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How to Get Lipstick Out of Carpet

A lipstick and a red stain next to it.

With just a few quick swipe of your lipstick, you can really transform your whole appearance. Unfortunately, the same quick swipe on your carpet can cause ugly and lasting stains. Continue reading for some exciting and effective cleaning strategies that will teach you how to get lipstick out of your carpet.

When it comes to make-up, certainly lipstick rules the roost. Lipstick is often one of the cheapest types of make-up and yet it can make an incredibly dramatic effect. If you’re called out to a party or dinner with the friends, but don’t have time to fully make yourself over, all you really need to do is grab a bold shade of lipstick and add a touch of mascara and bam!

You’ll still enjoy a fresh and clean appearance without a ton of time — a fresh and clean look that will make you feel more confident and ready to tackle whatever comes your way. Lipstick lovers also have a ton of choices to choose from with thousands of shades offered from dozens upon dozens of brands.

But despite all the big benefits of lipstick and reasons why you should consider adding a couple sticks to your makeup brand, there is a major drawback: It can get messy. This is especially true if you have a toddler and extensive carpeting throughout your home. Lipstick in carpet is nasty due to it being able to leave ugly smears and smells when not properly cleaned up.

So whether you have a toddler or you yourself sometimes get clumsy and drop your favorite stick unsheathed onto your carpet, it’s important to know how best to clean up the mess. The following is a quick look at the best homemade solutions and tricks as well as commercial products you might try to remove the lipstick from your carpet.

Related: How to get more stains out of carpet

Start By Scraping Off All That You Can

A close look at a pink lipstick stain on a fabric.

Before you grab any product, the first thing you should do to clean lipstick off of your carpet is to make the situation as small as possible. This means grabbing a towel and butter knife and gently, very gently scrape off any of the solid lipstick that you can. Start at the very outskirts of the lipstick mess and work towards the center. You need to do this carefully as the last thing you want to do is smear the lipstick even further into your carpet fibers.

Goo Gone and Dish Soap

A bottle of Goo Gone with a spritzer.

Goo Gone is an excellent all-purpose product that has proven itself time and again to be highly effective at removing sticky and greasy messes like those left by lipstick. For example, Goo Gone will work just as effectively on stains left by crayons, glue, wax, and stickers — making it an arguably must-have product for homes with young kids or for those craft-loving individuals and families.

To use Goo Gone, first follow that first step and make sure the impacted carpet is completely clean of any large masses of product that can be wiped away. Once this has been done, take a clean cloth and follow the product’s instructions to apply Goo Gone directly atop the lipstick stain. Press the product into the carpet and hold.

After a few seconds, lift the rag and you’ll undoubtedly see that you’ve also lifted some of the lipstick stain. Take another clean cloth or rag and repeat. You can also use heavy-duty paper towels for this step if you’d prefer not just transferring the mess to rags. You will need to repeat this apply, press, wait, and lift technique several times, until no more lipstick comes up.

Next, take a bowl of warm water and mix in 1/4 cup of dishwashing detergent and 2-3 drops of fabric cleaner. Use a rag to soak up this solution and then blot it against whatever is left of the lipstick stain. Blot at the stain, remove, wring, add solution, blot, remove, wring. Repeat these steps until the lipstick stain is removed completely from your carpet.

Rubbing Alcohol, Dish Detergent, and a Lot of Dabbing

A gloved hand scrubbing the carpet with a sponge.

Lipstick on the carpet isn’t easy to get out and that’s why you’re probably going to want to go with a professional product like Goo Gone. But if you are in a pinch and can only work with what you have, then so long as what you have is rubbing alcohol and dish detergent, you can also enjoy a good clean of your carpet.

To clean via this method, start as you would before by scooping all of the extra lipstick that you can out of your carpet with a butter knife or similar item. Then, throw on some cleaning gloves and grab your rubbing alcohol. Take a clean, white or colorfast cloth and soak it with rubbing alcohol. Lightly wring out any excess but keep in mind you still want the cloth to be pretty saturated with rubbing alcohol. In other words, it should be damp but not dripping.

Take this cloth and apply it directly to the lipstick stains on your carpet. Avoid rubbing at the stains and instead dab firmly at the outside edges and work your ways inwards. The rubbing alcohol on the cloth should draw out the lipstick, leaving your carpet fibers with a very faint stain if at any. Depending upon the type and shade of lipstick you have smeared into your carpet, you might have to repeat this step several times. Do so until what you have left is very faint.

