How to Get Mascara Out of Clothes

The first generation of commercially available mascara was made of two simple ingredients: coal dust and petroleum jelly. The only problem was that they didn’t stay on for long. But they got better; now mascara is made of a complex mix of ingredients that makes the product hard to remove from skin – and clothes, too, in such an event.

If you have mascara stains on your cloth, though, we have compiled 10 of the best ways to get rid of them without ruining your cloth.

10 Ways To Get Mascara Out Of Clothes

You’re likely here because you didn’t anticipate that mascara stains would be so hard to remove. Getting mascara out of clothes is difficult (but not impossible). Take a look at 10 ways to do it:

1. Liquid Detergent

Tide liquid detergent bundle

If you suddenly have mascara on your cloth, it is a good idea first to moisten the affected area with liquid detergent and let it sit for a while. Admittedly, liquid detergent may not completely remove mascara stains, but it will remove most of them so that the other cleaning measures (below) can work properly. 

2. Oxygen Bleach

Oxygen bleaching agents work efficiently for removing tough stains, including mascara. But you should never use it on plant-derived fabrics like wool, silk, or bamboo to avoid ruining them. Once you’re certain that your cloth is not of the plant-derived variety, take the following steps: 

  1. Apply detergent over the stained area and let it stand for a few minutes. 
  2. Next, throw the cloth in a washing machine and set it to the hottest allowable temperature for the fabric. Check the cloth’s care tag if you’re unsure what this temperature is. Washing at a high temperature prevents the mascara stains from spreading out and makes it easy to clean.
  3. Add laundry detergent and an oxygen bleaching agent like Oxi Clean versatile stain remover; it is color-safe and tough on stains.
  4. Turn on the machine and launder normally. 

Warning: Never use Oxi Clean (or any cleaning agent, for that matter) without first performing a spot test. A tiny drop of Oxi Clean on a small section of the cloth will tell you if it’s safe to use or not. 

3. Dish Soap

Gain Dishwashing Liquid Bundle

Often underestimated, regular dish soap can be pretty helpful for getting mascara out of clothes. Dish soap is effective because it can break down the oil and wax that makes up mascara. 

Simply douse the stained area with dish soap, then gently work the spot with your fingers or a soft brush. After that, wash the cloth normally. 

Dish soap also works for getting foundation out of clothes.

4. Alcohol

You can use alcohol to remove regular or waterproof mascara from your clothes. Alcohol is an excellent solvent, so it’s effective for getting out nail polish, mascara, and other makeup stains from your clothes. But don’t just drench the trouble spot with alcohol, or the stain might spread out. Here’s how: 

  1. Moisten cotton balls or a small towel with alcohol, then gently rub the stained area with it.
  2. When the cotton ball gets noticeably stained, that means it’s working. Replace with another cotton ball (if you’re using a towel, simply use another side) and repeat the process until clean. 
  3. Throw the cloth in the wash and launder as usual. It should come out looking brand new. 

5. Makeup Remover

Cetaphil Makeup Remover

Makeup removers have the right formulation for removing makeup from your face; they can also be very useful for removing mascara stains from your cloth. Makeup-removing solutions work best when the stain is still fresh, so you may have to hurry. 

To remove mascara using makeup remover, moisten a cotton ball and gently dab at the stained spots. After a few touches, the mascara stains should begin to wear off. Repeat this process until clean enough, then finish it off with a thorough wash in the machine. If you don’t like the hassles of having to handle liquid makeup removers, then you would like Neutrogena’s towelette makeup remover.

If the mascara stain gets to the other side of the cloth, douse the stained spots from the back and then work on the front until the stain comes out completely. After that, just wash the cloth normally.

6. Stain Remover

Stain removers can be very useful for removing stubborn makeup stains, including mascara. Still, you should check the label on each stain-removing product to be sure they can be used on clothes. 

If you have a stain remover like Oxi Clean Maxforce at home, simply apply it to the mascara stain, then let it sit for as long as specified by the product’s manufacturer. After a few minutes, your cloth should be ready for washing. 

