It can feel really frustrating when you spot lipstick stains on the carpet. If you’ve kids at home, then it won’t come as much of a surprise when you notice that they have drawn something on the carpet with lipstick. It’s also possible that you dropped it on the carpet by mistake and later unknowingly stepped on it, in the process grinding it into the carpet fibres.
You can’t stop kids from being kids, neither can you prevent a genuine mistake. What you can do is gear into action as soon as you notice the stain to successfully remove it off the carpet. This is especially true of red lipstick, which brazenly stands out and draws attention towards it.
The reason lipstick stains are particularly tricky to deal with and remove is that it’s made up of a combination of oils and waxes for the shape and texture, emollients for moisturisation and pigments for imparting colour. Thus, lipstick can embed itself in carpet fibres and prove difficult to remove. Lipstick stains in deep pile carpets are especially hard to clean.
The key is getting the right balance between timing and technique. The earlier you tackle the stain, the greater the chance that you will be able to remove it completely. The technique comes in next. The right technique will enable you to clean lipstick stains to a great extent, even if you noticed the stain quite late.
Method 1: White Vinegar and Liquid Soap
Items You Need
- Butter knife (or a dull knife)
- Lukewarm water
- White vinegar
- Liquid dishwashing soap
- Paper towels
Use the Butter Knife to Remove Excess Lipstick
In case small chunks or a thick layer of lipstick is on the carpet, you will first have to try and scrape off as much of it as possible with a blunt knife such as a butter knife. You can also use a spoon, if a butter knife is not readily available, and scoop up the excess lipstick and get rid of it.
Make a Cleaning Solution
In an empty spray bottle, add two cups of lukewarm water and then add one teaspoon of white vinegar and about two drops of liquid dishwashing soap. Stir it thoroughly to create a cleaning solution. Don’t add too much liquid soap because that will lead to excessive foam formation while stirring the mixture. Secondly, if there’s too much liquid soap in the mixture a sticky residue will remain on the carpet, which you will have to clean separately.
Spray some of the solution over the stained area and let it sit for about 15 minutes.
Blot the Stain
When the solution has had about 15 minutes to break down the lipstick stain, blot it using white paper towels. Using coloured paper towels may result in the dye transferring onto the carpet. Repeat it till no more of the lipstick stain is soaked in by the paper towels. If there’s a significant amount of lipstick stain remaining on the carpet, you can spray a little more of the solution and allow it to rest for a quarter of an hour. Followed by blotting it up with paper towels.
Clean with a Sponge
Once the stain has been removed, soak a soft sponge in cold water and clean the formerly stained area to remove the soapy residue. Don’t rub the sponge on the carpet as that could damage the fibres. Press it against the stained area and let the water soak in, followed by blotting the area with white paper towels to remove excess water.
Method 2: Nail Polish Remover
You will essentially need the same set of items as the previous method. The one difference is that instead of white vinegar and liquid soap you will be using nail polish remover. Make sure that the nail polish remover you have at home or the one you purchase specifically for this is either made of acetone or ethyl acetate (which sometimes also contains isopropyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol). These can be used to clean lipstick stains on most types of carpets. There are other harsher nail polish removers, which shouldn’t be used.
The process remains essentially the same:
- First, you remove excess lipstick with a butter knife or spoon.
- Then pour a little bit of the nail polish remover on a clean white cotton cloth.
- Apply the nail polish remover on the stain and let it be for about 5 minutes.
- The acetone or ethyl acetate, as may the case be, will slowly breakdown the lipstick.
- Use white paper towels to blot up the lipstick.
- Repeat the process if the entire stain isn’t removed in the first go.
- Use a sponge and cold water to rinse off the carpet and blot up excess water with paper towels.
In lieu of nail polish remover, you can also use just rubbing alcohol or even hair spray for the same results. Toothpaste is another product that can be used.
In conclusion, I would like to bring a few important factors to your attention. Firstly, you should check the recommended care manual provided with your carpet before using any of the methods mentioned above. This is particularly true for carpets made of natural fibres such as wool and silk and also for most types of deep pile carpets. Certain cleaning products mentioned here might have drastic effects on natural fibres, either damaging them or resulting in discolouration. So, you should test each product on a small section (ideally inconspicuous section) of the carpet, before applying on the stained area.
Wear gloves while handling the cleaning products. Nail polish remover and hair spray are relatively safe to use, but rubbing alcohol is flammable. So, make sure you keep it away from children. Another issue that you need to be aware of is soap residue. I had mentioned this earlier that soap residue can be sticky. If it isn’t dealt with right away, it will attract dirt from shoe soles and really spoil the look of the carpet.
Finally, make sure that you dry the carpet well. If the stained area remains moist it could lead to the formation of mould. A vacuum cleaner that has wet and dry functions is best for this.