Lipstick is gorgeous on your mouth, but a total nightmare just about anywhere else. By its nature, lipstick is one of the nastier stains out there by dint of it being both a pigment stain and a greasy, waxy stain. Fortunately, there are some easy-to-find products that will help you to remove wayward lip color from clothes, furniture — and even the inside of your favorite purse.
How to Clean Lipstick Off Your Clothes
Nothing can ruin a morning like smearing a bit of perfectly applied lipstick on your shirt, but fear not! There are a few common household items that can be pressed into use to remove that stain right quick.
The first is rubbing alcohol. It seems too simple to work, but it really, really does — the trick is to apply the rubbing alcohol to a cotton ball or a small, clean rag and dab at the stain with it. It’s likely to take a few applications and a bit of patience, but that lipstick will eventually come out, the rubbing alcohol will dry and you can be on your merry way.
If you don’t have rubbing alcohol in the house 1. go buy some, you goose! And 2. turn to something that just about everyone will have on hand: Dish soap, preferably one known for its ability to cut through grease, like Dawn or Palmolive. To use it, dampen the stained area and work a small amount of dish soap into the stain using your fingers. Rinse under cool running water and repeat as needed; any residual tint from the lipstick should be treated using a laundry pre-treatment spray like Shout.
For more stubborn or set-in stains, a specialty product may be needed. Motsenbocker’s Lift-Off makes a line of stain removers, two of which can be used in concert to remove lipstick from fabric. The company’s website recommends using both Lift-Off #2 and #3 (test first for colorfastness) before laundering the item as usual. But why use two products when one will do? Carbona also makes a line of stain removers, rather charmingly called Stain Devils, and #6 is the one you want to eliminate all manner of makeup stains, including lipstick.
How to Clean Lipstick Off the Couch
Now look, I’m not saying that the smear of lipstick across the arm of your couch has anything to do with that wild make-out sesh you and your new guy engaged in last week. I’m not saying that! That’s your business. What I will say is that all of the methods used to remove lipstick stains from clothing can be applied to upholstery, too. The rubbing alcohol is probably going to be your best bet, though, because you can control how much moisture you’re introducing to the couch, so as not to saturate it. Which is a good thing, since you can’t just throw the couch in the dryer.
How to Clean Lipstick Off the Mirror
It’s cute to write little love notes to your honey (or to yourself!) on the mirror using lipstick. It’s less cute when it comes time to clean the glass.
If the lipstick is relatively fresh, a glass cleaner like Windex should do get the job done just fine. You may find it takes several passes with some paper towels, but that’s fine and to be expected. If you find, as you’re working on the lipstick with glass cleaner, that it’s just really not budging it’s time to move onto something stronger. Commercial degreasers are the thing you want to look for—these can be found at hardware and home improvement stores, including places like Target and Wal*Mart. ZEP makes a really good one and Simple Green is another popular one; there are lots of options. They’re spray products, so they can be used exactly like glass cleaner—spritz and wipe, spritz and wipe.
How to Clean Lipstick Off the Floor
The worst part about a dropped lipstick isn’t actually the clean-up — it’s the smashed lipstick! If the lipstick lands on a wood or tile floor, no sweat: Follow the instructions for cleaning it from a mirror. If some of the pigment gets into the grout, use a toothbrush and an abrasive cream cleanser with bleach, like Soft Scrub, to work the stain out of the flooring. If your bathroom floor is made of natural stone like marble or slate, avoid any products with an acidic base, as acid can cause pitting. Bleach, which is an alkaline, is one choice; for a less caustic option, try Simple Green Stone Cleaner.
How to Clean Lipstick Off the Inside of Your Purse
This is one I hear about all the time. What a mess, right? The good news is that the rubbing alcohol we talked about for removing lipstick from clothing will also work like a charm on the lining of a handbag. These Curad Alcohol Wipes are a great thing to know about — they’re packaged individually, which makes them great for tossing in a bag in case of emergency. Bonus! They can also be used to clean your smartphone, which is probably pretty dirty.
Pretty Clean is a weekly column dedicated to cleaning up the ugly messes made in pursuit of beauty. Jolie Kerr is a cleaning expert, advice columnist and author of My Boyfriend Barfed In My Handbag … And Other Things You Can’t Ask Martha. Got a topic you’d like her to address? Email her at j[email protected].