Say Goodbye To Stubborn Lipstick Stains On Your Clothes With Our Tips

Applying lipstick is the finishing touch to complete your makeup look — but accidentally dropping the tube before you can replace the cap or smearing your mouth over your clothes as you get dressed for the day can ruin the outfit you've spent time choosing. And you can't just dab it away with some water; once lipstick gets onto the fabric, it doesn't want to come off. Luckily, with a little bit of effort, there are plenty of products you can use to clean up the lipstick, depending on where you are when it transfers onto your clothes.


Lipstick causes such stubborn stains because of the way it's formulated. Makeup is usually made with a base of water, oil, or wax; when it comes to satin lipsticks, they are primarily made out of oil. Then there are the pigments that create the desired shade and preservatives that keep it fresh. Once this product stains your clothing, the oil and dyes work together to stick to the fibers, making it extremely hard to remove the stain. For the best results, spot-treat the area with one of these methods before throwing your garment in a washing machine.


Shampoo is an easy and gentle way to remove a stubborn lipstick stain from your clothes. As long as you're home, you can access it within seconds. The quicker you can pre-treat these stains, the less discoloration they'll cause to the fabric. Shampoo works so well because it's meant to remove grease and dirt from your hair and scalp, making it perfect for breaking up the oil in lipstick.


Start by scraping off any excess lipstick that may have transferred onto your clothes. Then, turn the item inside out and put a piece of cardboard or plastic in between the layers of fabric so you don't accidentally spread it to the other side of your clothing. Wet the area with hot water before dabbing a couple of drops of shampoo on the backside of the stain. Let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes, then blot the stain away with a moist paper towel (be careful not to rub, which could grind the stain further into the fibers or spread it into becoming larger). Switch to a new paper towel as the lipstick begins to transfer off your garment. Then, you can wash the clothes in your machine with your usual settings.


Hand sanitizer

A lipstick stain can happen at any place and at any time, so you won't always be able to use the typical products you like to pre-treat your clothing with if you're out for the day. However, no one wants to walk around with a big lipstick mark on their shirt all day. If this ever happens to you, hand sanitizer is what you need, even though removing stains isn't what it's advertised for. It works so well because the same rubbing alcohol that cleans your hands can break up the oil in lipstick. Today, hand sanitizer is a common thing to keep in your bag, so if you don't have it, someone around you might.


The amount of hand sanitizer you use depends on how large the discolored area is — you will only need a drop if it's a small mark. Dab it into the stain without rubbing the lipstick further into the fibers, and wait about 15 minutes before wiping up the product with a damp towel. If it's still stained, apply more hand sanitizer and leave it on for longer. Once you're home, you can put your clothing in the wash.

Distilled white vinegar

Distilled white vinegar is a great natural alternative to pre-treating a lipstick stain. Not everyone wants to use commercial cleansers, so having this product on hand is perfect. However, even though this method is considered more eco-friendly, it's not as effective or efficient as the other options. Distilled white vinegar will still work if it's the product you prefer to use, but you will have to repeat the process multiple times to get the best results.


Before you can start pre-treating the lipstick stain, you'll need to do a patch test in an area where you wouldn't notice if it became discolored — since vinegar is so acidic, it has the potential to damage the fabric. You can proceed if the area looks unharmed. Soak a cotton ball or paper towel in distilled white vinegar and dab it onto the stain. Leave it to soak for about 15 minutes before checking if the color has lifted. Once it looks clean, throw the clothes in your washing machine. Setting the water temperature to as hot as your fabrics can handle will help remove the stain.

Ammonia and dish soap

Most of these methods require you to pre-treat your stubborn lipstick stain with a product before running it through the washing machine. Generally, you'll want to completely clean any discoloration before putting your clothes in the dryer because the heat will cement it in the fabric, according to Coin Laundry Clearwater — then it'll be even harder to get the stain out. But what if it has already gone through the dryer and the mark is still there? That's where ammonia and dish soap come in. Combining these two cleansers makes a potent stain remover that can erase even the toughest of lipstick marks. 


Since ammonia is so strong, make sure you're working in a well-ventilated area and wearing gloves. (And never, ever use it if you're also using something that contains bleach; per Healthline, that's a deadly combination that creates toxic chloramine gas.) Start by removing any lipstick chunks that are left on your clothes — one trick is to stick tape on top of the stain. When you peel it off, the excess product should come up with it.

To create your stain remover, combine 1 tablespoon dish soap and 1 tablespoon of ammonia with 2 cups of water. Pour it into a spray bottle and apply the solution to the lipstick stain. Blot the area with a paper towel, switching to a new one as it picks up the color. Once the mark is completely gone, you can put your garment in the laundry again. 


Shaving cream

Maybe you just ran out of the usual products you use for pre-treating stains or have nothing strong enough to remove the oil from your clothes. If that's the case, you can always grab some shaving cream. It may sound unbelievable, but it actually cuts through the oil-based formula of a typical lipstick. One caveat: Before you can use shaving cream to remove a stain, you need to ensure you're using the right kind. It can't have a gel formula or include moisturizers and colors in the ingredients.


Once you've double-checked that you own the correct type of shaving cream, you can get to work on cleaning off your lipstick stain. First, remove any pieces of lipstick left on the fabric and run cold water over the area. Then, spray the shaving cream on top and use your fingers or a soft toothbrush to rub it in. Let it sit for about 10 minutes before scrubbing the leftover shaving cream into the stain. Finish by running it under cold water again and checking if the lipstick mark is gone. If not, add more shaving cream with a drop of rubbing alcohol and repeat the process. As with any other stain-removal method, when the area looks clean, throw it in the wash.

Lemon juice and baking soda

Lemon juice and baking soda are two more common household ingredients that you can use to clean stains. When you mix these two products, they become a powerful solution that will get even the most stubborn makeup dyes out of your clothes. The acidity in the lemon juice breaks up the oil-based lipstick, and then the baking soda swoops in to help absorb and lift the stain out of the fibers. (You'll want to do a quick spot check to make sure the lemon juice doesn't bleach your clothes, though.)


To see the best results, you'll need to treat your clothing with these two ingredients as soon as you accidentally swipe the lipstick onto the fabric. After removing any large chunks of the makeup, it's time to mix the cleaning solution: Combine one part baking soda with one part lemon juice. It should form a paste that you can smear onto the stain. Leave it to work its magic for about 30 minutes, then toss your clothing into the washing machine on the usual settings without rinsing off the paste. To ensure that the stain is completely gone, skip the dryer — instead, hang up the item so it can air dry.

Nail polish remover

Using nail polish remover as a stain remover isn't suitable for all fabrics (such as satin), but it can be another option. You must ensure you're using the right product to get the best results from this method. Nail polish remover comes in many different formulas for people with different needs — what you'll need to remove a stubborn lipstick stain is acetone included in the ingredients. You'll also need to do a patch test before applying it to a stain that's in an obvious place because its intended job is to remove paint from your nails, so it can easily remove the color from your clothing.


Start by scraping off any excess lipstick, then place a piece of cardboard between the layers of your garment before pouring a small amount of nail polish remover onto the stain; that way, the color won't transfer to other parts of your shirt. Next, take an old toothbrush and scrub the lipstick. Once it's lightened, rinse the area with some rubbing alcohol. (If you don't have any, you can also use diluted isopropyl alcohol.) Blot the stain with a cloth to dry it — if the color is gone, throw it in the wash. Otherwise, repeat the process.