How to Get Coffee Out of Car Seats: The Ultimate Guide

how to get coffee out of car seats

You’re driving to work, already over five minutes late, when someone takes a right without signaling. You push your brakes, ready to fight; because now, due to their sudden change of lane, your coffee has spilled all over your car’s light colored seats. Does this sound like you? If it does, no need to cry over spilled milk; or, in this case, spilled coffee! So how do you get coffee out of car seats?

Glad you asked! We’re here to guide you through the step-by-step process of how to get that stain right out. It’s easier than you think; all it takes is a few products found at home, like dish soap and vinegar. Ready to know how to get coffee out of car seats? Let’s go!

How to Remove Coffee Stains Out of Car Seats: Everything You Need to Know

Accidental coffee spills happen to the best of us. It’s an inevitable part of life. If you’ve ever driven or ridden a car, I’ll wager that you’ve spilled coffee in your precious cat seats at least once or twice at some point.

Author Note: Of course, you could always opt for a mobile car cleaning service. However, not all of us have the time or funds to visit the shop whenever a spill happens. Luckily, you can clean the coffee out yourself. You don’t even need fancy or expensive products to do so!

Removing Fresh Coffee Stains Out of Car Seats

Woman drinking coffee paper cup inside car with feet on dashboard

The longer the stain stays on your seat, the harder it is to clean. This is why we recommend you clean spills as soon as you can. Here’s how to treat freshly spilled coffee:

You Will Need:

  • Paper towels, napkins, rugs, or anything you have to hand to soak up the coffee
  • Bottle of cold water
  • Dish soap or car wash shampoo
  • Baking soda (optional)
  • Vacuum cleaner for later (optional)

Step 1: Park Your Car Safely

If you spilled your coffee while driving, pull over to the side of the road, a parking lot, or your final destination. While it’s easier to treat stains as soon as possible, we don’t want you to risk your safety in exchange. Never try to deal with a stain while driving.

Step 2: Soak Up the Liquid

Dab the spilled liquid with a paper towel, a napkin, a rug, or anything you have in the car. You can even use your sock if you wish! As long as the material is capable of absorbing liquid, it’ll do just fine.

It’s important to note that you shouldn’t rub or scrub the stain with the fabric, causing it to spread further. Simply press the cloth onto the seat repeatedly until the material you’re using is saturated with coffee.

Do this until you have as much of the liquid absorbed as possible.

Step 3: Brush Off Solid Material

Using either your hand or a napkin, brush off any solid material present on your cat seat, whether it be coffee grounds, noticeable dirt, or potato chip particles. Doing so prevents them from getting stuck in the crevices of your car seat. Do it quickly so that the stain doesn’t dry out.

If coffee grounds already made their way into the creases, leave them until you have access to a vacuum cleaner to suck them up.

Step 4: Dilute the Stain

Apply cold water directly onto the stain to dilute the coffee. Don’t add too much; about half a cup will do, or until the stain is completely covered with water.

Then, using a fresh paper towel or napkin, blot the liquid to pull out more coffee from the fabric. Continue to do so until the towel or napkin is dry. Should the stain persist, proceed to the next step.

Step 5: Add Detergent

If you have access to dishwashing liquid or car shampoo, apply a small amount of the product with cold water, stir it gently, and add it directly to the affected area. If you have baking soda, mix it with the detergent until concentrated paste forms. Again, add directly to the stain.

Top Tip: Using your finger or a soft-bristled brush, gently rub the detergent or paste solution into the stain. Then, leave the product in for up to 30 minutes to allow coffee tannins to loosen up.

When time’s up, grab a fresh cloth and remove the solution with cold water, using the dabbing technique.

Removing Dry Coffee Stains Out of Car Seats

Coffee in the car salon. A single paper coffee cup inside the car cup holder

If the stain is particularly troublesome or has already dried up, you’ll have to use a slightly different technique to remove it.

