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How to Remove Makeup from My Towels

Removing Makeup Stains from Towels


Your favorite foundation, that perfect shade of lipstick, your go-to volumizing mascara — your cosmetics bag is filled with goodies that make you look and feel flawless. But those same products that work wonders on your face wreak havoc on your towels. Even a little makeup left on your face when you dry it transfers to your towel, leaving a very noticeable mark on the cloth.

Learning how to remove makeup stains from towels saves you money while keeping your towels looking like new.

Problems Caused by Makeup

If makeup washes off your face, it should wash out of towels, right? Unfortunately, the chemicals in cosmetics tend to stain your towels, sometimes permanently. Some makeup tends to present more of a challenge when it comes to removing them from towels because of the various ingredients in them. The nap on most towels also adds to the difficulty of stain removal, because makeup sometimes gets caught.

Several ingredients in makeup contribute to damage on towels, including:

  • Pigments and dyes: The same ingredient that makes that eyeliner the perfect jet black color or your lipstick the rich red color you love also turns your towels undesirable colors. The pigments are designed to create a bold look and to stay put on your face. This often means they cause stains and are difficult to remove from towels.
  • Oils: Certain cosmetics, such as mascara and lipstick, contain oils. When you think about any oily stain, you know it’s often difficult to remove. Cutting through the oil helps release it from the towel.
  • Waxes: Mascaras and lipsticks also contain wax, which is challenging to remove from fabric.

If you remove the stain before it sets, you have a better chance of preventing permanent damage. While the makeup shows up more noticeably on white towels, you also have the advantage of bleaching those towels safely to remove the stains. Darker towels hide the makeup stain a little better, but they can also discolor due to the chemicals in the cosmetics.

No matter what color of towels you have, knowing what to use on the stain is key to preventing permanent damage.

Removing Makeup Stains From Towels

Washing Stains from Towels

Makeup stain removal follows the same basic steps no matter what type of makeup causes the stain. The main difference is the type of cleaner you use to help release the stain. Follow these recommendations:

  • Mascara and eyeliner: Use liquid dish detergent on mascara and eyeliner stains to help release the oil.
  • Lipstick: Rubbing alcohol and dish detergent work well together to remove the often-stubborn lipstick stains.
  • Liquid foundation: Shaving foam, not shaving gel, works well on oil-free liquid foundations. Liquid soap and dish detergent can also work well.
  • Powdered foundation or other powdered cosmetics: A mild laundry detergent may be all you need to remove a powdered makeup stain.

Once you know what to use, it’s time to tackle the stain removal. The goal is to remove the stain as gently as possible, so you don’t ruin the towel itself. It’s usually better to start with mild cleaner options and work your way up to the heavier-duty cleaners if necessary. In many cases, repeating the cleaning process with a milder cleaning product eventually gets the stain out of the fabric, even though it’s more time-consuming.

The method of cleaning up makeup stains follows the same steps, with some slight variations for different types of makeup. Those steps include:

Blot the Stain Blot the stain with paper towels first if the stain is fresh.

Ideally, you’ll notice the stain right away, before it sets. If this is the case, gently dab or blot the stain with the paper towel. Blot and lift the paper towel you’re using, instead of rubbing the stain. This helps remove at least some of the makeup onto the paper towel without grinding it into the fabric more.

Move the paper towel each time you blot so you use a fresh area to prevent putting makeup back on the towel. For a powdered makeup stain, shake or blow off as much of the powder as possible instead of blotting, which will rub the powder particles into the fabric.

Cleaning Solution Apply the selected cleaning solution to the stain, based on the type of makeup.

For mascara or eyeliner, apply a small amount of liquid dish detergent to the stained area. For oil-free liquid foundation, squirt on the shaving foam. For powdered makeup stains, apply a little bit of laundry detergent.

Lipstick stains are a little different. Instead of pouring rubbing alcohol on the stain, apply it to a paper towel and use the blotting method on the stain. Once you’re done blotting with the rubbing alcohol, squeeze a little liquid dish detergent on the stain.

Rub in Cleaning Solution Rub in the cleaning solution.

The key here is to gently distribute the cleaner onto the stained area of the towel. Rubbing it vigorously can grind the makeup into the fabric even more.

Let the Cleaner Soak In Let the cleaner soak for 10 to 15 minutes.

This step is particularly important for makeup with oils and waxes, such as lipstick. Giving the dish detergent time to soak in and work on the stain helps it come out of the fabric easier.

Rinse the Towel Rinse the towel.

Hold the towel with the stained side down. Run warm water through the towel from the opposite side of the stain so the water pushes the cleaner and leftover makeup remnants out of the towel, rather than pushing them deeper into the towel.

Repeat Cleaning Process if Necessary Repeat the cleaning process if necessary.

If the stain still appears, repeat the cleaning process by applying more of the specific cleaner based on the stain type. Sometimes, it takes a few rounds of cleaning to release all of the makeup.

Let the Towel Soak Overnight Let the towel soak overnight.

For really stubborn makeup stains, or stains that are already set when you notice them, let the towel soak overnight. Mix a small amount of laundry detergent with hot water. Leave the towels overnight. Rinse the towel thoroughly with warm water, and check for remaining stains.

Run the Towel Through the Wash Cycle Run the towel through the wash cycle.

When you’ve removed as much of the stain as possible, put the towel through the wash cycle in your washing machine. Add OxiClean to the wash cycle to help remove the stain. If the towel and everything else in the washer is white, you can use bleach instead of the OxiClean to help remove the stain. Use the hot water setting.

Check the Towel for Stains Check the towel for stains before drying.

