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How to Get Lipstick Out of Carpet: I Try 5 Methods

I was curious how to get lipstick out of carpet, since I’d never tried before.

I googled around and found lots of suggestions, but nowhere did there seem to be real humans out there saying, “This worked for me!”

So I decided to become that human.

I tried out five methods and, at the end of a mighty struggle, found a solution that worked perfectly. Plus, it was way less work and time than the less effective methods.

In this post, you’ll read all about my experiment. But since I usually like to do a Tl;dr answer to your question, let me tell you right upfront exactly what method worked.

Get lipstick out of carpets with the “acetone first, dish soap second” method:

  1. Remove any chunks of lipstick with a paper towel.
  2. Pour no more than a capful of pure acetone on the stain.
  3. Let sit for two minutes.
  4. Blot with a sponge or paper towels until totally dry.
  5. Pour a solution of 1 oz lukewarm water and four drops of dish soap, mixed, on the stain.
  6. Use an old toothbrush to scrub the remaining color out of fibers.
  7. Blot with sponge or paper towels.

And here are the things that didn’t work—at least not by themselves:

  • Hydrogen peroxide.
  • 70 percent isopropyl.
  • Dish soap.
  • Carpet stain cleaner.
  • Acetone.

After how I spent the last few hours, I can say with confidence that you shouldn’t listen to anyone who tells you these solutions work on their own. There is nothing but weeping and regret down this road.

Okay! Now, for my experiment! Follow on to see how each of these worked…or didn’t.

Round One: First Attempt

It all started with a carpet scrap I had, a lipstick, an old toothbrush, and some candidates for lipstick removal.

Four lipstick stains, four possible cleaners (hydrogen peroxide, isopropyl, Dawn dish soap, HDX Spot & Stain Remover
Four lipstick stains, four possible cleaners

The lipstick I used is Wet n Wild’s Perfect Pout in Extra Cinnamon, Please. BTW, I bought it for this experiment, and wow, did I wind up loving it for its actual purpose. It’s a great formula and a great color. But for now, it’s going to be our mortal enemy.

For cleaners, we have

  • 3 percent hydrogen peroxide spray
  • 70 percent isopropyl
  • Dawn dish soap
  • HDX Spot & Stain Remover

I considered trying vinegar, but after how unhelpful that was in my “cleaning brushes” experiment—and because I’m so unhappy that my brushes all smell like vinegar now—I left the vinegar in the cabinet.

And now, it begins! Before anything else, I tried to squeeze out any chunks of lipstick so I wouldn’t just be working those into the carpet. I used paper towels for this.

Pic of me using a pinching motion to get out the chunks of lipstick.
I used a pinching motion to get out the chunks of lipstick.

To begin cleaning, I saturated each stain with the solution, except for the dish soap. That I combined with lukewarm water and then mixed.

A glass with soapy water being mixed by a toothbrush
Soapy soapy.

I poured some of the soap mixture on its designated stain and worked it in with a toothbrush. (It occurs to me later to do this with all the solvents, but not yet.)

Now all the stains were soaking.

I let them soak for 10 minutes and then started blotting.

Here are the results.

After the cleaning, all the stains look no different—just spread out a bit.
After the cleaning. Uh oh. (Left to right: hydrogen peroxide, isopropyl, dish soap, spot remover.)

None of these stains look much better. If anything, they look more intense due to being wet and spread out more.

Probably time for some coffee. This seems like a marathon, not a sprint.

Me drinking some coffee.
Help.

Round Two: Repeat

Okay. Plenty of these sites said, “Repeat if necessary,” and it was very, very necessary at this point. So that’s just what I did.

More soaking for 10 minutes and more scrubbing in soapy water, just as I did in round one.

Here are the results of round two, after blotting.

Picture of the state of stains. Read on in the post for a description of each.
Looking better, at least. (Left to right: hydrogen peroxide, isopropyl, dish soap, spot remover.)

So, let’s check in with each solvent.

  • We’re getting nowhere fast with that hydrogen peroxide. I may as well be wiping the stain with water.
  • Isopropyl is faring somewhat better. Some of the pigment has come out, but it seems to be spreading the color around, almost making the stain look like a watercolor.
  • The dish soap is giving us the best results so far. Most of the color is out, but chunks of bright red remain.
  • The spot remover is doing surprisingly bad. The stain looks slightly more faded than the hydrogen peroxide stain, but it’s clearly in third place.

