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I have several old coffee stains on a carpet. Googling "coffee stain removal" reveals a variety of suggested cleaning substances-- vinegar, baking soda, laundry detergent, etc. I have used all of these on stains in the past to varying success, but always have a hard time totally eliminating the stain. Typically the instructions suggest iterative applications of the substance, and I usually end up with a huge pile of wet, wadded-up paper towels, each tinged slightly brown from the tiny amount of coffee absorbed.

What is the most effective way to remove old coffee stains from carpet using common household chemicals? Chemically, why is this the most effective means?

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  • $\begingroup$ How long did you leave the chemicals on the stain? If the stains are quite old, the colour might be well in the fabric and only bleaching them will eventually remove them. Some cleaning agent which releases oxygen in the process should do it. However, usually after that procedure you have the problem that the part where your stain was is much cleaner than the rest of the carpet. $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン Oct 27 '14 at 1:47
  • $\begingroup$ Coffee is brown either because it contains tannins or melanoidins (multiple sources site each...) Both are large organic molecules, so if you can break them down into smaller organic molecules you should be able to decolorize them. The easiest way to do that is as @Martin describes, via oxidation. You might be able to do it with something like OTC hydrogen peroxide even (or OxyClean). I'm not sure enough of the method to write this as an answer, but it's worth a try. $\endgroup$ – Jason Patterson Oct 27 '14 at 3:20
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Oxidise it using a mild oxidizing agent like $\ce{H2O2}$ (hydrogen peroxide). When it undergoes oxidation coloured compounds get decolorized. Good luck on cleaning it.

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