If you dry the towel with a makeup stain still on it, that stain gets set in. Let the towel air dry to check for stains. Sometimes, you won’t notice stains on wet fabric, but once they dry, the stains become noticeable. By letting the towel air dry, you can check thoroughly for stains without setting them in with the heat of a dryer. Repeat the stain removal and washing steps before putting the towel in the dryer if you see any sign of the stain remaining once it’s washed.

Additional Cleaning Solution Options

Tougher products may help

Some stains still remain, even with your best efforts and using mild cleaning products on them. If you repeat the cleaning steps multiple times and still see makeup stains on your towel, moving on to tougher products may help. Keep in mind that these stronger cleaners can cause damage to the towel. It’s always a good idea to test the product in a small, hidden spot on the towel first before applying it liberally.

Try one of these alternative cleaning options for stubborn makeup stains on towels:

  • Baby wipes: Some fresh makeup stains respond well to baby wipes. The wipes are generally gentle, since they’re made for babies. Keep a container in the bathroom for quick cleanups and stain removal.
  • Hairspray: This option sometimes works on lipstick stains. Spray a little hairspray on the stain and let it soak in for a couple minutes before blotting the stain with a clean cloth.
  • Vinegar: Plain white vinegar mixed with water may help remove some makeup stains — particularly the powder-based makeup variety. Like other products, it’s important to test vinegar first to ensure it doesn’t discolor the fabric.
  • Oil-free makeup remover: The same product that helps you remove makeup from your face may also work on your towel. Make sure you use an oil-free formula, though. Makeup remover with oil in it causes additional issues and potential stains.
  • Stain removal products: You can find many stain removal products in the laundry aisle of your favorite store, or you may already have some in your laundry room. These products may help release the makeup stain.
  • Acetone nail polish remover: Use this option with caution, as it may cause fading or discoloration on your towel. It also has a strong odor and may cause irritation.
  • Professional oil solvents: Professional dry cleaners have oil solvents at their disposal to use on stubborn stains. Some of these oil solvents, such as Carbona or K2r, are available at drugstores. These chemicals work particularly well on greasy or oily stains and may help remove mascara or lipstick stains from your towels. Always follow the instructions carefully, using proper ventilation in the area.

If you still can’t get the makeup out of your towel, you can always keep the stained towels for other purposes. For example, use them as cleaning rags, or designate your stained towels as your personal face-drying towels. Since they already have stains, it won’t matter if you stain them further.

Then, buy some brand-new replacement towels and keep your older ones aside for washing your face after makeup removal.

Tips for Successful Stain Removal

Removing Makeup Stains from Towels takes some Patience

Removing makeup stains from towels takes some patience. Here are a few other tips to help you through the stain removal process:

  • Act immediately: The longer the stain remains on the towel, the more likely it is to permanently stain the fabric. Start the stain removal process as soon as you spot the makeup.
  • Choose a grease-fighting dish detergent: If your makeup stain calls for dish detergent as the cleaning product, make sure you choose a brand specifically designed to cut grease. While all dish detergents should work on grease, some brands focus more on this quality than others. Those grease-fighting brands may help release oil-based makeup stains better than others.
  • Read care instructions: You know those tags on your towels that you usually ignore? Now is a great time to read them over. Check out the care instructions for your specific towels to ensure you don’t use a product that could potentially damage the fabric.
  • Read cleaner instructions: If you’re using a stain removal or cleaning product, read the product instructions carefully before applying it to the stain. Follow all safety guidelines and recommendations to protect yourself and to reduce the risk of damaging your towel.
  • Test your cleaner first: It’s always a good idea to test a particular cleaning product in a small spot first, even if you’re using something mild, like dish detergent. Some products cause discoloration that’s more noticeable than the stain itself.
  • Enlist the help of a professional cleaner: If you just can’t stand the thought of parting with your towels, or they’re made of a fine or delicate material, consider taking it to a professional cleaning service for stain removal.

Preventing Makeup Stains on Towels

The easiest way to keep your towels pristine is to never get makeup on the towels in the first place. Unfortunately, this is often easier said than done. Even when you feel like you wash your face well, you may have some traces of makeup left behind — especially if you use waterproof mascara or long-wear lipstick designed to resist smudging. A few changes to your makeup and face washing routine can help prevent makeup stains.

Try these tips for keeping your towels unblemished:

  • Use makeup remover designed for the type of makeup you use: Finding the perfect makeup remover often takes some trial and error. Makeup remover wipes offer an easy way to remove makeup from your face and neck. Grab a new one when you no longer find clean areas on your wipe. Trying to use one wipe for your whole face means you’re probably leaving traces behind that can end up on your towel.
  • Go back over your face one more time: Once you feel like you’ve removed all of the makeup on your face, grab a new makeup remover wipe or a clean disposable pad. Go over your face again. You may be surprised to find you still have makeup on your skin.
  • Wash your face with a gentle cleanser: This step helps remove any remaining makeup remnants and the remover left on your face. After you use your makeup remover, wash your face thoroughly with gentle soap.
  • Dry your face with an old towel: If you wash your face thoroughly but still end up with makeup on your towels, designate a few towels as your face towels. These are towels you don’t mind having stains on, because you’ll only use them for this purpose. The easiest way to keep the towels separate is to choose a different color than the rest of your towels. You can easily spot your face towels in the laundry, so no other towels get used instead.

If your towels are covered in makeup stains that won’t come out, we have you covered. Check out our selection of bathroom towels to start over fresh. With the above tips in mind, you can keep your new Towel Super Center towels fresh, clean and free of stains.

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