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, espresso 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 (yes, really)

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 (on various budgets)

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. And if you’re in the mood for coffee, here’s our favorite Keurig.

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