How To Get Rid of Lipstick Stains

Lipstick on your shirt is a faux pas for sure, but it can happen pretty easily. All it takes is a hug from someone wearing lipstick to end up with a smudge on your shirt or your collar. Accidents can happen while applying makeup too. If you do the wrong thing (such as washing it regularly then drying it) you could make that smudge a permanent part of the garment. If you treat it correctly, however, you should be able to remove it without difficulty.

  1. Check your garment’s label for care instructions. Sometimes the safest thing is to take it to the dry cleaners rather than risk ruining the whole thing. If you do decide to dry clean, don’t do anything to the stain at all, such as put a stain treatment on it. If you’re not sure how the chemicals that are mentioned below will affect the fabric, try it on a bit that won’t be seen (such as the shirt tail that gets tucked in) first.
  2. Lipstick is wax and oil based, which makes cleaning it different from something like coffee or grass stains. For lipstick, start with a little bit of rubbing alcohol, wetting a cloth and dabbing gently. Don’t rub it or you may end up spreading it around or rubbing it into the cloth.
  3. Rub a small amount of dishwashing soap onto the stain using a cue tip or your finger. Put it under cold running water, lipstick side down. Repeat again, and keep at it until no more lipstick comes off.
  4. Clorox makes a product called Lestoil. Look for it in the cleaning aisle of a grocery or all-purpose store. In this case all you have to do is soak the stains with it, let it sit for a quarter of an hour, and then wash the garment on its regular wash cycle.
  5. Sometimes you may get a lipstick stain on your shirt because you put it on over your head after applying makeup. To keep this from happening again, cover your head with some kind of slippery fabric—silk, nylon, et cetera—before you pull your clothes on.
  6. If applying makeup with your clothes already on, tuck a small towel around your collar or neck. This will keep you from getting makeup stains of any sort on your clothes during application.

Remember that dry cleaning is always a last option and sometimes the best first option. As always, avoid drying or ironing the garment before you’ve treated the stain, or it may never come out. Handle it carefully to be sure you don’t end up spreading the stain further, which overly zealous rubbing can do. A very last resort is to get the garment died a darker color to disguise the stain, but that really shouldn’t be necessary if you treat the original lipstick smudge properly and in a timely manner. No matter how disastrous you think that stain on your expensive blouse is, there is something you can do to save it.