Coffee is a popular beverage that contains substances that are responsible for its taste, aroma, and stimulating properties. From homes to public places to workplaces, the beverage’s popularity isn’t in doubt. Just as its charm, it’s inevitable coffee will spill on fabric. We are all prone to splatter the beverage over our pristine carpets. But coffee spills aren’t desirable; they are unsightly. Tannin, a contaminant, is a sticky, red-brown substance responsible for coffee’s stubborn stain.
And the longer the coffee stain remains on the fabric, the more difficult it becomes to remove it. Don’t wait. Dried stains have chromophores. While stain removal can seem like a monumental effort, the right strategy can reduce or eliminate it. You can choose between calling a professional cleaner and handle the mess on your own. Either way, you need to understand what kind of stain you are dealing with and what cleaner solves your problem while preserving the fabric. Or Use a vacuum cleaner.
Substances Responsible for Coffee’s Properties
Coffee has a delicious aroma and taste. The volatility of substances that make up the coffee at room temperature partly explains these properties. There are more than 850 substances that account for coffee’s flavor. About 40 of these substances account for coffee’s aroma. Heterocyclic compounds and carbonyl constitute the largest proportion of volatile compounds in coffee. Natural oil constitutes 10% and contributes most of the flavor.
Do Coffee Stains Last?
Your carpet is still salvageable if coffee spills on it. The spillage can’t leave a permanent mark on the carpet fabric if you adopt the right stain removal strategy. The key is a swift action. Even if you come across an old stain, don’t worry. We will tackle this in the later sections of the article. It’s still possible to remove it, but it may demand some monumental effort from your side. But first things first. Let’s understand how coffee stains spread and entrench themselves in the fabric of your cloth.
Mechanism of Action of Stains
Stains contain substances that are responsible for their color and sticky properties. These substances interact with the material they hit. You are more likely to find the contaminants in the gaps on the surface of the fabric. Some form stains as a result of reaction with surface molecules. The contaminants create strong covalent bonds with surface molecules.
Tannin is an oxidizable compound. The red-brown color of the stain arises because of the parts of tannin’s chemical structure known as chromophores. These parts break down when you expose them to oxidation. And when they break down, they turn colorless. Chlorine- or oxygen-containing bleaches like hydrogen peroxide or peracetic acid remove oxidizable stains. Hydrogen peroxide is an agent responsible for bleach’s oxidizing properties. Depending on the strength of the oxidizer, the ejection of chromophores can be partial or complete. Strong oxidizers can cause your laundry to lose color. However, you need to soak the carpet in warm water that contains the bleaching agent. Bleaches that contain hydrogen peroxide are effective as long as temperatures are above 40 degrees Celcius.
Working with hydrogen peroxide can be a disadvantage unless you maintain the warmth above 40 degrees Celsius. Adding tetraacetylethylenediamine (TAED) overcomes this shortcoming. You can soak the carpet in the resulting peracetic acid without having to worry about effectiveness when temperatures reduce. When you go out to purchase the bleach, ensure the label says it contains sodium percarbonate (OxiClean). OxiClean is effective against surface stains but is unable to penetrate and root out chromophores that hide between gaps in the fabric. Add a quarter cup of OxiClean to two cups of water. If wool or silk is the material makeup of your carpet, don’t use strong oxidizers on them. Natural fibers are soluble in some strong oxidizers.
- Absorbent material like paper towel
- Stain removal substance
Keep in mind shag carpet requires some effort because it has a longer fiber than the rest. And so, prepare yourself for extra work. Blotting needs to complete for the best results. The carpet should be as dry as possible. Use a fan to ensure moisture-free fabric. Don’t test your choice of a stain remover on an open spot to retain the color. Ammonia-containing stain removers can damage wool-based carpets.
Despite the mode of action, the first step is to do quick pretreatment. The endurance of stains increases with time as they dry out, as chromophores form as a result of covalent bonds between the contaminant and the fabric molecules. In short, don’t allow spills to accumulate. As soon as you spill coffee on your carpet, find a way to draw out the excess spillage. If possible, blot up all the coffee liquid. You can tap softly at the site of spillage with an absorbent material or a paper towel to suck the spilled liquid through capillary action. Keep applying gentle pressure onto the stain.
Blot with water until capillary action stops. Start from the edge and move toward the center to foil spreading. The main idea is to drain as much coffee liquid as possible. After that, you can add some cold water to prevent stains from setting in. Water is the safest solvent because it doesn’t discolor or damage the fabric of your carpet. Blotting works well when stains haven’t formed chromophores. Apply light pressure when blotting with water and absorbent materials. Don’t scrub the stain. Scrubbing applies more pressure that encourages set in. It also damages the fibers.
Keep Your Carpet Cold
Warmth or hotness encourages the formation of chromophores. And so, keep your carpet away from high temperatures or warm air to prevent stains from setting in. As the temperature increases, covalent bonds between the surface molecules and the contaminant strengthen, forming chromophores, which are responsible for stain’s stubbornness. Thus, keep your carpet away from heat until you clean it properly.
