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Do Coffee Stains Come Out From Clothing? (Here’s How To Treat Them)

The morning can be unpleasant for many of us. There’s a lot to do, you’re sleepy, there isn’t much time and you know you have a long day ahead of you. A fresh brewed cup of coffee can be the oasis needed to clear away the brain fog and allows you to take some time to relax before the madness begins. This peaceful moment can quickly turn to a nightmare if that precious cup of delicious energy manages to splash itself onto you or the surface around you.

As much as you don’t want to, you need to act quickly. Whether the coffee has landed on your clean work shirt, the carpet, the sofa or your bed the stain won’t ruin your entire day if you deal with it quickly. Can you even remove a coffee stain?

luckily, coffee stains can be removed. It’s important to act quickly to increase your chances of complete stain removal. Blotting the stain with a paper towel removes the worst of the liquid then running under cold water should remove the worst of it. If the stain remains, some washing up liquid or laundry detergent applied directly and gently pressed into the material should solve the problem.

Do Coffee Stains Come Out From Clothing? (Here's How To Treat Them)

Why does coffee stain material?

Coffee is undoubtably rich in color. A fresh brewed cup can range from almost black to light brown where milk is added. The fact it can cause stains hardly seems surprising but I’ve always wondered what component of the brew is physically embedding itself when spilled?

I’ve done some research and it would appear that tannins are the culprit. Tannin is an acidic compound found in many species of plants. It’s purpose is to protect the plant from insects and other adverse environmental conditions.

As they are intended as a protective layer this means they are, by design, sturdy and durable. Great for the plants but not so good for your clean white shirt.

Does the type of coffee affect the stubbornness of the stain?

A cup of black coffee may look more threatening as the reddish black color seems to point towards a worse outcome when spilled.

Surprisingly, a cup with milk added can actually result in a tougher stain. This is because the fats and proteins in milk, when added to the hot coffee, end up coagulating so cause a sealing type effect. This sets the stain in and causes removal to become much trickier.

Age of coffee stain vs removal ease

The fresher the stain the easier it is to remove. If the coffee stain is still wet from the spill then rinsing the material is sometimes all that is required. If the stain is left to dry it sets in deeper so more attention is needed to tackle it.

Is it possible to remove coffee stains?

The answer to this question can be variable. It really depends on the material affected and the age of the stain. More delicate items of clothing cant handle some treatments necessary to tackle it. Also as clothes age they tend to lose their elasticity and coffee stain removal can weaken or even damage these items.

How quickly you can attend to the stain also affects your success in removal. It’s important to act quickly and be gentle with clothes initially to maximize chances of removing the stain whilst maintaining the integrity of the material.

How do I remove coffee stains from clothing?

To optimize your chances at successfully removing coffee stains from your favorite pieces of clothing it is essential to act quickly. Here’s a step by step guide to highlight what to do.

Blot with paper towel

If there is no way to remove your stained clothes immediately then sometimes blotting with a paper towel will help draw out some of the stain. This may be essential if the item is dry clean only and will only work if done immediately following the spill. Try blotting the clothes on both sides of the garment to soak up as much as possible. Avoid vigorous scrubbing as this can worsen the stain.

Rinse Under Running Water

If possible, remove the stained item and rinse under running water. This is sometimes effective to remove the spill even without washing in a machine. If you’re able to dampen the stain but not rinse thoroughly (say your in a public washroom) then adding a small drop of soap to your finger and rubbing this in can help remove the coffee.

Use laundry detergent

Some laundry powder directly sprinkled onto the stain can do wonders. Add a few drops of water and gently scrub the area. If you’re lucky the stain will come away in no time.
Placing the stained item into the washer immediately may also be successful in preventing setting of the unpleasant brown color.

Stain removal spray

A stain removal laundry spray can be a life saver in these heart stopping moments. Most work using oxygen technology to dissolve stains after as little as a few minutes. These are great for older stains, leaving the spray to soak into the garment for 10 minutes can be just the ticket to banishing the discoloration for good.

It’s important to note when using these products that they are best for white garments. Some of them will affect the color of colored fabrics so best check instructions before use.

Soda Crystals

As scoop of good old fashioned soda crystals is another handy tip. They can be applied directly to the clothes and used as a scrub or added to a bucket of water for stained clothes to soak in overnight. Also they can be added directly to your washing machine as a DIY stain removal aid.


If you have tried all these methods and your clothes are still showing signs of that annoying coffee stain then here’s a trick that may just help. Sunlight is powerful at bleaching everything it comes into contact with.

Hanging stained clothes outside on a bright day can lessen the quality of the stain making it barely noticeable or even gone completely.

If outside space is limited then hanging up beside a sun facing window can be just as beneficial. It’s easy and free to do and can help with other types of stain such as tomato as well.

How do I remove coffee stains from bed linen?

Picture it. A lazy weekend morning and you’ve just climbed back into bed with a fresh brewed cup of coffee. Just as you relax to take the first sip your elbow knocks off the bedside table and splash. Coffee on your clean white bed linen. Nothing ruins a relaxed morning quite like it.

As with clothing, bed linen can stain if not attended to promptly. The best thing to do is strip the sheets off the bed and put them straight in the wash. If it’s not possible to wash them immediately then rinsing the stain under the tap may be enough to remove it.

For more stubborn marks, stain removal products or soda crystals can be used similar to with clothing.

If the stain has bled through to the mattress then sprinkle soda crystals over it. Rub them into the stain and leave them to sit for and hour. Then simply hoover them up and this should be enough to successfully remove the brown pigment.

How do I remove coffee stains from the carpet?

A cup of fresh coffee plus a light colored carpet can lead to disaster. Depending on the type of carpet removing coffee stains may or may not be possible. If you’re lucky enough to own a bleach clean carpet then no bother. Pour a drop of neat bleach onto the stain and scrub. Blot away the bleach with a damp sponge and problem solved. I cant stress enough this method is only possible with specially designed bleach clean carpets.

If the carpet is not safe to use bleach or you’re not sure the best method is to start by blotting up as much coffee as you can using a paper towel or cloth. Get a bowel of warm water (2-3 cups should do) and add a tablespoon of dish soap to it. Next add the same quantity of white vinegar. Gently mix and then, using a pale color cloth or sponge, soak up some of the mix and press it onto the stain. Rinse and repeat until the stain lifts away.

Another method is similar to the mattress technique. If the coffee stain is still damp then rubbing soda crystals gently into the area and leave it to sit for up to an hour. Then use a vacuum to hoover the area and the stain should vanish.

Getting coffee stains out of upholstery

Coffee spilled on your favorite armchair or sofa can be devastating. Depending on the fabric, removal can be more tricky compared to bedding or a carpet. Avoid scrubbing at upholstery as this can weaken and damage the fabric. Blot gently at the stain if fresh and this will remove the worst of the color.

If this doesn’t completely fix the issue then use some washing up liquid in a cup of warm water. Get a clean cloth or sponge and dab the mixture onto the stain until it lifts away. Adding some white vinegar to the mix can help remove tougher stains.

How do I get rid of the smell of coffee?

A freshly brewed pot of coffee smells lovely in the morning but the smell from an old coffee stain is anything but pleasant. Removing the stain using the methods described above should be sufficient to tackle the odor associated. Soda crystals are an excellent simple and cheap de-odorizer and can neutralize older stains.

As a side note, coffee grounds themselves can be useful to remove unpleasant odors. A cup of fresh or leftover grounds can be placed in the fridge, kitchen cupboard or microwave to absorb un-wanted smells.


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