How to Remove Coffee Stains

If you’re a coffee drinker, there will inevitably come a time when you will spill coffee on your favorite outfit or tablecloth. Coffee stains can be stubborn and if allowed to set, can be nearly impossible to get out. Following these simple steps on a fresh coffee stain will help get the stain out before it sets in.

What You Will Need

  • Absorbent white paper towels
  • Powdered laundry detergent
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Cold water
  • Small cup or dish
  • Toothbrush or small nail brush
  • Liquid laundry detergent with color-safe bleach

Steps to Remove the Coffee Stain

  1. Using the paper towels, blot the stain using a firm lifting motion until little or no stain comes off on the paper towel. DO NOT rub the stain as that may spread the stain further.
  2. Rinse the back side of the stain with cold water (do not rinse the front of the stain yet, as this may actually spread the stain)
  3. In the small dish or cup, mix powdered laundry detergent, cold water and distilled white vinegar to form a paste. The paste should be the consistency of toothpaste.
  4. Spread the paste on both sides of the stain (remember to check a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric to make sure the paste will not damage or discolor the material), and let it sit for approximately 5 minutes.
  5. With a toothbrush or small nailbrush, rub the pasted stain in a circular motion (both sides).
  6. Rinse the area with cold water, both front and back.
  7. Pour a small amount of liquid laundry detergent directly onto the area of stain and rub it in with your thumb and forefinger.
  8. Place the fabric in the wash and launder as usual as per the directions on the fabric tag, using the liquid detergent with color-safe bleach. (If the stain is on durable whites that are bleach-safe, you may use regular detergent with bleach added to the wash water, instead of the detergent with color-safe bleach.)
  9. If the stain remains after washing, repeat steps 1 through 7. DO NOT dry the fabric in the dryer if any stain remains as the heat from the dryer will set the stain, making it nearly impossible to get out.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Always treat coffee stains as soon as possible. If allowed to dry, the stain will set in and will be much more difficult to remove.
  • Always opt for white paper towels since colors or designs on the paper towels may bleed onto your fabric, making the situation worse.
  • If your fabric is a delicate material, such as wool or silk, consider taking the item to a professional cleaner to avoid damage or discoloration.
  • If the dirt or mud stain is on a delicate fabric such as silk or wool, or if the garment is designated as dry-clean only, take the item to a professional cleaner. For help finding reputable cleaners in your area, contact your local Chamber of Commerce, or visit the yellow pages.
  • Always follow all care instructions and warning on the label of your particular clothing or fabric before following any of these stain removal suggestions. If anything contained on the label of your clothing or fabric contradicts the advice given here, opt to follow the advice on the label.
  • If you are at a location where immediate stain treatment is impossible, try dabbing the stain with a little baking soda sprinkled on a wet napkin or dishcloth. This may not get the stain out completely, but will usually stop it from setting in, until you are able to get to a laundry facility.
  • Again, if you are at a location where immediate stain treatment is impossible, dabbing the stain with distilled white vinegar will help it not to set until you are able to get to a laundry facility.
  • Most grocery and other such stores sell a variety of stain pretreatment products, such as Shout™ and Spray ‘N Wash™. These products may be useful in treating stubborn coffee stains, but be sure to read and follow all directions and cautions provided with any such product to make sure it is safe to use on or around the particular fabric you have in mind.


  1. You can read all these coffee stain instructions, you can sweat over ruining a whole carpet, OR you can go to Meijer’s and buy a bottle of WHINK WASH AWAY and get your coffee stain out even after it sets. I did. This stuff is a miracle, it will even get out bleeds from clothes. Like a striped shirt that blues bleed into the white strips. Yep, it will also prevent bleeds if you just add a little to the wash. Here’s the trick, you won’t find it in the laundry isle. It’s by the cleaners, like bathroom and super strengths cleaners. I’ve only seen it in Meijers and I hope they never stop selling it.

  2. I’d really like to try this product on my silk covered chair. Someone spilled a full cup of black coffee on it and while I was able to remove most of it, there is a strong hint of of it on the edges of the ‘spill’.

  3. Which of these can best remove a coffee stain: A- a solution of borax in water, B- ammonia solution, C- kerosene, or D- turpentine?

  4. I used this on my shoes and it was truly amazing how good it worked on my white shoes after I spilled coffee all over them. My shoes even look nicer then what they were.

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