Seems like it’s still necessary to repeat, so let’s go for round three.

Round Three: Repeat

At this point it started to occur to me that maybe the soap was winning because of the toothbrush scrubbing. So, starting in this round, everyone’s getting a good healthy brushing.

Steps again are the same as round one, with the exception of that brushing. And BOY, did I brush. I spent forever trying to work these stains out.

Pic of third round results, with arrows pointing to the red that remains.
It’s hard to see in the picture, but if you squint, you’ll see that red is still apparent. I don’t think this is coming out with the single solvents alone. (Left to right: hydrogen peroxide, isopropyl, dish soap, spot remover.)

Obviously, this looks a lot better. But if you squint, you see there’s still that watercolor red tinge to the isopropyl. As for the soap and the spot remover, there are still little points of bright red that just aren’t coming out.

The problem, as I see it, is if you have a white carpet, it would still be obviously stained with these methods.

I thought about coming to you empty-handed and saying, “Want to know how to get lipstick out of carpet? You replace the carpet.” But I had one more trick up my sleeve.

Round 4: Acetone First, Dish Soap Second

I started racking my brain for any other household solvent I can try. Then I remembered one site had mentioned nail polish remover.

Picture of Street Fighter II with "Here comes a new challenger!"
A new challenger. Source.

So I put a new lipstick stain on the upper left hand side of the carpet, busted out my pure acetone…

Pic of new stain and acetone
Acetone in a Listerine bottle because I’m traveling and repurposing is my jam.

…and in my frustration, I probably poured a little much on there. I advise you to use more caution than I did so your carpet isn’t damaged. Acetone loosens glue, and that’s how your carpet fibers stay attached.

I left it on for a few minutes and then started sopping it up. I noticed right away how stained the paper towels were and therefore how effective the acetone was.

As a result, I had a watercolor-like wash on the carpet, similar to the final isopropyl result (but with less work and less waiting).

Pic of carpet. You can barely see the pink tinge, but it's there after the acetone.
You can barely see the pink tinge, but it’s there after the acetone.

Instead of doing another round of possibly damaging acetone, I thought about the dish soap’s strengths and weaknesses.

The soap did great at removing overall color, like what was left after the acetone.

Where it struggled was with patches and chunks of concentrated color, but there were none of those left after the acetone.

Why not combine cleaners and see how it goes?

I poured a bit of my soapy water concoction on the stain and toothbrush-scrubbed it in.

And when I blotted it up…

Picture of a stain-free carpet.
That lipstick is GONE!

Ta da!

Now this is a solution I think would indeed work on white carpet. I couldn’t see the tiniest bit of color left anywhere. That lipstick is out, and boy, was it quick!

There You Have It!

After being close to admitting defeat, I’m so happy to share the method that’s tried and tested by a real human and pronounced a success.

Use the acetone-first, dish-soap-second method to get lipstick out of carpet, and I think you’ll be a fan of how easy it is to eliminate that eyesore from your house.

As for me, I got a solution to a problem and a fabulous lipstick out of the deal.

Picture of me with some new lipstick on!
Feeling good about this day and this lip.

Until our next experiment, signing off!

5 thoughts on “How to Get Lipstick Out of Carpet: I Try 5 Methods

  1. Thank you Thank you! The fingernail Polish remover took out most of the plum lipstick in my grey/white carpet. Then the dish soap did the rest!!!

  2. Or you could just use Dawn Platinum Power Wash and call it a day. I bought the nail polish remover and was prepared to do the two step when I remembered I had Dawn Power Wash and figured what the heck. Let me give it a try. I sprayed it on and let it soak for about a minute and then wipes it off with a wet cloth and it came right off. barely had to even rub the stain. This was a red lipstick stain on a beige carpet. Seriously I was amazed, did not expect it to be that easy.

    1. Oh, that’s awesome intel! Turning a (stinky) multi-step process into a single, perfectly-acceptable-smelling step is fabulous. In Dawn we trust.

  3. Thank you for your suggestions. I am very grateful. Trouble Shooter has got some of the red lipstick out of our cream carpet but not all. I have some nail varnish remover l,II try that. Thank you again.

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