Lipstick in the Carpet: Removing Common Makeup Stains

When you have to get to work or class early in the morning, you don't have much time to get ready. You quickly spread foundation on your face and add some mascara and lipstick. Your rapid getting-ready process is going well-until you accidentally drop your open lipstick tube on the carpet.

On a light-coloured carpet, a dark red lipstick stain definitely stands out. Fortunately, there's a way to remove this and other stains that might happen while you get ready for the day. First, read our general stain removal advice. Then, follow these cleaning tips.

Lipstick Stains

There's a right way and a wrong way to remove a lipstick stain. Rubbing the stain with water may only push the stain further into the carpet.

Since lipstick is composed of a pigment as well as waxes, oils, fats and emollients, you'll need to apply a solvent that can dissolve each of these substances. Some people make the mistake of removing the waxes, oils, fats and emollients, but leaving the colour behind.

The most effective solvent choices for removing all these substances are dry cleaning fluid or methylated spirits (alcohol that's formulated for cleaning).

Once you've applied the solvent, blot the stain with a towel. It's important to use a colour-fast towel, or the towel will lose its original colour. If the stain gets lighter, keep blotting. If not, call a carpet cleaning professional.

A professional will use a powerful product and because they can rinse and extract they will make sure there is no lipstick or product residue.  

Foundation Stains

If you spill foundation on your carpet, you can still preserve your carpet. Just as makeup remover cleanses makeup from your face, it might remove it from your carpet as well. Try dabbing makeup remover on the stain with a colour-fast towel. Choose an oil-free makeup remover so it doesn't leave behind an unsightly oil stain.

Alternatively, you could try a dry cleaning fluid. Dry cleaning fluid typically consists of a chemical called tetrachloroethylene, which effectively cleans delicate fabrics. However, follow the product safety instructions very closely.

If the stain remains, call a professional carpet cleaner right away.

Nail Polish Stains

Another common stain you might see near your bathroom or vanity is a nail polish stain. If you spill a small amount of nail polish on your carpet, try applying nail polish remover. If it seems to work, continue until the stain is completely removed.

Larger stains and stubborn stains should be removed by a professional. Without extraction and powerful products, the polish's pigment might stay behind. A professional's chemicals transform the polish into a liquid and extract both the liquid and the colour pigment.

Shoe Polish Stains

If you polish your shoes before you head out the door, be careful not to spill your shoe polish. If you do, apply dry cleaning fluid or methylated spirits to the stain. To avoid spreading the stain, start cleaning at the outside of the stain and move toward the centre.

Liquid brush-on shoe polishes are especially tricky to remove, so use caution. If you're uncomfortable removing the stain, call a carpet cleaning professional.

When to Call a Professional

You may be able to remove light stains near your bathroom or vanity. But makeup, nail polish and shoe polish contain many different substances, and are very difficult to remove. If you aren't precise, you might even make the stain worse.

If you're unable to remove the stain yourself or don't want it to get worse, call a professional carpet cleaner, who can remove the stain while protecting the integrity of your carpet.