Skip to Content

How to Remove Makeup Stains From Clothes: A Complete Guide

This post may contain affiliate links. Learn more.

Makeup stains pose a challenge even for the most experienced person. With makeup stains, sometimes it’s not enough to treat the stains when they’re still fresh and before they’re absorbed by the fabric. 

These types of stains vary in difficulty based on the ingredients that go into each makeup type or brand. Oil-based makeup can take hours and different methods of treatment to get it out of the fabric.

You should identify the type of makeup stain you’re treating to determine the best product to use against it. Nail polish and varnish stains are best treated with rubbing alcohol or acetone. But a mascara stain is easy to remove with a heavy-duty stain remover. Most powder stains can be blown with a hair dryer.

In this comprehensive guide to removing makeup stains from clothes, I’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of removing stains both from washable clothes and upholstery. 

Then I’ll provide a complete list of all types of makeup stains that you might encounter with full coverage of each type and how best to remove them.

When Not to Remove Makeup Stains from Clothes Yourself

No matter how experienced you are in the art of removing makeup stains from clothes, there are cases when you should leave this process to the professionals. Here are some of these cases.

  • Dry Clean Fabrics: Makeup stains are difficult as it is with washable clothes. If you’re dealing with stains in unwashable clothes, just take them to the dry cleaner to fix the problem. 
  • Silk: Don’t try to treat makeup stains on silk. This sensitive fabric stains easily, and there’s a risk you might spread the stains while trying to remove it. Let the professionals handle this one for you.
  • Vintage Clothing: Your wedding dress or any precious items of clothing that got passed down to you from your mom or grandmother. These are all clothes too valuable to treat the stains yourself. 
  • Nylons, Velvet, and Cashmere: These are categorized as either sensitive fabrics or too expensive to experiment with clothes. Professional cleaners are more equipped to deal with these fabrics.
  • Curtains: More often than not, makeup stains on curtains are just too much of a hassle to deal with them yourself. Even if you have the right toolkit, you might not have the space, time, or energy to deal with these heavy fabrics.
  • Dry Makeup Stains: Once the makeup stains set, only a professional cleaner can remove them. Most stain removers and toolkits in the market are designed for fresh stains. 

How to Remove Makeup Stain From Washable Clothes

Although makeup stains is an umbrella term that covers diverse types of stains, the actual process of cleaning these different makeup stains is usually the same. Yes, you will need to use a different stain remover with each stain type, and you might even need to repeat a few steps many times over.

But the steps are usually the same, no matter what fabric you’re treating and what stain you’re dealing with. As long as the stained clothes are washable, you can treat the makeup stains yourself with the right stain remover, as I’ll show you in the guide below.

So how will you go about removing makeup stains from washable clothes?


  • Stain remover (varies depending on the type of makeup stain)
  • Soft-bristled brush.
  • Paper towels.
  • Sponge or washcloth.
  • Lint roller.

How to Clean

Unless you’re dealing with powder makeup stains that can be blown away with a hair dryer, most oil and non-oil-based makeup stains go through the same steps of treatment. 

  1. Scrape: This is the process of removing excess makeup to allow the stain remover to reach the fabric quickly and break down the stain easily. But you won’t actually scrape the makeup with a blade. Rather, you will blot it with a paper towel by pressing it gently over the stain. Don’t rub or wipe the stain.
  2. Apply the Stain Remover: Once you have reduced the makeup stain and revealed the fabric, you can apply the stain remover suitable for this type of stain. Concealer stains would require dish soap, while rubbing alcohol is the best way to treat varnish and nail polish stains.
  3. Use your Fingers: Most fabrics repel stain removers, and when the fabric is saturated with the stain, the stain remover will stay on the top without getting inside the fabric. Help the stain remover with your fingers. Work it into the fabric in tight circles and avoid spreading the stain.
  4. Give it Time: It takes most stain removers between 10 to 20 minutes on average to break the stain.
  5. Scrub: Once the stain is broken down, it’s easy to lift it with either a sponge or a washcloth. But sometimes, more scrubbing is needed. Use the soft-bristled brush to get every trace of the stain and the stain remover out.
  6. Rinse: Rinse the stain with running water to get rid of all the stain remover. Rinsing also tells you if the stain is totally gone or whether you should repeat steps 2 to 5 again. 
  7. Wash: Finally, toss the garment in the washer and wash it normally. 

