How to Remove Lipstick Stains from Clothes, Carpet, and Upholstery

White shirt with lipstick imprint
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Lipstick is a must for most women to create a finished, polished look but it can be tough to get lipstick out of clothes. Colored lipstick stains are a combination stain with both an oily/waxy component and dye. Lip balms are a bit easier to remove because many don't have added color. While both make our lips look great, they're not so attractive on clothes. 

How to Remove Lipstick Stains from Washable Fabrics

If a bit of lipstick hits the surface of your favorite dress, do not rub immediately. That will only push the stain deeper into the fabric fibers and make the stain harder to remove. If there are any solids, use the edge of a dull knife or even a credit card to lift away the solids.

Since almost all lipsticks contain an oil/wax combination that give them their distinctive smooth quality; the first step is to remove the oil/wax (we'll deal with any dye stains next). 

Begin by pretreating the stain using a solvent-based stain removal product, like Zout or Shout. If you don't have a solvent-based pretreater handy, apply a bit of heavy-duty liquid detergent (Tide and Persil are considered heavy-duty with enough enzymes to break apart the oil) to the stain and work it in by gently rubbing with your fingers or a soft bristled brush. 

Allow the stain remover to work for at least fifteen minutes, then wash the garment in the hottest water appropriate for the fabric following the guidelines on the care label. After washing, inspect the stained area before tossing it into the dryer. The high heat of the dryer, especially for synthetic fabrics, can make the stain very difficult to remove. Repeat the treatment if necessary.

To remove any dye component that remains, mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach (brand names are: OxiClean, Nellie's All Natural Oxygen Brightener, or OXO Brite) and cool water. Follow the package directions as to how much product per gallon of water.

Submerge the stained item and allow it to soak for at least eight hours. Check the clothes and if the dye stains are gone, wash as usual. If they remain, mix a fresh batch of oxygen bleach solution and soak for another eight hours then wash following the care label guidelines.

Chlorine bleach can be used on white cotton fabrics but oxygen bleach is safe to use on any type of white, colored or print fabrics.

How to Remove Lipstick Stains from Dry Clean Only Fabrics

Lift any lipstick solids away from the surface of your dry clean only clothing with a dull knife or edge - no rubbing - blot the stain with a clean white paper towel.  As soon as possible head to the dry cleaner and point out and identify the stain to your professional cleaner.

If you decide to use a home dry cleaning kit, be sure to treat the stain with the provided stain remover pen before putting the garment in the dryer bag.

How to Remove Lipstick Stains from Carpet and Upholstery

Lift away any solid pieces of lipstick from carpet fibers using a dull knife. Do not rub because it will only push the stain deeper into the carpet and can make the stain larger.

Following the product instructions, blot the stain with a dry cleaning solvent, Use a clean white cloth or paper towel. Keep blotting until no more color is transferred from the carpet to the cloth.

If you do not have a dry cleaning solvent or carpet cleaning product, mix one tablespoon of hand dish washing detergent in two cups of hot water. Add one tablespoon household ammonia. Blot the stain with a sponge or soft bristled brush dipped in the cleaning solution then with a dry paper towel until the stain is removed. 

Be sure to "rinse" the area with a cloth dipped in plain water to remove any soapy residue that will actually attract more soil. Repeat the cleaning steps until no more stain remains.

The same techniques can be used for upholstery but take care not to overwet the fabric. If the upholstery is silk or vintage, call a professional cleaner.

For more stain removal tips: Stain Removal A to Z.