Skip to Content

How to Get Mascara Out of Clothes

You know that saying, “all I need is coffee and mascara?” You probably don’t feel ready to face the day without a quick swipe of mascara across your lashes, but once in a while, the mascara wand slips and you end up with a smear of black across your outfit. Fortunately, you can learn how to get mascara out of clothes in just a few simple steps.

The best way to get mascara out of clothes is to brush away the excess and then treat the stain immediately with Dawn dish soap or laundry detergent. Other effective methods include using hairspray, shaving cream, or rubbing alcohol to remove the stain. Commercial products like stain removers and makeup wipes can also work well on mascara stains.

In this article, you will find out what makes mascara stains difficult to remove from fabric. You will learn 10 simple methods for getting mascara out of clothes. Finally, you will find tips for how to get mascara out of carpets and furniture.

How to Get Mascara Out of Clothes

Does Mascara Come Out of Clothes?

Mascara does come out of clothes with the proper treatment applied as soon as possible. Most types of mascara contain a wax or grease agent that makes your lashes look bigger and thicker, but this is also what makes the color pigment stick to the fabric of your clothes. Getting grease stains out of fabric is often more challenging than food or plant-based stains.

The color pigments in black mascara usually come from either iron oxide or carbon black. Colored mascaras typically contain dyes and a wax base to hold everything together.

You can also find natural mascara that may use things like essential oils in the place of the more typical wax or grease you find in most commercial products. But even these all-natural products will still leave black grease stains on your clothes!

Another thing to consider is the difference between waterproof and regular or water-resistant mascara. Waterproof mascara contains additional ingredients like silicones and chemicals such as Cyclopentasiloxane. These products create a more durable coating for your lashes that will not bleed after limited exposure to tears, sweat, or swimming pool water.

On the other hand, removing waterproof mascara from your lashes is a lot harder than removing regular mascara. As you might expect, it is equally more difficult to budge out of fabric because it can resist water and normal washing methods.

What Removes Mascara Easily?

Makeup removal products, some types of oils, and degreasing agents like dish soap can all remove mascara easily.

If you want to remove normal mascara from your lashes, the easiest method is to buy any brand of makeup removal wipe and just take a few swipes at your eyes. If you catch a stain in your clothes quickly enough, a makeup wipe carefully blotted onto the stain could do the trick as well!

Waterproof mascara gets more difficult to remove, though. Try dipping a cotton ball or makeup remover pad in a bit of coconut, olive, or baby oil and applying that to your lashes. Then use a soft pad soaked in warm water to wipe away the stubborn makeup.

You can usually get any type of mascara, including the waterproof kind, out of clothes by applying a degreasing agent and working it into the stain with a soft brush. Let it sit for a few minutes before you rinse it out. You can use products like dish soap, laundry detergent, or a grease stain remover like some Shout or Zout products.

How to Get Mascara Out of Clothes: 10 Methods

How to remove Mascara from Clothes

You can get mascara out of clothes using common household products like dish soap or laundry detergent, alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, or even shaving cream or hairspray. You can also use commercial products like makeup removers, bleach, or some stain removers to quickly get those black smears out of your clothing.

1. Laundry Detergent

Arm & Hammer Plus OxiClean Clean Meadow, 75 Loads Liquid Laundry Detergent, 118.1 Fl ozOne of the most effective ways to treat a mascara stain is to apply laundry detergent directly to the stain before washing the garment. Most of the time, you may not even notice stains on your clothes until you sort through your dirty laundry right before washing it. With this method, you can handily use products you already have in your laundry room to quickly treat the stains before washing.
  1. Spread the stained garment on a flat surface like an ironing board or the top of your washer. Put a piece of cardboard behind the top layer of fabric in the garment, so nothing soaks through to the other side.
  2. If you can see crumbling excess mascara on the fabric, carefully brush it off into a wastebasket.
  3. Pour a generous dollop of your regular laundry detergent onto the stain. You want enough soap to cover the whole stain.
  4. Use a soft brush or sponge to gently work the soap into the stain until it lathers.
  5. Let the soap sit for twenty minutes.
  6. Rinse the stained area under warm running water.
  7. Wash the garment as usual, but make sure you check to see if the stain remains before putting it in your dryer.

2. Dawn Dish Soap

Dawn Procter & Gamble 39713 Dish Soap, Ultra Original, 7-oz. - Quantity 1One of the most effective degreasing agents you can use on any kind of oil or grease stain is Dawn dish soap. Most brands of dish soap will work well, as they all contain ingredients that separate fat molecules from the stain and cause them to rinse away in the water, but Dawn is especially famous for its degreasing ability.

For most clothing, you can use the same steps as you did in the laundry detergent method, just substitute dish soap for the detergent.

For more delicate clothes, try this instead:

  1. Measure one teaspoon of dish soap into a small bowl and add one cup of warm water. Swish the water to dissolve the soap.
  2. Dip a brand new, clean sponge into the soapy water.
  3. Gently dab at the stain with the damp sponge. As you see black smears coming off onto the sponge, switch to a new corner of the sponge and keep dabbing.
  4. Once you have removed all or most of the mascara, wash the garment according to the instructions on its care label.

3. Makeup Remover

Cetaphil Gentle Waterproof Makeup Remover, Oil-Free Formula Suitable for Sensitive Skin, 6.0 Fluid OunceMakeup remover works on the makeup on your lashes, so it makes sense that you can also use it to remove mascara stains from clothes!

Makeup removers generally come in two different types: water-based and oil-based. Since mascara contains oil, it usually reacts better to oil-based removers. This is especially true if you use waterproof mascara.

