You open your dryer, start pulling out clothes, and you begin to get a sinking feeling when you see a telltale smear of oily residue all over your clothes. A ChapStick or a lip balm stick was left in a pocket and melted all over your clothes while laundering.
ChapStick, lip balm, or lip ointment is made from a combination of wax, oil, and sometimes dye if the balm is tinted. The key to successful removal from washable clothes is to tackle each of the components as soon as possible. It can be difficult, but it can be done at home with a few key ingredients.
|Stain type||Oil- or dye-based|
|Detergent type||Heavy-duty laundry detergent or stain remover|
|Water temperature||Hot (as hot as allowed per care label)|
- Working Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 1 to 8 hours (depending on the severity of the stain)
Before You Begin
Test any detergents or cleaning solutions in an inconspicuous area first to ensure that it does not discolor the fabric.
Older stains will be harder to remove. You might need to repeat the cleaning process a couple of times before the stain disappears.
If your body heat warms up your pockets to the point that ChapStick has melted on a garment that is labeled as dry clean only, point out and identify the stain to your professional cleaner. If you are planning to use a home dry cleaning kit, be sure to treat the stain with the provided stain remover before putting the garment in the dryer bag.
What You'll Need
- Dull knife or spoon
- Soft-bristled brush (optional)
- Washing machine (optional)
- Soaking basin or sink (optional)
How to Remove ChapStick Stains From Clothing
Scrape Off the Residue
If there is any visible melted wax on the surface of the fabric, grab a spoon, dull knife, or the edge of a credit card and gently scrape it off the fabric. Never rub. Scraping will prevent the wax from becoming more deeply embedded in the fibers.
Pre-Treat With Detergent and Wait
Carefully check every area of the stained clothes and treat each spot with an enzyme-based stain remover like Zout. If you do not have a stain remover, use a bit of heavy-duty laundry detergent like Persil or Tide which contain enough enzymes to cut through the oily residue and release it from the fibers. Work the stain remover into the fabric using your fingers or a soft-bristled brush and let the stain remover sit on the stains for at least 30 minutes.
Rewash and Check
After the stain remover has had a chance to work, you must rewash the stained clothes in the hottest water recommended on the care tag. If the stains have not been removed, repeat the stain removal steps before you toss the clothes in the dryer.
How to Remove ChapStick From the Washer or Dryer
Once you have been through this cleaning process, you certainly do not want to do it again anytime soon. Carefully check your washer and dryer to retrieve the offending ChapStick and look for any residue clinging to the interior drums.
What You'll Need
- Heavy-duty laundry detergent
- Distilled white vinegar
- Rag or cloth
Use Liquid Detergent on Washer Drum
If you see some residue in the washer drum, use a bit of laundry detergent on an old white rag to remove the waxy coating. Dip the rag in hot water and dot with detergent and scrub away.
Use Vinegar in Dryer Drum
For residue in the dryer, wet some old rags and toss in the dryer. Set the dryer to high heat and let it run for about five minutes. This will soften the wax. Dip an old rag in distilled white vinegar and wipe away each waxy smear you see in the drum. As the wax is removed, wipe down again with another clean cloth dipped in plain water.
Handy Tip for Preventing ChapStick Mishap
Most people know to check pockets before starting a load of laundry, but what if you miss the slim stick? Get lip balm on a key ring or clip. Keys are seldom left in pockets and are big enough and noisy enough to be found (or heard) when they hit the washer drum.
If the lip balm was tinted and you see traces of color on the fabric, grab some oxygen-based bleach which will remove the lip balm color but not harm your washable clothes. Follow the package directions. Mix a solution of oxygen bleach (such as OxiClean, Clorox 2 or Nellie's Natural Oxygen Brightener) and warm water. Completely submerge the stained garment and allow it to soak for at least two hours; overnight is even better. This will remove the dye. Rinse well with plain water and dry the fabrics as usual.