7. Detergent Wipes

Clorox Disinfecting Wipes

So you’re all dressed up and about to step out, but by some perverse luck, your beautiful dress gets its own mascara. You’re running out of time, so how do you get the mascara out now? Get a detergent wipe. Luckily, detergent wipes can be found in almost any local store. Here’s to do it:

  1. Take a detergent wipe and gently work the stains in a circular motion. 
  2. Start at the edge of the stain, then work your way inwards.
  3. If the wipes get noticeably dirty, then you’re doing great. Replace the wipes when necessary and repeat steps 1 – 2 until the stains completely disappear. 
  4. Rinse. This is tricky because you don’t want to wet the entire cloth. Simply open the faucet halfway so that the water runs slowly, then wash the affected area. 
  5. Dry the spot with a paper towel.
  6. Voila! The stains have been defeated. You can now step out in style.

Warning: Detergent wipes may react adversely with some cloth fabric, so it’s always a good idea to carry out a spot test first. 

8. Shaving Cream

Shaving cream doesn’t seem like it has much to do with this list, but it is also useful for removing mascara from clothes. If you have shaving cream at hand, simply apply it to the affected area on the cloth and let it sit for 15 – 30 minutes. After that, wash the shaving cream away, then throw the cloth in a washing machine for a thorough wash. 

9. Hairspray


You’ve probably heard that hairspray helps get makeup stains out of clothes. It’s true. You can use hairspray to remove makeup stains such as mascara, but they would have high alcohol content to work. So if you have mascara stain on your cloth, grab a hairspray and spray a generous amount on the stained spot. Use a wet wipe or damp cloth to remove the mascara stain when it dries out. 

10. Hydrogen Peroxide

 You have nothing to fear if you have mascara on a white cloth and a bottle of hydrogen peroxide. Grab the hydrogen peroxide and moisten cotton balls with it. Then with the moistened cotton ball, rub the affected area. When the current cotton ball gets noticeably stained, replace it with another and repeat the process until clean. Afterward, just wash the cloth normally to remove the remaining mascara stain. 

Note: Hydrogen peroxide has a bleaching effect and is, therefore, not safe for use on colored clothes.

What You Shouldn’t Do To Remove Mascara Stain On Clothes

Getting mascara out of clothes is a tricky business. For one, the material composition of mascara: wax, and/or oil are highly hydrophobic. This property allows mascara stains to keep expanding as you use water on them. For this reason, we’ve compiled a list of don’ts for whenever you get mascara stains on your clothes. Take a peek: 

  • When you have mascara stains on your cloth, washing with water should never be your first line of action – and rubbing it too. It will just spread. Instead, use one of the cleaning methods outlined above.
  • Do not use a cleaning agent without first testing it on a small, inconspicuous part of the cloth. Sometimes, a cleaning agent might be too strong for your cloth fabric, and spot testing might be your saving grace.
  • Do not neglect the cleaning instructions on your cloth tag; they contain instructions such as maximum allowable temperature, bleach compatibility, etc. 

How Do You Get Mascara Out Of Clothes Without Washing?

The truth is, you will not always have time to take your accidentally mascara-stained cloth off for washing. If you ever get mascara on your cloth and you need to take the stain out without washing, here’s how: 

  • First off, remove any excess mascara to make it easy to clean the cloth. You can easily do this using a spoon to scrape the excess mascara off gently. Please ensure the spoon is completely dry, so you don’t spread the stain further.
  • Next, gently pat the stained area with a makeup wipe (or paper towel). While you’re at it, try not to rub – just pat.
  • Work the back of the stained area using a fresh makeup wipe or paper towel until the mascara dissolves. You can repeat this step until the mascara stain cannot dissolve further.
  • Take a small towel, and with warm water and liquid detergent, soak a small edge of the towel and gently clean the stains that persist.

How Do I Get Waterproof Mascara Off Clothes?

Waterproof mascara stains are harder to remove, considering that they’re ‘waterproof.’ If the mascara stain won’t budge despite your best efforts using the cleaning instructions we outlined above, it either has supreme staying or is a waterproof variant. No matter, you can still be rid of the stains by following the steps below:

  • Douse the stained spot with Oxi Clean and let it stand for about 30 minutes.
  • Using an old toothbrush, scrub the spot gently, taking care not to spread it to other areas.
  • When the bristles, take out some of the mascara, wipe it with a small rag or paper towel, then repeat until most of the mascara stains come off. 
  • Lastly, wash the cloth by hand or using a machine to remove the last of the mascara stains.

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