How to Remove Body Lotions and Cream Stains on Clothes and Carpet

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

Washable Clothes

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

To remove the stains from washable clothes, start by treating the oily/waxy component of the stain with an enzyme-based stain remover like Shout or Zout. Work the cleaner into the stain with your fingers or a soft-bristled brush. If you don't have a stain remover, then use heavy-duty liquid detergent (Tide and Persil are considered heavy-duty) that contains enough stain-lifting enzymes to break apart the oily molecules or a paste made of powdered detergent and water.

Allow the cleaning solution to remain on the fabric for at least fifteen minutes then scrub stain lightly with a soft brush and rinse in hot water. Finally, wash the stained item as recommended on the care label in the hottest water suitable for the fabric using detergent. 

Check the stained area before placing the garment in the dryer. The high heat from a dryer can set the stain and make it nearly impossible to remove. If a stain remains, repeat the stain removal steps.

If the lotion or cream is 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 are brand names) 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. Be patient, and remember that there are a number of techniques for removing stains to try.

Dry Clean Only Clothes

Remove any blobs of lotion or cream with a dull knife from the surface of the fabric. No rubbing! Blot the area with a dry white paper towel. As with any stain, the sooner the fresh stain can be treated, the better the chances of success when removing the stain. So, head to the dry cleaners and point out and identify the stain to your professional cleaner 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.

Carpet and Upholstery

If a bottle of lotion spills on a rug or carpet or a blob of face cream falls, lift away as much as possible with a spoon or dull knife. Don't wipe it up because that only pushes it deeper into the fibers of the carpet.

Next, you can 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 lightly. Working from the outside edge of the stain toward the center (this helps prevent spreading the stain even larger), sponge the stain with the cleaning solution. Continue blotting until no more color is transferred from the carpet to the cleaning cloth.

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 do this step, the detergent solution can attract more soil. 

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

The same steps can be used to remove stains from most types of upholstery. Always use the least amount of cleaning solution as possible to prevent over wetting the fabric. Excess moisture in cushion fillings can lead to mold and mildew. For silk and vintage fabrics, consult a professional cleaner if you need more stain removal tips.