I spilled my coffee all over my cotton shirt. Will it stain if I let it dry? It's not white so I can't just bleach it. Or will it come out in an ordinary wash?

  • 1
    each fabric responds to different chemicals. Can you post the make-up of the shirt?
    – Justin C
    Feb 6, 2015 at 15:35
  • 1
    I like your accidents tag. Could also have been tagged "oops."
    – Alex A.
    Feb 6, 2015 at 15:45
  • @JustinC added.
    – fredley
    Feb 6, 2015 at 15:49

2 Answers 2


howstuffworks.com has complete directions for removing coffee from all kinds of materials. Here is what they say about Cotton.

Cotton and Linen
Follow these steps to remove coffee stains from Cotton and Linen:

  • Blot up excess.
  • Pretreat (the method of applying a stain-removing agent directly to the stained area before laundering) with Shout Liquid Laundry Stain
    Remover, then launder immediately.
  • If that is not possible, soak the stain in a solution of 1 quart warm water and 1/2 teaspoon dishwashing detergent for 15 minutes.
  • Rinse well with water.
  • Next, sponge the stain with rubbing alcohol.
  • Rinse and allow to dry.
  • If the stain remains, use an enzyme presoak (follow directions on label).
  • Rinse well with water and dry.
  • Launder as soon as possible.

Another method that has worked:

  • Stretch the stained area over a bowl and secure with a rubber band.
  • Pour boiling water through the stain from a height of 2 to 3 feet. Stand back to avoid splatters.
  • Although cotton and linen can stand boiling water, some of the finishes and colors used on the fabrics might be damaged by such
    harsh treatment.
  • Be sure to test on an inconspicuous corner first. (If coffee contained cream and any greasy stain remains, follow procedures to
    Remove Milk and Cream.)

There are more directions for other fabrics and materials here.


Coffee stains on cotton fabric can be treated using standard laundry strain removing products like Spray-and-Wash and OxiClean. The former has worked well for me in the past. Spray it on the stain and let it sit for a day or so before putting it in the wash.

As with any laundry product, it's a good idea to spot test to ensure your garment is colorfast.

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