How to Remove Coffee Stains on Clothing with 3 Household Products

Follow these tips to conquer coffee stains using products you likely already have in your laundry room.

If you typically start your mornings with a cup of coffee, it's almost inevitable that you'll have to deal with drips or spills at some point. Whether you're just heading out the door with a to-go mug or grabbing your caffeine fix at work, coffee stains on clothing tend to happen at the most inopportune times. Unfortunately, coffee can leave a dark, ugly stain, especially on lighter fabrics. But don't fret! These stains usually come out with a few simple cleaning strategies that involve products you likely already have on hand, including vinegar and bleach.

How to Remove Coffee Stains

BHG / Michela Buttignol

Whichever coffee stain removal method you choose, it's important that you don't place the garment in the dryer until the stain is completely gone. Machine-drying the item while a coffee mark is still visible can set the stain and make it nearly impossible to remove. As with most fabric stains, it's also best to act quickly when treating coffee stains on clothing. If the spill just happened, immediately remove the garment and flush the fabric with cold water through the back of the fabric. This can prevent the stain from penetrating the material and becoming more difficult to lift out. If a simple cold-water rinse doesn't do the trick, or if the stain is older than a few minutes, try one of these other proven methods for removing coffee stains from clothing.

How to Remove Coffee Stains with Vinegar

Dried coffee stains on clothing often require a soak in a cleaning solution to completely lift out the spot. A solution of distilled white vinegar, liquid detergent, and water can effectively loosen coffee stains after a few minutes. This coffee stain removal method works well on most types of clothing, but if you're worried about damaging the garment, test the technique on an inconspicuous area first.

Mix the following in a bucket or other large container:

  • 1 quart lukewarm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid dishwashing detergent
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar

Soak clothing in the solution for 15 minutes, then rinse and hang to dry. Check the area to see if the stain remains. If the stain is gone, you can go ahead and wash the clothes.

laundry room sink below clothes bar
Laura Moss

How to Treat Coffee Stains with an Enzyme Presoak

If your coffee stain is a little more stubborn, try this cleaning method. First, use a white sponge to dab rubbing alcohol on the stain, working from the outside to the center. Then in a small bucket, mix a batch of:

  • 1 quart warm water
  • 1 tablespoon enzyme presoak product

Place stained clothing in the bucket and allow it to soak for 30 minutes. Remove the garment and check the stained area. Again, if you can no longer see the stain, you're safe to wash the clothing as normal.

laundry room with wire baskets and hanging shelf
Blaine Moats

How to Use Bleach to Remove Coffee Stains on Clothing

If the stain is still there, wash it using chlorine or oxygen bleach. This coffee stain removal method might be necessary for old or set-in stains. Always check the label to make sure the bleach is safe to use on that fabric. Generally, you should not use bleach to treat coffee stains on spandex, wool, silk, mohair, or leather clothing. Mix 1/4 cup chlorine bleach and a gallon of water, and soak the garment for five minutes before rinsing and washing as usual.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Will a coffee stain go away on its own?

    No, coffee stains won't disappear without treatment. If left to sit, coffee stains can be hard to remove, so use one of the techniques listed as soon as possible to remove any coffee stains.

  • How long does it take for coffee to leave a stain on clothes?

    Coffee will stain clothes as soon as a spill or drip happens. The sooner a stain is treated, the easier it will be to remove. Never put a garment stained with coffee in the dryer—that could make it permanent.

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