How to Remove Makeup Stains

How to Remove Makeup Stains

The Spruce / Michela Buttignol

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 - 15 mins
  • Total Time: 15 mins - 12 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $0-15

If you use makeup, the occasional stain is to be expected. The oil or pigment in foundation, blush, and the like can leave frustrating spots on your belongings. Fortunately, you can take simple steps to remove semi-liquid, wax, and powder makeup from your clothes, carpet, and upholstery using products you likely already have in your pantry. These products include detergent, spray-on stain remover, and bleach. Heavy-duty detergent is best, as it contains adequate enzymes to remove the stain. Never place a garment into a machine dryer before the mark is eliminated. It can set the stain and make it very difficult to remove.

Stain type Dye-based/oil-based
Detergent type Heavy duty
Water temperature Varies depending on the type of fabric
Cycle type Varies depending on the type of fabric

Click Play to Learn How to Remove Makeup Stains From Clothes

Before You Begin

As with any stain, the sooner the fresh makeup stain can be treated, the better the chances of success for removal. Do not rub immediately. That will only push the stain deeper into the fabric fibers and make it harder to remove. Check the care label on the garment and test any detergent or cleaning solution in an inconspicuous area first to ensure that it does not discolor the fabric. While most cleaning methods are gentle enough for a diverse range of fabrics, knowing an item's specific care needs will help you choose the best stain removal option.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • White cloth
  • Paper towel
  • Lint roller
  • Butter knife or credit card
  • Vacuum (for carpet or upholstery)


  • Stain remover spray
  • Laundry detergent
  • Oxygen-based bleach (optional)
  • Dishwashing liquid (for carpet or upholstery
  • Carpet cleaning solution (optional for carpet or upholstery)


Materials needed to remove makeup stains on clothing

The Spruce / Ana Cadena

How to Remove Makeup Stains from Washable Clothes

Even the most careful makeup application can result in a stain on your favorite shirt. However, don't panic. You can work to remove the stain using a few simple at-home steps. When dealing with liquid foundation stains, add a drop of dish soap and allow it to rest. This extra step will help loosen the oils in the stain from the fabric before using your washing machine.

  1. Scrape Excess

    Use a butter knife or the edge of a credit card to lift liquid makeup away from the fabric. For dry powders, bronzers, and rouge, use a lint roller to remove powder from the fabric. Be sure not to rub or wipe the stain because it will push the makeup deeper into the fibers, making it harder to remove.

    Using a lint roller to remove makeup powder stains

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  2. Apply Stain Remover

    Apply a pre-wash stain remover solution, especially on semi-liquid foundation and concealer stains.

    Applying stain remover to a garment stained with makeup

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  3. Work in the Stain Remover

    Work the stain remover into the spot using your finger or a soft-bristled brush. You may use a heavy-duty liquid detergent such as Tide or Persil. If you own powdered detergent, you may combine it with water to form and apply a paste.

    Working in stain remover with fingers or a soft brush

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  4. Let It Sit

    Allow the cleaning solution to sit on the fabric for at least 15 minutes, then scrub the stain lightly with a soft bristled brush and rinse in hot water.

    Letting the stain remover sit

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  5. Wash the Item

    Wash the stained item in the hottest water suitable for the fabric as advised by its care label. Use detergent or an all-fabric bleach to remove any remaining color in the stain. Check the garment for any remaining stain before drying.

    Running a wash cycle

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  6. Mix a Solution

    If the stain is still visible after laundering, mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach, such as OxiClean, Clorox 2, Country Save Bleach, or Purex 2 Color Safe Bleach, and cool water and apply to the stain. Follow the package directions for the amount of product suitable per gallon of water. 

    Mixing an oxygen bleach solution

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  7. Submerge the Garment

    Submerge the garment completely and allow it to soak for at least eight hours. Remove the garment and check the stain. If any remains, repeat the soaking with a fresh solution. Wash as usual if the stain is gone.

    Submerging the garment in an oxygen bleach solution

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena


Ensure that you remove all detergent residue from a stained garment, as it can attract dirt and dust while still damp. 

How to Remove Makeup Stains from Carpet and Upholstery

Even if you manage to keep your clothes spotless while putting on makeup, a splash of foundation may find its way to your carpet or couch. You can use similar methods to remove makeup stains on carpet and upholstery as you would for makeup stains on clothing.

  1. Remove Excess

    Lift away as much makeup residue as possible using a dull knife. Don't wipe or rub the makeup because it only pushes the stain deeper into the carpet's fibers or upholstery.

    Removing excess makeup solids from a carpet with a dull knife

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  2. Apply a Solution

    Apply a commercial carpet cleaning solution or mix one tablespoon of dishwashing detergent in two cups of cool water, stirring well to combine. Dip a clean white cloth or paper towel into the solution and wring lightly—work from the outside edge of the stain toward the center. Blot until no more color is transferred from the carpet to the cleaning cloth.

    Applying a carpet cleaning solution to the stain

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  3. Sponge the Stain

    Dip a second clean white cloth in tepid water and sponge the stain to remove any traces of the cleaning solution.

    Sponging the carpet stain

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  4. Blot Dry

    Finish by blotting with a clean, dry cloth, allowing the carpet to air dry. Once dry, vacuum the area to lift the carpet fibers.

    Vacuuming the carpet after the stain has lifted and the carpet has dried

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

When to Call a Professional

If your stained fabric is dry clean only, visit your dry cleaner and point out the stain. If you're using a home dry cleaning kit, be sure to treat the stain with the provided stain remover before putting the garment in the dryer bag. Silk and vintage clothing and upholstery always require specialty cleaning. 

Additional Tips for Handling Makeup Stains

If you own an oil-free eye makeup remover, you can apply a small amount to your stained item. This works best on waterproof products like mascara. Apply the liquid makeup remover gently using a cotton swab and dab at the area after it's saturated. If you have oil-free makeup wipes, you may use them too. You can apply these methods to face paint stains as well.

removing makeup stain solids with a spoon
The Spruce / Ana Cadena 

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