Removing A Lipstick Stain From Your Couch

lipstick on a couch step 1On the Couch!?…


It’s one thing when you get a little lip gloss on your shirt, or some red lipstick on a scarf because they can be easily laundered. When this notorious stain-causer gets on non-washable surfaces like upholstery, it’s a whole different story. The bright color and thick texture will immediately bond with the material to create an unsightly stain that’s difficult to remove. Proper technique is key to a quick and easy cleaning process, but so is speed. This stuff is designed to last all day on your lips, so the longer you let it sit, the tougher it will be to take off. If you get to work right away, and use the simple steps below, it will be easy to completely eliminate the stain from almost any surface.

In the example below, hot pink lipstick was accidentally applied to the upholstered cushion of a new couch by a curious two-year-old. Once Mommy and Daddy were notified, quick action led to outstanding results. The method used would also work for a set in stain, it would just take longer, and require more applications. Prior to the actual stain removal process, all of the loose stuff was gently blotted from the material so that only the set in lipstick remained. Take a look at the picture above. The bright pink mess looked pretty bad against the light beige fabric it was currently ruining.

Why Is Lipstick So Darn Stain-y?

Today’s cosmetics are manufactured using advanced mixtures of chemicals, oils, waxes, dyes and other stuff. Modern formulas lead to makeup products that work well, but they can also create difficult stains when they end up where they don’t belong. The  bright colors look great on your lips, but when rubbed off on clothing or furniture, it can be a real problem.

Although most types of lipstick contain a long list of ingredients, the bulk of the mixture will fall into three categories: oil, wax and pigment. Each of these substances may require a slightly different cleanser or technique to lift from the surface, so depending on what you choose, you may need to employ a combination of techniques in order to eliminate all signs of the mess.

  1. Oil – Using a de-greaser, oily stuff will lift off upholstery and other materials.
  2. Wax – waxy material can be eliminated using solvents to break down and remove the build up.
  3. Pigment – most coloration will lift off with the wax and oil carriers, but some more permanent coloring may require and oxidizer to make it disappear.

The Easy Way To Remove A Lipstick Stain

We will follow this simply good method with some traditional alternatives, but as far as safety, speed, and effectiveness go, our technique is tough to beat. The options that follow will allow you to use stuff you already have at home, but the trade off will be more time spent cleaning, more risk of damage, and a reduced guarantee of effectiveness. With our way, you will need to have some Quick N Brite Cleaner on hand, but the results will be guaranteed, and the process will be quick and painless. As an added bonus, you’ll have the piece of mind that comes from using a safe cleaner that is free of toxic chemicals, and highly effective without any risk of damage.

lipstick on a couch step 1

Step 1

After removing any loose material, we took a washcloth dampened with warm water to apply some paste directly to the stain. Just wet it under the faucet, then wring out until no longer dripping. After that, scoop out a generous amount of cleaner using the cloth. Apply to the stain by rubbing back and forth, and up and down. Be careful not to spread the stain as it will begin to loosen immediately. For larger messes, work from the outside in to prevent unnecessary damage. Once the paste has been worked into the stain, allow it to sit for about ten minutes. This step is important as it allows the cleaner time to break down the colorful substance, and release it’s bond with the fabric.

lipstick on a couch step 2

Step 2

Once the cleaner had time to sit, we took a different cloth, that was dry, to buff the stain out. Using the same up and down, back and forth motion, the applied cleaner, and most of the pigment, was removed. Take a look at the photo above. Most of the pink lipstick came off with a single, quick application, but a small amount was still visible. Because the cleaner breaks down the stain naturally, there is no risk to the couch, and there is no harsh smell, but it still allows you to lift the grime easily. When you rub with the dry towel, the pink color will transfer from the couch cushion onto the towel.

lipstick on a couch step 3

Step 3

Because there was still pink showing on the cushion, we took some more paste with our damp cloth, and applied it to the surface. The same technique was used, just a smaller amount. Once it was on there, we let it sit again, for about the same amount of time. Because this mess is particularly tough, it may take more than one application, but with no scrubbing or specialized techniques involved, it’s easily accomplished. And because there’s no bleach or other harsh ingredients involved, you run very little risk to the couch, chair, carpet or piece of clothing you are cleaning.

lipstickon a couch step 4

Step 4

After allowing it to sit for a moment, we used the dry cloth again to buff out even more pigment. As you can see, a slight pink color still remained. In an attempt to be careful not to mar the material, or soak the fabric, we may have removed the second application too soon. In retrospect, and knowing the severity of the bond with the couch cushion, we probably should have let it sit for fifteen or twenty minutes to begin with.

The longer it sits, the more time it has to break down tough build up, so the easier it will be to remove. On a surface like this, you don’t really want to rub hard because it will cause the fabric to pill, so we kept it gentle, and went with another quick application. Because this is a paste cleaner, the bulk of the moisture is in the cloth. Even with repeated applications, the cushion is not getting drenched.

lipstick on a couch step 5

Step 5

With only a small dot of color left, we put on a tiny amount of cleaner to cover it. This time it was swiped on with a finger instead of using the washcloth. Just smear to cover, then let it sit again.

lipstick on a couch step 6

Step 6

After rubbing with the dry cloth again to remove the paste, most would consider the surface clean. Those of us with outstanding eyesight will notice the slightest little spot still remaining. Although no one would notice it if left in place, we used one last tiny application to make it go bye bye. In the picture above, the material is still damp from cleaning, and the itty bitty pink spot is still there. In the picture below, it shows the cushion after the final cleaning round, and after it had time to dry.

