Tannin itself is a natural vegetable dye found in plants such as grape skin and bark. Popular examples of tannin stains are coffee, tea, and wine stains. Some other common tannin stains may include soft drinks, fruit juice, and even washable ink. You can be successful in removing tannin spills with the right cleaning methodology, especially if you try to clean the stains quickly after the spill, whether immediately or within a few days.
How Do You Remove Tough Tannin Stains?
Stains that include tannins are typically tougher to remove when they have added substances or are warm and hot beverages. For example, it may be tougher to remove black coffee that has added substances like cream and sugar, and easier to remove plain black coffee with nothing added.
Remove Fresh Tannin Stains
To remove fresh tannin-based stains, the best tip is to run the stained area under cold water, followed by a regular wash cycle with the hottest water the fabric will safely tolerate.
Depending on the material, there are multiple methods available to remove tannin stains. For example, removing coffee and tea stains off of teapots and mugs can be scrubbed or soaked by wetting a cloth and rubbing with salt or bicarb. Another method is to apply a corn starch and vinegar paste and leave on for several minutes, or use baking soda and lemon juice for scrubbing.
If you don't need the stain removed immediately, you can soak your mugs and teapots in baking soda with bleach or vinegar in a pot of boiling water with two spoonfuls of dishwasher detergent and two denture tablets and leave overnight.
Remove Older Tannin Stains
Set-in tannin stains are a different story and may require multiple treatments and soaking to remove the stains fully.
Be sure to avoid any bar soaps or any other type of soap when dealing with tannin stains, as soap will set a tannin stain permanently. Detergent is a great alternative to soap in this situation. To get rid of older tannin stains, be attentive while blotting up any extra liquid from the stain spot. The first step toward removing older tannin stains is to wash the stain with a detergent in hot water (or warm water depending on the fabric type.) You'll likely need to use bleach for whites and heavy-duty detergent to remove stains that have already set into your fabric or other material.
What Cleaning Products Should I Use?
There are several tannin stain remover products on the market to help assist you with the tannin stain removal process. The first thing you want to do is identify the specific type of stain, whether it's coffee, tea, wine, juice or another type of spill. Second, take note of the type of surface the spill appeared on, as various stain removers work best with their product's intention. For example, Biz Stain Remover is a product that removes coffee from clothing only, while Carpet CPR Spot & Stain Remover is a formula to remove stains from carpet only.