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How to Remove Mascara Stains From Clothes

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Picture this. You fumble with a mascara wand while on your usual spruce up. Oops! It slips off your hands, hitting your neat top, before rolling over to the carpet.

Mascara is great for accentuating a woman’s beauty but makes tough clothes stains. Luckily, with the following tips, you can perfectly remove the mascara stains on clothes, carpets, and upholstery. 

To remove mascara stains from clothes, use a heavy-duty stain remover. First, pretreat the stain by applying a few drops of the remover and spreading it until it covers the stain. Let it sit for 20 minutes before gently blotting with a wet piece of clothing before washing with the hottest setting in the wash cycle.

The Procedure for Removing Mascara Stains

To remove mascara stains, you can opt for commercial stain removers or make yours at home. All you need is to visit your local convenience store or buy them online for commercial solutions. And for homemade ones, there are several locally available options. So let us find out how to do it.

Using Make-up Remover

Makeup removers contain agents specially formulated for the removal of most stubborn stains, such as mascara stains. This is because makeup removers contain some surfactants found in most heavy-duty stain removers as well. 

Before starting, remember with mascara, you’ve better chances of success by cleaning it when fresh. To start off, soak a piece of cotton clothing with the makeup remover and slightly squeeze off the excess. Using a dripping cleaning material will only make the stain messier. 

The next step is to dab the stain spot repeatedly until the stain is removed. Again, keep in mind to avoid rubbing to avoid spreading the stain elsewhere on the garment. Also, be sure to check whether the stain has penetrated the other end of the fabric and repeat the process on that side as well. 

Finally, you can load it into the washing machine and wash it under the hottest wash cycle setting, wash, and dry. Also, do not forget to check if the mascara stain has been completely removed to avoid it setting into the fabric.

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is an ingredient in most strong stain removers, and that is why it makes short work of mascara stains. Using a cotton gauze or a piece of clothing dipped into rubbing alcohol, squeeze some drops on the mascara stain, and wait for five minutes. 

However, remember to only apply a few drops to keep the treatment within the stained part only.

Afterward, blot the stain with the piece of clothing until it is removed. If satisfied, you can load the washing machine with a strong detergent and wash normally.

Dishwashing Soap

If you think dishwashing soap is only for cleaning in the kitchen, you might need a second thought. Dishwashing soap is an effective solution to the mascara stain problem.

Once applied, it permeates into the stains and breaks the oil and wax constituents of the mascara stains. 

To use this method, pour some dish soap on the stain and spread with your hand or a toothbrush. Be sure the dish soap is evenly spread to have it well covered.

Next, wait for up to thirty minutes to allow the dish soap to work through the garment fiber to release the stain. 

Thereafter, use the toothbrush to scrub the stain until it appears sufficiently agitated. A toothbrush is especially effective since it helps in seeping the dish soap deeper into the clothing fiber.

If satisfied with the results, you can launder with your favorite detergent and dry normally.

Commercial Stain Remover

If you are not a fan of homemade solutions, commercial solutions are a fantastic option. Common examples include OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover and Shout Advanced Stain Remover. (paid links to Amazon)

Most of these store-bought stain removers are well formulated with stain remover ingredients that easily lift mascara stains. These include ammonia, bleach and enzymes, and surfactants which have the capability to break down oils and the dyes found in mascara. 

To use the store stain removers, put some of it on the detergent cap and pour it on the stains before spreading it completely to cover the mascara stain.

To be more effective, you can rub with the bottom end of the measuring cap to push the stain remover through the garment fiber faster. 

Thereafter wait for 20 minutes before washing normally with your favorite heavy-duty detergent. 


Bleach is one of the key tough stain removers. As such, mascara stains stand no chance with bleach. However, be careful when using bleach since there are specific ones for either color or white clothes.

To be sure, which is the fittest for use, read the wash instruction manual on the garment. But in general, you can use chlorine bleach for whites, and oxygen bleach for color-fast clothes.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Another easy-to-use stain remover on mascara is hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide does not only remove stains on white clothes but colors as well, resulting in whiter and brighter clothes. 

The common misconception is that hydrogen peroxide will bleach colored clothes. However, this is only partly true for non-color fast clothes. That is why it is essential to first check whether your clothes are color-fast. 

Remove mascara stains from your clothes by soaking them in half a cup of hydrogen peroxide in two cups of water and soak for 30 minutes. At the end of this duration, wash, as usual, rinse, and dry.

Hair Spray

While known for other uses in hair beauty, hair sprays are quite handy in mascara stain removal, especially for those who carry them in their bag.

To remove mascara stains from your garment, just spray enough to wet the stained spot, and allow for 30 minutes before washing normally.

How to Remove Mascara From Carpet

Most of the solutions we have identified above can be used to remove mascara from carpets as well. In addition to the above, take a look at a few others below.

Using Ammonia

Ammonia is a powerful cleaning agent that is effective in cleaning household items. Ammonia is especially effective against oils and waxes. Remember, these are the main ingredients in mascara.

However, use ammonia only on color-fast clothes and also avoid mixing it with chlorine bleach since it results in violent reactions. 

To remove mascara stains, mix ½ a cup of water with one tablespoon of ammonia to make a cleaning solution. Then using a microfiber or a piece of white cloth, dab the stain spot until removed.

