Why Are Coffee Stains so Difficult to Remove from Carpets?

Find success when removing coffee or tea spills…

If you allow a few days to pass, the coffee, tea or wine stain is much tough to remove.

These stains appear to take up permanent residence in the carpet. Our most aggressive cleaning technique often shows limited success.

Why so tough?
Coffee, tea and wine (and many other beverages that contain “tannins”, such as fruit juices) are difficult to remove because of the high temperature of the spill and added substances in the beverage (with the exception of wine and cold drinks).

Plain, black coffee removal is one thing; black coffee with added cream and sugars is another.  In addition to this, some decaffeinated coffees often have artificial colors added to give it a richer look. Other, organic and non-caffeine coffees also can have artificial colors added. Artificial coloring can be tough to remove.

When performing spot or stain removal with coffee or tea that has flavorings added, we often have to use spotters (typically alkaline spotting agents) for those substances in addition to the basic coffee spill.

And then there are the tannins in beverage spills. Tannins are found in beverages such as:
• Coffee
• Tea
•  Wine
• Beer and other alcoholic drinks
• Fruit juices
• Colas
• Cocoa
• Tomato juice
• And more

Tannin is a natural occurring vegetable dye found in many plants especially grape skin, tea leaves, bark and stalk of vegetation. It is responsible for the “bitter” taste of red wine and some coffees – a good thing, as long as it isn’t spilled onto the carpet.

When coffee or tea or other beverages with tannins are spilled onto carpet, the heat of the beverage “opens up” the fiber and allows it to penetrate, at times penetrating through any fabric protection in the carpet. However, the better protection in the carpet, the better your chances of complete stain removal.

These hot spills bond with the fiber and removal is difficult, especially after a day or two have passed – or weeks or months, which can be the case.

Tip: If you have a fresh coffee or tea spill, put a damp, white towel on the spot and weigh the towel down. This will keep the spot damp and easier to remove when we arrive.