Remove Pesky Coffee Stains With One Pantry Staple

If coffee is famous for one thing, it's waking us up. One unfortunate side effect of sipping a cup of coffee while half-asleep or rushing to work, however, is the increased risk of spills — and, consequently, stains. Luckily, if you're ever trying to rid yourself of a dreaded coffee splotch in a pinch, you likely have one of two tools available to you right inside your pantry: either baking soda or white vinegar.

Baking soda and white vinegar help to treat your coffee stains in entirely different ways. White vinegar works by dissolving the stain. This is because vinegar and coffee are both acidic, and acidic liquids are great solvents for acid-based stains. The chemical interaction between the two pulls coffee molecules from the stained surface, allowing them to be washed away. Meanwhile, baking soda works by oxidizing the stain. Baking soda is a very alkaline substance — the opposite of acidic — and so it easily reacts with acidic ingredients like coffee. During this chemical reaction, it breaks down the coffee molecules while also soaking up any remaining coffee with its dry, powdery texture. It is worth noting that you should not try to use both baking soda and white vinegar at once, as they will simply react with one another instead of with the coffee, ultimately having no effect on the stain.

How to treat stains with baking soda or vinegar

If you choose to tackle your coffee stain with baking soda, simply pour the powder over the surface of the stain until it is completely covered. Don't be afraid of adding too much, as any excess powder can simply be brushed off after the rest has done its work. Wait at least a half hour, then wash the stained item as usual. You may need to repeat this process a few times depending on the severity and age of the stain.

If white vinegar is your pantry item of choice, mix one part vinegar with one part water. Next, soak a rag or paper towel in the mixture and use this to dab the mixture into the surface of the coffee stain. Be sure not to scrub at the stain, as this can work it further into the stained material. Let sit for at least a few minutes, though waiting longer works better for stubborn stains. Finally, wash the stained item as usual.