Once you have most or even all the visible lipstick off your carpet, the final step is to add a bit of soap and water to thoroughly clean those carpet fibers. Pour two cups of cool water into a spray bottle and squeeze in three drops of dish detergent. Shake this mixture up thoroughly, until you have bubbles, and then spray onto your carpet. Use another clean cloth to blot the area until the soapy mixture is likewise removed and what you’re left with is a fresh clean carpet.

There are a couple of things to take note of before you get started on using hydrogen peroxide on your carpeting. First, use only the hydrogen peroxide that is listed as 3% — this is the type you’ll typically find at your neighborhood drug store or grocery store. Secondly, hydrogen peroxide has a bleaching affect which poses two risks to carpet fibers: it can both whiten or otherwise lighten dyed carpet fibers and it can break down carpet fibers when used excessively, thereby making the applied area look thinner. You can avoid these risks by testing first on a hidden area of carpeting beforehand or by simply avoiding use on any dark-colored carpeting.

Nail Polish Remover: Not Just For Nails

A bottle of nail polish remover.

If you don’t have rubbing alcohol, then what about nail polish remover? Nail polish remover is quite obviously very effective at doing what it’s named after, but did you know that it is equally great at removing other types of make-up like lipstick? Nail polish remover is a handy clean-up tool that can be used much like the aforementioned products to quickly and surely get those nasty lipstick stains out of your carpet.

That said, there are a few things to note before you get started with using nail polish remover to get lipstick out of carpet. First off, make sure you buy the right type! Use only a nail polish remover that is comprised of either acetone or ethyl acetate and avoid any product that consists of harsher chemicals. Secondly, the nail polish remover technique works best on clothes and short-fibered carpets and rugs, and won’t be a good choice if you’re cleaning something like frieze (also known as shag) carpeting.

To use nail polish remover on your carpeting, start by soaking a clean cloth or towel with the product — getting it damp but not dripping as before. Then, apply the nail polish-damp cloth directly to the stain. This time, however, you’re going to want to press it against the stain for about five minutes. During this time, the nail polish remover will break down the compounds in the lipstick and those compounds will attract and stick to the cloth. After five minutes, remove the cloth and use non-dyed paper towels to blot at the stain and remove any excess lipstick compounds that remain.

This nail polish remover technique is very effective but it isn’t a fast method. You’ll likely have to do several or third round before you really get the stain fully removed. Once it is, use cold water and a sponge to remove any remaining nail polish remover on the carpet and give it a good rinse. Finish with a towel dry.

Some Final Dos and Don’ts to Keep in Mind When Trying to Remove Lipstick From Your Carpeting or Rugs

A road sign saying Don't do it.

We hope the above carpet cleaning strategies will help you fully remove any lipstick you might have stuck or smeared across your carpeting or home rugs. Lipstick is one of those materials that can, on the onset, seem like it’s impossible to remove but with the right products and the right techniques, you can enjoy a full clean.

The following is a final look at some tips to keep in mind as you start strategizing which above step to use on your carpet and its lipstick stain:

  • Never use a rubbing motion. No matter which cleaning strategy you use or what product you add, even if it’s just water and soap, never use an aggressive rubbing action when cleaning. Rubbing will only spread and smudge the stain more and make it even harder to remove. In some cases, rubbing too much against an oil-based stain like lipstick will cause your carpet fibers to become artificially dyed to the point that you will need to hire a professional cleaner.
  • Never use a dyed cloth or colored paper towel to clean. For similar reasons, you don’t want to use dyed coths, rags, or paper towels to clean up lipstick or any other type of oil-based product. Dyed rags and paper towels can transfer their dyes to your carpet when used with certain cleaning agents.
  • Try to always act fast. The faster you can get started on the lipstick stain, the easier it will be to have it removed. The longer you wait, the more it’ll become smeared and risk more permanently dying carpet fibers.
  • Test commercial products first. This was mentioned a bit above but bears repeating. Never use a new cleaning product on a highly exposed part of your carpet without testing first. Even supposedly ‘safe’ products can have shockingly adverse reactions to certain fibers or the dyes those fibers were imbued with. So play it safe, so you won’t regret it.
  • Take special care with woolen carpet. Wool is the most sensitive type of carpeting fiber as it both will absorb pigments easily and is easily damaged with abrasive cleaning methods. In fact, woolen carpeting is so sensitive that you’re probably not going to want to use any of the above products and should instead talk to a professional or seek out specialty dry cleaning agents for any oil-based stain.

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