How to Remove Hair Spray Stains From Clothes and Carpet

Hair spray is a common hair styling product that many people use on a regular basis. While it can help hold a hairstyle in place, it can also leave behind sticky, stiff residues and stains if it comes in contact with clothing, upholstery, or carpeting. Removing hair spray stains takes a bit of effort, but it can be done with the right techniques and cleaning solutions.

What Causes Hair Spray Stains?

Hair spray contains polymers, resins, and alcohol that allow it to effectively hold a hairstyle. However, these ingredients can also leave behind stubborn stains when hair spray accidentally gets on fabric or carpet fibers.

The alcohol in hair spray evaporates quickly, but it can still leave noticeable stains behind. The polymers and resins do not evaporate, so they cling to fabrics and carpets, resulting in stiff, crunchy, sticky residues.

Over time, these sticky residues attract dirt, dust, and grime, making the stains even more difficult to remove. Friction from normal wear and tear grind the sticky residues deeper into fabric and carpet fibers. Heat from ironing or dryers can also set hair spray stains, bonding them tightly to fibers.

So to effectively remove dried hair spray stains, you need solutions that can break down the polymers, dissolve the stickiness, and release the residues from the fibers. It takes a bit of scrubbing and soaking to fully eliminate set-in stains.

How to Remove Hair Spray from Clothes

Hair spray stains on clothing are best treated as soon as possible before washing and drying can set them. With prompt treatment, many fresh stains can be removed easily. For dried, set-in stains, more intensive cleaning is required.

Here are the best methods for removing hair spray from clothes, depending on the fabric type and stain intensity:

Treating Light, Fresh Stains

For light stains that are still sticky or tacky:

  • Gently scrape off any residue with a dull knife or spoon. Try not to rub it in.
  • Use a pretreat stain stick, rubbing alcohol, or hairspray remover spray. Lightly scrub it into the stain.
  • Blot lifted stains with a clean cloth or paper towel.
  • Rinse the fabric under cool running water.
  • Launder as usual, checking that the stain is fully removed.
  • If any trace remains, pretreat again before drying. The heat from a dryer can set in stains.

Removing Set-In Stains from Delicates

For dried stains on silk, satin, lace, or synthetic fabrics:

  • Mix a solution of 1 tablespoon clear dishwashing liquid and 2 cups cool water.
  • Using a clean cloth, gently dab the solution onto the stain. Avoid vigorous rubbing.
  • Let it sit for a few minutes to allow the detergent to penetrate and loosen the stain.
  • Blot lifted residue with a clean absorbent cloth.
  • Rinse thoroughly under cool running water.
  • Allow to fully air dry.
  • Repeat if needed for stubborn stains.
  • As a last resort, try rubbing alcohol or hairspray remover applied with a cotton ball. Test first for colorfastness.

Cleaning Heavily Soiled Clothing and Sturdy Fabrics

For set-in stains on cotton, denim, linen, polyester or wool:

  • Apply a heavy duty stain remover stick or gel. Massage it thoroughly into the stained area.
  • Let it sit for 5-10 minutes to penetrate the fibers.
  • Make a paste by mixing 2 tablespoons each of dish soap and baking soda with 2-3 tablespoons of warm water.
  • Using an old toothbrush, scrub the paste into the stain.
  • Allow to sit for 15-30 minutes, then rinse thoroughly.
  • Launder as usual, checking that the stain is fully removed. Repeat process if needed.
  • For extra tough stains, try soaking for up to an hour in a mix of 1 part white vinegar and 2 parts warm water before washing.

Removing Difficult Stains from Leather and Suede

For coated leather or suede items:

  • Use a suede brush or soft cloth to lightly buff the stained area. Avoid abrasive scrubbing.
  • Apply a leather cleaner and gently blot the stain. Avoid over-saturating the leather.
  • Follow up with a leather conditioner once stained is removed.
  • For suede, use a suede eraser bar. Gently rub stained fibers along the grain, then brush smooth.
  • Stains on uncoated leather may require professional cleaning. Avoid DIY treatments that could damage the leather.

Tips for Eliminating Hair Spray Stains from Clothes

  • Always read clothing labels and test cleaning solutions in an inconspicuous area first. Harsh chemicals can damage delicate fabrics.
  • Treat stains as soon as possible. Wet stains are easier to remove. Heat and friction can set in dried stains.
  • Avoid bleach, which can discolor clothing. Use color-safe products.
  • Blot or scrape off excess residue instead of rubbing it in deeper.
  • Rinse clothing thoroughly after pretreating. Detergents and chemicals left in fabric can cause further stains over time.
  • Inspect after laundering to ensure stains are fully removed, not just faded.
  • For heavy stains, repeat cleaning process as needed. Multiple applications may be required.
  • Use stain pretreatment sticks or sprays specially formulated for hair and clothing stains.
  • If stains persist, try dry cleaning for delicate fabrics. Professional methods can remove stubborn set-in stains.

