Dealing With Tea and Coffee Stains

How many times have you been rushing off to work and spilled tea or coffee over your lovely clean shirt? And how many times have you glanced in irritation at that coffee ring on your table, itching to scrub it off? What about that awful tea stain on your carpet, which you’re trying to cover with the rug? Well, here are some tips to help you get your caffeine hit without leaving brown marks all over the place.


For coffee and tea stains on clothes, the key is to act quickly. Fresh stains will generally wash out if soaked immediately in warm water and biological detergent, and then washed as normal. If the fabric is suitable, use the hottest wash possible. With white fabrics, if the stain still shows after the wash, dab it with hydrogen peroxide mixed with water – for a 20% volume hydrogen peroxide solution, dilute 1 parts hydrogen peroxide to 9 parts water.

If you do not have water and detergent to hand, vinegar is a good alternative. Mix one teaspoon of vinegar in one quart of cold water and then spray onto the stain, before blotting it up. This should loosen the stain and bring it out. Baking soda is something else that can be used: sprinkle a teaspoon onto a wet cloth and then gently rub the stain, before rinsing off. Soda water is a great general solution for stains as it will flush off most stains, if rinsed and then blotted gently.

If the stain is older, then you may need to soak it for longer (eg. overnight) in a laundry stain remover or borax solution. Glycerine rubbed into the fabric can also be used to loosen the stain before washing.


The first thing to do with any spillage is to gently blot up as much liquid as possible, using paper towels or an absorbent cloth. However, do not rub – this will cause the stain to penetrate deeper. Especially with tea, you need to move fast. Then, using a dilute detergent and water solution, sponge the area, using the minimum amount of water necessary for the task. Soda water is also a very good option for sponging off the stain – soak the area and then blot dry with clean paper, and repeat until the liquid is clear. Patience is required as some stains can take a while to remove.

Old stains on carpets will probably need the use of dedicated carpet-cleaning solution and in many cases, if you are in any doubt about a stain on carpet or rugs, it is best to call in an expert in carpet cleaning.


Coffee rings on countertops are unsightly and irritating. However, resist the urge to scrub at it fiercely with harsh abrasives as this will do more damage than good to the surface. This is especially true if you have a stone or marble countertop or any surface with a protective coating. The best thing to use is baking soda – a small amount mixed with water and gently scrubbed across the stain should remove it. If your surface is colour-safe, you can use a mild bleach product, although always test it first on a hidden area to see if the colour is affected.

Cups and Mugs

If you have white cups and mugs, you will probably be sick of the brown stains left on the inside by tea and coffee. These are easily removed in a number of ways: either sprinkle some baking soda inside and then rub gently with a soft wet cloth, and the stain should come off easily. Or put a wedge of squeezed lemon into the cup and fill it with boiling water, then let it soak overnight. The stain should come off when you wash the cup in the morning. If the stains are very stubborn, you may need to soak them in a dilute bleach solution (eg, 1 teaspoon cholorine bleach in 1 cup of water) for about an hour, although this does leave a strong odour of bleach. Alternatively, you can dissolve a tablespoon of washing soda crystals (not baking soda) in warm water and leave it to soak for an hour – the brown film should then simply wipe off.

A few basic items in the house are all you need to keep your clothes, carpets and countertops free of unsightly brown marks, although in all cases, speed is of the essence when dealing with a tea or coffee stain.

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