Written by Grove Collaborative

Stain Busters: How to remove lipstick stains from clothes.

Last Updated: March 10, 2021

A little lipstick on your clothes doesn’t have to ruin them. Learn how to remove lipstick stains from clothing, carpet, and more, with safe, natural remedies.

Read more from Grove

Spills happen, but Grove Collaborative has you covered with Stain Busters. Each week, we’ll tell you how to tackle a different tough stain around the home or on your clothes. Red wine, grass stains, ink ... no stubborn stain is a match for our grime-busting guides.

Lead image by: Lumina

How can one inch of frosty pink cause so much potential tragedy? From an off-kilter kiss that smears across a shirt collar to a clumsy drop onto a carpet — extra horrors if it’s a white carpet — lipstick stains are among the most dreaded to attempt to remedy. But fear not, dear redder — er, reader — we’re here to show you several effective ways to remove lipstick stains from clothes and carpet in safe, natural ways. Spoiler alert: It can be done, but you’ll want to take action asap.


Read the manufacturer’s instructions

Tag, you’re it. Whenever possible, find the tag on the clothing or carpet, and follow those washing instructions. What might seem a no-brainer — like spritzing a stain remover or dabbing with one of your usual homemade concoctions — could yield dire results and worsen lipstick stains, depending on the fiber of the clothing or carpet. Natural materials are particularly tricky, since they often absorb the cleaning solution and create unsightly outlines of same. So always try to understand the recommendations from the manufacturer — and if you don’t, well, don’t be afraid to call them for help.


That said, it’s time for our “Out, dang spot!” recommendations.

Remove excess lipstick

Most manufacturers recommend gently scraping away any excess lipstick with a plastic spoon or butter knife. Because it’s waxy, lipstick doesn’t immediately absorb and spread into the depths of the fabric or carpet, so scrape well, and save yourself some extra work.

Homemade stain-removal formulas

From many DIY stain-removal recipes, we’ve compiled the top recommended formulas. Whichever one you choose, try a tiny test patch first to see the reaction of the material or carpet. Also, repeating the stain-removal process several times is often necessary. Don't machine-wash — and especially don't dry the material — until you're satisfied with the stain removal.

How to remove lipstick using dish soap

Regular dish soap is heralded as a magic elixir when it comes to stains — especially greasy ones, like lipstick, for instance.

Directions:

  • Scrape away excess lipstick.
  • With an eyedropper or small cup, put a few drops of lukewarm water on the stain.
  • Follow this with one or two drops of dishwashing detergent on the stain.
  • Gently dab the detergent into the stain.
  • Let it sit for 10-15 minutes.
  • Gently rub the stain again with a soft cloth.
  • Rinse, and gently rub until the stain is mostly gone.
  • Launder as usual.

How to remove lipstick using hair spray

Note that the hair spray should be more like your grandma's acrid aerosol version. A high alcohol content is the key ingredient.

Directions:

  • Scrape away excess lipstick.
  • Spray hair spray directly onto the stain.
  • Allow to sit up to 15 minutes.
  • Dampen a clean white cloth with warm water.
  • Gently dab and wipe hair spray/stain off the clothing.
  • Launder in the usual manner

How to remove lipstick using rubbing alcohol

Note the manufacturer directions and composition of the fabric before you try this one. Do a tiny patch test in an inconspicuous place on the fabric.

Directions:

  • Scrape away excess lipstick.
  • Dampen a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol.
  • Gently blot, don't rub, the cotton ball onto the stain.
  • Dampen a clean white cloth with cool water.
  • Gently dab and wipe the rubbing alcohol and the stain off the clothing.
  • Wash as usual.

How to remove lipstick using lemon juice and baking soda

Directions:

  • Scrape away excess lipstick.
  • Mix a tablespoon of lemon juice with a tablespoon baking soda.
  • Apply the paste to the stain.
  • Let sit for 30 minutes.
  • If the stain is removed to your liking, launder in the usual manner and let it dry in the sun. If the stain is still there, repeat.

A note about dry cleaning

Some stain-removal gurus recommend using drycleaning fluid to remove stains. Please note that most dry cleaners and dry cleaning fluids contain perchloroethylene or tetrachloroethylene — or perc — and it's as scary as it sounds. This chemical is listed as a reasonable carcinogen, according to the U.S. National Toxicology Program. When this chemical is inhaled, it can cause respiratory and eye irritation, dizziness, and headaches. In addition, studies have found that what doesn't stick to clothing after being dry cleaned is often released into the air in your home. So-called "green" dry cleaners still often use chemicals like Siloxane D5, which accumulates in animals and humans with possible carcinogenic effects. So yeah, we can't get behind dry-cleaning anything, especially in a DIY setting.

What to do after the lipstick stain is removed — final tips

Assuming you've succeeded at removing the stain, we have two final suggestions:

  1. Launder the fabric in cold water to better protect the material from absorbing the stain permanently.
  2. Double check to make sure the stain has indeed been removed before placing the clothing into the dryer. Nobody wants to bake in the remnants of a lipstick stain after all that work trying to get it out.

So remember: Scrape, soak, sit, and see … eventually that stain will flee!

Shop lipstick stain-removing products


Looking for more cleaning how-tos and other sustainable swaps you can make at home? Grove has you covered with our buying and cleaning guides. And let us know how if you have any cleaning questions (or share your own tips using #grovehome) by following Grove Collaborative on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

If you're ready to take on more stains, shop Grove Collaborative's cleaning essentials for the cleaning tools to tackle the job.

Shop Grove
Join thousands of happy customers creating a healthier home. Get started to select your free welcome set!
Claim My Offer