Removing Hair Spray Stains from Carpet

Hair spray stains can be even trickier to remove from carpeting. The spray residues bond quickly to carpet fibers, and foot traffic drives them deeper into the pile. But stains generally can be lifted with the proper cleaning methods and some elbow grease.

Pre-Treating and Blotting Light, Fresh Stains

For new stains that are still damp or sticky:

  • Gently blot as much residue as possible with a clean white cloth or paper towel. Avoid vigorous rubbing.
  • Spray a stain remover like hair spray remover, carpet spot cleaner, or carpet shampoo directly on the stain.
  • Let it soak in for 2-3 minutes.
  • Blot lifted residue. Repeat process until no more transfers to the cloth.
  • If stain remains, sprinkle baking soda over it, let sit 15-20 minutes, then vacuum up. The baking soda will help absorb and neutralize remaining residues.

DIY Cleaning Methods for Set-In Stains

For dried, ground-in hair spray stains on carpets:

  • Mix 1/4 teaspoon clear dish soap with 1 cup warm water. Use a clean rag or small brush to work it into the stain. Let sit 5 minutes.
  • Blot lifted residue with paper towels or a dry rag.
  • Rinse the area with clean water and blot again to remove suds.
  • Mix 1 tablespoon white vinegar with 1 cup warm water. Spray or sponge this onto the stain and let sit 15-20 minutes.
  • Blot again. The vinegar will help dissolve sticky buildup and residue.
  • Sprinkle baking soda over the stain, let sit overnight, then vacuum up. This will deodorize and neutralize any lingering residues.
  • Repeat process as needed until stain is fully lifted.

Deep Cleaning Severely Set-In Stains

For stubborn stains that resist basic cleaning:

  • Carefully scrape off any thick, crusted residue with a dull knife or spoon. Avoid pulling or damaging carpet fibers.
  • Apply a carpet stain remover gel or aerosol spray. Massage it deeply into fibers.
  • Let sit for up to an hour for maximum penetration. Reapply if it starts to dry out.
  • Blot frequently with clean white rags to lift the stain as the chemicals break it down. Replace rags often to prevent redepositing the stain.
  • Use an extractor machine to rinse carpet and draw out the dissolved stain. Or rinse thoroughly with clean water and blot with towels.
  • Once stain is fully lifted, sprinkle baking soda and let sit overnight before vacuuming. This will neutralize odors and residues.
  • May require repeating process for stubborn old stains.

Professional Carpet Cleaning

For old, set-in stains:

  • Try an at-home carpet cleaner machine with special attachments for spot cleaning.
  • Use carpet cleaner products formulated for grease and hair product stains. Follow machine directions.
  • For heavy stains that resist DIY methods, call a professional carpet cleaning service. They have commercial-grade cleaners and powered machines that extract more thoroughly.
  • Professional truck-mounted extraction cleans carpet down to the base, lifts stubborn stains and residues, and fully rinses fibers.
  • Avoid do-it-yourself rented machines which can leave detergent residues that attract soil later.

Tips for Avoiding Hair Spray Stains on Carpet

  • Immediately blot fresh stains. Wet stains are easier to remove fully.
  • Place a towel under your head when styling hair over carpet.
  • Use a protective mat under vanity areas prone to spills and drips.
  • Rotate area rugs seasonally to minimize staining in heavy traffic areas.
  • Vacuum frequently to prevent ground-in dirt from exacerbating stains.
  • Have carpets professionally cleaned every 12-18 months to remove accumulated residues.
  • Test stain remedies in an inconspicuous area first. Check for potential discoloration or damage.
  • Work from stain edges inward to prevent spreading. Blot, don’t rub vigorously.
  • Follow up stain removal with baking soda deodorizing. Rinse thoroughly after chemical cleaning.
  • For stubborn stains on berber or loop carpets, clip affected fibers to avoid snags during cleaning.
  • Replace padding under severely stained high-traffic areas to prevent wicking back up.

