We’ve all been there. You get all dressed up, slip into a gorgeous new blouse, and before you have your first sip of wine at the party, you’ve somehow gotten red lipstick on your sleeve. Or, heaven forbid, you forget to take the lipstick out of your pocket and it goes into the washing machine. Will it come out?
Makeup stains are hard to clean and lipsticks are the worst. Today’s lipsticks are made to have staying power. They contain natural oils to keep your lips soft and moist, petroleum-based chemicals for long-lasting shine, and dye. Since it’s made to stay on your lips, it’s not easy to get out of your clothes, either.
Here are step-by-step instructions on removing lipstick stains from clothes with common ingredients you probably have on hand.
Steps To Remove Lipstick From Clothes
- Check the fabric care label
- Take dry clean only clothes straight to the cleaners
- Scrape excess lipstick from the stained area
- Remove lipstick from clothing with dish soap or liquid detergent
- How to remove lipstick from clothing with alcohol
- How to remove lipstick from clothing with ammonia
- Remove lipstick from clothing with shaving cream
- Remove lipstick from wool clothing
Check the Fabric Care Label First
The care label in nearly every piece of clothing has a wealth of information. It will tell you:
Because different fabrics react differently to different chemicals, the type of fabric is important.
- You can use chlorine bleach on white cotton fabrics to remove stains, for example, but polyester blends may yellow when bleached.
- You should never use acetone nail polish remover on a piece of clothing that contains acetate.
- If your garment is wool, never use alcohol, ammonia, chlorine bleach, or enzyme detergent to remove lipstick stains.
Most washable fabrics are pretty hardy and you can use any of these methods to remove lipstick, but the care label may specify caution about common cleaners.
What To Do with Dry Clean Only Clothes
If your fabric is delicate, precious to you (like your wedding dress) or dry-cleaning only, the best solution is to get the garment to your local dry cleaners, show them the spot, and explain what it is. These fabrics include:
- Wool (dry clean only)
Scrape Excess Lipstick
Occasionally, your lipstick mark may require more than a simple stain remover. Maybe you put your elbow down on an open lipstick and crushed it. In the event you have caked-on lipstick, use a hard edge – a dull knife or a credit card – to scrape excess lipstick from your clothing.
How to Remove Lipstick from Clothing with Dish Soap, Liquid Detergent, or Shampoo
Dishwashing liquid, laundry detergent, and shampoo all have component ingredients to remove oil and grease. Any of them are gentle enough to be used on machine washable fabrics and should not affect the color of your garment.
Step 1. Lay the garment on a clean towel with the stain side down
Step 2. Dampen the fabric
Step 3. Squirt the liquid you’re using onto the backside of the fabric
Step 4. Let the liquid soak into the fabric for at least 10 minutes
Step 5. Use a damp paper towel to blot the stain. Blot, don’t rub. As the lipstick transfers to the paper towel, throw it out and use a clean one
Step 6. If the stain persists, repeat the process
Once the stain is gone, launder in the washing machine as usual. Do not dry unless the stain is completely gone.
How to Remove Lipstick from Clothing with Hairspray or Hand Sanitizer
For fresh lipstick stains on washable fabrics, hairspray containing alcohol can be a quick fix. Isopropyl alcohol breaks down a lot of stains and works great to get out almost anything. However, a lot of the new hairsprays do not contain alcohol, so check the label before you spray. Hand sanitizers also contain alcohol, so if you’re out and in a pinch, hairspray or hand sanitizer will do the trick.
Step 1. Spray hairspray or squirt hand sanitizer on the lipstick stain
Step 2. Blot until the stain is gone
How to Remove Lipstick from Clothing with Alcohol
As you may have guessed, regular isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) works as well. If you’re wondering, yes, you can also use vodka.
To use alcohol:
Step 1. Wet a cotton ball or paper towel and dab the stain
Step 2. When the stain is gone, rinse the area with cold water
Step 3. Wash as usual
How to Remove Lipstick from Clothing with Ammonia
Ammonia is strong and toxic to breathe, but it’s a great cleaner for a fresh stain and it’s made to cut grease.
If you’re certain your fabric is washable:
Step 1. Before you open an ammonia cleaning solution, make sure the room is well ventilated
Step 2. Soak a few cotton swabs in ammonia
Step 3. Dab the stain gently until you get it all out
Step 4. Rinse the stained area thoroughly
Step 5. Launder as usual
How to Remove Lipstick from Clothing with Shaving Cream
Shaving cream is a great stain pre-wash
Step 1. Just apply shaving cream generously to the stain
Step 2. Blot into the stain and leave-in
Step 3. Wash garment as usual
Step 4. Check to make sure no stain remains before drying. Drying a dye stain into a garment makes it much harder to remove
How to Remove Old Lipstick from Clothing with Lemon Juice and Baking Soda
Age is tricky when it comes to stain removal. If you find a lipstick stain you didn’t notice at first and it’s been ground in and laundered, you still may be able to get it out with an old home remedy.
Step 1. Mix lemon juice and baking soda in equal parts to form a paste
Step 2. Rub into the stain using a clean cloth
Step 3. Let it stand for 30 minutes
Step 4. Brush off the paste and asses the stain
Step 5. If the stain is still visible, and the fabric is not delicate (cotton or denim, not silk), try mixing up the same paste and scrubbing the spot with a toothbrush. Since it’s not fresh, you won’t spread it by scrubbing.
Step 6. When you get the stain out, wash as usual
How to Remove Lipstick from Washable Wool Clothing
Wool is in a category of its own. It may or may not be washable, and even if it is washable, it needs special care. Many cleaning solutions will harm the fabric.
Step 1. Apply mild shampoo or a laundry detergent without enzymes
Step 2. If that does not work, take the garment to a dry cleaner