All gone - lipstick on a couch

Step 7

The stain is now completely gone, and the couch has had time to dry. The fabric is not discolored, nor is it roughed up or ruined in any way. The unsightly pink spot is no longer visible, and it was pretty easy to accomplish. Take a look at the side-by-side shot below to show the before and after. On the left you can see the fresh lipstick stain, and on the right, you can see the same area after cleaning. Crisis averted, disaster avoided, and new sofa saved!

Before and After

Before And After

Acting fast will always make it easier, but set in stains will come out with the same technique. Just work little by little to continue removing pigment until the area is clean.

Quick N Brite is an ideal cleaner for this task because it lifts up oily stuff, breaks down waxy stuff, and un-bonds pigment from fabrics in one easy step. All of the stuff in lipstick makes it hold fast to certain materials, but that same stuff is easily cleaned with this powerful product.

The results in the picture speak for themselves, but you may not have the cleaner on hand, and you may not have time to get some before you get in trouble. For those that want to try something right away, or for those that refuse to try something new, check out the traditional cleaning tips below. You probably have one or more of the items required to try them already, so you can get started right away. The results may not be as good, or as easy to achieve, but based on wide recommendation, you should be able to make some improvement, if done correctly.

Traditional Lipstick Cleaning Tips

Professional products and home remedies both have their place when it comes to makeup stain removal. Both styles are widely used, and people have success with a variety of techniques. Store bought solutions can be great in certain situations, but in some cases, stuff you have at home can be can be just as effective as expensive cleaners purchased at a store.

Dry-Cleaning Solvent – This method attempts to dissolve the stain so that it can be lifted off the material. You run the risk of spreading the stain, and the solvent itself is kinda dangerous, but if you are careful enough, the results can be good.

  1. Use a damp sponge to apply solvent to the stain, then use a dry spotter and absorbent pad to blot the area right away.
  2. Continue lifting stain until no more comes off, or the color is gone.
  3. If stain remains, repeat step one to re-apply the solvent, and loosen more stain. If the stain only spreads, flush the area with solvent and blot immediately.
  4. Once the spot is diminished, allow time for the solvent to evaporate.
  5. Once solvent is gone, use a wet sponge to flush the material.
  6. Apply wet spotter and a small amount of ammonia, then dry using a blotting action.
  7. Use your wet sponge to flush with water.
  8. Apply wet spotter and a small amount of vinegar, then dry with by blotting.
  9. Make one final flush with water and allow the material to dry.

Dish Soap – Dishes are oily, and commonly have thick build up. This type of soap is good for cleaning oily substances, so it will help you lift the stain without scrubbing to ruin the material, or rubbing to spread the color around. Just make sure the dish soap you have is made for cleaning greasy stuff and you should be good.

  1. Get an old towel or clean paper towel to use for absorbing the stain.
  2. Apply dish soap directly to the stained area, then let it sit for about ten minutes.
  3. After letting it sit, use your paper towel to apply pressure to the stain, and blot the material in an effort to lift the stain causing substance.
  4. Repeat if necessary.
  5. Once the color has been lifted, flush the area with water to rinse out any remaining soap, then allow to dry.

Hairspray – The alcohol in the spray is what is going to help you out, and it can work, but the results are not guaranteed. Hairspray may be more effective on certain surfaces than others, and even if it doesn’t work, it should be rinsed thoroughly because it can cause a stain all by itself.

  1. Ensure that the material with the stain is safe for this technique.
  2. Spray directly onto the lipstick, then allow it to sit for about ten minutes. As it sits, it will dissolve and break down the stain in order to loosen it for removal.
  3. After it sits, take a damp cloth or paper towel to blot the area and lift the stain.
  4. Continue blotting until all loose pigment has been removed.
  5. If color remains, you may need to follow up with another method to get the area completely clean.

Toothpaste – This stuff is designed to clean teeth, but it can also act as a gentle abrasive for cleaning upholstery stains. Make sure you have actual paste, and not gel, and be aware that products with whiteners may discolor fabrics.

  1. Begin by scraping off any clumps to reveal only the set in stain. Be gentle enough to avoid spreading the lipstick to create a bigger mess.
  2. Get a damp cloth and apply toothpaste to the surface. Use the cloth to gently scrub the area that is stained.
  3. Continue rubbing the area. The stain will begin to loosen and transfer to the cloth.
  4. Once the mess has been eliminated, some paste will remain. Use a damp sponge or wet cloth to wipe the surface clean, and continue until all oral hygiene products have been removed from your couch.
Rubbing Alcohol – It acts as a solvent to dissolve the lipstick. Applying it will allow you to lift the color, but it works fast, so you have to be careful. Also, for really tough spots, it won’t be able to remove everything. When doing the cleaning, be sure to blot instead of rub because you’ll end up spreading the color.
  1. Take a clean cloth and get it damp with alcohol.
  2. Use the cloth to blot the area.
  3. The color should begin transferring to the cloth.
  4. Add more alcohol as needed, and continue until the spot disappears.
  5. Once clean, flush with a damp cloth moistened with water, then allow to dry.

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