Sometimes the questions come in via Twitter. Today’s query:
@TheMorrisBunch: Help!! I took clothes out of the wash and found red lipstick in the dryer and all over my clothes.
First of all, yuck. I don’t envy your situation in the least; finding lipstick stains in the laundry is a great big hassle.
To get the lipstick out of the dryer, you’ll want to use a solvent like WD-40 or Goo Gone to clean out the drum of the dryer. If you have a gas dryer, it’s very important to apply the solvent to a rag rather than spraying a potentially flammable substance into your dryer. We try to use common sense here at Home-Ec 101. We don’t always manage it, but we do try.
Use a flashlight and be careful to make sure you get every bit of lipstick out of the dryer, or your next steps could be undone by your laundry’s next trip through the dryer.
Lipstick stains are often difficult to remove because they are essentially a stain we purposely apply to our lips, so I’m sure you understand that a product designed to stain is going to be difficult to remove. Not every stain is removable.
Remove Lipstick from Clothing
To remove lipstick from clothing, you want to treat the stain as both a dye stain and a grease stain. These directions are for washable fabrics. Since the disaster happened in the dryer, I’m assuming all of the fabrics in question are washable. (CRAZY, I know)
First, treat the dye stain with either a laundry pre-treatment spray or a dry cleaning spotter (like you find in the home dry cleaning kits.)If you use laundry pre-treatment, rinse with cool water and ensure no dye remains. If you use the dry cleaning spotter blot and allow it to evaporate fully.
If dye still remains, it may be time to step up to the big guns and try paint thinner. Only apply it directly to the stain and test for colorfastness first – If the clothing is a lost cause, how much does this really matter?
Only when all of the dye is gone do you get to move on to the next step.
Now treat the grease stain by rubbing detergent directly onto the fabric from the reverse side of the stain. Give the detergent time to work (half an hour at least, unless it contains bleach), and then launder in the hottest water tolerated by the fabric.
I don’t envy the tediousness of treating an entire load of laundry. If it wasn’t your lipstick, I highly suggest getting the offender in on the chore.
Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.