How to Conquer (Or at Least Remove) Coffee Carpet Stains (and Which Vacuums & Carpet Cleaners Clean Them Best)

We’ve spent more years than we care to remember cleaning all kinds of stains out of all kinds of carpeting environments; we recently wrote a guide to removing wine stains, and we’ve got far more guides to write before we’re through. One of the most frequent requests we get from clients these days, though, especially in a world of Keurigs, expresso machines, and Starbucks, involves coffee stain removal from carpets. We’re happy to report that despite the rather striking impression a full cup of hot coffee can make on a Persian rug (or any other kind of carpet), it’s actually quite feasible to remove coffee stains from most low-pile, medium-pile, and high-pile carpets. We’ll share our best tips for banishing (or at least calmly removing) coffee stains from most carpets by hand, and then when you get tired of struggling, through vacuum cleaners and carpet cleaners.

How to manually remove coffee stains and spills from carpets (in other words, via a natural coffee stain remover)
We love coffee. But not in our carpets. Here's how to get it out (if not back in your cup).
We love coffee. But not in our carpets. Here’s how to get it out (if not back in your cup).

If you want to remove coffee stains from carpets by hand, you’ll want to act as quickly as possible; the sooner you treat a coffee spill, the less likely it is to turn into a coffee stain, which reduces the likelihood that you’ll have to use one of the machine-aided methods below. You’ll want to blot your coffee spill  immediately with a towel (starting from the outside of the stain to the center so the stain doesn’t spread). The more you absorb, the better. Once you’ve absorbed as much as possible, you’ll want to spray water on the stain and dab it with a separate clean cloth. With prompt treatment, this is often enough to clean out a coffee spill and keep it from turning into a coffee stain.

If this isn’t enough to remove the spill, or if the spill sets in and turns into a stain before you get a chance to treat it, you’ll want to add a gentle soap or detergent to the stain and work the solution into the carpet fibers with your fingers. You don’t want to push down in the process or you’ll simply embed the stain further. It’s a light caress, not a Swedish massage. Once you’ve caressed the carpet, you’ll want to add water and dab it out with a clean cloth several times; here you’re essentially trying to rinse out the stain and soap solution at once. If there’s still a stain, you can add some foam-based shaving cream to the stain and use a cloth to apply it gently. Keep checking your efforts and keep blotting and rinsing with clean water. This approach will get rid of 90% of mild stains if applied promptly.

Once the stain is gone, you’ll want to add about a dozen paper towels on the wet spot and walk back and forth on them to absorb the water. Failing that, you can use a book or other heavy object for a few hours; you want to absorb as much water from the carpet fibers to reduce the possibility of mold, mildew, dirt aggregation, or odors. If you’re not in a hurry, you can simply allow the area to air dry. Once the carpet and affected area have fully dried to the touch, finish things off with a good vacuuming to bring back the texture of the carpet.

How to remove coffee carpet stains with a vacuum cleaner

While the natural method is great if you’ve got a mild stain and the time, tools, and patience to tackle it, the unfortunate truth is that most of us are too busy to follow such paths. For the rest of us, a great time saver might actually be hidden in the nearest closet: a quality vacuum cleaner. Yes, just as you can remove wine stains with vacuum cleaners, you can also remove coffee stains in carpets the same way. However, as with wine, not just any vacuum cleaner will do. When trying this technique with clients, we don’t waste time with budget machines, and we go straight to the vacuum we trust with every carpet we’ve come across: the Miele Complete C3 Soft Carpet. It’s not cheap, but we’ve yet to find any other vacuum nearly as capable of literally pulling stains out of carpets. We’ve had success using it to remove coffee stains from low-pile, medium-pile, and high-pile carpets.

However, at more than $700, its price may be out of reach for a number of families. In that case, we’d recommend the Miele Complete C2 Limited; at under $400, it’s roughly half the price of the C3 Soft Carpet yet almost as effective as long as you don’t need to pull stains out of anything beyond low- or medium-pile carpets. If you’d like the abilities of the C2 Limited but also have hardwood floors, we’d recommend the Miele Complete C3 Calima, which we feel is the best household vacuum below $700.

The best carpet cleaners for removing coffee stains

If you’re dealing with a big mess, we’ll save you some time: just get a carpet cleaner. While we love the Miele for small-to-medium spills, if it’s deep enough or old enough, the most effective way to get out a coffee stain from a low-pile, medium-pile, or high-pile carpet is through a high quality carpet cleaner. If you’ve got a $3,000 budget, the best carpet cleaner on Earth is the EDIC Galaxy 2000 and its model siblings. This is the cleaner we use on high-end industrial cleaning tasks when nothing else will work. However, that’s overkill for pretty much anyone who doesn’t a.) clean carpets for a living or b.) live in a million dollar home.

