How to Remove Makeup Stains (From All Kinds of Fabric!)

We all know that heart-sinking moment when we realize we've smeared makeup all over our favorite article of clothing. But before you freak out over the huge lipstick stain, read these easy tips and tricks for getting makeup stains out (no matter what the fabric!) and what to do in case of a stain-emergency.

Getting makeup stains out if you’re near a washer

You’re doing your nails when you accidently spill some on your jeans. Luckily, you’re near a washer and dryer so you can avoid a pesky set-in stain. However, fabrics react differently to makeup stains so make sure you treat a stain properly based on what your clothing is made of.

Stains on cotton

Getting stains on cotton is the best-case scenario because the material itself is pretty tough. You can soak and dry cotton, as well as bleach it if your clothing is white. If you are dealing with something white, dilute chlorine bleach and treat the stain. For colored cotton clothing, most detergents will get the stain right out!

Stains on wool

Unlike cotton, which is more heat-resistant, wool is very sensitive to heat so you have to approach stains on it carefully. Find wool-safe detergents and wash or soak your clothing in lukewarm (not hot!) water. Avoid bleach completely because it will end up damaging the wool. Try to treat stains on wool as quickly as possible and lay your garment flat as it dries so it doesn’t get stretched out. If you’re nervous about ruining your wool, take it to the dry cleaner to get it professionally cleaned.

Stains on synthetics

There are a bunch of different types of synthetic materials out there, but rayon and polyester are the most popular. If you’re dealing with makeup stains on either of these, don’t use bleach (even if they’re white) and stick to regular laundry detergent. If you have a really greasy stain, synthetic materials can handle gently rubbing using dish-soap as well as soaking in warm water.

Stains on silk

Everyone dreads getting makeup on silk because it’s a tricky material to work with. Water works well on silk stains but make sure you wash the whole article of clothing, not just the spot with the stain. If you just treat the stain, you’ll get water spotting which isn’t much better than the stain! You can also use a glycerin-based stain remover, which is gentler than regular detergent. Always hand wash or soak silk. Avoid throwing it in the washer!

Getting rid of stains on the go

You’re at your internship and you get red lipstick all over your white blouse. It’s only lunchtime, which means you could potentially spend a half a day with an awkward stain. But fear not! There are a lot of easy tricks to get stains out on the go, with stuff you have in your purse!

Lipstick stains

The secret to removing lipstick stains is surprisingly simple: hairspray! Spray a little bit onto your stain and let it sit for a few minutes. Grab some clean paper towels from the bathroom and dab it off. (Just remember to not rub too hard because then you risk having it set!) With a damp paper towel, gently rub off the rest and let it dry. Depending on the fabric and size of the stain, you can also try applying some regular Scotch tape to remove it!

Liquid foundation stains

With foundation, you want to treat the stain as quickly as possible. Find a plastic knife (from your office kitchen if you’re at work) and scrape off the excess foundation. Don’t rub! Then blot the stain with a damp paper towel. If you have hydrogen peroxide on you, apply a few drops. If not, gently work in hand soap in a circular motion. That should get the majority of the stain out, but be sure to wash it as soon as you get home!

Waterproof mascara stains

The whole point of waterproof mascara is to have it stay on forever. Of course, this is great for our lashes, but bad for our clothes. For small stains, pour a little makeup remover onto a paper towel or use makeup remover cloths. The trick here is that the makeup remover needs to be oil-free otherwise it will make the stain worse. Otherwise, opt for a little bit of soap and water and gently rub in a circular motion. Apply stain remover before washing when you get home for the day.

Deodorant stains

It happens to the best of us: that moment when you get deodorant all over your black shirt. Good thing you can get rid of the annoying white streaks easily! If you’re wearing nylon stockings, rub them directly on the mark. Or simply fold your shirt over the stain and rub. The same fabric will remove it instantly! You can also apply a little water and dab with a paper towel for a bigger stain.

In a makeup stain-emergency, whether you’re near a washer or out, take a deep breath. Your clothes aren’t ruined! Just keep these easy tricks in mind and you’ll avoid any permanent damage of makeup mishaps.