How to Get Makeup Out of Clothes (Because We've All Been There)

portrait of woman with false lashes
Jennifer Livingston

So you've stained your favorite blouse with an unholy dollop of makeup—don't panic. The trick to removing a makeup stain is keeping in mind the kind of stain it is. There are three primary makeup types, and we're covering the best way to remove each. You'll find that the best stain removers aren't anything fancy—they're usually cleaning products you likely already have under the kitchen sink. A couple important points to keep in mind, regardless of the stain: first, never attempt to rub the stain away. You'll only end up pushing product deeper into the fibers of your clothing. Second, always wash the article of clothing after spot-treating the stain for good measure. Lastly, never throw the item into the dryer before removing the stain, or else it will bake in the product. If all else fails, take your clothing to a dry cleaner, and specify the type of stain so they will know how to best remove it. Keep reading to learn the specifics on how to get makeup out of clothes for three main types of products.

Powder Stains

Before you're tempted to brush that stain off, pause. Blow on it instead, and then remove any excess by using a hair or hand dryer. If a spot still remains, try dabbing on a small amount of makeup remover to the stain using a cotton ball. Remember that you're much more likely to be able to remove a stain as soon as it occurs, so get to work immediately. The longer a stain sits—especially if it's already been laundered and dried—the less likely it is to come out.

Liquid Stains

Most liquid-based makeup—think foundation, BB cream, and even mascara—is oil-based. Counter this by using a strong grease-fighting agent, like dish soap. Wet the area, and apply dish soap to the stain with a soft toothbrush. Scrub until the stain is gone, and then launder.

If the stain remains, use a mixture that's two-thirds dish soap and one-third hydrogen peroxide before scrubbing the area. Let the mixture sit for half an hour before laundering.


Lipstick is made of a combination of oil and wax, making it a little different from cleaning a liquid makeup stain. The first line of attack here should be with a clear laundry detergent. Apply a couple of drops of detergent directly onto the stain. Let the detergent sit for a full five minutes before applying a few drops of water and scrubbing with a soft toothbrush—you might have to use some elbow grease to get the stain out. If the spot remains, use a grease-fighting dish soap, working it into the spot with a toothbrush running through the wash.

Related Stories