You Will Need:

  • Paper towels, napkins, or microfiber cloths
  • Bottle of cold water
  • Detergent
  • Vinegar
  • Vacuum cleaner or dustpan and brush

Step 1: Clean Your Car Seat

Start by vacuuming or brushing your stained seat to remove the coffee grounds, dirt, and debris. This is where portable vacuums, like stick vacuums, comes in handy. These machines will help you clean the coffee grounds from your car without worrying about the length of the cord.

If you don’t have a stick vacuum, a dustpan and brush will do.

Step 2: Wet the Stained Area

Before adding any product, it’s best to reintroduce the stain to moisture to soften it up. Cold water works wonders; we’ve found that hot water isn’t quite as adequate as the latter. Once done, press a dry, clean paper towel, napkin, or rug onto the wet area.

If you have a microfiber cloth, all the better; these towels are incredibly absorbent and will be your best friend throughout the cleaning process.

Continue to dab the towel without rubbing or scrubbing the stain until it’s soaked up as much coffee as it can.

Step 3: Start Removing the Stain

There are multiple products you can use to help remove the coffee stain from your car seat.

For small stains, you can use laundry detergent, baby wipes, or glass cleaners with ammonia. For tougher stains, we found that dishwashing liquid mixed with vinegar and water works best. You can replace the dishwashing liquid with commercial stain removers if you prefer.

Simply mix about half a cup of white vinegar into half a gallon of water. Feel free to use a smaller ratio if you have a smaller stain. Add a little squirt of your preferred cleaning agent and stir until thoroughly combined. Then, transfer the mixture into a spray bottle if you have one. This will make it easier to control how much product to add to the stain.

Author Note: Work the solution into the stain with a stiff-bristled brush. You should start from the edges and make your way in. Also, remember not to be too aggressive with the brush. Be gentle but firm. Then, let the mixture sit for about 30 minutes.

Step 4: Rinse and Dry

Using a clean, dry towel, wipe the area you’ve just cleaned. Allow it to dry completely. Use a vacuum cleaner to quicken the process, or leave the car doors or windows open while it’s parked safely in your garage. You can also dry the wet seat with a hairdryer set on low. Don’t let anyone sit on the affected area until then.

Removing Coffee Stains on Leather or Vinyl Car Seats

Cleaning coffee stains out of leather or vinyl car seats is more comfortable than seats covered in fabric, for obvious reasons. Regardless, if not done correctly, you may irreparably damage your seats. Here’s how to safely and correctly remove coffee stains from leather or vinyl:

Step 1: Wipe the Spilled Coffee

Carefully blot up the excess liquid. Soak up as much of the moisture as possible. In these instances, it’s best to clean your leather seats before the coffee dries.

Step 2: Use a Cleaner Suitable For Leather or Vinyl

Woman driver taking a disposable cup of coffee inside the car interior

Leather seats are expensive. So, if you’re looking to remove stains on leather, it’s best to use a leather-specific cleaning agent. If you have the means, we encourage you to refer to a professional detailer to tackle these types of stains, especially if you’re not sure how to deal with them yourself.

Otherwise, you can use mild dish soap with a low or neutral pH level. Stir dish soap and water vigorously until suds form, then dab just the subs onto the coffee stain. Doing so will prevent the oversaturation of leather.

Don’t use a brush to work the cleaner into the leather fabric, as it can wear down the leather or work the cleaner into the seams and underlying cushion. After you’re done with the dabbing, wipe the area dry with a clean cloth.

For vinyl, use baking soda. Add equal parts baking soda to water and stir until paste forms. Then, apply it directly to the coffee stain on your vinyl seats. Work it gently with a brush with soft bristles, then blot clean with a dry cloth.

Step 3: Condition

Although optional, it’s one we strongly recommend. Sensitive fabrics like leather and vinyl need to be conditioned after a stain to prevent cracking and drying. You’ll find these conditioners in stores with auto supplies or in cleaning supplies meant for upholstery.

Wrapping Up

Knowing how to get coffee out of a car seat is an essential part of owning a car, especially if you drink a cup of coffee every morning.

The best advice we can offer is to always keep essential cleaning products in the back of your car, so when a spill happens, you can clean it up as soon as possible.

Stay caffeinated friends!

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