How to Remove Makeup Stains from Clothing

How to Remove Makeup Stains from Clothing

Here’s the thing about makeup: it only looks good when it’s in the exact right place. From contouring to lip liner, you know a bad application when you see one. Another bad look? Foundation on your collar, blush on your cuff or a smear of lipstick on your sleeve. Makeup can be tricky to remove, not only because it is often highly pigmented, but thanks to its ingredient list. (We’re looking at you waxy mascara and oily lipsticks.) With some luck and expediency, here’s how to combat smudges before they set to stains.

A word to the wise (preventing makeup stains)

When possible, it’s best to do your makeup before getting dressed. Wait until foundation has set (perhaps also applying a setting powder) and lipstick, liquid eyeliner or rouge has dried completely. If you’re wearing a dress or shirt that slips on over your head, take extra special care to create distance between your face and the fabric when putting it on.

Which cosmetics are the most difficult to remove?

Compared to bronzers, powders, foundation and liquid liners, waxy mascaras and high-pigment lipsticks are most difficult to stain treat. The best course of action is to pre-treat with a high-powered laundry detergent, thanks to the concentration of stain-combating enzymes. Tru Earth is the perfect choice.

What you’ll need to remove makeup stains:

  • Tru Earth laundry detergent eco-strips
  • A dull knife or credit card
  • A soft bristled brush / toothbrush
  • Optional: Vacuum or a lint roller (for removing powder-format cosmetics)
  • Optional: Oil-free makeup remover or wipes

How to treat cosmetic stains on clothes in 6 easy steps:

Step 1: Check the material type by inspecting the fabric care label.

Dry clean-only garments (like satin and lace) and vintage items should be taken to a professional, but this also includes any clothing that is not made from a colourfast textile. (In other words, materials that do not hold dye.)

Here’s a handy guide for deciphering laundry symbols.

Step 2: (Optional) Remove any excess makeup. If you’ve spilled a dollop of wet foundation for example, use a dull knife or credit card to lift the excess away. Take special care not to rub; this will only set the stain deeper.

For powders (bronzers, setting powder, etc.), if available, give a quick once-over with a vacuum, holding the fabric taut with one hand. Alternatively, a light sweep of a sticky lint brush will pick up any errant granules.

Step 3: Pre-treat by applying a concentrated stain remover made from a Tru Earth laundry detergent eco-strip.

How to make a concentrated stain remover using Tru Earth:
First, tear a strip into small pieces and place in a shallow bowl. Add one tablespoon (15ml) of tap-hot water to begin dissolving it. Stir with a spoon to form a paste, adding small volumes of water as needed. Smear the concentrate atop the stain, gently pressing the mixture into it to allow the surfactant to get to work, releasing the cosmetic residue from the fabric. Rinse with cold water after 20 minutes.

If needed, use a soft bristle brush or new/clean toothbrush, starting at the outer edge of the stain and working your way inward. Rinse.

Step 4: Time to wash

If the garment is machine-washable, toss it in the washer alongside a strip of Tru Earth. Otherwise, hand-wash the item by tearing the strip, placing the pieces in a sink or basin, and filling with water. Allow it to soak and then agitate the article and rinse.

Step 5: Hang-dry

Only place the garment in the dryer if you are finished stain treating; the heat of the machine will “set” any remaining stains.

Step 6: Inspect the stain. Has it resolved?

If the stain is still visible, repeat steps three and four.

What if stubborn makeup stains persist?

You’ve treated, laundered and treated once again but you can still see the remnants of red lipstick or rouge. What now?

Unfortunately, there are few “gentle” solutions for treating stubborn makeup stains and commercially available options may contain ingredients that Tru Earth prides itself on being free of. What’s more, these specialty products are often sold in plastic containers. (So why not first ask friends or family if they have some you can borrow?)

That said, fashion waste is a major climate issue and we encourage everyone to attempt to extend the life of their textiles.

Option 1: Soak your stained item in cold water with some colour-safe, chlorine-free oxygen bleach (if your garment can tolerate it and always test for colourfastness first). Rinse. Re-wash as instructed above.

Option 2: Call in expert help and bring the garment to the dry cleaners.

How to treat makeup stains on-the-go

You’re at an event, far from the staples of your laundry room give one of these hacks a try:

Oil-free makeup removing solution or wipes: You can use oil-free makeup removing solution or wipes to pre-treat most colorfast, machine-washable fabrics.

Blot with an ice cube: You won’t even have to move from your seat for this one, just grab an ice cube from your water and rub. The water won’t clean the stain but it will dilute it. Blot with a paper napkin and then treat the stain at home as soon as possible.

Skip the hairspray trick. We’ve seen a few websites recommend spraying your cosmetics stains with hairspray and then blotting with a wet paper towel or napkin. This works well for inks but won’t make impressive progress on foundations, lipstick or mascara smears.

Try Tru Earth Eco-Strips Today
Free Shipping*
Back to blog