For 99% of families out there, the machine we recommend (as well as the one we use on most carpet cleaning tasks at work) is the Bissell 86T3 Big Green. At roughly $400, it’s much, much cheaper than the EDIC, but at the same time, it’s strong enough to handle 99% of coffee stains you’re capable of making at home. If you live in a coffee factory with handmade shag carpets, then yes, you’ll want the EDIC. For pretty much every other situation, the Bissell Big Green is all you’ll need to take care of your carpets no matter how many times you spill your favorite beverage on them. If the Big Green is out of budget, we’d recommend the Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner as a good compromise; it’s almost as effective and significantly cheaper.

Our top recommendations for the best coffee-cleaning vacuum cleaners and carpet cleaners under $1000 are the Miele Complete C3 Soft Carpet, which you can buy here, and the Bissell Big Green, which you can buy here. If you’re on a tight budget, we’d recommend the Miele Complete C2 Limited, which you can buy here, and the Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner, which you can buy here. If you own a million dollar home, an apartment complex, a hotel, or simply make a living from cleaning carpets, you’ll want the EDIC Galaxy 2000, which you can buy here.

If you find our research on PMC helpful, you can support our efforts to keep maniacally testing home cleaning tools by bookmarking and shopping through this Amazon link. Canadians can use this link. We promise to keep fighting the good fight against every horror children, animals, and grown, yet messy humans can inflict upon a clean home.

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How to Attack, Destroy, and Annihilate Wine Carpet Stains (And Which Vacuums and Carpet Cleaners are Most Effective in Cleaning Them)

We love grapes. We love wine. We hate stains. Here's how to fight them.
We love grapes. We love wine. We hate stains. Here’s how to fight them.

As professional cleaners, we’re no strangers to messy houses. Whether from vomiting babies, messy pets, sporty children, or tipsy adults, accidents happen. One of our most common reasons for house calls involves wine stains. The exact circumstances vary from one home to another, but they tend to involve a little too much movement while celebrating (the New Year, a birthday, an anniversary, a graduation, the weekend, a promotion, a marriage, a divorce…the list goes on). However, whether you’ve just found out some very good news or are comforting yourself after a hard day at work, the last thing you need is a grape or wine stain on a rug or carpet that’s decidedly not wine-colored. Fortunately, no matter what’s going on in your personal life, a stained carpet doesn’t have to join your list of worries. Here are our best tips for tackling red or white wine-based carpet stains, as well as our top vacuum cleaner and carpet cleaner for dealing with them both before, during, and after their occurrence.

Avoidance is the best policy

When it comes to wine stains, the best way to clean them we’ve yet found is to keep them from occurring to begin with. It might sound trite, but it’s our first recommendation to clients who ask us for the best tools: prevention can save many dollars, a lot of stress, and countless hours of work. Simply do your best to keep any kind of beverage away from your carpet. Sealed bottles are generally a safe bet, but we’ve seen those drop and shatter on low-pile carpets too, so you can never be too careful. Uncork your bottles far away from rugs and carpets and if you’re hosting, do your best to keep your guests away from high-risk areas. We frequently recommend stocking coffee tables and other furniture to provide guests with convenient places to leave drinks so they don’t carry them about (or worse, set them directly on your carpets).

But if you can’t avoid it, absorb it
Trust us. Kittens and wine glasses don't mix.
Trust us. Kittens and wine glasses don’t mix.

No matter how careful you are, though, you’ll eventually wind up with a spill. Once this occurs, you’ll want to act quickly. The first thing to do is to stop the spill from getting worse; if you can recover the glass (or God forbid, bottle) before it’s completely empty, you’ll save yourself a lot of work. Similarly, if the person who spilled the wine isn’t completely sober, this is the time to keep him or her from drinking further. If the wine is the result of an animal spill, the animal should be removed from the area (both to prevent further spills as well as for the animal’s safety; alcohol and pets don’t mix).

Once whatever (or whoever) spilled the wine has been contained, you’ll want to find the nearest absorbent towel (paper towels will work in an emergency, and this is an emergency) to place directly on the stain. Ideally, you’ll want a white towel so additional dye colors aren’t added to your stain. Next, place a heavy object on the towels; your body will work if you can’t find a set of books or weights. Many families we know use mixers. The combination of weight and absorbency will help wick away wine from your carpet so it doesn’t reach deeper layers in the fabric, such as the pad, where it becomes much harder to clean.

