How to Remove Coffee Stains from Your Car Seat and Upholstery

how to remove coffee stains out of car - mobile car detailing

According to an expert car detailer, to remove coffee stains from your car interior, first, you need to mop and blot the excess coffee stain. Then, spray diluted (or straight) hydrogen peroxide to the affected area and blot again with a towel.

Lastly, rinse with an encapsulation chemical or diluted water and liquid detergent to prevent yellowing and/or wicking.

That’s the summarized version of how to remove stubborn coffee stains from your car. If you want a detailed version and other useful information for a successful DIY coffee stain removal procedure, keep reading.

If you don’t want to do it yourself, don’t worry, there’s a much better and more effective option that you can consider.

remove coffee stains from car seat - car detailing

Coffee stains are a pretty common blemish found in a car interior. No matter how careful you are, a small bump in the road or a slight slip of the hand can send your coffee splattering all over the upholstery. And just like any stains, this can be such a hassle.

It’s important to remove coffee stains from your upholstery right away especially if you have fabric car seats. A stale, dried coffee stain is more difficult to remove than a fresh spill. It takes a longer time to remove a dried stain compared to a fresh one.

In this blog, we will give you more detailed steps on how to remove coffee stains from your car seat and upholstery.

Get to know the difference between removing caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee stains and the easiest way to remove them from your car interior. Let’s get right to it, shall we?

The Difference Between Removing Caffeinated vs Decaffeinated Coffee Stains

All coffee stains – yes, even those that have dried on the fabric seat – can be removed with the right cleaning solutions and methods.

However, the amount of time it takes to remove the coffee stains depends on how long the stain has been there. The caffeine content of the coffee bean (whether it’s decaf or caffeinated) also affects the stain removal process.

Although your best and easiest solution in dealing with stains is letting expert mobile car detailers like River Islands Car Salon  take care of it, it wouldn’t hurt to try DIY.

What makes coffee stains difficult to remove?

When the coffee is spilled onto the car seat or upholstery, its hot temperature opens up the fiber of the fabric and allows the spill to seep right in. 

When the hot spills bond with the car seat (especially after a day, weeks, or a month has passed)stain removal can be quite tricky.

That’s why it’s very important to act quickly the moment coffee is spilled in your car. Putting a damp towel on the spot and weighing the towel down can help prevent the stain from drying so it can be easily removed when you arrive.

Removing Organic Coffee Stain VS Inorganic/Synthetic Coffee Stain

Why is this relevant to removing coffee stains from your car?

Well, caffeinated coffee contains a natural dye called “tannin.”

Beverages that contain tannins are difficult to remove because of the combination of substances added to them and their high temperature.

Take for example a hot cup of coffee with added cream and sugar.

On the other hand, decaffeinated coffee contains artificial coloring which gives the drink a richer look.

But artificial coloring can be much more difficult to remove than the tannins in a regular coffee. In this case, you need to use alkaline spotting agents.

An organic coffee stain is easier to remove than a synthetic coffee stain. In order to remove an organic stain, an oxidizing agent such as hydrogen peroxide is needed.

A synthetic coffee stain can be removed by applying a reducing agent but this can be tricky because you might end up bleaching the area if not properly done.

How does Hydrogen Peroxide Help in Removing Coffee Stains?

Using oxidizing solutions like hydrogen peroxide is an effective way to get rid of coffee stains.

When applied to the affected area, these oxidizing agents break down the color-causing components of the coffee stain so that the stain becomes colorless.

 That means, it doesn’t necessarily remove the stains – they just make them invisible!

Remember, test your hydrogen peroxide cleaning solution first before applying directly to the affected area to avoid bleaching your car seat or upholstery.

How to Remove Coffee Stains from Your Car Interior

Spilled your coffee on your car seat? Don’t worry! You can remove the stain all by yourself. Just follow these simple steps and you’ll be all right.

Use Hydrogen Peroxide for Organic Coffee Stains and Reducing Agent for Synthetic Coffee Stains

Step 1: Mop and blot the excess coffee stain using paper towels to absorb the liquid. Repeat the process until all liquid is soaked up. Avoid rubbing the towel on the affected area as it might spread and worsen the stain.

Step 2: Spray diluted (or straight) hydrogen peroxide to the organic coffee stain and blot again with a towel to absorb excess moisture. Use a reducing agent (typically a powder)) for synthetic coffee stains.

Step 3: Rinse with an encapsulation chemical or diluted water and liquid detergent to prevent yellowing and/or wicking.

Step 4: If the coffee stain persists, use an enzyme-based cleaner pre-spray and carpet extraction. Enzymes are an effective stain remover. A lot of laundry detergents contain enzymes that help remove stubborn stains. These enzymes typically break the stain agent molecule into smaller molecules which makes them easier to dissolve and remove.

PRO Tip: Enzymes are more effective when used with warm water. Laundry detergents that recommend using warm water usually have enzymes in them.

Remove Coffee Stains From Your Car Using C.H.A.T

C.H.A.T stands for Chemical, Heat, Agitation, and Time.


You can use a reducing agent for removing synthetic coffee stains and an oxidizing agent like hydrogen peroxide to get rid of organic coffee stains in your car.

 Although either of these will work just fine, a reducing agent’s effect can be seen very quickly while an oxidizing agent may take more time. To be safe, have both chemicals on hand at all times.

PRO Tip:  Always wear a mask, protective eyewear, and gloves when handling chemicals.


After applying the chemical to the coffee stain, use heat to activate it. Steam cleaning can be helpful in this regard.

High heat and pressure not only soften the carpet and upholstery but also kills germs and bacteria that are bonded on the fabric or hard surfaces.


After applying heat, use a drill brush to help in the mechanical agitation of the fabric. This will help loosen the stain on the seat or upholstery making it easier to remove.


And of course, give the chemicals time to dwell in order to fully remove the coffee stain. Just repeat the process until the stain gets lighter and unnoticeable on your seats and carpet.

Now that you know the right method and cleaning solutions to remove coffee stains from your car seat and upholstery, feel free to do it on your own.

Besides, coffee stains are a very common stain that happens in a car interior so you might want to learn how to do it on your own because it will most likely happen more often than you think.

Unless, of course, you stop drinking coffee inside your car.

When it comes to removing caffeinated coffee stains, using oxidizing agents such as hydrogen peroxide is most effective.

When it comes to removing synthetic coffee stains, using a reducing agent is most effective. Both requires blotting and mopping to absorb the stains efficiently.

If the coffee stains still appear even after using the C.H.A.T. method, you might need to hire a professional car detailer, especially if you don’t have a carpet extraction machine or an enzyme-based cleaner.

Check out our deep car interior cleaning service and let us deal with those stubborn stains for you!

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