Does Coffee Stain Jeans? (Help!)

I once ruined a pair of jeans in a cafe by spilling an espresso all over them. Because I was out I didn’t have time to get them in the wash. But would this have been the right thing to do anyway?

Coffee stains jeans if you don’t act fast to wash away the tannin pigment bonded to the water molecules in the coffee. Quickly applying water re-bonds the tannin pigments to the molecules again and the coffee stain can be washed out.

Let’s explore this topic in greater detail, and discover the exact steps you must take to save your jeans from a dreaded permanent coffee stain…

Does Coffee Stain Jeans?

Do Coffee Stains Come Out of Jeans?

Coffee can cause a permanent stain, which you really don’t want on your pale-washed Levi’s. However, if you act fast to remove the mark, your chances of success are surprisingly high.

Coffee stains easily because it’s rich in tannins. This naturally occurring, color-rich dye can cause a permanent mark if the spillage isn’t treated immediately.

However, the make-up of tannin means it can be flushed or dissolved away with prompt action.

Coffee gets its color from tannin pigments that are bonded to the water molecules. If you accidentally pour coffee on your jeans (and we’re assuming that you haven’t scalded your legs, because that’s far more serious than discolored pants), both pigment and molecules soak into the fabric.

As the water in the coffee evaporates, you’re left with the tannin pigment, which has now bonded to the cotton fibers of your jeans.

Happily, this bonding is pretty loose, so the tannin can be “persuaded” to leave the jeans and join up with water molecules again. Therefore, getting water onto the coffee stain is really important.

An espresso stain on your blue denim may seem like a daunting thing to try and clean, but it’s far easier than other stains like blood, ink, or grass.

We’ll show you the easiest and quickest way to prevent permanent coffee stains later on; however, the key thing to remember is, always act fast.

Does Coffee Stain Clothes Permanently?

Now, you can use tannin’s dyeing properties to your advantage. Are your favorite black jeans starting to fade or develop lighter patches on the knees and thighs? Dark coffee could be the answer. Here’s how you use black coffee to dye your jeans.

  • Grab a bucket, some protective gloves, and make sure the washing machine is free
  • Now make the coffee. Brew a really dark pot. Like, IT engineer-level strong coffee. Leave it to brew for a while. One 12-cup pot is plenty for a single pair of jeans
  • Put the jeans in the bucket, then pour over the coffee
  • Poke the jeans around, using your gloved hands or a wooden spoon, to make sure that they’re covered in the mix
  • Brew another pot of coffee, because the smell is driving you crazy
  • Leave them to soak for a few hours, ideally overnight
  • Run the jeans through a gentle cycle with no detergent

Nor dark enough? Repeat the process. You may even choose to do it for a third time, depending on the level of fade and whether you’re dyeing jeans for an emo who’s specified really black.

So, tannin may cause permanent stains, but you can harness this natural power for good and use coffee to dye your clothes.

Do Coffee Stains Come Out in the Wash?

Can you simply chuck your jeans in the washing machine with your other laundry? Well, you can, but it’s not the best way to treat a coffee stain. 

If you simply throw the dirty jeans into the laundry basket until the next load is ready, that will give the tannin pigments plenty of time to form a lasting bond with the fabric.

We’d suggest that you first treat the stain, then put the jeans through a cycle in the washing machine to finish off the cleaning process.

Use a proper washing detergent, as that will help to dissolve any marks. You can also buy commercial stain removers that go in the machine along with the usual detergent.

What happens if you do just put the stained jeans in the wash without first treating the stained area? You may be lucky, or you may not. It’s not worth the risk when you can easily apply a stain-removing home remedy treatment to the fabric first.

How Do You Get Coffee Stains Out of Jeans?
How Do You Get Coffee Stains Out of Jeans?

How Do You Get Coffee Stains Out of Jeans?

As we’ve mentioned, it’s super important to work on the stain as soon as possible. Before you throw your jeans in the machine, or even panic and throw them out, try this simple home treatment first.

You’ll need cold water, dish soap or laundry detergent, and white vinegar. Make up a solution of these three in equal parts (about two tablespoons of each is about right.

While you’re making this up, put your jeans in the sink and turn the faucet on, letting cold water run through the jeans. This flushing-out process will start to dissolve the tannins.

Here’s what you do next:

  • With the jeans still in the sink or on a dry towel, gently pour the dish soap and vinegar mix onto the stain
  • Rub the mix into the stain, gently. Something like an old soft toothbrush is ideal for this
  • Rinse it in cold water
  • Wash the jeans in your machine to finish off

This short film shows you how to remove coffee stains from fabric using this simple, homemade cleaning solution.

If it’s a stubborn stain or you spilled a strong cup of Java on your jeans, you can leave the cleaning solution on the fabric for a few minutes before rinsing. Soak the jeans for up to 30 minutes in the solution.

Can you still see the stain when the machine wash cycle has finished? Don’t worry, but simply repeat the process. It can take two or three goes to completely remove a stubborn coffee stain.

Now, you may have been spotting a problem here… The key is to break down the tannin pigment immediately, right, using cold water? What if you get coffee on your jeans when you’re at the table in Starbucks? This is not an unlikely scenario!

Well, if you want to rescue your beloved denims, you’ll still need to act fast. Head for the restrooms, where you can dab cold water on the stain.

We’re sorry, because this won’t be very comfortable, but ideally you need to saturate the stained area. This will prevent the stain becoming permanent until you get home and can treat it. 

You may be able to take off and thoroughly rinse a stained t-shirt, and wear your jacket fastened until you get home, but this really isn’t an option with pants…

You’ll have to live with damp jeans until you can take them off and treat them with the detergent and vinegar solution.