How to Remove Coffee Stains from Everything, According to Experts

Updated: Apr. 19, 2024

Creating a coffee stain is almost inevitable. Luckily, our experts are explaining how to remove coffee stains from everything.

If you’re like most Americans, your morning beverage of choice is coffee. And while this caffeine-booster is both tasty and effective at perking you up, it’s also notorious for causing stains. That’s because coffee contains tannins, which are rich, naturally occurring dyes found in coffee, tea and red wine. But there’s hope if you find yourself in the midst of a coffee stain. Knowing how to remove coffee stains is basically a life skill, and one you’ll be happy to have in your back pocket.

So we spoke with three well-versed experts who know a thing or two about how to clean. Kim Romine, a fabric-care scientist for Tide, and home-cleaning professionals Amanda Day and Lauren Haynes have dealt with their fair share of spills. And they’re here to offer step-by-step solutions for tackling those java stains.

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About the experts

  • Kim Romine is a fabric-care scientist at Procter & Gamble with more than 20 years of experience developing fabric-care products, including Tide laundry detergent.
  • Amanda Day is a 25-year home-cleaning professional for Molly Maid, based in Little Rock, Arkansas.
  • Lauren Haynes is a London-based professional cleaning expert at Star Domestic Cleaners.

Reviewed for accuracy by: Mary Marlowe Leverette, a highly regarded fabric-care, stain-removal and housekeeping expert with more than 40 years of experience.

Does coffee stain?

Before crying over a spilled cup, remember the good news: Similar to red wine stains, coffee stains are not permanent, as long as you act swiftly and know how to treat them. Whether it’s a drive-thru spill in your car or on your clothes, furniture or carpet, experts unanimously agree that your chances of success are much higher if you treat the stain immediately. Luckily, you probably already have most of the supplies on hand with your cleaning checklist.

How to remove coffee stains from carpet

There are a few methods you can use to treat a coffee stain on the carpet, including vinegar or dishwashing detergent. But before you use a cleaning agent, make sure you begin by blotting the stain with a dry cloth or paper towel to remove most of the moisture first. It’s also important not to rub the spot, as you could unintentionally spread the stain.

For old stains, scrape away any dried coffee with the rounded edge of a spoon, then vacuum the debris. Dampen the stain with warm water to loosen the carpet fibers, then follow the steps below.

Supplies you’ll need

  • Microfiber cloth
  • Paper towels
  • Liquid dishwashing detergent
  • Warm water
  • Bowl
  • Spoon
  • Vacuum


  1. Blot the stain with a clean cloth or paper towel, removing as much liquid as possible.
  2. Combine 1/4 teaspoon of liquid dishwashing detergent and 1 cup of lukewarm water in a bowl.
  3. Apply a small amount of the detergent solution to a white microfiber cloth. Spot test on a small, hidden area of your carpet to make sure it doesn’t remove the color of your carpet or damage it in any way.
  4. If it’s safe to use, press the solution onto the stain, starting from the outer edges and working your way inward.
  5. Blot the area with a dry cloth.
  6. Repeat until the stain is fully removed. It may take several tries.
  7. Rinse with water and blot dry.

How to remove coffee stains from clothes

how to get coffee stains out of clothesAlaina DiGiacomo/

For devoted coffee drinkers, coffee stains on clothing come with the territory. However, if treated correctly, those brown spots can be removed, Romine says. If you’re working on a tough stain and are ready to launder the item, she recommends following these steps.

Supplies you’ll need

  • Cold water
  • Oxidizing laundry detergent


  1. Blot the stain with a clean cloth or paper towel, removing as much liquid as possible.
  2. Rinse the coffee stain under cold running water to dilute it.
  3. Pretreat with an oxidizing laundry detergent by pouring the detergent directly on the stain. “Make sure to cover the whole stained area,” Romine says.
  4. Let the pretreatment sit for at least five minutes, advises Romine.
  5. Without rinsing off the detergent, place the garment in the wash with other like items and wash in cold water. Romine says to make sure you’re following the garment care label and using the appropriate dose of detergent based on the load size and soil level.
  6. If stain remains, repeat steps before drying (following the care label’s drying instructions).

