Coffee is a fundamental part of life for many people, but it can stain almost anything.
Most coffee drinkers can tell a harrowing tale of a time they spilled coffee and had to sacrifice a beloved item or move furniture to cover an offending spot.
Trashing a favorite shirt or rearranging your room can leave you wondering if coffee stains come out of anything.
Let’s talk about why coffee stains and how to prevent the damage!
The short answer is yes.
Most experts agree that it’s possible to get coffee stains out of almost everything with the right approach.
However, removing coffee from a cotton t-shirt requires a different method from pulling those dull brown stains off a white mug or countertop.
Before we can understand how to remove coffee stains, we need to know what causes them.
After all, we don’t want to inadvertently make things worse by adding the wrong cleaning product!
Coffee contains tannins, a naturally-occurring, color-rich, complex chemical. Tannins are large, acidic molecules that bind to almost anything and don’t decompose.
While that may sound scary, you safely ingest other tannins almost every day.
They are commonly found in fruits and other drinks, including tea.
Aside from being acidic, coffee is tough to remove because of the halo effect. If you ever spilled coffee, you probably noticed the ring-like effect where the edges are darker than the middle.
This unusual coffee ring effect occurs due to physics. The large molecules evaporate more quickly at the edges, so the liquid moves outward.
Consequently, more tannin-rich molecules evaporate at the edges than in the middle. You end up with dark rings that gradually lighten to a pale brown center.
Removing coffee stains from fabric can be challenging but it is possible.
You can salvage your items with some common household supplies and a little patience.
The sooner you attack the problem, the better the results. Addressing the stain as soon as it happens, or at least within ten minutes is your best chance to avoid permanent damage.
Use a clean, dry cloth to remove as much liquid as you can.
Then, try flushing the garment with cold tap water. Make sure you thoroughly rinse the front and back.
Since coffee is acidic, cold water is not likely to remove the stain on its own.
However, by washing away the coffee, you reduce the number of tannins that can collect between the fibers.
Mix a little liquid dish or laundry soap into a small bowl of cold water.
Gently rub the mixture into the stain and let it sit for a few minutes, but not long enough to dry.
Carefully work at the stain with your finger to pull out as much coffee as you can.
Even if it looks like the liquid soap did the trick, it’s a good idea to work some stain remover over the area.
Run the item through a normal wash cycle. Check the area when you remove it to ensure the stain is gone.
If you notice residual staining, reattempt the above steps.
Getting coffee out of carpet and upholstery is similar to removing it from clothing, with a few minor changes.
- Act fast for the best results.
- Blot the area with a clean, dry cloth, but do not rub it because you could push the coffee molecules deeper into the fibers.
- Create the liquid soap and water mix with warm water. Original Dawn dish soap, the blue one, is a popular and highly successful choice.
- Do a spot test on a hidden area to make sure it doesn’t pull the color out with the coffee.
- Gradually work at the spot from the outside in, careful not to rub too hard.
- Try using a carpet or upholstery stain remover.
Since you can’t throw your entire carpet into the washing machine, it might take a few passes with the detergent and stain remover.
Clothes and carpet are one thing, but what about your kitchen counter or coffee table?
Coffee can leave its mark on any porous surface, so it’s time to get creative!
Removing coffee stains from your kitchen counters depends heavily on the type of countertop you have.
For laminate counters, mix three parts baking soda into one part Castile soap. Dish soap also works, but Castile soap is better. Use a clean, dry cloth to scrub out the coffee stain.
Don’t overdo it on the scrubbing or you might damage the finish. Dampen a clean cloth to remove the paste.
Stone countertops can be a bit more challenging and time-consuming. Start by creating a mixture of flour and hydrogen peroxide. It should be a smooth putty-like paste.
Spread the paste liberally over the stain. Cover it with plastic wrap and tape it down with something that won’t damage the counter.
Leave the spot alone for several hours, preferably overnight.
Gently remove the paste and wipe the area clean with a towel or cloth. Note that it can take up to a few weeks for the spot to completely dry out.
If you have stone or laminate furniture, you can use the same approach as you would with the countertops. However, wood furniture requires a different approach.
You can use toothpaste to remove coffee stains from furniture. Make sure that it’s not a gel paste!
Mix equal parts baking soda and toothpaste in a small bowl to create a paste. Gently rub the mixture onto the spot using circular motions. Let it sit for several minutes.
Carefully clear away the toothpaste mixture and clean up the spot with a clean cloth.
If your usual wash doesn’t get the coffee ring out of your favorite mug, it’s time to up your game. Mix a little baking soda with water to form a paste and scrub at the coffee stain.
You can also add baking soda to your dish soap and let it sit for a few hours. Rinse it and wash it again with plain dish soap.
You don’t have to rely on liquid soap for cleaning your coffee stains. Other household products can work wonders on those dull brown rings.
White vinegar is common in cleaning homemade cleaning products because it’s acidic and counteracts strong odors.
Instead of using liquid soap, mix one-part vinegar with two parts water. Carefully apply the mixture with a clean cloth. Don’t oversaturate the area; the water should not pool on the spot.
White vinegar works best for lighter colors because it won’t discolor the fabric, but other types can remove stains, like apple cider vinegar.
Baking soda is another DIY cleaning staple that can remove coffee stains.
Mixing one part baking soda with three parts water creates a paste-like mix that you apply to the stain.
It works on many surfaces, including clothing and carpet. However, be wary when using this mixture because the abrasive can be harsh on thinner fabrics.
Plain shaving cream is a surprising stain remover, but it works. Make sure it’s plain and white because dyes and scents add unwanted grease and oil to the mix.
Simply apply shaving cream to the stain. Gently rub it in and let it sit for a few minutes, then wash it away with warm water.
Surprisingly, beer can effectively remove coffee stains, among other things. It works on clothes, carpet, and even your wood furniture.
For textiles, pour a little beer on the stain and let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse it.
To clean and polish wood, apply some beer to a clean, dry cloth and gently rub it in. Wipe it off with a dry cloth.
Hydrogen peroxide can restore white items because it has bleach-like properties.
Use one part 3% hydrogen peroxide solution to three parts warm water.
It takes a healthy dose of patience to remove some coffee stains, and sometimes a few tricks up your sleeve.
While the above instructions can remove stains most of the time, these tips can make your life easier and work on those stubborn coffee stains.
- If you’re working with an old coffee stain, let the item soak in a bucket of water after applying the soap mixture. It keeps the spot wet and allows the soap to work deeper.
- Gel stain removers seem to work best for counteracting the coffee on most items.
- The toothpaste-baking soda mixture for furniture can also work on clothing
Finally, you might not be able to remove every stain. Stop your attempts at stain removal if you notice damage to the item, like ripples, wrinkles, or thinning.
Spilled coffee is an inevitability for coffee drinkers, but it doesn’t have to result in ruined belongings.
Armed with the knowledge, and a few basic supplies, you can salvage anything.
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