Nothing is more frustrating than spilling coffee. Not only are coffee stains difficult to remove, but they also usually happen in the morning—when you have the least amount of time to deal with a laundry emergency. Fortunately, there are a few simple tricks to eliminate them quickly and easily. Read on to discover which pantry item will remove a coffee stain with just a few simple dabs. We promise using this elixir is way easier than taking an impromptu trip to the dry cleaner.
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You probably have a jug of white vinegar sitting in your pantry for various cooking and cleaning projects. But did you know it’s also an effective stain remover for clothes? Wayne EdelmanCEO of cleaning service Meurice Garment Care, confirms this fact.
To make a white vinegar cleaning solution for coffee stains, mix 1/2 teaspoon of laundry detergent with 1/4 cup of white vinegar and 1/4 cup of cool water. « The laundry detergent acts as a surfactant which lubricates the stain and suspends it in the water and allows it to be carried off the material, » says Edelman. In other words, the laundry detergent lowers the surface tension between the stain and the water while the vinegar’s acidity adds a chemical charge to the stain’s molecules; that chemical charge is attracted to the charges in the water, which helps lift the stain.
Apply the formula to the stain, brush lightly with a spotting brush—a tool that works cleaners into stains for treatment—and rinse. If you don’t have that tool on hand, according to Apartment Therapy, you can use a toothbrush instead. Repeat the process until the stain is gone. Note: If your coffee had creamer in it, the stain may be more difficult to lift. However, your white vinegar solution should still get the job done.
For the best results, remember to act quickly. You don’t want to wait until the stain has had the chance to set all day.
No white vinegar, no problem: Baking soda can also be used to remove coffee stains from clothing. « Sprinkle as much as you feel necessary directly on top of a damp towel and use it to soak up the stain gently, » says Alicia Johnson, cleaning expert and CEO of CleaningGreenLLC. Let the solution sit for about 30 minutes and then toss the garment in the laundry. « The best part about this ingredient is that it also works well for dried coffee stains, » she adds.
Baking soda also works wonders if you spill coffee on a carpet. Simply sprinkle the powder onto the stain, let it sit for 15 minutes, and vacuum the remaining baking soda, says Adriana Aziz, cleaning expert and operations manager at MaidForYou. Repeat the process until the stain is lifted. According to carpet cleaning service Steamy Concepts, baking soda lifts stains « because it’s an alkaline product that produces carbon dioxide gas when it has a reaction. » This oxidation makes it an effective product for stain removal.
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If your pantry essentials aren’t cutting it, a store-bought spot cleaner for carpets or upholstery (only safe for non-delicates) is your next line of defense against coffee stains. « Spray the stain and let the product sit for a couple of minutes, » says Dean Davies, cleaning expert with Fantastic Cleaners. « After that, gently scrub the stain with some laundry soap. » The garment should then be ready to go in the wash. While some people recommend this, it’s worth noting that excessive exposure to rug cleaner has been found to cause liver damage. Using a stain cleaner that it is specifically for clothing could be a great alternative.
It’s important to note that not all coffee stains can be treated at home. « As a rule of thumb, if you can care for the garment at home according to the manufacturer’s care label, then you can try to treat the stain at home, » says Edelman. « If the garment is labeled dry clean only, then you should leave the stain removal to the dry cleaner. »
If you’re having trouble lifting the coffee stain after multiple rounds of vinegar or baking soda, it’s also worth taking your item to the dry cleaner. Be sure to identify the stain when you drop off the garment so they can pay extra attention to it. That way, you’ll ensure that when you pick it up, there won’t be a trace of java.
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