How to remove coffee stains from paper

how to remove coffee stains from paper

For all you coffee lovers out there, this has probably happened to the best of you- while enjoying a cup of freshly brewed coffee, you happen to spill a drop or two on your favorite book, magazine, personal documents, or an overdue work project! Luckily for you, there are remedies for getting rid of these coffee stains.

First, you need to act quickly so as not to leave a stubborn stain once it sets. Therefore, once you splash coffee on your precious material, be sure to have paper towels or a piece of clean cloth around to soak up the coffee spill. The faster you act, the better your results will be.

Afterward, you can remove coffee stains from the paper by using distilled white vinegar, bleach, isinglass, or wax-paper.

The white vinegar approach

To get rid of coffee stains on paper, you will need:

  • 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • Cotton balls
  • Paper towels

Follow the procedure:

  1. Take a piece of paper towel and fold it into two.
  2. Use the paper towel to dab on the paper to suck up as much coffee as it can.
  3. Mix the water and vinegar in a 1 to 1 ratio.
  4. Dip a cotton ball in the solution and carefully dab it on the stained part on the document.
  5. If the stain is on a page in a book, the page should be laid on a flat dry surface and separated from other pages in the book before the cleaning process starts. You can use weights to hold down the paper.
  6. As you dab, the vinegar will absorb the coffee stain from the page.
  7. Repeat the process until the coffee stain has disappeared from the paper document.
  8. Take a fresh, clean, and dry paper towel, use it to pat dry the affected area, then leave the page open to dry well.
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Using bleach to remove a coffee stain from paper

Bleach is excellent at removing stains from paper, as long as the paper is white. You will need the following:

  • 1/3 cup of bleach
  • 2/3 cup of water
  • Cotton balls
  • Paper towels


  1. Mix the bleach and water in a container to form a clear solution.
  2. Sprinkle or apply the bleach solution to the affected spots.
  3. Using the cotton balls, gently dab the bleach solution onto the stain so that the bleach can act on it.
  4. The coffee stains should gradually disappear. Using the paper towels, blot the paper to remove any excess moisture.
  5. Let the affected region air dry thoroughly.

Isinglass: An unusual, but effective stain remover

Isinglass is a gelatin made from fish bladders used in the production of beer. It causes the yeast to ferment well, making the beer clear. But people have discovered it also has cleansing properties and can dissolve organic compounds such as stains. To use this method, you need to ensure the paper is water-proof before using this method.

You will need the following:

  • Two tablespoons of isinglass
  • Two cups of water
  • Paper towels


  1. In a shallow container, mix the isinglass thoroughly with a cup of water.
  2. Dip some cotton balls and apply them to the affected region and let it sit for a minute.
  3. Gently dab on the stain, this will remove it swiftly.
  4. Once satisfied the stain has been completely absorbed, blot it between paper towels to get rid of the moisture.
  5. Leave the affected region open to dry out.
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Using wax paper and an iron

Wax paper is excellent for storing food like cookies and sandwiches, due to its high water resistance, but it is also suitable for removing stains when used together with an iron. 

To try this method to eliminate coffee stains on paper, you will need the following:

  • A cup of hot water
  • Cotton balls
  • Wax paper
  • An iron
  • Paper towels


  1. Dampen a cotton ball with hot water and gently rub the coffee stained paper.
  2. Once the affected area is mostly clear of the stain, blot it by placing it between two paper towels to remove as much moisture as possible.
  3. Once the paper is drier, place the wax paper over it and iron it under medium or considerably low heat to dry and smoothen it, this will remove any stains left behind that the water alone hadn’t cleared.

Frequently asked questions

Should I do a spot check before using any of the mentioned methods?

Of course, it is highly advisable to do a spot check if you are not sure of any method. Start with a spot check on an inconspicuous part of the document or paper to check two things. First, see how the paper reacts with water- is it waterproof or not? Secondly, check to see if the ink on the paper ends up running too, which will ruin your document.

Do these methods work to remove stains on all kinds of paper?

It depends. For instance, glossy paper is easier to clean as it is less absorbent. However, matte-coated or uncoated paper will be challenging to clean as they are the opposite of glossy paper. They are highly absorbent. A spot test is advisable before using any of the above methods.

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Which method is most suitable for stubborn set coffee stains?

Generally, methods that contain the oxidizing based cleansing agent work well on set-in coffee stains, leaving out wax paper. Isinglass is also great with stubborn stains, but the most highly recommended is bleach or distilled white vinegar, which contains more highly-concentrated oxidizing properties than the other methods.

Wrapping up

Prevention is better than a cure. In the end, it is advisable to be careful while enjoying that cup of your favorite beverage. Have paper towels on hand in case of an emergency for quick reaction, and use a table coaster. It might go a longer way than you think.

For serial coffee strainers out there, consider getting an industrial coffee stain remover for regular use.

how to remove coffee stains from paper

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