How to Remove Coffee Stains From Clothes, Teeth, & Carpet

Act as soon as possible to remove a fresh coffee stain. Blot it with a white towel, rub in some mild detergent, and rinse it with cool water for the best results.

June 21, 2024
A cup of coffee leaving coffee stains on the table cloth.

Coffee stains are an inevitable part of life for most people. But that doesn’t mean you have to live with them. You can remove most coffee stains with a little blotting, some mild detergent, and a cold water rinse.

Tougher, dried-on stains can be removed with a pre-treatment and some enzyme laundry detergent. If you’ve tried both these options and you’re still stuck with ugly coffee stains, we’ve got plenty of alternative methods to help you get rid of them.

In this article, we’ll cover how to remove coffee stains on clothing, carpet, and upholstery. You’ll even discover alternative cleaning solutions you probably have in your kitchen. We’ll also explore some tips to remove coffee stains from your teeth.

Tips for Removing Coffee Stains on Clothing

Every coffee drinker will spill a little coffee on them at some point. But no matter how dark your coffee is or how light your clothes are, you can remove almost any kind of coffee stain from any type of clothing.

Here are our expert tips on exactly how to remove coffee stains so your clothes look great. 

Remember: Before you apply any new detergent or stain remover, always test it in an inconspicuous spot first. 

1. Treating Fresh Coffee Stains

Fresh coffee stains are much easier to remove than dried-on coffee stains. The next time you spill coffee on fabric, work your way through the following steps as quickly as possible for the best results.

  1. Act Fast — The quicker you clean the coffee stain, the greater your chance of removing it completely.
  2. Blot, Don't Rub — Blotting helps remove the coffee stain, while rubbing only works it further into the fabric. Use a towel to blot at the coffee and absorb as much of it as possible.
  3. Use a White Towel — Dye from colored towels can seep into the fabric and make the stain even worse.
  4. Use Cold Water — Cold water prevents the stain from setting and makes it easier to remove.
  5. Apply a Mild Detergent — A mild detergent or stain remover will work its way into the stain and remove the tough bits you were unable to blot out.

2. Treating Set-In Coffee Stains

Set-in coffee stains are much more difficult to remove than fresh coffee stains. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try!

If you’ve got a coffee stain that’s been left to dry on fabric for hours, days, or even weeks, try the following steps to remove it:

  • Pre-Treat — Use a stain remover to pre-treat any coffee stain and help lift the pigment before washing. This will make it easier to remove the stain later.
  • Use Enzyme Detergent — If the spilled coffee contains milk or sugar, use an enzyme detergent for the best results. This special type of detergent successfully removes stubborn lipid, protein, and polysaccharide stains. 
  • Repeat — If the stain doesn’t come out the first time, continue pre-treating and washing until it disappears completely. 

Suggested Reading: Which Country Consumes the Most Coffee?

3. Household Items for Removing Coffee Stains from Clothes

Stain removers and detergents aren’t the only things that get coffee stains out. 

There are loads of everyday items you probably have at home that will help remove coffee stains, such as:

  • Baking Soda — Mix baking soda with water in a 3:1 ratio to make a paste. Gently rub it into the coffee stain and let it sit. Rinse and repeat if the stain remains.
  • White Vinegar — Mix white vinegar with water in a 1:1 ratio to make a diluted cleaning solution. Soak the stain in the vinegar-water mix and blot it until it’s gone. If the coffee contains milk or sugar, you may have to repeat the soaking and blotting stages a few times.
  • Toothpaste — Toothpaste doesn’t just remove coffee stains from teeth — it works on clothes, too! Scrub the stain with a little non-gel white toothpaste to break it down. Rinse and repeat if necessary.
  • Egg Yolk — Beat an egg yolk with 1 cup of water. Rub the mixture onto the stain and leave it to soak for a few minutes. Rinse the clothing with cold water.
  • Shaving Cream — It makes sense when you think about it. Shaving cream shares many of the same ingredients as soap, so it’s great at removing stains. Rub a little into the coffee stain and allow it to sit for a few minutes before rinsing.
  • Salt — Pour some ordinary table salt immediately onto the stain. Be generous because the more you use, the deeper it can soak into your clothing to remove the stain. Leave the salt to sit for a few minutes, then gently remove it with a paper towel or cloth. Even if the salt doesn’t fully remove the coffee stain, it can help keep it from spreading.
  • Baby Powder — Sprinkle a small amount of baby powder onto the fabric and let it work its way into the stain. Gently brush off with a towel or cloth before rinsing with cold water.
  • DIY Paste — Make a paste using a 1:1:1 ratio of laundry detergent, white distilled vinegar, and water. Gently rub it into the stain with a clean toothbrush and allow it to sit for 5 minutes. Rinse and repeat until the stain is gone.
  • Stain Spray — Cover the coffee mark with stain spray and leave it to soak in. Gently scrub the stain with laundry soap and rinse. Repeat. 
  • Stain Pen — If you spill coffee on your clothes more often than you'd like to admit, it's worth keeping a stain pen in your pocket, bag, or car. You can find them in the laundry section of most grocery stores, and they quickly and effectively remove coffee stains on the go.

