How to Remove Hair Spray Stains From Clothes and Carpet

How to Remove Hairspray Stains

The Spruce / Adriana Sanchez

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 15 - 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 - 10 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $0 to 10

Every time you spray a hair product, there's a chance it will land on your clothes, your carpet, or even upholstery. Of course, the best idea is to prevent stains by using hairspray before dressing, using washable bath rugs, and avoiding upholstered furniture. But we all realize that doesn't always happen and the hairspray inevitably gets on places where we don't want it to be. Thankfully, it can be removed with a few household products, a bit of patience on your part, and some simple steps. Never place a still-stained item in a machine dryer, as the high heat can set the stain and make it permanent.

Learn how to remove hairspray from your favorite pieces of clothing, carpets, and more.

Did you know that the origins of hairspray are linked to wartime insect repellent? During World War II, scientists were looking for a way to provide insect repellent to the soldiers in the South Pacific and the aerosol can became a standard. After the war, innovative beauty products entrepreneurs saw the can as a way to deliver a resin-based lacquer to hold women's elaborate hairstyles in place. Helene Curtis introduced the term “hairspray” in 1950 for her product, Spray Net. 

Today's hair sprays are very different from the original lacquer and some contain a range of ingredients from conditioners to washable dyes to add a hint of color to your hair. The delivery methods have changed as well to reduce environmental effects on the ozone layer.

 Stain type  Oil-based, wax-based
 Detergent type  Stain remover or heavy-duty
 Water temperature  Cool to hot
 Cycle type  Varies depending on the type of fabric

When to Call a Professional

If the garment is labeled as dry clean only, your best bet is to head to the cleaner and point out and identify the stain. This is particularly important if the stain is on a natural fur because the formulas of most brands contain alcohol which can dry the hides and oils that can penetrate the fur and eventually become rancid. 

If the fabric on the upholstery is silk or vintage, consult a upholstery cleaner professional.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Soft-bristled brush (optional)
  • Paper towels
  • Sponge
  • Vacuum

Materials

  • Stain remover, stick, spray or gel
  • Heavy-duty laundry detergent
  • Oxygen-based bleach (optional)
  • Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol

Instructions

How to Remove Hair Spray Stains From Clothes

Most hair spray formulas today contain alcohol, sticky polymers or gums, and often oils to condition hair that can leave both an oily and waxy stain on fabrics. Using standard household products, you can take a few steps to remove hair spray stains from your clothing.

  1. Treat the Stain

    Apply a solvent-based stain remover. If you don't have a stain remover, apply a heavy-duty liquid detergent, like Tide or Persil (these are leading high-performance brands that contain the necessary enzymes to break apart the oily component) directly to the stain, and work it in by gently rubbing the fabric together with your fingers or use an old soft toothbrush. Let the stain remover work for 15 minutes and rinse the area with hot water.

    Warning

    If the hairspray contains dye, even temporary dye for root cover-up or highlighting, there is a step you need to do before treating the oily/waxy component. See step 3 in this section.

  2. Wash and Check the Stain

    Next, wash as usual, following the garment's care label directions. Check the stained area of the garment before you place it in the dryer. If the stain remains, do not put it in the dryer, and repeat the steps.

  3. Soaking Solution for Hairspray With Dye Stains

    Mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach (brand names are: OxiClean, Nellie's All Natural Oxygen Brightener, or OXO Brite) and tepid water. Submerge the entire garment. Allow it to soak for at least four hours or overnight to remove the dye component of the spray. Check the stains. If the dye is removed, treat the oily stain as recommended and launder it as usual. If the dye remains, repeat the soaking.

    Warning

    Oxygen bleach is safe to use for all washable fabrics, white and colored, except for silk, wool, and anything trimmed with leather.

How to Remove Hair Spray Stains on Carpet and Upholstery

If the rugs in your bathroom or dressing area are machine washable, follow the same steps recommended for washable clothes to remove the hair spray stains. However, if you repeatedly use hair spray in an area with wall to wall carpet, you're going to end up with stains that need to be removed from the carpet fibers.

The same cleaning solutions and techniques recommended for carpet can be used to remove hair spray stains from most upholstery fabrics. Before cleaning any furniture, always follow the manufacturer's care label on cleaning upholstery. This tag can be found under the sofa cushions or fabric skirt with letter codes that indicate how to clean the furniture.

  1. Treat the Stain

    Mix a solution of 1/2 cup isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol with 1/2 cup cool water. Sponge the alcohol solution onto the affected area and let it work for at least ten minutes. Blot away the moisture with paper towels. 

  2. Air-Dry and Vacuum

    Allow the area to air dry away from direct heat or sunlight. Repeat the steps if necessary and then vacuum to lift the carpet fibers.

Additional Tips on Handling Hair Spray Stains

If there are dye stains on a light-colored carpet, there are some steps you can take to remove it. Mix one tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide with three tablespoons of warm water. Blot the solution onto the dye stains and blot away with a dry cloth as the dye is transferred to the cloth. Allow to air dry and repeat if needed. Then vacuum.