How to Get That Coffee Stain Out Of Your Car Seat

Last Updated on May 16, 2023 by Barry Gray

I have a problem. When I know I will be behind the wheel of my car for any length of time, I need to have coffee in a mug beside me. However, I admit that things happen by running over holes in the road, and before you know it, some coffee has splashed all over the place.

But getting coffee out of your car seat is easier than you think. You can begin by blotting the affected area with a wet cloth, and it’s easy enough to find stain removal products that do a fantastic job of removing those marks. Failing that, cupboard staples such as baking soda and vinegar can also work well. Also, dishwashing liquid can play a role too.

Yet I also know it’s harder to remove the coffee stain from my car seat as the cover is fabric. If you have leather car seats, then life will be completely different.

Actually, I should change my vehicle just to get leather seats simply because of the coffee stain issue.

At the same time, I know I’m not the only one that will have encountered this problem of spilling coffee all over the car seat. We coffee lovers will find ourselves in this exact predicament more times than we care to imagine.

For some, we are experts in dealing with this situation. But I know not everyone checking out this website will be in that position. 

So, this post is for you.

The Problem with Coffee Stains On Your Car Seat

coffee cup in car

I think it’s reasonable to state that most people checking out this website love coffee, and that means both taste and smell.

However, having coffee spill onto your car seat does not mean it turns into the most beautiful air freshener for coffee lovers.

Instead, coffee can stain, and that stain will really stand out. There’s just something that’s not nice when you have stains all over your seat, so they should be removed.

Also, it can smell like stale coffee, which worsens if you somehow manage to spill a lot of coffee onto the fabric. 

You just cannot leave it there, and the longer you leave it, the harder it will become to remove the stain and for there to be no trace left behind.

And yet even if you have been unable to tackle the stain head-on as soon as you spill your coffee, there are several things you can do that will still make a difference, and I will cover those shortly.

Remember, these methods are tried and tested, thanks to my own ability to throw some of that Americano all over my car from time to time. 

Dealing with Coffee On Your Car Seat

Let me paint a picture. Better still, I will take you through a scenario that happened to me and how I dealt with the offending mark.

I had stopped to fill up my car and got myself a takeaway coffee for the drive. The cups you get in a garage are never the best, and those plastic lids are flimsy, which is quite a kind description.

Also, the machines throw in too much coffee for the cups to deal with, but I soldier on, not wanting to waste any.

Well, having to brake suddenly while trying to take a drink of that piping hot Latte didn’t end well. Before I knew it, a significant amount of coffee was over my legs and the bit of seat as well.

Not a good look.

So, here’s what I had to do.

Blotting the Spillage

My first step was to blot the spillage area, which I recommend you do as quickly as possible.

But note that I say “blot” and not rub, scrub, or anything else that involves a lot of movement or energy.

There’s a reason for that.

Get a cloth or even some tissues. Actually, anything that can absorb liquid is going to work.

There’s a good chance you will have something capable of working. 

Blotting the spillage area allows some of the coffee to be absorbed into the tissue or whatever you use.

Press into the area and do this repeatedly. But remember not to rub.

Using this method, you want to soak up as much of the coffee as you can. It will significantly affect how big a problem you will need to deal with later on. Also, I’ve found that more minor spillages can almost be completely blotted away. 

This is something you can do before you get home. However, the rest will have to wait until you get home because you will hardly have the right items to hand in your car.

My Magic Solution For Removing Coffee Stains From Cloth Car Seats

After spilling coffee all over the place and soaking up as much as possible, I knew I had to tackle the stain as soon as I got home. As I said, the smell of stale coffee trapped in your car seats will not be as pleasant a smell as you would expect.

Now, I know there are stain removers that you can simply rub on the stain and where it should magically remove them. However, that takes some form of pre-planning, and I know most people will not be like that.

Well, maybe I’m just talking about myself here?

However, there is a solution, and it involves using items that I think everyone will have in their home.

So, there’s no reason for you to not go ahead and get that stain out before you need to do some explaining to people why your car seats have some strange marks on them.

Dishwasher Soap, Vinegar and Water

My preferred mix is a blend of water, vinegar and dishwasher soap, but the quantities play a role here.

