It’s safe to say that we’ve all been through the panic of dealing with how to get makeup out of clothes, post those unfortunate foundation spills, lipstick smudges, or that occasional slip up of hand-eye coordination that paints liner where it shouldn’t be. While focusing on the precision of perfecting that one makeup look, the frustration of a foundation drop sliding its way onto that clean white top, or a stroke of black mascara painting lashes onto your brand new dress, brings an instant sense of self-loathing! 

how to get makeup out of clothes

Finding effective cleaning solutions beforehand, to ensure your clothes stay looking fresh and new, is the key to enjoying that calm makeup process without the worries of outraging your outfit with permanent stains! If you’re wondering how to get makeup out of clothes in an instant, we’ve got you covered with some tips and tricks so that you can head out to that party, with no one ever knowing the hot mess you might’ve been just moments before!

How To Get Makeup Out of Clothes

Getting makeup out of clothes can be the ultimate struggle when it comes to quick fixes and wondering whether there will be a sure guarantee that the stain won’t linger forever! Here are a couple of quick and easy methods to try so that you may just be able to nip it in the bud and avoid any permanent damage.

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Cornstarch and Talcum Powder

One way to remove a makeup stain from your clothes is to get some cornstarch or talcum powder from the comfort of your home, and dab it onto an oil-based makeup stain, i.e. your typical foundation. Make sure to be liberal with your application of the powder, and wait for roughly half an hour or so, before shaking it off the garment. You can then send the stained piece of clothing to the laundry pile to be washed, and you should see the stain disappear immediately.


Your easiest go-to method to remove makeup from clothes, like that messy concealer smudge on your clean white tee when out and about, is to rush to the closest restroom sink, or grab the closest water bottle, and treat the stain with a splash of water immediately. After all, water is better than nothing, and the longer the stain sits, the longer it will stick. If you find some residues, throw the garment into the wash as soon as possible, to ensure a quick cleaning fix!

How To Get Stains Out of Clothes Without Washing

The key to saving your favourite top from the savage spill of makeup, whether it’s a lather of foundation, a smudge of lipstick, or an inky leak of mascara and the likes, is to think fast, and act on it faster! The dreaded permanent stains come from the spillage setting in overtime, and while you might not have all the saviour tools when out and about, there are ways to stop the stain sets in, so that you can try to salvage it later. Here are a couple of examples of DIY tips to remove makeup from your clothes without washing them.

Scrape & Ice Cube


The first step to ensuring that makeup doesn’t leave a dreaded residue is to instantly scrape away the excess makeup with a spoon or the like. Try to resist the urge to not grind the spilt makeup as the stain will become all the more difficult to lift. One way to remove the stain without having to throw the clothes in the wash is that once the excess spill has been removed, grab an ice cube and apply it to the stain by rubbing it in a circular motion. Using a paper towel you can blot and dry the area, and repeat the latter process until the makeup stain completely lifts from the fabric.

Isopropyl Alcohol

Head to the medicine cabinet and grab a bottle of isopropyl alcohol as a quick solution to clean away makeup spills on your clothes. Just place a paper napkin underneath the garment to stop the alcohol from seeping through, and as the alcohol touches the stain, you should see the stain begin to vanish.

How To Get Foundation Out of Clothes

The tips and tricks to cleaning away foundation stains, primarily depend on the formula of the foundation used. While powder foundation stains are relatively easier to get rid of, oil-free and oil-based liquid foundation, can often prove to be a nightmare; especially if it makes its mark on that crisp, new white shirt! Let’s take a look at some miracle methods, that can shun away from that stubborn foundation!

Makeup Wipes for Instant Removal

While applying makeup, it’s no shocker when a smear of foundation finds itself on your shirt sleeve, or the eyeliner slips up and draws a line on your cheek. For either of the latter messes, makeup wipes have you covered. While the smears will disappear from the skin immediately, makeup wipes, when applied to the fabric of your clothing instantly, will help remove the stain before it finds itself setting into the fibres of your favourite clothes. However, be gentle when rubbing to ensure that the fabric doesn’t get ruined!

Oil-Based Foundation Stains 

While there are a variety of oils found in the ingredients of different foundation products available in the market, if there is oil at all, you can consider it a grease stain. Luckily, a lot of home cleaning products are made up of grease fighters, which can come in handy. when it comes to removing makeup from clothes! A few examples of the latter is dish soap and washing detergent. 

First remove the excess foundation without rubbing into the fabric, before placing it under cold water to dilute the stain before it sets in. Then apply some drops of dish soap to the stained area and dab, or scrub with a toothbrush or the like. You can let the dish soap solution sit for around 20-30 minutes, and without removing the soap, throw it into the wash in order for the soap to continue working its magic while in the washing machine.

The trouble however is, that residual stains will end up setting in the dryer, making them impossible to disappear once dried. So, before placing the washed garment into the dryer, double-check on the stain and repeat the previous steps if it is still visible.

How To Remove Oil-Free Foundation Stains

Aside from oil-based foundations, there are also foundation products that are oil-free, which in turn are far easier to get out of your clothes. There are a variety of water-based products on the market that are made to be transfer-resistant, so the issue of rubbing off onto your own or another’s clothes. However, if and when there is a residual stain, dish soap can still be your saviour, along with shaving cream or alcohol.

Apply either the dish soap or the shaving cream to the stained area, and allow the product to sit for a few minutes and soak up the spill. Then rub onto the stain to separate the foundation from the fabric before rinsing under cold water. The stain should disappear during the process, but if the stain is stubborn, rub some alcohol into the mix and repeat the previous steps until the stain entirely disappears. Then dab the leftover foundation with a towel before a quick wash for a clean piece of clothing!

How To Get Out Powder Foundation Stains 

The powdered foundation is made up of loose particles that can easily spread around your clothes, so it’s important to ensure not to press the product deeper. Initially, brush off as much of the powder as possible, before rinsing it out with cold water. After this, pour some laundry detergent over the stain, rub, and let it soak for roughly 30 minutes before placing it into the washing machine. If the stain doesn’t vanish after this, repeat the previous steps a handful of times until the fabric is looking brand new!


How To Get Mascara Out of Clothes

While mascara, quite like lipstick, can often be a pain to get out of your clothes due to its composition of pigment, dyes, wax, and oil, it’s definitely not impossible! With the majority of mascaras being darker in colour, the key is to treat them straight away so that the pigments cannot spread and soak into your clothing even more.


Another way to deal with the dreaded mascara stain is to apply a liquid laundry detergent that’s ingredients are made up of enzymes and surfactant in order to break down the particles of the product. You can use a soft toothbrush to work the detergent through, and let it soak for 20 minutes, before rinsing with hot water. Proceed to wash as usual in warm water, and if the stain fades, yet hasn’t quite disappeared, repeat the previous steps before hanging it out to dry!


At the end of the day, while we can’t promise you a smooth sailing makeover experience every single time you open up your makeup bag, you know, to avoid becoming that frantic hot mess, what we can assure you is that for almost every problem there’s a smooth sailing solution. The overall baseline solution to how to get makeup out of clothes is that before anything, you must act fast to avoid any permanent damage! DIY solutions that can be found in the comfort of your home, are perhaps the best way to go; while it’s undoubtedly more cost-efficient than grabbing store-bought chemical filled solutions, it is also more sustainable and more effective!

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Dr. Divya Goil

Dr. Divya Goil

Dr. Divya Goil is a Sustainability Researcher at Ecowiser. We empower individuals to make sustainable choices. I am a medical doctor with a passion for environmental conservation and have dedicated my career to finding solutions for a more sustainable future.

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