Afterward, rinse the stain spot thoroughly with cold water and dry.

Dry Cleaning Solvent

Woolite At-Home Dry Cleaner Dry Cleaning Cloths and Stain Removal, Easy to Use, Safe on Wool, Cashmere, and Designer Jeans, Fresh Scent, 14 Cloths
  • Convenient at home dry cleaner offers 3X Care: removes odors, removes stains and releases wrinkles
  • One box saves over $100 on dry cleaning
  • Fast, easy, and bag-free: Clothes are ready to wear in minutes
  • Safer to use on more fabrics than any other At-Home Dry Cleaner, including dry clean only, special care clothing and difficult to clean items
  • Always Gentle: No shrinking, no stretching, no fading

This is one of the best cleaning agents to remove mascara, especially on non-washable items. Dry Cleaning agents obliterate oily/waxy mascara stains on carpets with a lot of ease. Plus, they are readily available in most home improvement stores, or you can easily buy them online.

The starting point is to scoop off the excess mascara from the carpet using a butter knife or a tablespoon.

Next, put some of the cleaning agents in a container and dip a white piece of cloth or microfiber and blot the stain out.

Remember, it is blotting and not rubbing. Rubbing worsens the stain by spreading it to the unstained part. After the results look satisfactory, rinse the spot with cold water before vacuuming and drying the spot.

White Vinegar

White vinegar is another tough mascara stain remover. It works perfectly when it comes to penetrating through the carpet bristles and lifting the stain.

Using white vinegar is as simple as making a solution of one teaspoon of white vinegar in a cup of cold water. 

Then using a white piece of cloth, dab the stain spot until it is removed. Notably, using white cloth is important to avoid color transfer from the cloth to the carpet.

After the stain is removed, rinse the spot with cold water and dry. Don’t forget to vacuum to suck off any residue mascara from the carpet.

I also wrote a guide on how to remove lipstick stains from clothes that may interest you.

How to Remove Mascara From Upholstery

Removing mascara from upholstery is trickier compared to carpets. Couch or car upholstery has nooks and crannies into which the cleaning agents can spill and cause molding.

However, with the following handy tips, you are on your way to removing the pesky mascara stains from upholstery with ease.

To start off, take note that most of the agents we’ve used in the removal of mascara stains on clothes and carpets are effective on upholstery as well.

For example, if you opt for dishwashing soap, put it in a small bowl. Then dip a cotton gauze or q-tip and use it to blot the mascara stain on the upholstery until it is removed. 

Remarkably, while all the stain removers are effective, they do not use the same mode of action. So you might want to take the same caution required in cleaning carpets or clothes.

For example, you need to be careful when removing mascara stains with agents with bleaching effects on the upholstery. First, get to know if the fabric is color-fast or not.

Moreover, avoid oversaturating the mascara stain spot to prevent mildew and bad odor trouble. But this shouldn’t be a problem if you wring the cleaning cloth after you dip it into the cleaning agent.

Key Points to Observe in Cleaning Mascara Stains

Clean When the Stain Is Fresh

Mascara stains are easy to remove with the above cleaning agents. But like most stains removing it when fresh is easier. The reason is older mascara stains set into the clothing fabric and become harder to remove.

Pretreating the Stain Is Key

Pre-treating gives the stain remover time to permeate the fiber and break down the stain to release the mascara stain. This is especially effective for oily stain types like mascara that dig deeper into the fabric faster.

Using Tumble Drying

After cleaning, you need to ensure the stain is completely removed; else, repeat the process until the stain is removed. This is critical since tumble drying a stain sets it deeper into the cloth fiber, making it impossible to remove in subsequent washing. 


The commonest temptation when dealing with mascara stain is to instinctively rub it off. However, this should be avoided since it makes the stain messier. Even when cleaning the stain, the key is to dab, not rub the stain.

Soaking With Water

The common tendency with most stains is to soak the spot or the whole cloth with water. Sadly, this doesn’t help when removing mascara stains. With its ingredients consisting of oils and wax, it is a no-brainer; this doesn’t help at all.

Nonetheless, water can be used in washing after the initial blotting with a stain remover.

Avoid Oversaturation

When blotting, it is easy to be tempted to use dripping cloth or cotton gauze. This is not recommended when cleaning mascara stains on carpets and upholstery. Applying excess cleaning solution may cause the development of mold and bad odor problems.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Remove Mascara From Towels?

You can easily remove mascara from towels if you use the right stain remover. Also, to avoid mascara stain from becoming permanent on the towel fibers, removing it when fresh is the key. One of the best mascara stain removers is dish soap since it is formulated for removing oils, the main ingredient found in making mascara.

Can I Remove Mascara Stains From Floor Tiles

Removing fresh mascara stains from floor tiles is easy. But, they tend to seep into the tile if not cleaned immediately. To remove the stain, wipe off the excess mascara matter with a piece of cloth. Afterward, pour a little amount of dish soap before scrubbing it with a hard-bristled brush and rinse the spot with water.

Does Mascara Stain Permanently?

Mascara can stain permanently if not handled well during cleaning. Removing mascara stains when fresh is the best time as it has not integrated into the clothing fiber. However, the older the stain, the higher the chance of becoming permanent.

Next, you can check out my complete guide to removing all makeup stains.


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