How to Remove Makeup Stains from Clothes and Carpets

Makeup stain
Cecile Lavabre/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

Makeup like foundation, concealer, bronzer and rouge enhances our looks - well, it's supposed to - but it doesn't do much for clothes, linens and carpet. Here's how to remove makeup and kid's face paint stains.

How to Remove Makeup Stains from Washable Clothes

If there is a blob of foundation on the fabric, use a dull table knife or the edge of a credit card to lift the solids away from the fabric. Don't rub because you'll just push it deeper into the fibers and that makes it harder to remove.

To remove liquid or semi-liquid foundation and concealer makeup stains on washable clothes, start by treating the oily/waxy component of the stain with a pre-treater like Shout or any stain remover for washable fabrics. Work it into the stain with your finger or a soft-bristled brush. If you don't have a stain remover, then use a heavy-duty liquid detergent (Tide and Persil are considered heavy-duty) that contains enough stain-lifting enzymes to remove the stain or a paste made of powdered detergent and water.

Allow the cleaning solution to remain on the fabric for at least fifteen mintues then scrub stain lightly with a soft brush and rinse in hot water.

Finally, wash the stained item in the hottest water suitable for the fabric using detergent and an all-fabric bleach to remove any dye in the stain.

If traces of the makeup stain remain, mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach (OxiClean, Clorox 2, Country Save Bleach, or Purex 2 Color Safe Bleach are brand names) and cool water.

Follow the package directions as to how much product per gallon of water. Completely submerge the garment and allow it to soak for at least eight hours. Check the stain. If it is gone, wash as usual. If it remains, mix a fresh solution and repeat. It may take several soakings to remove the stain but it should come out.

Be patient!

For dry powders, bronzers and rouge, use a sticky lint roller to lift away the grains of powder from the fabric. Do not rub because that will only push the product deeper into the fibers of the fabric. If that happens and the fabric is discolored, follow the same steps for stain removal as those for liquid foundation.

For additional cosmetic stain removal, follow these instructions:

How to Remove Makeup Stains from Dry Clean Only Clothes

As with any stain, the sooner the fresh stain can be treated, the better the chances of success when removing the stain. If the garment is dry clean only, point out and identify the stain to your professional cleaner when you drop off the garment.

If you are 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.

How to Remove Makeup Stains from Carpet and Upholstery

If a bottle of foundation spills on a rug or carpet, lift away as much as possible with a spoon or dull knife. Don't wipe it up because that only pushes it deeper into the fibers of the carpet.

Next, you can use a commercial carpet cleaning solution or mix one tablespoon of dish washing detergent in two cups of cool water, stirring well to mix. Dip a clean white cloth or paper towel into the solution and wring lightly. Working from the outside edge of the stain toward the center (this helps prevent spreading the stain even larger), sponge the stain with the cleaning solution. Continue blotting until no more color is transferred from the carpet to the cleaning cloth.

Dip a second clean white cloth in plain water and sponge the stain to remove any traces of the cleaning solution. If you don't do this step, the detergent solution can actually attract more soil. 

Finish by blotting with a clean dry cloth and allow the carpet to air dry. When dry, vacuum to lift carpet fibers.

The same steps can be used for all upholstery except silk or vintage fabrics.

Always use the least amount of solution as possible to prevent over wetting the fabric. For silk and vintage fabrics, consult a professional cleaner.

For more stain removal tips: Stain Removal A to Z