A Makeup Expert’s Guide on How to Get Mascara Out of Clothes

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How to Get Mascara Out of Clothes - an image of an eye with mascara
Author Name: Beth Rush
Date: Saturday March 30, 2024

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Stains are one of the concerns of makeup enthusiasts. From the face, they could transfer to the neck, arms and even your treasured outfits if you’re not careful, giving you additional trouble to deal with. Mascara is harder to remove once they settle on your clothes. Fortunately, the dark streaks are washable. Find out how to get mascara out of clothes and make it seem like the smears were never there. 

Why It’s Hard to Remove Mascara Out of Clothes

How to Get Mascara Out of Clothes  - an image of mascara

You’ve probably spent hours scrubbing the mascara stain off of your favorite dress, and it hardly comes off. Some types of eye makeup are harder to erase because of their composition. For example, removing clear mascara is easier than dark, pigmented ones.  

Most mascara brands are made of oil or wax as a base, which explains why it takes a long time to treat the smears on your dress. They’re typically a combination of water and a carrier oil, like castor, sesame, linseed, lanolin and mineral. 

Waterproof products use less water and more waxes like beeswax, carnauba and paraffin, possessing water-resistant properties. Carbon black and iron oxide give this eye makeup its pigment. Mascaras that lengthen and make your lashes full contain nylon or rayon fibers. Depending on the brand, some may add more chemicals as preservatives and enhancers. 

5 Ways to Remove Mascara Out of Clothes

While it’s relatively easy to remove water-resistant mascara from the face using a makeup remover, eraser, micellar water and cold cream — it’s a challenge if the pigments fling onto the clothes. Since oil doesn’t dissolve in water, breaking down the mascara marks can be troublesome. Treat it quickly as soon as you get it on your clothes, carpet or any fabric before the stubborn grease dries up. 

If it has left a mess on your garment, pre-treat by gently scraping off the smear using a table knife or the side of a spoon. For fiber-based mascara, wait for the stain to dry before touching the fabric so the formula doesn’t spread to a larger area. Follow these tips to remove mascara from clothes. 

Remove Mascara From Clothes Using a Stain Solution

Stain bars or sprays are concentrated versions of detergent. These undiluted compounds effectively wash off combination stains like mascara composed of oil, fiber, wax, and other chemicals. 

Before you begin the treatment, pick a product that’s safe for all fabric types to use. For spot stains, rinse the area to be treated with hot water, then spray or add a few drops of the solution. Let stand for a few minutes before rinsing or blotting away the residue. 

Remove Mascara From Clothes Using Laundry Detergent

If you don’t have a stain agent on hand, any laundry detergent can do the job. Pre-treat by adding enough detergent to break up the marks. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to scrub the mascara gently. Let it sit briefly before rinsing the stained area with hot water. Toss the dress in the washer. 

Remove Mascara From Clothes Using Makeup Removing Wipe

How to Get Mascara Out of Clothes -an image of makeup wipe remover

Do a pre-treatment by scraping away the residue. Then, place the cloth face down on a clean rag or paper towel. Grab a makeup wipe and push the stain out of the garment, transferring it to the rag or paper towel. Do this until the residue almost clears out. Throw away the paper towel and rinse the garment or load it in the washer with warm water. 

Remove Mascara From Clothes Using a Color-Safe Bleach

Another option is to use a color-safe bleaching agent to boost the strain treatment on cotton or linen material. Avoid using it on wool, leather, spandex or mohair garments as these aren’t bleach-safe. 

Apply a few drops of liquid color-safe bleach and allow the smudged shirt to soak in the solution for a few minutes or until you notice the stain clearing. Use a brush to scrub the area gently, then rinse it. 

Get Rid of Mascara Smudge on Dry Clean Only Fabrics

If the outfit tag indicates a dry-clean-only fabric, it’s best to take it to a professional cleaner. They know the best methods to treat all kinds of smears, especially on expensive apparel like a wedding gown or formal attire. 

Otherwise, try a DIY remedy if you’re on a budget. Purchase a dry cleaning kit and follow the instructions. 

Tips to Avoid Accidental Mascara Stains on Your Garments

How to Get Mascara Out of Clothes - a woman applying mascara in front of the mirror

1. Use a water-resistant mascara 

It has a quick drying time, minimizing the risk of smudging on clothes during applications. 

2. Comb the brush through the lashes gently

Roll the comb from the root to the tip of the eyelashes slowly so the spoolie doesn’t accidentally touch any head accessory or the neckline of your attire. After our initial coat, avoid blinking or touching your eyes until the mascara has dried. 

3. Use a mirror

Some experts can effortlessly apply mascara without it or use their dark phone’s screen, but this can be difficult for those new to makeup application. Bring a small mirror so you can retouch anytime without risking clothing stains. 

4. Tape a small piece of paper under the eyes

It can help catch falling mascara residue so they don’t reach your shirt or skirt. 

5. Wipe the wand before use

If you use the same wand repeatedly without cleaning, you’ll notice clumping pigments that could transfer to your gorgeous outfit. Wipe this off with face tissue or a paper towel to prevent mascara from flinging onto your shirt or jeans.

6. Avoid pumping the wand

Many people pump the wand in and out of the tube to mix the content or pigment. However, this only lets air inside, leading to lumps and potential splatters. 

Get Mascara Out of Your Clothes With Useful Tips

You can clean a mascara-smeared outfit with a detergent, stain solution and makeup remover wipe. Not all eye makeup brands are the same, so some may be harder to wash off than others. Try one remedy and then another if it fails. 

A few wand strokes can transform your eye, so mascara is a must for makeup enthusiasts. Stains are inevitable when working with makeup, but you can prevent them from slinging onto your favorite outfits by applying them gently and following the tips above to sidestep accidental spills. 

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