Cleaning Makeup Stains | Anyclean

updated: 16/11/2023


Makeup, when applied to the person in the right places, usually looks fantastic and will make your day. Makeup, applied to carpets, clothes, the inside of bags and pillowcases, does not look so attractive and is likely to make you swear. Once you’ve stopped cursing the mess, what are you going to do about it? Because, like all stains, makeup stains are more easily cleaned off if you get onto it quickly rather than leaving it to set and become permanent.

Lipstick: Found on collars, pillowcases and (worst case scenario) smudged into carpets and wallpaper by a small inquisitive child. To clean lipstick off easy stuff (pillows and collars), dab the stain with a bit of meths or some other strong alcohol to dissolve the pigments and the worst of it. If a stain still lingers, then dab with a bit of glycerine to get the grease marks out. Then wash as normal. To get lipstick stains out of carpet, scrape as much as you can out with tissues, loo paper, rags, etc. Try not to spread the stain. Soak the area with meths or strong alcohol (again) and blot up. Then scrub like heck with a medium-stiff brush and warm soapy water. Keep going until the stain disappears (it will, eventually – keep at it). Blot dry. To remove lipstick stains from wallpaper, once again start by wiping off excess with a tissue or a paper towel, etc. Use a paste of baking soda and water applied with a toothbrush to remove it, or even use toothpaste.
Powder (also includes powder blusher and powder eyeshadow): This has a tendency to go everywhere like dust. Fortunately, because it is dry, it is easy to clean up. Just use the vacuum cleaner or even a damp duster to pick up stray bits.

Liquid foundation, concealer, cream blushers and cream eyeshadows: These are mostly oil-based stains, so glycerine is one of your best natural house cleaners for removing this stain. Dab it on and leave the glycerine to soak for an hour or so before washing as normal. If the stain has got onto something that isn’t easy to pop in the washing machine (e.g. the carpet), scrub with warm soapy water. Washing soda added to the water will help attack the oils and will make the job easier.

Nail polish: The Big Daddy of stains to clean up. Act quickly, especially if you have a quick-drying formula. Wiping up is your first step, which you should follow by applying whatever nail polish remover you prefer to use. However, be careful. While using nail polish remover is a fine way to get nail polish stains off sheets and most natural fibres (and most hard floor surfaces), the chemicals in nail polish remover is likely to play merry hell with certain artificial fabrics (especially acetate-type fabrics) and the “finishing” on wood. You can consider yourself lucky if you can escape without damaging the wood a little and leaving a white mark. It’s tricky, but you can try freezing the nail polish with an ice cube before it sinks in, followed by picking it off very, very carefully. If you are reduced to using a little nail polish remover to get the spill off wood, apply a good wood polish to the spot after cleaning to restore the finish.

Eyeliners and lip pencils: Again, these are mostly grease and the stains will come off with either glycerine, scrubbing with warm soapy water or (in the case of wallpaper) baking soda.

Perfume: Unlikely to stain much if spilt if the perfume is clear and it’s fallen on fabric – just leave it and enjoy. If it’s fallen on wood, blot up immediately and apply wood polish once the area is dry to restore the finish. Slightly tinted perfume should be diluted with vinegar or strong alcohol (which perfume mostly is, incidentally) and blotted up. Be nice to yourself: don’t just blot a perfume spill up with a rag. Use a hanky or something nice and you can carry the scent around with you so the perfume isn’t wasted.

About the author 

Nick Vassilev

Nick blogs about cleaning. He is a cleaning expert with more than 25 years of experience. He is also an NCCA-certified carpet cleaner. Founder and CEO of Anyclean.