How to remove lipstick from clothes

Lipstick can be one of the trickiest stains to remove from clothing. Whether it’s a smudge on your shirt collar or a glob on your favorite dress, lipstick stains can seem near impossible to get out. But don’t despair! With the right techniques and products, you can successfully remove even the most stubborn lipstick stains from your clothes.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through step-by-step instructions for removing lipstick from a variety of fabric types. We’ll also share some helpful tips and tricks to prevent lipstick stains in the first place. By the end, you’ll have all the knowledge you need to keep your wardrobe looking fresh and stain-free.

remove lipstick from clothes

Why is Lipstick So Hard to Remove?

Lipstick contains a unique combination of oils, waxes, and pigments that make it particularly difficult to remove from clothing. The oils and waxes in lipstick help it adhere to the lips, but this same property also causes it to stick stubbornly to fabric fibers.

The pigments in lipstick, usually a mix of organic dyes and metallic compounds, can further complicate the stain removal process. These pigments tend to penetrate deep into the fabric, making the stain hard to lift out.

Additionally, many lipsticks contain long-lasting formulas that are designed to resist smearing and fading. This makes them even tougher to remove once they’ve transferred onto clothing.

Factors That Affect Lipstick Stain Removal

When it comes to removing lipstick stains, a few key factors can impact the difficulty of the task:

Fabric Type: Different fabrics react differently to lipstick stains and stain removal methods. Delicate fabrics like silk or satin may be more challenging to treat, while sturdy cotton or polyester blends are generally easier to work with.

Stain Age: The longer a lipstick stain has had to set in, the harder it will be to remove. Fresh stains are always easier to tackle than older, set-in ones.

Lipstick Formula: The specific ingredients and formula of the lipstick can make a difference. Creamy, long-wearing lipsticks tend to be more stubborn than lighter, glossier formulas.

Water Temperature: Using the right water temperature is crucial for effective stain removal. Hot water is usually better for dissolving and lifting lipstick, but some fabrics may require cooler temps to avoid damage.

Stain Treatment Products: The cleaning products and techniques you use can make or break your ability to remove a lipstick stain. Some methods work better than others depending on the situation.

Understanding these factors will help you select the most appropriate stain removal approach for your particular clothing item and lipstick stain.

Steps for Removing Lipstick Stains

Ready to tackle that pesky lipstick mark? Follow these step-by-step instructions for the best results:

1. Blot the Stain

As soon as you notice a lipstick stain, act fast. Gently blot the area with a clean, absorbent cloth or paper towel to soak up as much of the excess lipstick as possible. Avoid rubbing, which can further spread the stain.

2. Apply a Stain Remover

There are a few effective lipstick stain removers you can try:

  • Dish Soap: Apply a small amount of gentle dish soap directly to the stain and gently massage it in. Dish soap is great for cutting through the oils in lipstick.
  • Rubbing Alcohol: Dampen a clean cloth with rubbing alcohol and dab it onto the stain. The alcohol will help dissolve the lipstick.
  • Laundry Detergent: Make a solution of warm water and a small amount of laundry detergent, then sponge it onto the stain. The surfactants in detergent can lift lipstick.
  • Commercial Stain Remover: Use a dedicated lipstick or grease stain remover product, following the instructions on the package.

Allow the stain remover to sit on the fabric for several minutes before proceeding to the next step.

3. Rinse and Blot

After the stain remover has had time to work, rinse the area with clean, cool water. Gently blot the fabric with a clean, absorbent cloth to soak up any remaining moisture and lifted stain.

4. Repeat as Needed

If the lipstick stain is still visible, repeat steps 2-3 until it’s fully removed. You may need to try a few different stain removal methods to find what works best.

5. Launder as Usual

Once the stain is gone, simply wash the item of clothing as you normally would, following the care instructions on the garment’s tag. This will help remove any lingering traces of the stain or stain remover.

Tips for Removing Lipstick from Different Fabrics

The specific steps for removing lipstick may vary slightly depending on the fabric type. Here are some additional tips for tackling lipstick stains on different materials:

Cotton, Linen, and Polyester: These sturdy, washable fabrics are generally the easiest to treat for lipstick stains. Use hot water and heavy-duty laundry detergent for best results.

Silk and Satin: Delicate fabrics require extra care. Try spot cleaning with a mild dish soap solution and cool water. Avoid using hot water or aggressive scrubbing, which can damage the fabric.

