Does Coffee Stain Clothes?

When you’re drinking a cup of your favourite wake-up brew, the last thing you want is a few drops of the dark liquid to get onto your clothes. Unfortunately, however, coffee spills are a part of many people’s mornings. But will these coffee marks leave stains on your clothes? 

The answer to this is yes, coffee can indeed stain your clothes. This is because it contains tannins, which are organic substances that can cause a yellowish or brownish stain on fabrics. But don’t panic, as there are ways to treat and prevent these stains effectively. 

Let’s have a closer look into the reason why this happens and what you can do about those stains in this article. 

Why Does Coffee Stain Clothes?

The main culprit as to why coffee stains garments are the tannins found in its ingredients. 

Tannins are a type of polyphenol, which are naturally occurring compounds found in plants, including coffee beans. These tannins are responsible for the rich colour and flavour of coffee, but they also have a strong bonding ability with proteins and other organic compounds, including the fibres in your clothing.

cups of coffee

When coffee spills on fabric, the tannins stick to the material, creating a visible stain. When the coffee is hot, it can further set the stain into the fabric, making it more challenging to remove. 

Darker roasts, which contain more tannins, are more likely to leave a noticeable mark than lighter ones. Coffee that contains milk could also be more difficult to remove, as the organic material in it could adhere deeper into the fabric. 

Important Things To Do After The Big Spill

When it comes to stains, the most important thing you need to do to save your garment is to act fast. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to lift the stains. 

Here are the things you should do: 

Blot The Stain

The first step in dealing with a coffee spill is to blot the stain with a clean, dry cloth or paper towel. It’s important to act quickly and dab gently to soak up as much of the coffee as possible without spreading the stain further. 

Avoid rubbing the fabric, as this can push the coffee deeper into the fibres.

Rinse With Cold Water

After blotting, rinse the stained area with cold water. Cold water helps to lift the coffee out of the fabric. 

You should do this from the back of the fabric to push the coffee out of the fibres rather than through them. Doing so will significantly reduce the severity of the stain before it sets in.

Apply Stain Remover (optional)

If you’re outdoors or in a situation where you can’t deal with the stain immediately, a handy stain removal pen will come in handy. 

If you’re like me and spills are a part of your day-to-day life (no judgement please), believe me, it’s best to keep a stain removal pen in your bag at all times. 

TIP: Make sure to check the care label of your garment before treating stains. Using heat and various products can damage its fabric, especially if it’s made with delicate material. 

Best Ways To Remove Coffee Stains

There’s no need to be overwhelmed – removing coffee stains does not involve rocket science. In fact, it’s very easy to do. 

coffee stains

All you need are a few products, time, and a bit of patience. Once you’re done, best believe your clothes will look like the coffee stain never even happened. 

How To Remove Fresh Coffee Stains

When the coffee stain is still fresh, you’re in luck! This is the easiest time to remove those annoying marks. 

Get to work and do the following:

Soak The Stained Clothing

If the stain is still fresh, soaking the clothing in cold water for at least 30 minutes can help loosen the coffee particles from the fabric fibres. This makes it easier to remove the stain during the washing process.

Gently Scrub The Stain

After soaking, gently scrub the stained area with a soft brush or cloth. This will help dislodge the coffee particles. 

If the stain is stubborn, apply a small amount of liquid laundry detergent directly to the area and scrub lightly. Repeat the process if necessary.

Rinse With Cold Water 

Rinse the garment again with cold water to remove any loosened coffee and detergent residue. 

Make sure that all the detergent (if you used it) is rinsed to prevent further staining your garment. 

Wash As Normal

Wash the clothing item as you normally would, according to its care label. Always use the appropriate water temperature and cycle for the fabric type to avoid setting the stain further.

If you can, handwash the fabric instead of putting it in the washer, as it is much gentler. 

Air Dry The Garment

After washing, air dry the garment instead of using a dryer. The high heat from the dryer can set the stain permanently if it’s not completely removed. 

