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How to Remove Coffee Stains

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The following instructions explain in detail how to remove coffee stains from carpet, but the truth is you might only lighten them. Sometimes they simply won't come out, so after the cleaning instructions we'll briefly look at your other options.

Perhaps it seems too obvious to mention, but the sooner you get to the spill the more likely you are to get it out or lighten the resulting stain. Spills do not necessarily enter the fibers themselves right away, so carefully clean up the spilled coffee as quickly as possible. Try not to spread it around. Press clean rags or white paper towels gently on it to soak it up, but don't rub them across the carpet. A wet-dry vacuum cleaner can work even better than a cloth because it will suck it up without pushing the liquid around. But in any case grab whatever you have and act fast.

Step by Step

1. To start the cleaning process, mix a teaspoon of dish detergent in a quart of warm water. Avoid the overly fragrant detergents; classic Dawn or Joy work well.

2. Apply this mixture a little at a time, wetting the whole of the stained area with a spray bottle. If you don't have a sprayer available, drip the cleaning mixture onto the area carefully. Work it in a bit with your fingers.

3. Blot the spot with plain white (undyed) paper towels or clean white cotton rags. Get it out before the liquid can spread. Repeat these first three steps until you have used up the mixture.

The instructions continue below, but here is a video that shows another technique for removing coffee stains:

4. Now mix three ounces of plain white vinegar in six ounces of water and apply this to the stained area several times. Blot up the excess moisture each time as described above. If you are still seeing transfer of the stain to a clean part of the cloth when you have used up the mixture, start over and use the detergent solution and vinegar mixture one more time.

5. Rinse the spot with tap water numerous times, blotting it up each time. Sniff the carpet to see if all the detergent and vinegar has been removed.

6. Blot up as much moisture as you can with white paper towels. You can also place a pile of paper towels over the spot and weight them down with something (anything heavy that won't be affected by getting wet) for ten minutes or more. This will pull more of the moisture out.

7. Place a fan where it will blow over the spot for a few hours to complete the drying. Sometimes there is still a small amount of coffee that is staining the carpet deeper down. Fast drying will prevent this remaining residue from migrating to the top of the fibers where it could become visible once again.

If the coffee stains in your carpet cannot be removed in this way, a professional carpet cleaner might at least lighten them a bit more, due to the high temperature and suction used in a truck-mount hot water extraction machine. You can also hide the area by moving furniture around. Other options for repairing the spot are covered on this page: What to Do About a Permanent Stain.

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