How to Remove Lipstick From Clothes, Rugs, and Upholstery

How to Remove Lipstick Stains From Clothing

The Spruce / Michela Buttignol

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 2 - 5 mins
  • Total Time: 1 - 17 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $0

Colored lipstick stains are made of an oily or waxy component and dye. The double-action of the two ingredients makes these stains tricky to remove, especially from white clothing, where the stain will be the most noticeable. Lip balms are a bit easier to handle since many don't have much—if any—added color or dyes.

With the proper laundry detergents and patience, you can remove the stain at home. In many cases, the clothing item must go through the wash cycle to thoroughly remove the stain. If a hint of the stain remains, never put the item in the dryer; the added heat could set in the stain.

Tip

If you've run out of detergent, some standard household supplies can also be supplemented as cleaning agents in a pinch—hand dishwashing soap, rubbing alcohol, hairspray, and white vinegar.

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Click Play to Learn How to Remove Lipstick Stains From Clothes

Stain type Oil-based, dye-based
Detergent type Heavy-duty laundry detergent, dry cleaning solvent, or carpet cleaning product
Water temperature As hot as the fabric can tolerate
Cycle type Varies depending on the fabric

Before You Begin

When you get a stain, you probably have the impulse to rub it off. In this case, resist the urge and do not rub. Rubbing a lipstick stain pushes the stain deeper into the fabric fibers, making the stain harder to remove. Gently scrape away or gently adhere a piece of tape on top of a new or dried lipstick stain to carefully remove excess lipstick from the spot.

Hot water liquifies oils, fats, and waxes, releasing them from the fibers easier. While the rule of thumb dictates you never use heat with a stain, since this is a wax or oil-based stain, use the hottest water that is safe for the fabric. A clothes dryer is a different story; only put the clothing item in the dryer if the stain is completely gone, or else it will set in the stain further.

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

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

Clothing

  • Washing machine or large basin
  • Scraping tool, dull knife, or credit card (Optional)
  • Soft-bristled brush (Optional)

Rugs or Upholstery

  • White clean cloth or paper towels
  • Soft bristled brush

Materials

Clothing

  • Heavy-duty detergent
  • Oxygen-based bleach (Optional)
  • Chlorine-based bleach (Optional)
  • Stain remover

Rugs or Upholstery

  • Dry cleaning solvent or carpet cleaner
  • Hand dishwashing detergent (Optional)
  • Ammonia (Optional)

Instructions

How to Remove Lipstick From Clothes

  1. Remove Solids

    If there are any solids, use the edge of a scaper, dull knife, or credit card to lift away the solids. Since almost all lipsticks contain an oil or wax combination to help them glide onto the lips, the first step is to remove any globs of the oil or wax residue.

    Use dull knife to remove lipstick wax
    ​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska 
  2. Pretreat the Stain

    Begin by pretreating the stain using a solvent-based stain removal product, like Zout or Shout. If you don't have a solvent-based pre-treater 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 15 minutes.

    Use brush and stain removal solution on clothing lipstick stain
    ​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  3. Wash as Usual

    Wash the garment in the hottest water appropriate for the fabric, following the guidelines on the care label. After cleaning, inspect the stained area. If you still notice a stain, repeat the treatment.

    If the stain is gone, you can dry it using the clothes dryer. The dryer's high heat, especially for synthetic fabrics, can make the stain very difficult to remove.

    Tip

    If a lipstick, lip balm, or lipgloss stain has gone through the dryer and it's still on the fabric, apply a dot of hand dishwashing detergent to the spot and rub it into the fibers with the hottest water your fabric (and hands) can tolerate. Let it sit an hour and wash it as usual.

    Place clothing in washing machine following care instructions
    ​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  4. Soak Stubborn Stains in Bleach

    To remove any remaining dye component, mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach (brand names: 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 wash them as usual if the dye stains are gone. If they remain, mix a fresh batch of oxygen bleach solution, soak for another eight hours, and then wash following the care label guidelines.

    Chlorine bleach can be used on white cotton fabrics, but oxygen bleach is safe for any white, colored, or print materials. Also, you only need to soak items in diluted chlorine bleach for 30 to 45 minutes.

How to Remove Lipstick from Rugs and Upholstery

  1. Remove Solids

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

    Use dull knife to remove lipstick stain from upholstery
    ​The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska
  2. Apply Solvent or Cleaning Agent

    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 dishwashing detergent in two cups of hot water. Add one tablespoon of household ammonia.

  3. Blot to Dry

    Blot the stain with a sponge or soft-bristled brush dipped in the cleaning solution and then with a dry paper towel until the stain is removed. 

Additional Tips for Handling Lipstick Stains

Repeat the steps if the stain doesn't come out on the first attempt. You can also soak the item in diluted oxygen or chlorine bleach (white fabrics only).

Standard household supplies can also remove lipstick stains. Use them as pre-treatment before washing the item as you usually would.

  • Rubbing alcohol or acetone: Moisten a clean white cloth with rubbing alcohol, blot the stain with alcohol to remove the lipstick, and rinse with water. Wash as usual.
  • Hairspray: Before using hairspray on fabric, test it in an inconspicuous spot. Spray the hairspray onto the lipstick stain and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. Dip a clean cloth in warm water to wipe away the hairspray and lipstick. Wash as usual.
  • Vinegar: You can remove lipstick stains on clothes with white distilled vinegar. Apply vinegar to the affected area with a cotton ball and gently dab. Wash as usual.

When to Call a Professional

Lift lipstick solids away from the surface of your dry-clean-only clothing with a dull knife or scraper edge. Do not rub. Only blot the stain with a clean white paper towel. At your earliest convenience, head to the dry cleaner and point out and identify the stain to your professional cleaner.

If the stain is on a vintage rug or antique furniture, call a professional upholstery or carpet cleaning company to help you clean the stain from the fragile fabrics. Time can wear down fibers, and professionals can help you clean and preserve those items.

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