Lipstick in the Laundry

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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.

how to get lipstick off 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?

guide to the laundry room
Click the picture for more tips!

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.

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5 thoughts on “Lipstick in the Laundry”

  1. I have heard that Huggies Baby Wipes also work good on lipstick, I mean seriously, think about what they are designed to remove!  

    • Do I have to actually think about that? 😉
      I can definitely see this as a possibility if the lipstick hasn’t had time to get into the fabric.

  2. I had great success using Greased Lightning on a RED lipstick stain.  I went to my car to fetch my lipstick from my purse.  I decided to use the mirror above the visor.  I opened the tube and spun it, in that really cool all-in-one-motion kinda way, and the lipstick literally poured out of the tube onto my jeans!  UGH!  It was probably 125 degrees in my car since it was 100 degrees outside!  I was not able to get straight home so the stain had plenty of time to set.  It came out completely with the G.L. and hot water.
    Anyway, that was a few years ago and I have heard a complaint….I mean, mention that G.L. may have changed their recipe.  

  3. If the Greased Lightning works, by golly, use that.  If it doesn’t, you can use WD-40 and Goo Gone on fabrics, too.  My husband gets tar, lithium grease, epoxy parts, and who knows what else on his clothes, and I have both of these stored above the washer, along with a tub of mechanics hand cleaner Goop.  Sometimes I have to sneak into his super-secret ham radio room and steal the mineral spirits he keeps under the bench there.  The first three items mentioned above have been safe to use on every fabric I’ve tried them on, but mineral spirits can make colors run on cottons, so be careful.  All of these items should be used with care as they all can produce fumes that smell like they could ignite.   Definitely wash them out thoroughly before putting in the dryer – ELECTRIC dryers included…anything with a heat source can potientially ignite explosive fumes.
    Speaking of a domestic chemistry experiment that can blow up, my husband swears by gasoline for removing heavy grease (lipstick would qualify), but…well…I don’t want to go there, so I make him do it.  If you’re truly desperate, you might want to try it.  Just do it WAY out in the yard and leave any smoking materials in the house, then hand wash it out in the yard until you can’t smell the gas any longer.  It will not be fun…wear gloves and sit upwind or wear a mask and eye protection.  The fumes can be nasty on lungs (gas fumes are one of the few things that give me asthma).  Of course, my husband doesn’t do these things…he comes home soaked in gas so often, he thinks he’s immune by now. ;o)


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