Coffee spills always happen at the most inconvenient time: as you’re running out the door, at the end of a long dinner party, or just when you finally sit down to curl up with a book. Similar to some red wines, coffee stains can be extremely hard to remove. This is because many beverages — coffee, tea, and red wine included — contain tannins due their high temperatures.
Luckily, Carolyn Forte, Director of the Home Appliances & Cleaning Products Lab in the Good Housekeeping Institute, is here to share the best tips and tricks on how to remove coffee stains from clothes, upholstery, and more.
Sponge the stain with cool water or soak the garment in cool water for 30 minutes. Pretreat the stain with a prewash stain remover, like Resolve Stain Stick, and launder with chlorine or oxygen bleach, if it’s safe for the fabric.
If your coffee had milk or cream in it, make sure you use a detergent with enzymes in it that will help break down stains, like Tide Coldwater Clean Liquid Laundry Detergent. “Most stain-fighting detergents have enzymes, but check the packaging to make sure your brand does,” Forte says.
Mix 1/2 tsp of liquid dish soap with 2 cups of cool water. Using a clean, white cloth, sponge the stain with the mixture. Repeat until the stain disappears, then sponge once more with cold water and blot dry.
Blot up as much of the coffee as you can. Then, mix 1/2 tsp of liquid dish soap and 1/2 tsp of white vinegar, and 2 cups of warm water. Using a clean, white cloth, sponge the stain with the mixture. Apply a little bit at a time, blotting frequently with a dry cloth until the stain disappears. Finally, sponge with cold water and blot dry.
If you’ve ever left your mug in the sink for a couple days, you know the struggle that is a stained ceramic cup. Forte says all you need is a Good Housekeeping Seal Star Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to wipe off marks. Or, if you don’t have one on hand, sprinkle some baking soda on top of your dish soap to add an extra oomph of abrasion and clean as usual.
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