How to Remove Coffee Stains from Your Car Seats

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We all have had the unfortunate experience of spilling our morning coffee on the passenger seat while hurrying off to work on a lazy Monday morning. It can quickly turn a pleasant drive into a less-than-pleasant experience. But before you throw in a towel, let us show you that there is hope.

Coffee stains may seem like formidable adversaries, but with the right knowledge and a few simple tricks, you can bid them farewell and restore your car’s interior to its pristine state. 

In this guide, we are going to cover coffee stain removal, equipping you with the tools and techniques to conquer these stubborn blemishes.

It is 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.

Let’s start with the difference between caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee stains and the easiest way to remove them from your car interior.

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 option 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 to do it yourself.

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 and Synthetic Coffee Stains

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?

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

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.

Remember to use the C.H.A.T. method when removing coffee stains from your car interior using the steps given above. 


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.

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.

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