The Best DIY Hacks to Get Makeup Stains Off Anything

A person has makeup around their shirt's inner collar.

No matter how careful you are, at some point, everyone who uses makeup will probably wind up dealing with makeup stains. With a few easy steps and helpful products, you can get those pesky stains off every surface.

Whether it’s a smudge of foundation on your shirt collar or a mascara spill when your hand slips, accidents happen—and the nature of makeup tends to mean it stains fast. Fortunately, there are just as many ways to get that makeup off as there are ways for the stain to happen in the first place. Let’s go through some of the easiest tips and tricks to remove makeup from all your household surfaces.

Table of Contents

How to Get Makeup Stains Off Clothes and Towels
How to Get Makeup Stains Off Counters and Tile
How to Get Makeup Stains Off Carpet

How to Get Makeup Stains Off Clothes and Towels

Cotton pads with makeup on them next to a bottle of remover; a pack of makeup wipes next to a pile of powdered makeup

The most likely place you’ll wind up with makeup stains is on the cloth items that come into contact with your face, aka your clothes and your bathroom towels.

If the stain is fairly fresh, you can actually use makeup removal products to tackle the smudges of foundation, mascara, or other cosmetics. Start with one of these two options:

  1. Soak a cotton pad in an oil-free makeup remover, then gently dab at the stain. OR:
  2. Grab a makeup remover wipe and gently wipe away at the stain.

The trick with either of these options is to use the gentlest formula you can to avoid damaging the material. You’ll also want to avoid any oil-based makeup remover product—those formulas will only add another layer of grease stain, rather than removing the existing makeup stain.

An eye-safe product is usually best since it contains ingredients that are designed to break down the oils in cosmetics without leaving behind irritants, more oils, or other damaging residues. Those products are usually reliable enough to even break down stains from waterproof makeup, which often can be a little trickier to remove since it’s designed to resist plain rinsing (or even a basic soap-and-water approach).

These products work great for fresh stains, but they may not be as effective on stains that have been setting for a while before you notice them.

One surprising solution just might be in your bathroom cabinet already: shaving cream. This common product can be especially helpful for removing foundation stains, which often are noticed late because they wind up on collars and don’t get noticed until the wearer changes their clothes.

Just follow these easy steps:

  1. Dampen the stained area. Be sure to use cool or cold water; warm water will set the stain further.
  2. Apply a small amount of plain shaving cream on the stain. Avoid formulas with strong scents and/or dyes.
  3. Gently work it into the stain.
  4. Let it set for about five minutes.
  5. Rinse with cool water, then launder as normal.

While these methods work on most stains, you might find lipstick stains to be especially stubborn. The oily, waxy consistency of lipstick, plus the vivid colors, makes it a little harder to remove. Rubbing alcohol can help break down those components and lift away the stain.

Follow this simple process to tackle tough lipstick stains on fabric:

  1. Soak a cotton pad or paper towel in rubbing alcohol.
  2. Gently dab and wipe at the stain.
  3. Repeat with fresh pieces of towel or fresh cotton pads as they become stained.
  4. Rinse thoroughly.

How to Get Makeup Stains Off Counters and Tile

A bottle of bathroom cleaner on the counter by a sink; a hand using a scrub brush on tile

The majority of people probably apply their makeup in the bathroom, meaning that those counters become a staging ground for all sorts of makeup products. With a bunch of open products in a small space, it’s easy for spills and smudges to happen.

The first thing, of course, is to try to wipe up the spill as soon as it happens. In many cases, a quick wipe with a damp cloth—or a swipe of makeup remover, if that fails—will get makeup off of your tile countertops and floors. Since tiles are smoother surfaces, it’s easier to remove.

The real trouble comes when your makeup (whether it’s something powdered like eyeshadow or something waxy or oily like lipstick) gets on the grout between tiles. Grout is much more porous than the actual tiles, which means that little particles of makeup can find their way in and get stuck there.

The first option is our old friend, baking soda and white vinegar. Try these quick steps:

  1. Sprinkle some baking soda over the stained grout.
  2. Using a spray bottle, spritz some plain white vinegar over the baking soda.
  3. Let sit for 3-5 minutes as it bubbles.
  4. Optional: use a scrub brush to work the mixture further into the grout.
  5. Wipe away with a damp rag.

Sometimes, the DIY solution still won’t quite lift all the stain away. In that case, tackle makeup stains on grout with a cleaning brush and these steps:

  1. Apply a small amount of an oxygenated bathroom cleaner to the grout.
  2. Use a scrub brush to work the cleaner into the grout.
  3. Wipe the cleaner residue away with a damp rag.

How to Get Makeup Stains Off Carpet

An eyeshadow palette has fallen to the floor and shades have busted over carpet.

When makeup spills on carpet, it can be especially tricky to deal with. It can’t be physically picked up and handled, like clothes or towels, but it’s fibrous and porous, which means the stain can soak in rapidly.

First up, try cleaning the stain with dishwashing liquid. Designed to cut through grease, dish soap can cut through other tough-to-clean products like foundation, lipstick, and mascara spills.

Start with these steps:

  1. If there is an actual “spill,” use a credit card or similar item to gently scrape up as much of the spill as possible to limit the amount that can soak into the carpet.
  2. Combine 1 cup cold water with 4 or 5 drops of dishwashing liquid.
  3. Dip a paper towel or cleaning rag in the soapy water, and dab gently at the stain.
  4. Keep rotating to fresh areas of the damp, soapy rag as the stain comes up.
  5. Use a clean rag and soak in cool water, then wipe at the area to remove soap residue.

An alternate approach, especially if mascara or other eye makeup is involved, is almost identical to the approach for clothes. Use a little makeup remover and these steps:

  1. If there is an actual “spill,” use a credit card or similar item to gently scrape up as much of the spill as possible to limit the amount that can soak into the carpet.
  2. Soak a cotton pad or cleaning rag with liquid makeup remover.
  3. Gently blot away at the stain, rotating to fresh areas of the cloth or fresh cotton pads as you go.
  4. Blot the area with a clean, damp rag to remove the product residue.

Designing your makeup look can be a lot of fun, but spills and stains come with the territory. With these easy tips and household products, you can focus on exploring beauty trends without stressing about the cleanup!

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