I tend to use a mix of 2 parts water to 1 part vinegar with several squirts of dishwasher soap added to complete the coffee stain removal cocktail.

As you have already blotted the area, it means you can use more force and work this solution into the stain.

Personally, I just use a cleaning cloth. I dab it into the solution and then scrub it. Note that I said dab because you don’t want to really go ahead and soak your car seat since that clearly increases the drying time.

There’s no need for that.

I then use a mix of movements. I scrub over the stain, moving the cloth up and down before switching over to more of a circular motion.

I feel this helps get the solution into the individual threads because your coffee has worked its way into all those areas. Hence, it would help if you tackled them directly. 

Honestly, I always feel that vinegar is the ingredient that does the job. Still, the dishwasher soap does also help mask the overwhelming fragrance of the vinegar while also breaking down the molecules of the coffee at the same time. 

But throughout all of this, I’m careful to only focus on the area of the stain. There’s no reason to go ahead and cover a bigger area. Focus your energy on the stain and really work it.

Rinse and Dry

I don’t simply wipe the spillage with this mix and leave it at that. I find it works better when you rinse the area, but be careful.

I’m not talking about throwing lots of water over the stain. You don’t want to soak your car seat, so the key is to keep it focused on the spillage area. 

Instead, get some clean water and a new cloth.

Wet the cloth, and re-acquaint yourself with your blotting method. Dab the area using some pressure and keep doing this until you see no remnants of the coffee.

This may take some time. It all depends on how much coffee you have thrown over your car seat.

But the final part is the drying aspect.

I would never leave it to effectively “air dry” because not only will it take longer than you would like, it can leave some parts of the stain behind, with it simply turning more into a water stain rather than a coffee stain.

So, do you know what I use to deal with this? 

A hairdryer. 

It’s perfect and takes next to no time to dry the area. I also appreciate how you can direct the heat to the area allowing you to really focus on getting that area dry. 

Does Stain Remover Work On Coffee Stains In Your Car?

While that mix is the main thing I use when tackling those coffee stains, I do know that different stain removers on the market claim to be capable of doing the same job. 

I admit I’ve tried some out, and it’s with mixed results.

Generally, I’ve found these stain removers to work better when you use them shortly after the spillage. Yet, one benefit they have over my stain cocktail is you can even keep a stain remover in your car, which makes a lot of sense.

So, it may work, but you could be left with some residue.

Tips to Remove Coffee Stains From Your Car Seat

cleaning products for removing coffee stains from car seat

Finally, I have a few tips I’ve worked out myself through trial and error when dealing with these coffee stains. 

Tip 1: Act Fast

The faster you act, the easier it will be to clean everything up.

Most people have tissues or some sort of rag in their vehicle, but if you don’t have something, start carrying it with you.

Reacting as soon as the spillage happens stops so much coffee from effectively drying into the fabric. As a result, the clean-up operation is significantly easier.

Tip 2: Dishwasher Soap Itself is Not As Effective

While you may think dishwasher soap and water would work, it’s not as good if the vinegar is not included. Sure, it will do something, but the added acid to the cocktail makes a huge difference. 

On the downside, vinegar on its own will stink your car out, so be aware of that.

Tip 3: Use the Air Con 

If you know it will be some time before you can get a hair dryer on things, I suggest using your air con to help dry things out.

This works well if it’s a minor spillage, and air-con is better than opening your windows. 

The aim is to avoid having a soaking wet car seat, which is also why I suggest you don’t add too much water to the situation when trying to remove the stain. It ends up being just as ugly when you have a water stain compared to a coffee stain.

Tip 4: Never Ignore it

My final tip is to not simply ignore the stain and see it as an insignificant thing to deal with. Sure, you may not care about a small mark on your car seat, but it can smell over time. 

I deal with it as soon as possible, and I’m not a stickler for everything being perfect and spotless. However, it can lead to a smell developing that’s not too pleasant. Surely nobody wants that in their vehicle?

To Conclude

I see myself as something of an expert at removing coffee stains, and the methods I mentioned above can all make a difference. However, the key is to tackle the stain as soon as possible before it has a chance to completely dry. If you can do that, then there’s no reason why any marks should be left behind.