How To Remove Lipstick (and other makeup) From Carpet

Cosmetics are designed to flatter your appearance but lipstick or other makeup can be downright ugly when it gets on your carpet.

From the young child playing dress up with mommy's makeup, to the daily use by a teenager or adult, makeup stain removal can be a challenge.

Most makeup contain dyes or pigments which are utilized to achieve a desired color. Some cosmetics contain fats, waxes and oils.

Generally, stains from cosmetic products are non-water soluble and can be found on the surface and absorbed into the carpet fiber.

Procedures to remove lipstick and other makeup stains

  1. In the case of lipstick, carefully scrape away the solid or semi-solid stain using a spoon or blunt end of a bone scraper. Never use a knife as it's sharp edges could harm the pile fibers.

    If the makeup stain is blush, eye shadow or other powder based stain, vacuum thoroughly.

    A stain from mascara can be easily spread with scraping or vacuuming. Proceed directly to step 2.
  2. Apply a volatile dry solvent such as a dry cleaning solvent. Apply this stain remover to a towel before applying to a fabric. Never over-apply or pour this spotter directly onto the carpet as it can dissolve latex and may result in carpet delamination.

    Always pretest any stain remover on an inconspicuous area of the carpet. Apply a few drops to each color in the carpet test area. Press a clean, white cloth on the wet area for approximately 30 seconds. Check both the towel and the carpet for color transfer, color change or any other damage. Repeat same procedure with another stain remover if you notice any change.

    Work from the edges of the stain to the center to prevent the stain from spreading. Continue as long as the stain is getting transferred onto the towel. Apply more solution to a fresh area on the towel and repeat the process as long as the stain is being removed. Patience is a virtue as far as this step is concerned!

    Do not scrub the area. Scrubbing can distort the pile and harm the fibers. Scrubbing can result in making the stain set into the carpet or rug.
  3. If any cosmetic stain remains, apply a non-volatile dry solvent also known as POG (paint, oil and grease remover). Follow the same application procedures as a volatile dry solvent in step #2 above.
  4. Remove the non-volatile dry solvent with a volatile dry solvent or an alkaline cleaning solution (pH 9-10) If available, utilize a carpet cleaning machine or a spray bottle to apply the alkaline cleaning solution to flush the stains. Then extract to remove stains from carpet.

    As an alternative a shop vac may be utilized for extraction purposes. Dry treated area as much as possible. Care must be taken not to over-wet the carpet.
  5. If the cosmetic staining material has been removed but color remains, most likely the cosmetic product's coloring agent (dye or pigment) needs to be addressed and removed via a reducing bleach or stripper (sodium bisulfite, sodium hydrosulfite, among others). Most synthetic colored stains require a reducing bleach for removal.

    By placing a damp towel over the stain and applying heat from a steam iron will accelerate the action of the reducing agent. Use caution as heat may damage the carpet fibers or cause color loss.

    An acid (household vinegar or acetic acid) will also accelerate the action of a reducing bleach.

    When the lipstick or other makeup stain has been satisfactorily removed, thoroughly rinse the reducing agent from carpet with an alkaline cleaning solution (pH 9-10) and dry carpet as much as possible.

    When most of the moisture is removed, you may use clean, dry towels weighed down by flat, heavy objects like a book or brick on the damp area to absorb any remaining moisture. This helps prevent wicking of any deep staining material not removed that will move to the surface as the carpet dries.

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