How to Prevent Hair Spray Stains

While it takes some work to remove hair spray once stained, preventing the problem in the first place is easier. Here are some tips:

  • Apply hair spray before getting dressed. Cover bare skin and clothing.
  • Work over towels, bathmats or newspapers that can be easily washed. Or do hair outdoors.
  • Use a protective cape clipped at the neckline when spraying hair. Discard after use.
  • If dressing hair over carpet, put down a mat, towel, or paper to catch drips.
  • Hold can 6-8 inches from hair to avoid excessive spray. Apply lightly.
  • Allow hair spray to dry fully before brushing and styling to prevent transfer.
  • Work over hard surfaces like vanities rather than carpeted areas when possible.
  • Spot clean drips immediately with a wet rag or pretreat spray.
  • Opt for hair spray alternatives like gels, mousse or salt sprays that don’t aerosolize.
  • Try pump hairsprays rather than aerosols. Pumps deposit less airborne spray.
  • Position a towel under the neck and shoulders during styling. Change it out when damp.

Hair Spray Stain Removal Products to Have on Hand

  • Hair spray stain remover sprays or foams specifically designed for hair products.
  • Carpet spot cleaner sprays and portable extractor machines for carpets.
  • Dish soap like Dawn or other grease-cutting detergents. Avoid colored or scented varieties that can leave residue.
  • White vinegar, an acid that dissolves residues and neutralizes odors.
  • Rubbing alcohol for fresh stains.
  • Baking soda, a versatile deodorizer and cleaning booster.
  • Old toothbrushes for working solutions into fabric and carpet fibers.
  • Clean white rags, towels and paper towels for blotting up stains.
  • Pretreat sticks and sprays like OxiClean or Resolve for clothing and upholstery.
  • Leather cleaner and conditioner for coats and shoes. Avoid DIY treatments on fine leathers.
  • Suede brush and eraser for gentle surface cleaning.
  • Eye dropper for applying solutions to small spots.

Frequently Asked Questions About Hair Spray Stains

How do you get hair spray stains out of clothes?

First blot fresh stains, then pre-treat with stain removers, rubbing alcohol or diluted dish soap. For set-in stains, work baking soda paste into the area and let sit before laundering. Launder stains soon as possible, checking clothing tags first and washing in cool water. Avoid drying until stains are fully removed.

Does vinegar remove hairspray stains?

Yes, white vinegar can help dissolve sticky hair spray residues. Mix 1 part vinegar with 1-2 parts water and apply it to the stain. Let sit 15-20 minutes then blot and rinse. The vinegar smell will dissipate once dry.

What removes hairspray from walls?

Use a mix of 2 tablespoons dish soap in 1 gallon of warm water. Dip a soft cloth in the solution and gently wipe stains. Avoid abrasive scrubbing which could damage the wall. Rinse with clean water and dry with a towel. Repeat process as needed for stubborn buildup.

What is the best carpet cleaner for hairspray stains?

Look for carpet stain sprays and solutions specially formulated for oil and grease stains, as these work well on residues left by hair products. Spot cleaners with surfactants and emulsifiers can break down and dissolve sticky buildup. Rinsing well after cleaning is key.

What gets spray starch out of carpet?

Treat spray starch stains much like hair spray residues. Blot promptly, pre-treat with dish soap or carpet cleaner, and rinse thoroughly. Use white vinegar to dissolve starch and neutralize odors. Sprinkle baking soda to absorb residues then vacuum once dry. May need professional extraction for stubborn stains.

Does hairspray come out of upholstery?

Yes, hair spray can be removed from upholstered furniture like sofas, chairs and headboards. Immediately blot fresh stains. Use a stain remover likeResolve for Upholstery or a mix of dish soap and water applied with a rag. Rinse and blot repeatedly until stain lifts. Avoid scrubbing delicate fabrics too vigorously.

Does hairspray come out of purses?

Check the purse material first. On leather, carefully wipe residues off then use a leather cleaner and conditioner. On fabric purses, blot fresh stains quickly. Use a pretreat stick then spot clean with mild dish soap on a rag. Rinse and air dry. You may need professional cleaning for suede or delicate fabric purses.

How do you get hair spray off walls and furniture?

Mix a solution of 2 tablespoons dish soap per gallon of warm water. Dip a soft cloth in and wring out well, then gently wipe the stain. Don’t scrub vigorously. Rinse with clear water and blot dry with a towel. Check for any remaining residue. Repeat process as needed.


Removing dried hair spray stains requires breaking down the sticky polymers so they release from fabrics and fibers. With the right techniques and cleaning solutions, even stubborn set-in stains can be eliminated. The key is to start cleaning as soon as possible, gently pre-treat stains, allow time for solutions to penetrate, rinse thoroughly and repeat steps if needed. With some persistence, clothes and carpets can be restored to a stain-free state. Implementing some preventative steps can also help avoid the issue arising altogether.