How to Get Out Stubborn Lipstick Stains

It happens. Either you end up kissing the collar of your boyfriend's shirt or smudge a smooch on your favorite scarf — lipstick stains are toughies. Made with intense pigments and moisturizing ingredients, the combo results in one of the most difficult marks to deal with in the laundry room. We put four cleaning suggestions to the test to see which works best, making lipstick stains nothing to worry about.

The Test

We puckered up and kissed five white cotton squares of cloth with a basic red lipstick. Each square received a different treatment, one being spritzed with hair spray, which is a popular cleaning technique that helps neutralize oils and lift the stain. Another square was covered with regular chlorine bleach — and another with our homemade bleach alternative. Dish soap covered the lipstick stain of another square, while our last square got a good rubbing of Fels-Naptha, a natural stain remover.

All of these cleaning remedies came highly recommended and claimed to remove lipstick stains without any dabbing or fussing. After the squares had a 20-minute rest with each treatment, they were tossed in the wash.

What Worked?

Surprisingly, most of the treatments did a decent job of tackling the lipstick stain. But the big winner was dish soap! Made to bust through grease, it makes sense that the basic cleaner everyone has on hand did an amazing job with this stain. And dish soap is safe to use on washable materials without staining or discoloring fabric. Second up? Bleach. There was no remaining stain, but bleach can only be used on white fabric — and it's tough on clothes.

The Fels Naptha, homemade bleach, and hair spray all tied for third, removing most of the lipstick, with a faint pucker remaining on the fabric. The bleach alternative even did a number on the permanent marker.

Final Thoughts

It's best to treat the stain as soon as it happens. If possible, remove the item of clothing and cover the stain with liquid dish soap. And if you're out and about when you notice a smudge, spritz with hair spray, which will help neutralize the stain right away. When you can, treat with dish soap and toss in the wash. You won't have to worry about discoloring your clothes while getting rid of the stubborn lipstick stain.