Wool: For wool garments, use a small amount of white vinegar or dry cleaning solvent to gently lift the stain before washing.

Leather and Suede: Leather and suede require specialized care. Consult a professional cleaner for the best way to remove lipstick from these materials.

Upholstery: When dealing with lipstick on upholstered furniture, blot the stain, then use a clean, damp cloth to gently sponge the area with a mild dish soap solution. Avoid scrubbing, which can spread the stain.

No matter the fabric, always test any stain removal method in an inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t cause discoloration or damage.

Tips to Prevent Lipstick Stains

Of course, the best way to deal with lipstick stains is to prevent them in the first place. Here are some tips to help you avoid lipstick mishaps:

Blot Carefully: When applying lipstick, blot your lips with a tissue instead of wiping. This helps remove excess product that could potentially transfer to your clothing.

Use Lip Liners: Applying a lip liner before lipstick can help create a barrier to prevent the color from bleeding or smudging onto fabric.

Wear a Lipstick Protector: Consider using a lipstick-proof barrier product, like a lip primer or sealant, to create a longer-lasting lipstick that is less likely to transfer.

Carry Blotting Papers: Keep a pack of blotting papers on hand to quickly dab away any lipstick that does start to smear or rub off.

Avoid Eating/Drinking in Delicate Clothes: If you’re wearing a special outfit, try to avoid eating or drinking while wearing it to minimize the risk of lipstick stains.

Clean Lipstick Applicators: Make sure to regularly clean your lipstick applicators, whether they’re tubes, wands, or brushes. Built-up product can transfer more easily.

Store Lipstick Carefully: Keep lipstick tubes capped when not in use to prevent accidental smearing or leaking.

By taking these proactive steps, you can dramatically reduce the chances of lipstick ending up where it shouldn’t – on your clothes!

Commercial Products for Removing Lipstick Stains

In addition to the DIY stain removal methods, there are also several commercial products designed specifically for removing lipstick stains. Here are a few top-rated options to consider:

Folex Carpet Spot Remover

Folex is a versatile spot remover that works great on lipstick stains, even on delicate fabrics like silk and satin. It uses a unique, non-toxic formula to quickly lift grease and pigment-based stains.

Key Features:

  • Safe for use on carpets, upholstery, and clothing
  • Effective on a wide range of stains, including lipstick, makeup, and oil
  • Non-toxic, biodegradable, and fragrance-free

Buy Folex Carpet Spot Remover on Amazon

Zout Laundry Stain Remover

Zout is a heavy-duty laundry stain remover that can tackle even the toughest lipstick stains. The formula contains enzymes and surfactants that help dissolve and lift stains from fabrics.

Key Features:

  • Works on a variety of stains, including grease, oil, and makeup
  • Safe for use on most washable fabrics
  • Can be used as a pretreatment or added directly to the wash

Buy Zout Laundry Stain Remover on Amazon

Carbona Stain Devils #6 Lipstick & Grease

Carbona’s Stain Devils #6 is specially formulated to tackle lipstick and grease-based stains. The powerful solvents in the formula help dissolve and lift even set-in stains.

Key Features:

  • Effective on a wide range of lipstick and makeup stains
  • Safe for use on most washable fabrics
  • Includes a built-in brush applicator for targeted stain treatment

Buy Carbona Stain Devils #6 on Amazon


Removing lipstick stains from clothing doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With the right techniques and products, you can successfully lift even the most stubborn lipstick marks from your favorite fabrics.

The key is to act quickly, use the appropriate stain removal methods for the fabric type, and be patient. By following the steps outlined in this guide, along with trying some of the commercial stain removers, you’ll be able to keep your wardrobe looking fresh and stain-free, no matter how much lipstick you wear.

So the next time you find a lipstick smudge on your shirt or dress, don’t panic. Refer back to this comprehensive guide, and you’ll have that stain removed in no time. Happy laundering!

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As the founder of Clean It Spotless, I am Melissa Walker, a leading expert in removing tough stains from fabrics, carpets, and upholstery. With over 10 years of experience in the cleaning industry, I have developed my own natural, non-toxic stain-fighting formulas that lift stains while preserving the integrity of the underlying material. My stain removal tutorials are widely read online, and I have appeared on local TV segments demonstrating my techniques. I also present popular stain removal workshops at community centers and schools.