Always check if all the stains are removed before drying. If it remains, treat it again before drying.

How To Remove Set-In Coffee Stains

When the stain has already set onto your fabric, expect to take more time than usual to remove it. 

You’ll also need to use products such as stain removers if the marks are already very difficult to remove. 

Stain Remover

For coffee stains that have set into the fabric, a more potent stain remover might be necessary. Choose a stain remover formulated to tackle tough stains and make sure to follow the instructions carefully. 

Often, these products require application directly to the stain, followed by a set time before you can wash the clothing for best results. 

White Vinegar 

White vinegar is an effective, natural alternative for removing set-in coffee stains. This is because its mild acidic nature can break down the tannins in coffee. 

coffee stained shirt and white vinegar

To use, mix equal parts white vinegar and water, apply it to the stain, and let it sit for about 15 minutes. After soaking, gently blot the area and rinse with cold water. Repeat if necessary.

Liquid Detergent

Applying a small amount of liquid detergent directly to the stain can be effective, especially for set-in stains. 

To use, allow the detergent to sit on the stain for around 30 minutes to an hour, then gently rub the fabric together or use a soft brush to help lift the stain. 

Rinse thoroughly with cold water afterwards and repeat if necessary.

Oxygen Bleach

For persistent stains, oxygen bleach is a safe and effective option for most coloured and white garments. 

Mix the oxygen bleach with water according to package directions, then soak the stained item for at least 30 minutes. After soaking, wash the garment as usual and air dry.

How To Prevent Coffee Stains

In most situations, prevention is always better than cure. However, accidents do happen despite our best efforts. 

Before we end this article, here are some tips to reduce the possibility of having your clothes stained by coffee again:

Be Mindful Of The Way You Drink

To avoid coffee stains, it’s important to be careful when you’re drinking your coffee. Try not to drink coffee while walking or doing other things that could lead to spills. 

When you’re sitting down and drinking coffee, make sure your cup is on a stable surface so it won’t easily tip over.

TIP: Wear darker colours! Wearing dark clothes can help hide coffee stains if they do happen. 

Carry A Stain Removal Pen

Carrying a small stain remover stick or pen with you can be very helpful. If you spill coffee on your clothes, you can use it right away to help remove the stain before it sets. 

It’s just like having a mini cleaner in your bag or pocket. 

Tide To Go, Instant Stain Remover Pen
  • Tide To Go, Instant Stain Remover Pen
  • Product type: LAUNDRY DETERGENT

Use Spill-Proof Containers

Using a travel mug that doesn’t spill easily is another good way to prevent coffee stains. 

Look for mugs with a secure lid that won’t come off easily. This way, even if you accidentally knock the mug over, the coffee won’t spill out and stain your clothes.

And there you have it, fellow coffee drinker! There’s no need to stop getting your caffeine fix. With the right treatment and quick action, your clothes will be stain-free when you’re done!

Do you have questions? Ask away!

SEE ALSO: Does White Wine Stain Clothes?

Frequently Asked Questions

Will coffee permanently stain clothes?

Coffee will not permanently stain clothes if you treat the stains promptly and properly. By acting quickly and using the right methods, you can effectively remove coffee stains from your clothing.

How do you get coffee stains out of clothes?

To get coffee stains out of clothes, you should blot the stain, rinse it with cold water, apply a stain remover or detergent, and then wash the garment according to the care label instructions. For set-in stains, more potent treatments like stain removers or household items like white vinegar may be necessary.

Do coffee stains last?

Coffee stains do not have to last if they are addressed quickly and with the correct cleaning techniques. The faster you treat the coffee stain, the less likely it is to set into the fabric permanently.

Will coffee grounds wash out of clothes?

Yes, coffee grounds will wash out of clothes, especially if you rinse the affected area with cold water immediately.

Do you wash coffee stains with hot or cold water?

You should wash coffee stains with cold water, as hot water can set the stain into the fabric, making it more difficult to remove.

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