Suggested Reading: How to Clean a Coffee Maker

Tips for Removing Coffee Stains from Carpet & Upholstery

Removing coffee stains from upholstery and carpet is a little different than removing stains from clothes. 

If you spill coffee on your floor or furniture while at home, here’s what you should do: 

  • For Fresh Stains — Use cold water and a towel to blot up as much coffee as possible. The faster you act, the better your chances of successfully removing the stain.
  • For Older Stains — Pour a little warm water onto the stain and leave it to soak in for a few minutes. Gently blot it dry with a towel.
  • Blot, Don't Rub — Avoid pushing the stain deeper into the carpet or upholstery by using gentle, blotting motions.
  • Use a White Towel — Always use a white towel to blot a coffee stain. The dye from colored towels can seep into the fabric and make the problem worse.
  • Always Test — Do a small test in an inconspicuous area before using a new cleaning product. If the product stains the material, you won’t have another big stain to deal with. 
  • Professional Cleaning — If all else fails, call in the professionals! A professional cleaning company will be able to remove any coffee stain from your carpet or upholstery, no matter how stubborn or old it is.

Household Items for Cleaning Coffee Stains on Carpet & Upholstery

Carpet and upholstery cleaners can be expensive. 

Before you spend your money on pricey products you’ll hardly ever use, try these household items to remove tough coffee stains:

  • Always Test — To make sure your cleaning product of choice won’t ruin your carpet or stain your upholstery, always do a small test. Pour or scrub some of the solution onto a low-visible area. Rinse and leave to dry. If it doesn’t leave a stain, it’s safe to continue.
  • Beer — Pour a small amount of beer onto the stain and leave it to sit for 2-3 minutes. Gently rub it in before rinsing and repeating as needed. You may need to wash the area after to get rid of any lingering beer smell. 
  • Baking Soda — Make a paste using a 3:1 ratio of baking soda and water. Gently rub it onto the stain and leave it to sit for a few minutes. Rinse and repeat until the stain has disappeared.
  • DIY Cleaning Solution — Mix laundry detergent, vinegar, and water in equal parts to create a paste. Gently rub it into the stain with a clean toothbrush or a white towel and allow it to sit for 5 minutes. Rinse and repeat until the stain is gone.
  • Enzyme Laundry Detergent — If the coffee stain contains sugar or milk, an enzyme laundry detergent is your best option. Combine one cup of warm water with one cup of detergent and use a sponge to gently apply it to the stain. Leave the mixture to work its way into the stain for five minutes before blotting with a towel. Rinse and repeat until the stain has gone.
  • Professional Cleaning — If none of the above works, your last option is to call in a professional carpet or upholstery cleaning company. They have access to commercial cleaning products and professional cleaning tools that you don’t. They might be able to remove the stain even if nothing else has worked.

Suggested Reading: Coffee Statistics & Consumer Trends (2024)

Tips for Removing Coffee Stains From Teeth

Anybody who drinks a lot of coffee may start to notice some discoloration on their teeth. 

This is completely normal and surprisingly easy to reverse with some simple tips and tricks: 

  • Professional Teeth Cleaning — A simple visit to your dental hygienist will go a long way in tackling pesky coffee stains. Dental offices use high-grade whiteners and plaque removal techniques that obliterate coffee stains.
  • Whitening Toothpaste — Most toothpaste brands sell whitening versions that contain an abrasive material to scrape away discolored plaque from your teeth.
  • Electric Toothbrush — Rotary toothbrushes provide significantly more strokes per second than manual brushing. Coffee stains don’t stand a chance.
  • Whitening Strips — Occasional whitening strip treatment, espeically those made with hydrogen peroxide do an excellent job of removing coloration caused by frequent coffee consumption. Just don’t overdo it, using whitening strips too often can damage the protective enamel on the surface of your teeth. 

Suggested Reading: Best Time to Drink Coffee

Preventing Future Coffee Stains

Preventing coffee stains is much easier than cleaning coffee stains. 

Follow our tips on how you can avoid coffee spillages and save future you from unwanted hassle and embarrassment:

  • Use Spill-Proof Containers — Always drink your coffee from a travel mug with a spill-proof lid. Find a container with a tight seal that prevents drips and you’ll never have to deal with coffee stains ever again!
  • Pour Slow & Steady — When pouring coffee into a mug, use a slow and steady pour. Aim for the center of the mug and concentrate to avoid over-filling it or splashing it on you. 
  • Secure the Lid — Always make sure the lid is properly secured when getting to-go coffee from a coffee shop. A loose or ill-fitting lid can easily cause spills and stains. 
  • Declutter — When drinking your coffee at home, put it down in a decluttered space. It’s much easier to spill your coffee when your work desk or coffee table is covered in items.
  • Plan Ahead — If you know you’re going to spill coffee no matter what, keep cleaning supplies handy at all times. A stain removal pen is a great thing to keep in your pocket, bag, or car in case of emergencies.

