How To Get Makeup Out of Clothes

By: Editors of Consumer Guide  | 
A close up of a woman wearing a white collared shirt with a foundation stain on the collar.
Foundation is notorious for leaving unsightly (and difficult to remove) stains on clothing. HalynaRom / Shutterstock

Are you tired of those frustrating makeup stains that seem to magically appear on your favorite outfits just when you're about to head out the door? Fear not! Whether it's stubborn liquid foundation stains, unexpected lipstick stains, an eyeliner mishap, or even mascara stains gone astray, you can learn how to get makeup out of clothes with a few effective strategies. Say goodbye to those pesky stains and hello to a wardrobe free from makeup mishaps!


Understanding Makeup Stains on Clothing

Makeup stains can be a real headache, but understanding their composition is the first step to effective removal. Most makeup stains are oil-based or water-based, and knowing which type you're dealing with can guide your stain removal approach. Oil-based makeup stains, such as liquid foundation, lipstick, and mascara, can be trickier to remove than water-based ones. To tackle them, you'll need the right tools and techniques.


The Importance of Immediate Action

The golden rule for removing makeup stains is to act swiftly. The longer a makeup stain sits on your clothing, the harder it is to remove. So, when you notice a makeup stain, don't procrastinate. Act fast to prevent it from setting in permanently.


General Precautions Before You Begin

Before you dive into stain removal, take some precautions to ensure you don't accidentally damage your clothing. Always check the care label on your garment for any specific instructions. If it's a delicate fabric or has special cleaning requirements, consider seeking professional help.

Additionally, avoid rubbing the stained area vigorously, as this can push the makeup deeper into the fabric. Instead, follow these specific steps for different makeup stain types.


Removing Liquid Foundation Stains

Liquid foundation stains are notorious for leaving unsightly marks on clothing. To tackle them effectively, start by scraping off any excess makeup with a dull knife or the edge of a credit card. Then, apply a small amount of shaving cream or stain remover directly to the stain. Shaving cream can be effective because it can cut through the oil.

Gently rub the remover or shaving cream in using a soft bristled brush or a clean cloth. Allow the solution to sit for ten minutes, then rinse with cold water. Then wash the garment in your washing machine as usual. If the stain persists, repeat the process until it's completely gone.


Banishing Lipstick Stains

Lipstick stains can be a real nuisance, but you can remove them with the right approach. First, use a cotton swab or cotton ball to gently blot the stained area. Avoid rubbing, as it may spread the stain. Then, apply a mixture of dishwashing liquid and cold water to the stain and gently rub it in. Any grease-fighting dish soap will work well since lipstick is an oil stain. Rinse with cold water and repeat if necessary. For stubborn lipstick stains, you can also try applying a small amount of rubbing alcohol.


Rescuing Your Outfits from Mascara Mishaps

Mascara stains can be especially tricky because they often involve dark pigments. To tackle them, start by gently scraping off any excess eyeliner with the edge of a credit card or dull knife. Then, apply a small amount of dish soap to the stain and gently rub it in with a soft bristled brush. Rinse with cold water and repeat the process until the stain disappears. Alternatively, you can try using a makeup remover or makeup wipe to lift the mascara stain.


Supplies You'll Need: DIY vs. Commercial Stain Removers

When it comes to removing makeup stains, you have several options. You can opt for DIY solutions using common household items like dish soap, liquid detergent, shaving cream, and rubbing alcohol. These DIY remedies are cost-effective and often just as effective as commercial stain removers. However, if you prefer a ready-made solution, there are various stain removers available in the market designed specifically for makeup stain removal.


Stain Removal Techniques for Different Fabrics

Different fabrics may require different approaches to stain removal. For delicate fabrics like silk or lace, it's essential to exercise caution. Hand wash the stained area with a mild detergent in cool water, and avoid scrubbing vigorously.

For sturdier fabrics like cotton or polyester, you can be more aggressive in your stain removal efforts. Remember to always check the care label and fabric type before proceeding.


Post-Stain Care: Laundering and Final Tips

After successfully removing the makeup stain, it's essential to launder your garment as usual. Follow the care label instructions and use an appropriate detergent. Check the stained area once more before drying the garment; if any remnants of the stain remain, repeat the stain removal process. Additionally, remember to store makeup and clothing separately to prevent future mishaps.

This article was updated in conjunction with AI technology, then fact-checked and edited by a HowStuffWorks editor.