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The Best Ways to Remove Coffee & Wine Stains from Clothing

May 15, 2023

When it comes to washing your clothes, there are several things that you want to consider.

What fabric is it made of? Are there stains on it? The answers will dictate how you should wash the item. For example, shirts with red wine stains or coffee stains will need to be prewashed beforehand.

What’s the proper way to do it? What products should you use to remove coffee stains and wine stains? Can you use baking soda, white vinegar, or dishwashing detergent? For the answers, be sure to keep reading. We’ll be going over everything that you need to know below.

Coffee Stain Removal: A Step-by-Step Guide

how to remove coffee stains from synthetic fabrics

Technical fibers such as polyester, spandex, and nylon are relatively durable, especially compared to wool and silk. Accidentally dripped or poured some coffee on your workout shirt? No problem—you can get it out in a few easy steps!

Step 1: Remove the Excess Coffee

Blot up the excess coffee with a dry cloth. Paper napkins also work in a pinch (you might need more than one, though). Avoid wiping motions, that will only spread the liquid further onto the fabric.

Step 2: Presoak the Coffee Stain with ACTIVE Detergent

Fill a sink or small tub with warm water (warm is better than cold when it comes to stains) and add a scoop of ACTIVE detergent. Agitate and mix the solution with your hands. If necessary, you can also add a tablespoon of white vinegar.

Note: Dishwashing detergent (or any liquid detergent) will do in a pinch if you don’t have ACTIVE detergent.

Step 3: Soak the Stain in the Solution

Place the stained clothing into the sink and allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes (longer is okay too). Make sure that the problem area is submerged entirely in the solution.

Pick the item up once it has been thoroughly soaked. Use a sponge or soft cloth to blot up any remaining stain; you can also rub the area gently to remove the spot.

Step 4: Rinse the Stain Under Clean Water

5Rinse away the detergent and examine the problem area. Depending on the extent of the stain, you might have to repeat the above steps a few times.

Do not put the item in the dryer until the stain is completely gone—otherwise, it will make it even harder to remove.

How to Remove Coffee Stains on Cotton and Linen

Cotton and linen are also easy to work with when it comes to removing coffee stains. We’ll be going over three different methods below.

Using Laundry Detergent to Remove Coffee Stains

how to remove coffee from cotton clothing

Blot the coffee stains quickly with a paper towel or cloth if it is still a fresh stain and damp. This will help to get rid of the excess liquid, which will make the later steps easier.

Rinse the item with clean water at the sink for at least five minutes. Next, Rub a small amount of laundry detergent onto the problem area.

Leave it to set for a few minutes. Gently rub the stain afterward between your fingers; that will loosen the bits of coffee that is embedded in the fibers. Rinse the item thoroughly with clean water.

Using a Commercial Stain Remover to Remove Coffee Stains

In some cases, you might need to use a commercial stain removal product Don’t worry, they’re fairly inexpensive; you can find them in most houseware stores.

Start by blotting the stain with paper towels to remove the excess coffee. Do not wipe the area as that will spread the liquid onto other parts of the fabric.

Use the commercial stain removal product according to its instructions. Depending on the product, you may or may not have to pre-soak the coffee stains.

Wash the article of clothing as normal after applying the stain remover.

Use Near-Boiling Water to Remove Coffee Stains

removing coffee stains with boiling water

Stretch the stained fabric over a bowl and secure it with a rubber band. Carefully pour near-boiling water from a height of two feet over the coffee stains. Stand back to avoid hot splatters.

Wash as normal by hand or machine after the material cools down.

Removing a Red Wine Stain from Technical Fibers

Wine is similar to coffee in that it can easily stain your clothes. In fact, it’s not uncommon for synthetic and cotton fabrics to hold onto these stains after a spill. Don’t worry, though—they are removable as long as you act quickly.

Here are a few ways to remove a red wine stain.

Using Table Salt

how to remove wine stains with salt

1. Blot the red wine stain with a clean, dry cloth to get rid of the excess liquid. Never rub the area—this will push the liquid deeper into the fabric and maker it harder to remove.

2. Sprinkle a liberal amount of salt onto the stained fabric; this will prevent the liquid from spreading and setting in the fibers. Let it sit for several hours before washing with water and ACTIVE detergent.

Using Laundry Detergent and Hydrogen Peroxide

If salt didn’t do the trick, you can try using laundry detergent and hydrogen peroxide.

1. As always, you want to blot up the excess wine with a dry cloth or towel. Avoid spreading the liquid with wiping or rubbing motions.

2. Mix equal parts of ACTIVE detergent (you’ll have to premix the powder with some water according to the instructions) and hydrogen peroxide in a bottle. Carefully pour it onto the red wine stain. Allow it to sit for a minute or two before dabbing it with a cloth—this should help to lift the stain.

3. Wash as normal by hand or by machine. Do not dry the item until the stain is completely removed; the heat from the dryer will set the stain further.

Use White Vinegar

1. Gently blot the stained area to remove the excess wine.

2. Fill a sink with lukewarm water. Add one tablespoon of mild soap and one tablespoon of white vinegar. Gently swirl the liquid to mix the solution.

3. Place the piece of clothing into the sink—make sure that the stained area is completely submerged in the liquid. Allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes (longer if necessary).

4. Use a soft sponge to dab up any excess wine. If necessary, gently rub the problem area with your fingers to loosen the stain.

5. Wash the garment as normal by hand or by machine. Avoid drying the item until the stain is removed; the high temperatures from the dryer will set the stain further.

Easy Ways to Get Red Wine Stains Out From Cotton

Cotton is more absorbent than technical fibers. For this reason, you want to act fast (i.e. before it sets into the fabric) when there is a wine spill. Remember, a wet stain is always easier to deal with than a dry stain!

Use a Commercial Stain Remover Product

Are you a frequent wine drinker? If so, you might want to invest in a commercial stain cleaner. You can find them in most supermarkets—some are even specially formulated for wine!

1. Remove any excess wine from the garment by blotting gently with a clean cloth or towel.

2. Apply the commercial stain remover product to the stained area according to the product’s instructions. In some cases, you might have to soak the item afterward.

3. For the most parts, you can wash the item as normal after applying the stain remover.

Using White Wine

using white wine for red wine stains

Believe it or not but you can actually lighten the red wine stain by using white wine! You probably want to try the other methods before putting more wine on your garment, though.

1. Remove as much of the original wine as possible by blotting the area with a clean cloth. Avoid rubbing the fabric.

2. Apply a small amount of white wine onto the stain. The way things work, this will help to neutralize it. Gently dab on the wine afterward to remove the excess liquid.

3. Launder the item as normal with cold water. Do not dry if the stain has not yet been removed.

Using Boiling Water

1. Blot the area dry with a clean cloth or towel.

2. Stretch the stained area over a bowl and pour near-boiling water through the fabric. Be careful of hot splatters! The amount of hot water required will depend on how set in the stain is.

3. Wash and then air dry the item as normal once it has cooled down.

Note: Generally speaking, this method should be used as a last resort as it can cause damage to certain dyes and colors.

And there you have it – a stain removal guide for wine and coffee spills. As you can see, there are several ways to go about it – from using baking soda to ACTIVE detergent.

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Sophia Grant

Sophia Grant brings her extensive knowledge of laundry and clothing care to the masses with her intensive cleaning guides. Her thorough understanding of fabrics, detergents, and washing techniques helps readers master the art of maintaining their wardrobe. Sophia's advice ensures that anyone can achieve professional-level results at home, keeping their garments looking pristine and lasting longer.

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