How to Remove Makeup Stains From Upholstery

With upholstery, you have limited options. You can only treat the surface of the makeup stain and take precautions not to allow too much moisture into the couch or chair to avoid mildew and mold buildup. 

Rugs and carpets are usually less of a hassle to clean since they can be moved, turned upside down, and are easier to dry than upholstery.  


  • Stain remover.
  • Spoon or dull knife for scraping.
  • Sponge.
  • Paper towel.
  • Soft-bristled brush for scrubbing. 

How to Clean

You should try to treat the makeup stain on the upholstery and rugs before they get pushed into the fabric. This is easier said than done since these stains get stepped on before you even notice them.

  1. Remove Excess: This step is identical in all types of makeup stains. But with carpets and upholstery, it’s crucial that you give this step your utmost attention. Use the back of the butter knife or the edge of a spoon to carefully remove the excess makeup. Work against the pile in rugs to prevent pushing the makeup deeper.
  2. Use the Stain Remover: Carpets and upholstery have commercial stain removers that work with most makeup stains. Apply the stain remover to the stain and work it into the fabric with your fingers. In high-pile carpets and rugs, make sure the stain remover gets to the bottom and totally smothers the stain.
  3. Waiting Time: Usually, you’d have to wait for about 15 minutes.
  4. Blot: With upholstery, you’ll need to blot the stain with a paper towel. Place the paper towel over the stain and press it on it gently. When it soaks up the stain, replace it with a new paper towel. With carpets, use a wet sponge to absorb the stain.
  5. Rinse: With a wet sponge, work from the edges of the stain toward the center. 
  6. Dry: Place a fan facing the wet spot on the couch or chair. Use the same method to dry heavy carpets. Small rugs can be placed outside in the sun to dry.

A Complete Guide to Removing Different Makeup Stains from Clothes

Now that you have an idea about the common steps of removing makeup stains from clothes, it’s time to dig deeper into the different makeup stains you might encounter.

How to Remove Dried Nail Polish Stains From Clothes

Dried nail polish stains are not fun. Although the smell fades with time, the coloration remains on the clothes longer than the nail polish lasts on your fingernails. But even dried stains can be removed with the right stain remover. 

You can use either rubbing alcohol or acetone to treat dried nail polish stains. After scraping off the excess nail polish with a spoon, apply the cleaning solution and let it sit for 10 minutes, then blot it with a sponge. Repeat as necessary, then rinse under running water and wash at a regular temperature.

You can read more here.

How to Remove Mascara Stains From Clothes

If mascara lands on your clothes, treat the stain as quickly as possible. Mascara is built to stick to the surface when you apply them. Luckily, you can remove these stains easily as long as you don’t allow them to dry on the fabric.

A heavy-duty stain remover is all you need to get mascara stains out of fabrics. Apply the stain remover and work it into the fabric with your fingers. Give it between 10 minutes for thin fabrics and 20 minutes for denim and cotton clothes. Then blot the stain with a paper towel or a clean sponge. Rinse thoroughly with running water, then wash at a high temperature.

For more details, read this article.

How to Remove Concealer Stains From Clothes

Despite its name, the concealer tends to stick out on fabrics. These stains are not that difficult to remove, but time is of the essence. 

To remove concealer stains from clothes, mix one tablespoon of dish soap into half a liter of lukewarm water. Scrub the excess concealer with a dull knife and apply the cleaning solution. Give it five minutes, then wipe the stain off with a sponge. Rinse and wash in a regular cycle.

Get more detailed instructions here.

How to Remove Eyeshadow Stains From Clothes

Eyeshadow stains are basically powders that stick to the skin. Since they’re not in liquid form, nor are they oil-based, you don’t have to worry about them making a permanent stain. Just try not to expose them to a heat source or pour water on them until you treat them.

Use a hair dryer to blow away the eyeshadow powder. Set the hair dryer to the lowest temperature possible and highest airflow setting. Place the hair dryer on the other side of the stain to blow the powder out of the fabric and not into it. Wash regularly in the washer.

For full coverage, read this article.

