Cleaning Tips

How to Remove Coffee Stains From Clothes and Other Fabrics

It’s a common practice for short-term rental hosts to provide guests with access to a coffee maker and complementary coffee to enjoy during their stay. This comes with a potential downside, however: coffee spills on tablecloths, linens, upholstery, and more. Below, learn some of the best tips for removing coffee stains from fabrics.

By The Turno Team

Last updated: January 16, 2023

coffee stain on white shirt

Removing Coffee Stains From Vacation Rental Fabrics

According to the National Coffee Association, 7 out of 10 Americans drink coffee each week. A large portion of this 70% consume 3 or more cups per day.

If you’re a coffee lover, sooner or later, you’ll probably have to deal with an accidental spill on your shirt, upholstery, or other fabrics. If you’re a vacation rental host or cleaner, removing coffee stains caused by guests will also likely be something you run into during your tenure.

Removing coffee stains from clothes and fabrics can be a challenging task if you don’t know exactly what to do. Still, it is possible to make them disappear. Below, learn how to do just that.

What Takes Out Coffee Stains?

The supplies you’ll need to help remove a coffee stain depends on the type of material on which the beverage was spilled — in this case, fabric.

Use these items to remove coffee stains from clothes and other fabrics:

  • Branded solution for stain removal
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Cold, uncontaminated water
  • Liquid detergent for washing fabrics
  • Microfiber cloth
  • OxiClean™
  • White vinegar

How to Remove Fresh Coffee Spills

As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to start cleaning up the coffee spill and removing the stain as quickly as possible after it happens. This will give you a better chance of erasing the spot completely.

View a step-by-step look of how to get rid of new coffee stains below.

1. Soak Up the Excess Coffee

Blot the stained area with a rag or microfiber cloth, provided that it is not wet. Try to remove as much of the excess coffee as possible.

Avoid rubbing the fabric to remove the stain, as this can damage the fibers and make the spilled coffee even more difficult to clean. Silk and lace are both delicate fabrics that can be easily damaged by rubbing.

2. Check Your Fabric Label

Before progressing further, confirm that your fabric is not labeled “dry clean only.” This type of fabric is best handled by an expert.

If you are not dealing with a “dry clean only” garment, proceed to the next step.

3. Rinse the Fabric in Cold Water

Rinse the fabric with cold water to help remove some of the remaining fabric stains. Whether or not there are visible results from the rinsing, continue with the following steps.

4. Make a Cleaning Solution

Coffee stains are caused by tannin, which is a dye existing innately in the seeds, leaves, fruit, and bark of the coffee plant. What this means is you’ll have to use a safer solution.

One such homemade solution involves an equal mixture of white vinegar and a mild acid, such as liquid laundry detergent.

Place the solution on the stain spot. Give it time to settle on the fabric and interact with the liquid but do not let it dry. Finally, rinse your fabric. If the stain is not lightened, repeat this process as needed.

5. Launder Using a Washing Machine

Use a washing machine to launder the fabric according to the instructions on the care label.

Remember to avoid tossing the fabric in the dryer before the stain is gone. The heat from the dryer will cause the stain to set and make it nearly impossible to remove. You can also let the fabric air dry instead of using a dryer.

How to Remove Old Coffee Stains

Before trying to erase an old coffee stain, you must soak the fabric. For white fabrics, make a soaking solution of a gallon of water and ¼ cup of bleach.

For colored fabrics, using an oxygen bleach like OxiClean is the way to go. OxiClean is a favorite of cleaning professionals as it relies on the ability of oxygen bubbles in removing troublesome stains.

After you have soaked the fabric, wash it using a washing machine. Once washed, only place the fabric in the dryer if the stains have disappeared.

If soaking alone didn’t remove the coffee stains, follow the steps outlined in the previous section.

Removing Coffee Stains: What Not to Do

Do Not: Use Lemon Juice

Many sources recommend using lemon juice to remove stains. For removing coffee stains, however, lemon juice should be avoided since it’s sugary and can cause further staining.

Do Not: Apply Bleach Directly on the Stain

Direct contact of bleach with fabric, including white fabric, can damage the fibers and whiteners to form a yellow spot.

Do Not: Use the Wrong Type of Bleach

For instance, when dealing with a fabric of different colors, resist the temptation to use chlorine bleach. That type of bleach is highly abrasive and can eliminate not only the fabric’s discoloration but also the color.

Do Not: Use Baking Soda

Make no mistake, baking soda is an exceptional agent for stain removal in fabrics. When you have a coffee spill, however, it’s not likely for baking soda to eliminate all of the coffee discoloration.

To remove tannin-based stain, you need an acidic agent. Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is alkaline.

Keep Your Short-Term Rental Free of Coffee Stains

Before you try to remove a coffee stain, don’t forget that every fabric is unique with different requirements for cleaning. Depending on the fabric, you may need to use varying temperatures of water and types of detergents.

That said, the easy-to-follow steps above provide a helpful guideline for addressing any type of coffee stain, old or fresh. You’ll be able to rest assured knowing your guests can enjoy their morning cup of joe without discoloring any of the fabrics in your rental home.

Check out our blog for more short-term rental cleaning tips.

The Turno Team Avatar
The Turno Team , The Turno Team researches and publishes articles designed to provide short-term rental Hosts, Property Managers, and Airbnb Cleaners with insightful, useful resources. Articles written by the Turno Team cover a wide range of STR interests, from the latest industry data and best practices to real-world, practical advice on running efficient, revenue-generating vacation rental businesses in an ever-changing market.