How to Remove Lotion and Cream Stains From Clothes and Carpet

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It doesn't matter if the lotion, cream, or ointment is for your hands or face, or it's over-the-counter or prescription; the product belongs on you, not your clothes or the carpet. Since most body lotions and creams contain an oily component, how you remove any lotion or cream stain depends on where it lands. Most lotions and creams can be removed with standard stain removers.

If you're using anything other than laundry detergent or dishwashing liquid, be sure to test it on an inconspicuous area of the fabric or carpet to check for colorfastness.

Stain Type Oil-based
Detergent Type Enzyme-based detergent
Wash Temperature Hot

Before You Start

If a blob of lotion or cream lands on fabric or carpet, use a butter knife, a spoon, or the edge of a credit card to lift away as much of the lotion as possible. Don't rub because you'll push it deeper into the fibers and make it harder to remove the stain.

Do the same if you get a spill on "dry clean only" clothes, then blot the area with a dry, white paper towel. The sooner the fresh stain can be treated, the better the chances of success, so head to the dry cleaner and point out the stain when you drop off the garment.

If you are using a home dry cleaning kit, be sure to treat the stain with the provided stain remover before putting the garment in the kit's cleaning bag.

How to Remove Lotion or Cream From Clothing

Project Metrics

  • Working Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes plus washing time

What You'll Need

Supplies:

  • Enzyme-based stain remover
  • Laundry detergent
  • Oxygen-based bleach (optional)

Tools:

  • Soft-bristled brush
  1. Pretreat With Stain Remover

    Start by treating the oily/waxy component of the stain with an enzyme-based stain remover. Work the cleaner into the stain with your fingers or a soft-bristled brush. If you don't have a stain remover, use heavy-duty liquid detergent (Tide and Persil contain enough stain-lifting enzymes to break apart the oily molecules) or a paste made of powdered detergent and water. Let the cleaning solution sit on the fabric for at least 15 minutes. 

  2. Scrub and Rinse

    Scrub the stain lightly with a soft-bristled brush, working from the outer edge toward the center of the stain to prevent spreading. Rinse the area thoroughly with hot water.

  3. Wash In Hot Water

    Wash the garment as usual using the hottest water recommended on the care label. Hot water is best, but cooler water will work, too, and you don't want to damage or shrink the item by washing it too hot. Check the stained area to make sure the stain is completely gone before placing the garment in the dryer.

  4. Traces of Color Remain?

If the lotion or cream was tinted, you may need to do some additional work to remove any traces of the dye. Mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach (OxiClean, Clorox 2, Country Save Bleach, or Purex 2 Color Safe Bleach) and cool water. Follow the package directions as to how much product per gallon of water. Completely submerge the garment and allow it to soak for at least eight hours.

Check the stain. If it is gone, wash as usual. If it remains, mix a fresh solution and repeat. It may take several soakings to remove the stain, but it should come out.

Air-Dry to Test

It can be hard to see a faint stain when fabric is still wet from the washer. And since drying in the dryer can set a stain for good, you're better off air-drying the item until you know the stain is gone. Then, you can dry anyway you like.

How to Remove Lotion Stains From Carpet and Upholstery

Project Metrics

Use the same cleaning products for carpet and upholstery. Take care not to over-saturate upholstery cushions.

  • Working Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: Overnight

What You'll Need

Supplies:

  • Carpet cleaner or dishwashing detergent
  • Water

Tools:

  • White cloths
  • Vacuum
  1. Sponge on a Cleaner

    Use a commercial carpet cleaning solution or mix one tablespoon of dishwashing detergent in two cups of cool water, stirring well to mix. Dip a clean white cloth or paper towel into the solution and wring it out lightly. Working from the outside edge of the stain toward the center (to prevent spreading the stain), sponge the stain with the cleaning solution. Continue blotting until no more color is transferred from the carpet to the cleaning cloth.

  2. Remove the Cleaner

    Dip a second clean white cloth in plain water and sponge the stain to remove any traces of the cleaning solution. If you don't complete this step, the detergent solution can attract more soil. 

  3. Blot, Dry, and Vacuum

Finish by blotting with a clean, dry cloth and allow the carpet to air-dry overnight. When the carpet is completely dry, vacuum to lift and separate the fibers.