes

Leather shoes are beautiful but need some amount of work to keep them lasting long. So, when you get a coffee stain, it can be quite overwhelming to start to figure out how to get rid of the stain. But this can be easily accomplished.
With a paper towel, immediately remove any excess liquid from the shoes. Next, make a mixture of white vinegar and warm water in equal parts and take a lint-free cloth dipped in the mixture to blot the stain. Be careful to start from the edges of the stain working towards the center. Do not rub the stain as this may push it deeper into the leather. Repeat this, wetting the cloth as needed, until the stain is completely gone. Using another cloth with only water, blot the area to get rid of the vinegar residue from the surface. Leave shoes to dry.

Suede Shoes

Leather isn’t quite your thing, but you do have suede shoes. This might be a more difficult fix since suede isn’t as durable as leather. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to get rid of a coffee stain. Firstly, you’ll need to gently get rid of all excess liquid. Using a dry rag pat the area dry until there is no coffee transferring to the rag. Wet a cloth in lukewarm water and blot the stained area. After mixing a teaspoon of mild dish soap in a bowl with 2 cups of cool water, dip a rag into the mixture and pat the stain until it is completely removed. Use a clean with water to remove any soap residue and then a dry rag to pat the area dry.
If you still see a stain after it’s dry, mix water and vinegar and use a rag to blot the area with the mixture until the stain is lifted. Do not rub as the suede will be damaged from the harsh movements.

Canvas Shoes

These classic, comfy shoes look nice but get dirty easily. Since it’s made of cotton, stains absorb quickly. This means your window to getting rid of them is even shorter. Not to worry, this too is still possible. It goes against everything else said previously; let the coffee dry completely. When it’s dry, tap the soles to get rid of any footfalls. With a soft brush get rid of any larger pieces of coffee from the creases. Mix baking soda and water in equal parts and dip the brush into the mixture and gently massage onto the stain. Mix your preferred detergent and cold water and use a brush to further lift the stain from the area. Rinse shoes and repeat as needed. When you’ve finally gotten the stains out, wash your canvas shoes and let them dry.

Removing Coffee Stains from Carpet

Do not scrub. Rather, start by using a light-colored rag or cloth to blot at the stain working from the edges. Once you’ve removed the excess, spray with water and repeat. Keep doing this until the stain is completely gone. Try a natural or commercial cleanser if this doesn’t work. It might be necessary to do so if the stain is particularly stubborn or old. Either way, once the stain is out you can use a fan or hairdryer to dry the area.

Other homemade coffee stains cleaners

You may not be aware of what sort of natural alternatives for cleaners are out there. So, here are some homemade stain removers if this ever occurs again. Mixing baking soda and vinegar into a paste is good for stubborn stains. Just cover the stain in the paste and let it dry. Once dry, remove with a stiff-bristled brush. You can also use toothpaste. Work it firmly into the stain using a brush in circular motions. Let it sit for a few hours, then remove the toothpaste and dirt with a damp sponge.
If you can’t be mixing up products all the time, Here are some things you can use alone or at least with water where needed.

  • Salt: pour a thick layer of table salt over the stain, allowing it to seep into the fabric. At the very least, this will keep the stain from spreading. Repeat the process as needed until all the coffee has been absorbed.
  • Baking Soda: after blotting with a damp paper towel, sprinkle baking soda on top of the stain and allow it to seep in. Blot away with a dry towel or cloth. This will also keep the stain from setting. Repeat the process as needed until the stain has been removed.
  • White Vinegar: pour a few drops over the stain, and blot with a clean, dry cloth or paper towel. You can use white vinegar for spot cleaning and it can also be added to the washing machine for further deep cleaning.
  • Baby Powder: after blotting with a damp paper towel, sprinkle baby powder on top of the coffee stain and give it time to seep in. Blot away with a dry towel or cloth. Repeat the process as needed until all the coffee has been absorbed.

Remove Coffee Stains from Wood Floors, Surfaces and Furniture

Check if your furniture has any special finishes. This may affect how you go about cleaning the stain. You can try just wiping the stain away with a wet cloth, but if that doesn’t work, use some vinegar to dissolve the stain. Be sure to check that vinegar’s acidity won’t ruin the wood’s appearance.

Removing Coffee Stains from Cups

If you are a regular drinker of this morning drink, then you know the frustration of trying to wash your regular coffee mug and seeing these unmoveable stains. All is not lost, there is a solution for that, too. Just make a paste of baking soda and water and use it as an abrasive scrubbing the inside of the cup until the stain is gone. When you’re satisfied, wash away the paste and wash your cup as normal. Good as new.

Removing Coffee Stains from Teeth

Just as frustrating as the stained coffee cup is stained teeth. While you can’t prevent stained cups, you can prevent stained teeth, (more on that later). If you’re already suffering, there are ways to fix this. Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda; using a few drops of hydrogen peroxide add baking soda and make a paste. Use the mixture to brush your teeth as you would with regular toothpaste, or spread it on your teeth and let it sit for 15-20 minutes before brushing with regular toothpaste.

Ah yes, you may think it’s dangerous to put the same chemicals used to bleach your hair in your mouth. But the mixture used to bleach hair is completely different. This mixture is one of the more common ways of removing stains from teeth. Other products that can help with removing your coffee stains are teeth-whitening kits. Both use hydrogen peroxide, but one uses a guard to hold the product on your teeth while the other uses strips. After the allotted time is passed, you remove them. With these products more care should be taken as long-term use can damage teeth and gums.

You could use tooth-whitening toothpaste. However, once again, consideration should be taken for long term use as this can ware enamel causing permanent damage. For a more natural option, try oil pulling. It’s a simple method of swishing oil around in your mouth for 15-20 minutes – so the same amount of time as chemical teeth-whiteners – before spitting it out and brushing as usual. Sunflower and sesame oil was once a popular choice, but now that has been given to coconut oil. Coconut oil has the added benefit of killing bacteria, which helps with oral hygiene.

3 tips on how to avoid coffee stains in the first place

1 – Add milk

Adding milk to your coffee will lighten the color of the coffee and, therefore reduce its ability to leave a stain. The proteins in animal milk also bind to the staining properties in coffee to then carry them to the stomach where they can be broken down. This method also works with tea.

2 – Drink through a straw

Be careful as this could cause you to burn your tongue if the coffee is hot. However, say you do consider this method, the coffee will not wash over your teeth and so will not have a chance to stain them. This is an effective method of avoiding stains. It may be strange, but at least you can avoid a worse burn with piping hot coffee.

3 – Rinse your mouth after drinking coffee or brush your teeth

That’s it, rinse your mouth with plain water after your morning cup. It won’t get everything, but it can wash some of the acidity away. For extra prevention, brush your teeth afterwards. You might want to wait an hour before you do this as that same acidity will leave your enamel weakened.

Bottom line

Coffee is a common drink and the stains they cause are just as common. Nevertheless, there is a way to get those pesky stains out. Luckily, that means they’re no longer that pesky. Remember, the most important thing to dealing with coffee stains is to be quick about it. Don’t let that stain set in!

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coffeextraction logo monogram



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