How to Remove Lipstick from Clothes

Lipstick stains are the most common type of makeup stain you have to deal with. Unlike other stains, this one is not accidental. And considering the absorbent nature of lipstick, you’ll need more than dish soap or a regular stain remover to remove this one.

Use rubbing alcohol to remove lipstick stains. Dip a cotton ball or a clean sponge in the rubbing alcohol and blot the lipstick stain carefully. When the stain is gone, rinse the fabric in cool running water to remove the alcohol before tossing it into the washer at a regular temperature.

Read this article for detailed steps.

How to Remove Eyeliner From Clothes

Eyeliner stains are not that rare. Children can mistake the eyeliner for a color pen and go about drawing on clothes and surfaces with them. But as obvious as the eyeliner stains are, they’re quite removable. 

To remove eyeliner stains from clothes, mix one tablespoon of dish soap into two cups of cool water. Use a clean sponge to smother the stain with the cleaning solution. Wait for 5 minutes, then blot the stain with a paper towel. Rinse the excess dish soap with running water, then wash the garment in the washer at a regular temperature. 

Find out more information here.

How to Remove Powder From Clothes

Non-oil-based powder stains, no matter how thin or small, should be left alone until you have time to treat them. Don’t try to rub them with a tissue or even blow at them with your mouth. The powder will not dry (it’s already dry), nor will it set. 

For non-oil-based powder stains, use a hair dryer at the lowest temperature setting to blow the stain from the inside out, then wash the garment normally. For oil-based powders, mix 1 tablespoon of dish soap in 2 cups of lukewarm water and apply to the stain with a sponge. Blot the excess solution and rinse before washing the garment.

You’ll find more detailed instructions here.

How to Remove Fake Tan Stain From Clothes

Self-tanning or face tan is all the rage these days. Unfortunately, the compound can land on the last place you’d want it, on your clothes. Unlike the skin that absorbs the tanning material, fabrics, for the most part, repel it. This is great news since it allows you to remove the fake tan stain without the need to soak it or use heavy-duty stain removers.

Wet a clean washcloth with cold water and add a few drops of concentrated dish soap on it. Rub the fake tan stain in circular motions with the washcloth. Start from the middle of the stain toward the edges to avoid spreading it. Rinse with running cold water and repeat until the stain is completely gone.

Read more detailed steps here.

How to Remove Dye Stains From Clothes

Dye stains can be quite tough to remove. They get absorbed easily by the fabric, and regular washing, even with a heavy-duty detergent, will not remove them. If you put the stained clothes to wash, they could stain the other clothes in the laundry. So you need to treat the dye stains first.

To treat the dye stain, mix one tablespoon of dish soap with one tablespoon of white vinegar into two cups of warm water. Stir well, then dip a clean sponge into the cleaning solution and blot the dye stain. Don’t rub the stain, just blot it and let the vinegar and dish soap mix break it down. Rinse with warm water and repeat the process until the dye is gone.

Read my full article here.

How To Remove Henna Stains From Clothes

Henna is a popular temporary tattoo dye that fades around the time you get bored with the temp tattoo. But henna stains are a different matter. Depending on the fabric, you’ll need to use an appropriate stain remover. Vinegar and baking soda combos work with cotton fabrics. Tannin stain removers are suitable for delicate fabrics.

Flush the henna stain with cold water, then sprinkle a thick layer of baking soda over the stain. Add a dash of white vinegar and leave for 5 minutes. Blot the excess solution with a clean sponge and rinse again.

More details in this article.

How to Remove Makeup Stains From Mirror

Use either white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide to remove makeup stains on mirrors.

Pour a few drops of the white vinegar of hydrogen peroxide on a clean washcloth. Wipe the stains off and use another washcloth to blot the excess liquid.

Get full instructions here.

For every type of makeup stain, there’s one or more stain remover to help you remove the stain. Acting fast is the key to success, no matter what type of makeup stain you’re dealing with.


Join The Newsletter And Get My 5 FREE Laundry Folding Hacks as a welcome gift! 🎁

You have Successfully Subscribed!


Join The Newsletter And Get My FREE 5 Folding Hacks Cheatsheet as a welcome gift! 🎁

You have Successfully Subscribed!


Join The Newsletter And Get My FREE 5 Packing Hacks Cheatsheet as a welcome gift! 🎁

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest