Removing coffee stains from clothing can be frustratingly difficult, but with the right tips and tricks, it is not impossible. Here is everything you need to know why coffee stains, and how best to remove those unsightly stains, even from delicate clothing.
As any coffee lover will tell you, it is next to impossible not to get that occasional splash of coffee down the front of your clothing. To make matters worse, it’s usually your best white dress shirt when you are on your way to an important interview. The first thought you have is probably how to get coffee out of your shirt.
While there is little you can do at the moment other than changing to a new shirt you’ve tucked away in your car, there may be things you can do to at least lighten the stain. Also, there are a few tips you can follow if you want to learn how to get coffee stain out of shirt at work. If you can at least lighten the stain, then at home you can try one of the methods mentioned below. But first, it’s important to know why coffee stains and how to attack those telling drips down the front of your clothes.
Why Coffee Stains
You may be wondering why coffee, or even tea for that matter, stain the way they do. Then it’s time you learned about tannins. This is something important to understand when looking to get coffee stains out of clothes because the culprit is, you’ve got it, tannins.
When asking, does coffee stain white shirts, it might help to learn the etymology of the word. Tannins is actually taken from the ancient Latin word for ‘tanner’, and we all know what that means. When you go out sunbathing, what is the one thing you are trying to accomplish? That would be right, a tan. This is the same thing that happens when coffee stains a shirt. It tans it that dark brown color which obviously you don’t want to stay there.
Tannins are actually a group of polyphenols found in foods such as coffee, tea, grapes and any of the darkly colored organics that are known to stain clothing. While coffee isn’t the only ‘food’ high in tannins, it is the one that gets the biggest amount of bad press about staining clothing and with good reason! Coffee is the most popular beverage on earth! So, are coffee stains permanent? Let’s look at that for a moment.
Immediate Measures to Take
The first thing you really should be asking yourself is how to get coffee stain out of white shirt fast. There are a couple of reasons why you need to get that coffee stain out of white shirt quickly but the most important is that once it has dried, it may be harder to remove. Heat is especially to be avoided if you’ve slopped coffee down the front of your clothing, so whatever you do, don’t launder or dry them until you’ve treated the stain.
If you can, rub a little laundry detergent and cold water on the spot to get it quickly lightened. If you can’t take the shirt off immediately, this will help to make it easier to get rid of it totally later at home. If you are in a restaurant, ask for a small bit of soda, plain soda water, and a lemon. Squeeze the lemon juice on the stain and then rub with the soda water. That should help lift a good bit of the stain so you can finish removing it at home.
What to Avoid When Getting Coffee Out of Clothes
As mentioned above, when getting coffee out of clothes, avoid heat at all costs until you’ve treated the stain. Heat promotes the ‘tanning’ action from the ‘tannins’ and if you are not very careful, you can end up with a permanent discoloration.
If you can’t take any immediate action, you are probably wondering how to get dried coffee stains out of clothes. As long as you haven’t applied any heat, other than body heat, to the shirt, you should be able to at least lighten it to a point where it can’t be noticed.
If you want to get coffee stain out of white shirt, the one thing you want to avoid, as mentioned, is heat. Also, try to avoid simply laundering that shirt without treating the stain first. Whether you use a homemade remedy like lemon and soda water or laundry detergent and cold water, or a commercial stain removing product, the trick is to treat the article of clothing first, and then launder it.
Then, before putting it in the dryer, check to see that the stain is gone. If not, treat again before drying it. You will be thankful for this! Remember, heat sets the ‘tanning’ element of tannins.
Various Homemade Cleaning Solutions
The first time you slosh coffee onto your clothing it is reasonable to wonder, do coffee stains come out of white shirts? While you can try several of the commercial solutions for taking coffee stains out of clothing, you might not have any on hand. You know that it’s not good to let the stain sit too long, so what can you do immediately to prevent that stain from setting permanently?
If you are unable to get a commercial product specifically formulated to remove coffee stains, the first thing to do is try some of the various homemade cleaning solutions mentioned above. That would be the lemon and soda solution or the laundry detergent and cold-water trick. Also, some people have had a great amount of success with dental whitening toothpastes, but you may not have those on hand.
So, how to get coffee stain out of shirt if there are no commercial products on hand? That’s right. Use one or more of the abovementioned solutions but above all, avoid heat as that will set the stain almost permanently.
Commercial Products for Getting Coffee Stains Out of Clothes
Now, let’s look at getting coffee stains out of clothes with commercial products. Bear in mind that it doesn’t hurt to use the homemade solutions immediately upon noticing the stain, but there may be some commercial products you can use as well. Yes, laundry detergent is a commercial product, but not one made specifically for removing coffee stains.
If you want to treat that coffee stain white shirt, lighten it first and avoid heat. Then, any product with bleach should lift it from white clothes. Remember to look at the ingredients in the formulation first. If you are treating anything but a white shirt, make sure the bleach is color safe.
Be especially careful to read the label of any commercial product for specific uses and any warnings such as treating colored clothing. There are bleaches on the market that are specifically made for colored clothing and for removing hard-to-remove stains like coffee on white shirt.
Here, it might also be good to understand that there are other culprits that will leave a stain if left untreated. Those would be any of the foods high in tannins. Tea is one such culprit, as is wine. Those are the polyphenols that ‘tan’ what they touch, so as a bonus, you might want to keep that cleaning solution on hand for times when you’ve dripped tea or wine on your shirt!
If at First You Don’t Succeed
You have heard the old adage, if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. That would be something good to keep in mind when seeking to understand, “How do I get coffee stains out of clothes?” In seeking to sum up all the above, remember to first try to treat the stain immediately once you’ve noticed it.
If you are out in public, look for soda water and lemon. Failing that, a bit of cold water and hand soap in a restroom might help. But, whatever you do, don’t just take that stained shirt home and launder it as usual without treating the stain first. Especially important is to remember not to dry it without checking to see if the stain is gone. You’d be surprised at just how hot clothes dryers are and yes, they are hot enough to set that stain if you are not careful.
If you cannot locate a commercial product especially formulated to take stains like coffee stains out of clothing, then use one or more of the above-mentioned homemade solutions. Even so, always remember not to apply heat until you’ve removed the stain.
It can’t be mentioned enough that heat will be your worst enemy when seeking to remove coffee stains from clothing. Even if you have to treat the stain twice before drying that white shirt, it sure is better than needing to buy a new one, isn’t it?
Removing coffee stains from white shirts is doable if you act quickly. With that in mind, remember, it can be done!