Suggested Reading: 105 Coffee Facts: History, Health, & Trivia

FAQs: Coffee Stain Removal

1. Can coffee stains be removed after they have dried?

Yes, coffee stains can be removed after they have dried. You should pre-treat the stain first, then use an enzyme laundry detergent. This is especially true if the coffee stain contains milk or sugar.

Dried-on coffee stains can be tricky to remove, and you may have to repeat the above steps several times before the stain completely disappears.

The fresher the coffee stain, the easier it is to remove. So the next time you spill coffee, try to clean it immediately for the best results. 

2. Are there any natural remedies for coffee stain removal?

Yes, there are many natural remedies that can remove coffee stains — some of which you probably already have at home, including:

  • Baking Soda
  • Distilled White Vinegar
  • Egg Yolk
  • Salt

Mix the baking soda, distilled white vinegar, or egg yolk with water to create a natural cleaning solution. Rub it onto the coffee stain and leave it to sit for five minutes before rinsing the stain with cold water.

If you’re using salt, pour a generous amount onto the stain and leave it to sit for five minutes before removing with a paper towel. Even if the salt doesn’t completely lift the stain, it will prevent it from spreading.

3. How do I remove a coffee stain from a white shirt?

Spilling coffee on a white shirt doesn’t have to be a nightmare. To remove the stain and save your shirt, follow these steps:

  1. Pre-treat the stain with a quality stain remover. Pour a small amount of the remover onto the stain and gently rub it in. Leave it to sit for as long as the directions recommend.
  2. Check the shirt’s label and wash it at the highest temperature recommended by the manufacturer.

If the above doesn't work, try using bleach before throwing the shirt away. As long as the shirt is white, bleach should be a safe alternative. Follow the instructions for stain removal on the bleach container, then wash the shirt as normal.

4. Can coffee stains be removed from delicate fabrics?

Yes, you can remove coffee stains from delicate fabrics — you just need to be extra careful. Always check the label and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines before using any cleaning products on delicate fabrics.

Dab the stain with a clean white cloth to get rid of the excess coffee. Mix equal parts water and mild detergent to create a cleaning solution. Gently rub this onto the stain and wash as normal to remove it.

Natural and gentle cleaning solutions are best for removing coffee stains from delicate fabrics. If you’re concerned about damaging the fabric or you can’t get the stain out, take the item to a cleaning company and let the professionals handle it.

5. What is the best way to remove old coffee stains from upholstery?

Removing old coffee stains from upholstery is probably easier than you thought. 

Follow these steps, and your furniture will have a new lease on life:

  1. Pre-treat the upholstery with a 1:1 ratio of distilled white vinegar and water.
  2. Leave the upholstery to soak for 5 minutes before rinsing thoroughly with cold water.
  3. Follow the instructions on the upholstery cleaner and apply it to the stain.
  4. Rinse again and leave to dry.
  5. If the above doesn’t work, repeat steps 1-4 until the stain vanishes. Alternatively, try a stronger upholstery cleaner.

6. How can I prevent coffee stains while on the go?

The best way to prevent coffee stains while you’re out is to use a travel coffee mug with a spill-proof lid. Whenever you buy coffee to-go from a coffee shop, make sure the lid is secure to avoid a disaster.

If you regularly spill your coffee when you’re out, it’s a good idea to keep a portable stain remover pen nearby. This way you’ll be able to easily remove the stain as soon as it happens.

7. Is it possible to remove coffee stains from carpets without professional equipment?

Yes, you can get rid of coffee stains by using special carpet cleaning solutions or many ordinary items you probably keep in your kitchen.

Rubbing some enzyme laundry detergent into the stain is your best bet if it contains milk or sugar. If the coffee is plain black, try rubbing in equal parts water, white distilled vinegar, and detergent.

A baking soda paste can also help remove coffee stains from carpets, as can beer. Whatever option you choose, make sure to test your cleaning solution in an inconspicuous location first and rinse thoroughly.

8. What should I avoid when trying to remove a coffee stain?

Never start by scrubbing or soaking the stain in hot water — always use cold water. Hot water can set the stain and make it more difficult to remove.

To protect the stained fabric, always be gentle when dabbing, rubbing, or scrubbing. If you’re too harsh, you may rub the color off the fabric or damage the texture. 

Avoid using colored sponges, towels, or cloths when treating stains. Cleaning solutions can be powerful and may transfer the dye from the cleaning cloth to the fabric, making the stain worse. 

9. How long should I let a cleaning solution sit on a coffee stain?

It depends on which cleaning method you choose. But generally, you should let the cleaning solution sit for 5-15 minutes before rinsing or laundering.

Always read and follow the directions of the cleaning solution to avoid incorrect use and damaging your clothes, carpet, or furniture. 

10. Are there any specific laundry detergents that are best for coffee stains?

Laundry detergents that contain enzymes are best for coffee stains because they can break down the proteins, lipids, and polysaccharides in them.

If you don’t have enzyme laundry detergent, it’s better to act fast and clean the stain with any detergent or soap you have instead of waiting to buy a specialist detergent. The quicker you get to work on the stain, the more likely it will disappear.