Better yet, bring a good vacuum

While prevention and absorption are the first and second lines of defense, you’re going to need mechanical help for larger or deeper stains. We used to always recommend carpet cleaners, but there are more elegant and less invasive solutions if you’re willing to spend money: high-end vacuum cleaners. The advantages of high-end vacuum cleaners over carpet cleaners are that they’re quieter, quicker to deploy, don’t use water, and are far less likely to heat the stains, which reduces the need for the additional cleaning power of a carpet cleaner to begin with.

The best vacuum cleaner we’ve yet found for directly pulling wine stains from carpets is the Miele Complete C3 Soft Carpet. Yes, Virginia, vacuum cleaners can pull stains out of carpets. However, you need to use the right ones. Your Hoover won’t do it, and neither will your Kenmore. The C3 Soft Carpet costs more than $700, but it’ll do a better job than most carpet cleaners on stain removal from low-pile, medium-pile, high-pile, and soft and handmade area rugs and carpets.

If the price is too dear, the best middle-priced compromise is the Miele Complete C3 Calima. It won’t clean high-pile carpets, but it’ll do everything else and, like the C3 Soft Carpet, is an absolute beast at removing stains from most carpeted surfaces. As a bonus, it’s also the best all-around family vacuum we’ve found for $700 or less, which means it’s a great “buy-it-for-life” choice for whole house cleaning, including hardwood floors and other smooth flooring.

On the low end, the cheapest Miele we’ve had significant success with is the Complete C2 Limited. Like the Calima, it’s rated for low- to medium-pile carpets, and even though it’s not as effective as the Calima when it comes to cleaning hardwood floors, it’s just as capable when it comes to stain removal from carpeting. In fact, we recently judged it to be the best family vacuum on the market for less than $400.

Any of these vacuums will be a strong asset for cleaning out wine stains. While they’ll work with some older stains that aren’t fully set in (i.e., stains less than a few months old or that haven’t had heat applied to them), you’ll have the most success with newer stains; when it comes to wine stain removal, the sooner you treat the wine, red or white, the greater your odds of success.

For the biggest stains, get the best carpet cleaners

While there are vacuum cleaners out there that can do amazing things with stains, if you’ve got one that’s really set in, you’ll want a carpet cleaner. We’ve spent more than twenty years cleaning carpets, and the best machine we’ve found for most messes continues to be the Bissell 86T3 Big Green. It’s big, it’s loud, but it works better than almost anything else on the market. Rather than renting one, we recommend buying one and keeping it for as long as you plan on owning a home, apartment, or condominium, because it’s going to last just as long. At under $400, it’s one of the best investments any homeowner can make.

A good alternative to the Big Green is the Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner. It’s significantly cheaper at under $300 and cleans almost as well; like the Big Green, it’s a highly reliable machine that’s a good choice for a family looking for a wine-cleaning tool that will work for a range of other stains (both human and animal-inflicted) for far longer than a discount carpet cleaner will. We always recommend spending a little more once over a lot from one bad cheap purchase after another.

In case you’re interested in the absolute best carpet cleaner money can buy for wine stains, you’ll want to take a look at the EDIC Galaxy 2000. However, we’ll warn you: it costs $3,000, so we’d recommend starting with the Bissell Big Green unless you’ve got a few extra grand burning a hole in your pocket, or unless you clean carpets for a living like we do. If you want to clean every last drop of wine (or anything else) out of your carpets, however, this is the best machine on the market, bar none. We’ve got two of them, and we bring them out on jobs where nothing else will work.

Conclusion – Don’t Be Penny Wise and Pound Foolish

In conclusion, there are a number of solutions for tackling wine stains in all kinds of carpets and at all levels of difficulty. How much work you’ll need to do will depend on the kind of stain, how extensive it is, how deeply it’s set in, what kind of carpet you’re dealing with, and how much you’re willing to spend. Above all, we recommend spending money on a quality machine the first time around so you don’t find yourself buying it later after wasted time, money, and effort.

Our top recommendations for the best wine-cleaning vacuum cleaners and carpet cleaners under $1000 are the Miele Complete C3 Soft Carpet, which you can buy here, and the Bissell Big Green, which you can buy here. If you’re on a tight budget, we’d recommend the Miele Complete C2 Limited, which you can buy here, and the Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner, which you can buy here. If you own a million dollar home, an apartment complex, a hotel, or simply make a living from cleaning carpets, you’ll want the EDIC Galaxy 2000, which you can buy here.

If you find our research on PMC helpful, you can support our efforts to keep maniacally testing home cleaning tools by bookmarking and shopping through this Amazon link. Canadians can use this link. We promise to keep fighting the good fight against every horror children, animals, and grown, yet messy humans can inflict upon a clean home.

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