How to remove coffee stains from cups and mugs

two mugs with coffee stains on a kitchen counter with supplies needed to clean them nearbyTMB Studio

Coffee stains on cups and mugs are inevitable. Unfortunately, running them through the dishwasher usually doesn’t get the job done. Day says you’ll want to use a gentle abrasive, such as baking soda or toothpaste. “Toothpaste often contains mild abrasives, like baking soda, which will help scrub away stains,” she explains. This technique also works for other types of cups and dishes, Day says.

Supplies you’ll need

  • Baking soda or toothpaste
  • Sponge
  • Water


  1. Create a paste with 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon of water. Alternatively, use a small amount of toothpaste.
  2. Apply to the stain on the mug or cup
  3. Using a sponge, gently rub the paste back and forth against the coffee stain.
  4. Rinse and repeat as necessary.

How to remove coffee stains from couches and upholstery

coffee stain on a couch. cup of coffee and book on side table nearby. cleaning supplies also nearbyTMB Studio

Removing coffee stains from upholstery is similar to treating clothing, notes Romine. You just have the added obstacle of working with an awkward surface and may not be able to launder the items.

Supplies you’ll need

  • Water
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Paper towels
  • Liquid laundry detergent
  • Distilled white vinegar


  1. Blot the stain with a clean cloth or paper towel, removing as much liquid as possible. “Do not rub the stain into the fabric, and be careful to only blot,” Romine advises.
  2. If your couch cushion covers are removable, take them off and rinse the stained area with cold water. If you cannot remove them, skip this step.
  3. Combine 1 tablespoon of laundry detergent, 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 1 cup of water. Mix well. Alternatively, use a diluted mixture of detergent and water.
  4. Day says to use a clean microfiber cloth here. Dip it into the solution and dab onto the upholstery, she says.
  5. Blot from the outside edges and work your way in (this prevents the stain from spreading).
  6. Repeat as necessary and air-dry.

Best coffee stain removal solutions

  • Cold water: Cold water might seem too simple of a solution, but Haynes says it works. “Run cold water through the front and back of the stain until you manage to clean it,” she says. It should work especially well if the stain is fresh.
  • Dish soap: Plain old dish soap can do the trick on hard surfaces. Just combine with water per usual, grab a gentle sponge or toothbrush and scrub away.
  • Toothpaste: Haynes says that toothpaste has an exfoliating effect on hard surfaces—like mugs and tile—that can help get rid of coffee stains. Use an old toothbrush to brush toothpaste lightly into the stain and then rinse. Just make sure the toothpaste you use is white.
  • Baking soda: “Mixing baking soda with water will form a paste that can act as a mild abrasive cleaner,” Day explains. “This gentle abrasive cleaning action can help to lift and scrub away those [stains] caused by coffee.”
  • Laundry detergent: For clothing and upholstery, an oxidizing laundry detergent is likely your best bet, says Romine.
  • Vinegar: “Great for removing odor from clothing items, vinegar has a low pH, which is also helpful at removing the color in a coffee stain,” Romine says. If you want to use it to treat the stain on the go or as a pre-treatment, that works. But you’ll want to use it in conjunction with the prescribed methods above.
  • Club soda: Similarly, Romine says that club soda has a low pH, and its bubbles have an oxidizing effect. You can pretreat your coffee stains with club soda to help lift the pigment.

Why trust us

At Reader’s Digest, we’re committed to producing high-quality content by writers with expertise and experience in their field, in consultation with relevant, qualified experts. For this piece, Leah Groth tapped her experience as a longtime home and lifestyle writer and editor. Then fabric-care and stain-removal expert Mary Marlowe Leverette gave it a rigorous review to ensure that all information is accurate and offers the best possible advice to readers. For this piece, we relied on reputable primary sources, including cleaning and health experts and reputable organizations. We verified all facts and data and backed them with credible sourcing, and we will revisit them over time to ensure they remain accurate and up to date. Read more about our team, our contributors and our editorial policies.


  • Kim Romine, Tide scientist and laundry expert at Procter & Gamble; interview January 2024
  • Amanda Day, home cleaning professional with Neighborly’s Molly Maid in Little Rock, Arkansas; interview January 2024
  • Lauren Haynes, cleaning expert at Star Domestic Cleaners; interview February 2021