Home Beautygab Does Perfume Stain Clothes?

Does Perfume Stain Clothes?

by Gabbi

One of the best ways to extend the longevity of your fragrance is to spray it on something porous, like fabric. Sadly, many people find out the hard way that their favorite perfume can ruin their clothes! At first, it looks like a wet spot on your shirt.

At first, you think it’ll just dry out. But an hour goes by, and you still notice a little stain on your shirt, and you’re starting to wonder if something in the perfume may have permanently stained your collar.

Panic sets in. This has never happened to you before. Is it because you’re wearing silk? Or is there something in this perfume?

Does perfume stain clothes? It turns out that perfume can indeed stain fabric. It doesn’t happen in all cases – it depends on the type of fabric and type of perfume. It even depends on how you spray it onto yourself, but it is possible to stain your clothes with perfume.

In this article, we will go over how to prevent staining your clothes with perfume and how to remove perfume stains if it does happen.

What Causes Perfume To Stain Clothes?

Perfume doesn’t always leave a stain, so you’re probably wondering what factors make it more likely for your perfume to leave a mark on your clothes. It comes down to two major things: fabric and perfume ingredients.

Different fabrics handle perfume differently. Some are a lot more prone to undergoing textural and color changes from some of the most common ingredients found in perfumes. We will dive into the different fabric types and how they interact with fragrances in just a moment.

But the fabric isn’t the only thing that matters. Another factor to consider is what’s in your perfume. You might have noticed that some perfumes have colors in them – some are clear, while others can be dark amber or even purple. These perfumes contain dyes that can leave a mark on your clothing. 

But sticking to clear perfumes only isn’t going to solve things. Even clear perfumes without dyes can stain your clothing because they might contain other ingredients that are notorious for staining fabric, such as oils and alcohol.

Does Perfume Stain Silk?

Yes, perfume can stain silk. In fact, silk is one of the most susceptible fabrics when it comes to perfume stains. 

Silk is a natural protein fiber created out of the material produced by a type of silkworm found in China. Silk is loved by many because it’s breathable, soft, and beautiful. It’s one of the strongest natural textiles in the world, despite being so delicate and soft to the touch.

One downside of silk is that it can be very fragile when exposed to chemicals. For example, only specific dyes can be used on silk to protect its integrity. Similarly, many perfumes are not safe to spray on silk because they can leave behind stains and discoloration. 

Not only can perfume stain your silk clothing, but it can also affect the mechanical properties of the material, weakening the fibers and causing it to lose some of its tensile strength.

Since silk clothing is usually expensive and meant to last you years, we highly recommend avoiding putting any perfume on your silk pieces. It’s not worth the risk. 

Does Perfume Stain Cotton?

Cotton is another popular natural fiber fabric that many people wear daily. If you’re wondering if perfume can stain cotton – the answer is yes, sometimes it can. 

While cotton is not quite as susceptible to perfume stains as silk is, it can still get stained, especially lighter-colored cotton clothes. 

If you’re in doubt, it’s best to avoid spraying perfume onto a white or light-colored cotton shirt. If you are wearing a darker color, you can probably get away with spraying perfume on it without worry.

You might want to spray it somewhere inconspicuous first to see if the perfume interacts with the color in any way, before you let yourself spray it onto visible areas like your collar.

Does Perfume Stain Other Fabrics?

Depending on the perfume, other fabrics might get stained as well. Cotton and silk are the ones you have to be most careful around, but other fabrics aren’t exactly safe either.

Wool, linen, nylon, polyester, spandex, or suede can all be stained, especially if the perfume has a high oil or dye concentration. 

Luckily, in most cases, you can get the stains out of these fabrics with the right technique, which we will discuss in a moment, so don’t panic if it happens to you!

What Type Of Perfumes Are More Likely To Stain Your Clothing?

The composition of your perfume has a large effect on whether or not it will stain your clothes and to what extent.

It doesn’t matter if your perfume is from a luxe brand like Gucci or from an indie creator at your local farmer’s market – all perfumes have the potential to stain clothes because they are all typically made with the same ingredients. The two ingredients most often responsible for leaving stains on your clothing are dyes and oils.


Many perfumes contain dyes. It’s pretty easy to tell if your perfume has dyes in it or not – just look at the color of the liquid. Some perfumes are clear – they’ll be less likely to leave a colored stain on your shirt (but that doesn’t mean they won’t leave an oily-looking residue). 

A lot of perfumes and colognes can have a dark amber appearance – this usually means they’re likely to leave behind a brown stain. Some of the more modern perfumes come in other colors like greens, blues, pinks, and purples. All of these can leave behind a colored stain, especially on lighter clothing. 


All perfumes contain some amount of oils in them. These oils can be natural (essential oils) or they can be created in a lab. Regardless of their origin, oils are what give your perfume the powerful scent that you’re paying for.

Fragrance oils are at the core of your perfume, and they are unavoidable. They’re also the reason behind many stains because they can leave an oily residue on your garment.

But not all perfumes have the same concentrations of oils. Look at the label on your fragrance to figure out how concentrated your product is.

Here are the common concentrations:

  • Parfums have 20-40% oil composition. They are the most “oily” of all fragrance products and most likely to leave a stain
  • Eau de Parfums are 15-20% oils
  • Eau de Toilette is 5-15% oils
  • Eau de Cologne is 2-5% oils

The less oil your product has, the less likely you are to stain your clothes with it. Of course, you should still be mindful of any dyes in your fragrance, even if the oil concentration is low.

