How to Get Stubborn Coffee Stains Out of Carpet, According to a Cleaning Pro

published Sep 18, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Overhead view of a green, yellow and blue mug tipped over with coffee pouring out onto a white and brown rug.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Prop Stylist: Tom Hoerup

There are few things worse than spilling your morning (or afternoon) cup of coffee, and one of them has to be the telltale sign that gets left behind when you’ve had a little accident. While it can be frustrating to know that you’ll have to head back to the coffee bar to get a refill, having to deal with a lingering stain left behind by your lost cup of coffee definitely adds insult to injury. 

Quick Overview

How to Get Coffee Stains Out of Your Carpet

  • For immediate spills, you’ll want to soak up as much of it as possible with a clean rag or paper towel. Then, fill a 20-ounce bottle with water and a teaspoon of dish soap. Apply the solution to the affected area, agitate it, then let it sit. Use a wet-dry vacuum to suck up any moisture.
  • For stubborn stains, apply 6 percent hydrogen peroxide and let it sit for eight to 10 hours. Then, use a towel to absorb. If that doesn’t work, try using household ammonia instead.

Fortunately, Elena Ledoux, founder of Superb Maids, a house cleaning company in Las Vegas with locations in Portland, Austin, Dallas, and Houston, has some expert tips that can help you get rid of the mess while you wait for your next cup of java to brew. 

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Prop Stylist: Tom Hoerup

What to Do Immediately After a Coffee Spill

If you’re dealing with a fresh spill, Ledoux said the first step is to soak up as much of the coffee as you can before it has time to set. She suggests using a pressing or blotting motion as you try to sop up the spill with a clean rag or paper towel. You’ll need to repeat this process over and over again with dry rags to absorb as much of the spill as you can.

Once you’re confident you’ve soaked up everything, you’ll want to start working on the stain the spill has left behind. “Fill a 20-ounce bottle with water and add one teaspoon of dish soap,” she says. “Apply the solution to the affected area and agitate it (rub it in).” After you’ve let it sit for a moment, Ledoux suggests getting a wet-dry vacuum to suck up any moisture that has been left behind.

You should repeat that process one more time. If you were quick (and lucky) enough, the soap and water mixture should have lifted the coffee stain out of the carpets. 

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Prop Stylist: Tom Hoerup

How to Clean Stubborn Coffee Stains

If that didn’t work, or if you’re dealing with a stain that’s been around for a while — sometimes you don’t notice smaller spills as they happen — Ledoux says it may be time to bring out the big guns (i.e., chemicals). 

She suggests using a 6 percent hydrogen peroxide solution on the stain. You’ll need to liberally apply the hydrogen peroxide to the area and then allow it to sit for eight to 10 hours before using a towel to absorb the remaining residue.

If you’re in a time crunch and can’t wait that long (or if the peroxide alone isn’t cutting it), Ledoux says you can also add “household ammonia” to the stain “to accelerate things.” (Just be careful when using either.) 

She says any ammonia that is marketed as safe for household use will do and that you should use it after you’ve tried using the peroxide as a second treatment option or combine the ammonia with the peroxide, blotting it up once you begin to see your desired results. 

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Prop Stylist: Tom Hoerup

What to Avoid When Cleaning Up Coffee Stains

While piping-hot water is likely what got you in this mess (unless you’re a fan of the cold brew, of course) Ledoux says upping the temperature while you clean won’t do you any favors. “We don’t recommend using very hot water, as it makes the coffee stains harder to remove,” she explains.

Instead, ensure you’re using cool or tepid water and always check whatever chemicals and cleaning agents you’re using on an inconspicuous spot in case they lift more than just the coffee from your carpet. 

When to Take It to the Pros

As much luck as Ledoux has had using this method in the past, there are some instances when you’ll need an extra hand to get your stains out. “If the method above didn’t work very well or if you’re dealing with antique or fragile rugs, we recommend calling a professional rug cleaner,” she adds.