lip balm on clothes

How to Get Lip Balm Out of Clothes

There are lots of different lip balms out there, from ChapStick to Burt’s Bees. Whichever sort you favour, lip balm’s great as long as you keep it where it’s supposed to go. That’s the lips, in case you were labouring under any misapprehension.

When it gets on clothing, it’s altogether less of a boon. In fact, it can really ruin your day and leave you down in the mouth.

It’s OK though. There are several really effective options you can try. Using one of these will get your clothing back to its best and give lip balm the kiss off.


What’s Lip Balm Made Of?

lip balm

Whatever variety we’re looking at, a lip balm is the very definition of an emollient (something that moisturises), being a soother for dry tissue. What’s in it? A whole bunch of things.

That one fingertip full that you smear over your lips can contain any of the following: beeswax, shea butter, jojoba, sunflower oil, coconut oil, petroleum jelly (also used in Vaseline), lanolin, carnauba wax, camphor, alcohol, paraffin…

As you can see, the list is a long one, and we haven’t even got on to dyes, fragrances and SPF material yet.

Lip balm is extremely unctuous, by which we mean very greasy. The ingredients that really leave a mark on clothing are the greasy ones, which seep into fabric and can be tricky to shift.

To a lesser extent, there may be danger from any dyes present, which will merrily alter the colour of most things they come into contact with.

So, it’s these grease and dyes in particular that we’ll be seeking to banish from your clothes. Read on.


How to Get Lip Balm Off Clothes

Here are two main methods for removing lip balm. The choice of which to use will be determined by whether the garment’s gone into the wash with the lip balm or not.

pink shirt, lip balm and stain remover

Before the clothing’s gone in the wash

This is by far the easier of the two methods we’re talking about here, so it’s definitely for the best if you can catch the damage before it goes into the washing machine.

  1. Use a spoon to scrape off as much of the lip balm as you can. Or, if time’s no object, put that garment in the freezer. When the lip balm hardens, it’ll be much easier to remove.
  2. Spray some stain remover such as Oxi Clean Max Force on to the garment (test on an inconspicuous patch first)
  3. Use an old toothbrush to work the stain remover into the stain
  4. Put the garment in the hottest wash it’ll cope with

These steps should work. If for some reason, the stain’s still visible, you can repeat. Or try the next method.


If you’ve already machine washed the garment

soak up oil stain with kitchen roll and powder

If you’ve washed the item of clothing on a hot wash, the lip balm will have melted, and the oil will have gone into your clothes. Follow these steps and all should be well.

  1. Apply some bicarbonate of soda to the oily patch. This will soak up some of that grease.
  2. Use a scrubbing brush to really go at that discolouration (obviously don’t go too hard on delicates).
  3. As you scrub, the bicarbonate of soda will form a ball, because it’s absorbing the grease. Good work, bicarb! You can get rid of that ball and apply some fresh bicarbonate of soda to the area.
  4. Keep repeating this process until the bicarb no longer forms a ball.
  5. Then get some white vinegar in 50% solution and spray on. Leave overnight if you can.
  6. Wash as normal.


Other Techniques Worth Trying

Here are a few alternatives if you’re lacking something from the above list of things to use.

Washing-up liquid

washing up liquid for vaseline stain

Squirt a little on the area and rub the stain away. For super-stubborn stains, try a stain remover afterwards.


Iron and brown paper

This sounds like something out of a book of wartime housekeeping tips, but it can work well, so put that face away.

All you do is to place a sheet of brown paper over the greasy patch, then hold an iron (on a low setting) over the paper.

The heat will transfer through, thereby melting the grease, which will then get soaked up by the paper. Brilliant. Then wash as usual, before having bully beef and powdered egg for tea.




Using hairspray on a greasy mark can work really well. Put some paper towel under the garment then saturate the oily patch. Leave for 30 minutes then wash as usual.



Shampoo’s very good at ridding our hair of grease, and it turns out that it can do the same for our clothes. Rub some shampoo into the patch and wash as normal in the machine afterwards.




What? Oil to get rid of oil? Yeah, right, good one. No, it’s true. Squirt on WD-40, taking care not to get it where it’s not needed, then sprinkle on some bicarbonate of soda.

Use an old toothbrush to rub the bicarb in, then wash by hand in warm water with a little washing up liquid. Then wash in the machine.


One Very Important Thing…

do not use tumble dryer

Never ever put your lip balm-stained clothing in the tumble dryer until the lip balm stain has definitely gone.

This is because that dryer of yours is very good at setting the stain, so that you’ll be lucky ever to get it out in the future.


How Does Lip Balm Get onto Clothing in the First Place?

lip balm stain

Two main ways. Firstly, there’s the wayward applicator method. When you’re applying it, you might suddenly send your hand in a random motion that results in balmy bother on say your shirt.

It might be that you have a fright, or perhaps you just couldn’t resist the urge to gesticulate at the wrong moment. However, you end up getting it on your clothes, it’s a pain. And you feel really daft, which is almost as bad.

The other main way is via the washing machine. If you’ve left some in your pocket, it can end up all over everything.

Here’s the thing though – if you’ve selected an unheated eco wash, that lip balm is very unlikely to cause any trouble. (Yet another reason to think green.)

This is because lip balm is often fairly waterproof, so won’t readily dissolve and spread in the machine.

The trouble only starts when heat’s applied, and the balm melts. So, in hot washes and of course if you’re tumble drying, then you have a snag.


Lip Balm Banished

lip balm stick

There’s a whole balmy army of different methods you can use to get lip balm off your clothes. Each technique will be better for certain lip balm ingredients and fabric types than the others.

So, if one doesn’t work that well, give another one a whirl. You’ll get there. The important thing is not to inadvertently set the stain by putting your discoloured clothes in the dryer.

So, you’ve got this. No need to get upset. Stay calm and keep a stiff upper lip.