Makeup Mishaps – Cleaning Up | Anyclean

updated: 23/10/2023


Make up is beautiful. Make up is delightful. Make up is a lot of fun. But only when it’s on your face (or the face of the lady in your life) or nicely presented on the packages. All over the dresser, smeared on the pillow or smudged onto your collar, it’s another story. Exactly how makeup gets onto fabric can vary from household to household – someone can go to sleep with makeup on (putting it on the pillow), toddlers can play dress-up with Mummy’s makeup with disastrous results on clothing, the cat can knock over a bottle of foundation or a bit of snuggling and snogging can leave a guy’s white shirt covered with lipstick.

Now what? How do you get the stuff off again?

Antiperspirant: This isn’t really makeup, but as it’s usually sold and stored alongside other cosmetics, it will be included here. It leaves white marks, especially on black clothes. Use a paste of equal parts baking soda and salt mixed with a little water, and rub this onto the stain. Leave it for half an hour or so before rinsing off with cold water. Ammonia can also help remove these marks, as can white vinegar.

Moisturiser, face cream and hand creams: Scrape off excess and be very careful not to spread it everywhere. Use hot water (if the fabric can handle it) and scrub with an old toothbrush, working from the outside of the spot inwards. A bit of the usual natural house cleaning product – baking soda can help. Then wash as usual, with biological washing powder if possible.

Powder: This has probably only settled rather than being worked in, so blow or even vacuum of the excess powder. If it has left a mark, then rinse the mark in cold water. Dab a bit of washing up liquid onto the spot and gently rub the fabric against itself. Wash as usual.

Foundation: Wet the stain and rub in washing up liquid, shampoo, hand soap or toothpaste. Rub well and rinse. Repeat if necessary (sounds like the old instructions for washing hair). Then wash as normal.

Hair dye: About the worst stain to remove, so act very quickly (better still, don’t dye your hair at home!). Soak immediately in cold water and rub it like anything. Use washing up liquid to help get the stains out. White vinegar and lemon juice can also help bleach the stain. Good luck – these stains are next to impossible to get out, as hair dye is designed to withstand shampoo (a detergent) and hairspray (which can remove permanent pen). Henna is a bit easier (just), as it can be treated with meths or ammonia in a similar way to grass stains. Consider dyeing the entire thing that’s been stained with the dye to cover the spot.

Lipstick: This is another beast to remove, especially the lipsticks that are designed to be long-lasting or kiss-proof. Scrape off as much excess as you can. Wet the spot with warm water, then rub in shampoo, washing up liquid or toothpaste and rub well before rinsing. Alternatively, use meths or some other alcohol (including vodka) as a pre-treatment. Wash as usual. On silk, it is possible to remove lipstick marks by putting sticky tape or masking tape down on the stain then ripping it off quickly – it will take the lipstick off.

Mascara: Dampen the stain with warm water, then rub in some washing up liquid and scrub at it with an old toothbrush. Wash as usual. Meths, rubbing alcohol or vodka can also be used as a pre-treatment before washing the item.

Nail polish: Another beast to remove. Start by scraping up the excess with something disposable (e.g. tissue paper or a paper towel). Dab on some meths and leave the item to soak, or else use some acetone (but be careful with synthetic fabrics – acetone can “melt” some fabrics of this type. Leave to soak for a bit, then wash as usual.

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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.