How To Avoid Staining Your Clothes With Perfume

The most surefire way to avoid staining your clothes with perfume is to only spray perfume on your skin or hair. If you have light hair, a dark-colored perfume can actually stain your hair, too, so it’s best to stick to the skin only.

However, that isn’t possible for everyone. Some people have sensitive skin and spraying perfume directly on their bodies can cause irritation. Others really want their perfume to last longer than 4-6 hours, so spraying on fabric can give them that advantage. 

Here’s a few things you can do to prevent staining:

1. Test The Perfume First 

As mentioned, not all perfumes will leave a stain. The ingredients and composition of your perfume can have a big effect on whether or not the perfume would leave a mark on your clothing. The best way to find out is to test it out first. 

Try spraying the perfume on a discrete area of your shirt, for example on the inside of your sleeve or the inside of the shirt near the hem. If you aim for a spot on the seam, where the fabric is thicker, you won’t have to worry about a stain coming through and being visible on the outside of the shirt.

Spray the perfume on your chosen area and let it sit for several hours. Some perfume stains don’t show up until 4 hours later, so it’s best to let the experiment last long enough to ensure your perfume won’t leave a late-onset stain. 

2. Create A Perfume Mist To Walk Through

Another great way to avoid staining your clothes is to spray the perfume away from you and slightly above you – creating a mist of perfume that you can walk through.

In fact, many perfumers recommend doing that anyway because it creates a more natural, gentler presence of fragrance, as opposed to spraying a concentrated squirt of perfume in one area.

Walking through a perfume mist also prevents staining. Instead of soaking your fabric in perfume oils and dyes in one concentrated area, you will end up with hundreds of tiny droplets of perfume on your clothes that won’t leave a visible stain.

3. Spray The Perfume From A Distance

Another strategy, similar to creating a perfume mist, is to spray the perfume from a far distance. As far as your arm can reach. This will allow the squirt of perfume to diffuse through the air, landing on your clothes in the form of microscopic droplets. 

We don’t recommend doing this with very dark perfumes, however, because if your arms aren’t long enough you might still end up with tiny colored stains. 

Following these tips, you’re far less likely to stain your clothes. However, as good as these tips are, they’re not foolproof. Do not risk your silk garments, and don’t risk trying this on white cotton shirts.

Even though you’re minimizing the risk of staining with these steps, silk and light cotton are too prone to staining, so you’re better off not risking it. If you’re ever in doubt, stick to spraying your perfume on your skin only.

How To Remove Perfume Stains

Accidents happen, so if you find yourself with a visible perfume stain on your favorite shirt – don’t panic! 

We’ve compiled a list of tips below to help you remove even the most stubborn perfume stains. The key is to understand what fabric you’re working with.

Remove Perfume Stains From Silk

Silk is a delicate fabric, so your approach to removing perfume stains from silk should be very delicate too. Follow the steps below for the best results:

  1. Saturate the fabric with cool water in the area where it is stained.
  2. Add a few drops of glycerin to the stained area and dab it with your finger to try and get the glycerin deep within the fabric. This will soften and loosen the fibers and make the stain easier to remove.
  3. After the glycerin is worked into the fabric, continue rinsing it under cool water for a few more minutes. Do not rub or pull on the fabric, as it is very fragile.
  4. At this point the stain should be out. If you’re still noticing some staining, apply a vinegar solution to the fabric while it’s still wet.
  5. Mix a 1:1 ratio of white vinegar and water, dip a cloth into it and dab it over the stain.
  6. Rinse again with water to remove the vinegar solution. The stain should now be gone.
  7. If you have a very stubborn stain that doesn’t disappear after following these steps, it’s best to bring your silk garment to a dry cleaner where they can remove it safely.

Remove Perfume Stains From Cotton & Other Fabric

Cotton, linen, spandex, polyester, rayon, wool, and other common fabrics are easier to work with than silk. 

It’s best to catch the stain early when it’s still fresh. If you accidentally sprayed perfume on your shirt and you want to prevent a stain from developing, grab a cloth and dampen it with water. Dab it over your stain until it’s well saturated. Once it dries, the perfume stain should be all gone.

If it’s an older stain, dabbing it with a wet cloth might not be enough. To remove an older stain, you can do one of the following:

  • Dab rubbing alcohol all over the stain. Once it’s well saturated, place a folded-up paper towel over it and let the paper towel absorb the alcohol as it pulls out the stain.
  • Dab a detergent pen, such as Tide To Go, all over the stain. Once saturated, placed a folded-up paper towel over it to absorb the detergent as it pulls out the stain. 
  • Mix dishwashing soap with water at a 1:8 ratio. Dab this solution onto the stain and place a folded-up paper towel over it to absorb the solution as it pulls out the stain.

The goal is to put some kind of detergent or cleaner that can dissolve the stain, and then use a paper towel to help pull it all out of the fabric.

Remove Perfume Stains From Suede Or Leather

Water and other liquids shouldn’t be used on suede or leather garments. The best way to remove a perfume stain from this material is to catch it early, while the stain is fresh. Use a dry paper towel or a brush to gently buff away the fresh perfume stain.

If it’s an older stain, we recommend going to a dry cleaner where they can remove the stain safely.

We hope this article helps you keep your clothes stain-free while enjoying your favorite fragrances without worry. Spraying perfume on your skin is the best practice, but even if you get perfume on your clothes, there are ways to avoid it leaving a permanent stain.

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