Test Stain Removers in Separate Areas
Blotting with water doesn’t always work. After the stain dries or sets in, blotting becomes impractical. At this juncture, you require a stronger cleaner than water. The market offers us plenty of stain removers whose degrees of effectiveness vary. Some stain-removing products aggravate stains. Testing is the first important step to determine the right cleaner for your carpet. Check the stain spot and apply the stain remover beneath before top.
Avoid Hot Water on Wool Carpets
Wool beats linen and cotton in retaining heat because it’s denser. That’s why it’s a popular option during winter. But wool carpets have their share of downsides. It’s tempting to blot the stain with hot water. Don’t. Wool’s heat tolerance is low. Hot water can damage your wool carpet. After all, water’s effectiveness against stains is independent of temperature.
Give Homebased Solutions a Try
Before you fork out your hard-earned cash to buy stain removers, think about the homemade alternatives that are readily available. Table salt, vinegar, lemon juice, baby powder, stain pen, and baking soda are viable options that are around you. Let’s take a look at each of them.
Acetic acid is the active compound that’s responsible for vinegar’s burning effect. When a substance comes into contact with vinegar, it burns. Vinegar has an odor that doesn’t go away for most of the day. You can dilute it in water and wash the whole carpet or spot-clean it. Release drops of vinegar solution on the spot and draw out the liquid with absorbent material. Ensure you apply a drop or two. An excess application can ruin the fabric. Distilled white vinegar is a go-to choice because it’s free of microbes that colonies, which can further stain your carpet.
Sprinkle the powder on the spot where the stain is and give it some few minutes to seep into the fabric. Then, use a cloth to brush it off gently.
Sprinkle table salt on the spot where the stain is. Salt seeps in. Seepage increases as you add layers of salt. Once you apply salt, apply light pressure with a fabric. Salt isn’t an effective stain remover, but it prevents spreading. You can blot the stain with salt when it’s still fresh.
Sodium bicarbonate can help you with stain removal. Apply it after you blot the stain with water or with a wet absorbent material. Baking soda seeps in just the way salt does and prevents chromophore formation.
It’s a powerful tool if you can access it just when the coffee spill is still fresh. Stain pen comes with a manual that guides you on how to remove stains.
Stain removal requires immediate action. If you wait, the difficulty of removal increases as the stain sets in in the fabric.
You can take your carpet to professional dry cleaners in your area. Dry cleaners use powerful solvents, not solutions. The risk of fabric damage is minimal, and effectiveness is high.
Pour Cold Water
Since it’s prudent to ensure the carpet is as dry as possible, add little water. Blot up as much coffee liquid as possible using an absorbent cloth. Do this the second time to saturate the carpet and dilute the coffee.
The next step after pretreatment is the addition of a stain remover.
Stain Removal Strategy
Choice of Stain Remover
Before you add a stain remover, identify the type of contaminant. Stain removers react differently. In the case of coffee stain removal, tannin is the contaminant. It’s a compound you should aim to remove. Check the label for directions.
If coffee spillage contains cream, choose an enzyme-containing stain remover. Enzymes break down proteins in the cream. Moreover, enzymes emit an unpleasant smell when they die out. Squeeze out liquid from the carpet and blot up as much coffee liquid as possible.
Check the Type of Carpet Fabric
If you bought a carpet with a care label, then you can leverage the knowledge to choose the most appropriate cleanser.
Addition of Stain Remover
Be sure to add the right quantity of the stain remover to the spot. When stain remover is in excess, dirt clings to its residues. Ensure the carpet dries completely. Then, you can vacuum it.
Check for Reoccurrence
Don’t take chances. Stains may reoccur. Take your time. Watch out for reoccurrence. If stain reoccurs, it must have seeped into the fabric. Another possibility is that you didn’t blot up sufficient coffee liquid out of the carpet fabric when removing the stain. Thus, the liquid moves up the fiber from the deep zone to the surface to form a ring. In this case, restart the stain removal process. Keep at it until you get satisfactory results. Be sure to press the ring with a paper towel. Exert pressure on the area to promote capillary action.
What If Stain Doesn’t Go Away?
If you discover an old stain, don’t fret. Sure, dried stains can be a menace, but they aren’t invincible. Add some little water to drench the stain. You can use a strong stain remover, such as an ammonia solution. So long as your carpet isn’t wool-based, feel free to add a solution of ammonia. One tablespoon in a cup of water does the trick. Blot the stain with ammonia. Wait for up to five minutes. Then, you can switch between blotting with water and blotting with absorbent material. The last thing to do is to blot up until coffee liquid doesn’t flow anymore.
On the other hand, if you find a permanent stain on a wool-based carpet, add three drops of diluted dish detergent to a cup of water and blend. Add the mixture to the spot using a soft cloth. Switch between blotting with soft cloth and water. Use the fan to drive the last bits of moisture off the carpet.
When it comes to coffee stain removal, time is a crucial determinant. As time passes following a spill, stains spread and form strong covalent bonds with fabric molecules. Chromophores are a difficult nut to crack because they entrench themselves deep into the fabric structure. As a result, dried out stains demand enormous effort from you. While intimidating, you can still remove old stains. However, ensure you check the label for directions. Importantly, identify the contaminant and choose the right cleaner. The key takeaway is, blot up coffee liquid until capillary action stops. Repeat the procedure for the best results.