That said, products like micellar water could still work, as they operate like soap in the sense that they contain molecules that can separate bits of dirt or grease and help them break away from the stain.

To use a makeup remover:

  1. Either use a wipe or soak a cotton ball in the remover.
  2. Dab at the stain with the wipe or cotton ball. Try not to wipe or smear across the spot, as this will spread the stain further.
  3. After you can no longer see any mascara on the fabric, rinse out the area and then put the garment directly into the washing machine to launder it as usual.

4. Isopropyl Alcohol

Rubbing AlcoholRubbing alcohol is a solvent you can use to remove many types of stains in your clothes, including mascara. Isopropyl alcohol dissolves mascara so well that you can also use a few drops in an old tube of mascara to revive it and keep using it!

  1. Soak a cotton ball or Q-tip in the alcohol.
  2. Dab at the stain, starting from the outer edge and working your way to the center.
  3. As soon as you notice the cotton ball turning black, replace it with a new one.
  4. Keep going until you no longer see mascara on the clothing.
  5. Rinse out the damp area thoroughly with running water.

If you’re out somewhere when you notice the mascara stain on your clothes, you can try soaking a Kleenex in hand sanitizer and dabbing at the stain. Hand sanitizer contains a high percentage of alcohol, so it might work on the stain in a pinch!

5. Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen PeroxideLike rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide can treat many types of stains, including mascara. Unlike rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide does not sanitize your makeup and is not the best choice for thinning old mascara because of that.

But you can use it on stains in your clothing, where it will act very much like an oxygenated bleach to whiten the stain. Before using this product, though, do a spot test to find out if the peroxide will damage your clothes.

All you have to do is swipe a drop of peroxide onto a hidden inner seam of the garment. Let it sit for ten minutes, and then check to see if the product bleached or damaged the fabric.

To use hydrogen peroxide:

  1. Soak a cotton ball or sponge in the peroxide.
  2. Dab at the stained area until it is thoroughly damp.
  3. Let it sit for ten minutes.
  4. Rinse out a clean sponge with water and dab again. This time, mascara should come off onto the sponge.
  5. Once you do not see any stain on the garment, rinse it in running water and then launder it immediately.

6. Without Washing

While most stain removal methods work best if you immediately launder the garment after applying the stain remover, you can try a hairspray hack without washing if you need to get the mascara stain out fast.

  1. Take a minute to set up the stained garment for this method. Start by smoothing it out on a flat surface like a table. Insert a piece of cardboard behind the stained area so that the hairspray and mascara will not soak through onto the reverse side.
  2. Next, get out your hairspray and thoroughly sprit the stain. You want it to look damp all the way through.
  3. Let this sit until the hairspray dries, which may take twenty minutes or so.
  4. Now use a soft brush to dust off the hardened hairspray and crumbly mascara. Hopefully, all of the makeup will come off with the hardened hairspray!

7. Shaving Cream

Shaving cream is another common household product you may not think of trying as a mascara stain remover. Shaving cream often works as a stain remover because it has great foaming properties, which can lift stain particles out of clothing or carpets.

  1. Squirt a splotch of shaving cream right onto the stain. Make sure it covers the entire stain.
  2. Let this sit for ten minutes.
  3. Scoop off the cream with your fingers and rinse the stained area under running water.
  4. If this did not entirely remove the stain, try adding another small squirt of shaving cream and working it into the stain with a soft brush or sponge.
  5. Then rinse again, and see if any mascara remains!

8. Bleach

BleachYou can use bleach in two different ways to remove mascara stains.

First, you can use oxygenated bleach such as OxiClean in your washing machine and your regular laundry detergent. OxiClean should remove most stains without damaging clothes, even colored clothes. You should check the care label inside your clothes before washing them with any kind of bleach, just to be safe.

Second, if you find a stain on a white garment, you can use chlorine bleach to turn the mascara white and make it entirely unnoticeable. You should only use chlorine bleach on sturdy fabrics like cotton, though.

Both of these methods will effectively remove the makeup stain. But bleach contains strong chemicals and you may want to save it as a last resort if a spot treatment like using rubbing alcohol or makeup remover does not work.

9. Ammonia

You can use a solution containing ammonia to remove difficult mascara stains from clothing and carpets. This solution works very much like an expensive dry cleaning solvent, but it does take a bit more work than most of the other methods.

  1. Measure one tablespoon of ammonia into a clean spray bottle. Add one tablespoon of dish soap and two cups of warm water. Screw on the top and shake up the bottle to mix this.
  2. Spritz this solution onto the stain.
  3. Let it sit for five minutes.
  4. Spirit a little more onto a clean rag and dab at the stain. Hopefully, you will see mascara coming away onto the rag immediately.
  5. Soak another rag in clean water and blot the stain to remove the remaining mascara and the cleaning solution.

10. Commercial Products

OxiClean MaxForce Laundry Stain Remover Spray, 12 Fl. oz.Many commercial stain removers will remove mascara from clothes. Look for a product designed to work on grease or oil stains, like OxiClean MaxForce or some of the Shout products. Off-brand sprays or solutions can work just fine, but you do want to make sure you get a remover designed to work on grease.

Many stain removers use enzymes to break down food or cellulose-based stains, and this kind will not work as well on mascara.

You will need to wash the garment after applying the stain remover, so make sure you try this method when you have time to do a load of laundry.

Does Mascara Come Out of Clothes in the Wash?

Mascara stains generally do not come out of clothes in the wash unless you pretreat the stain. If you apply a commercial stain remover or even straight laundry detergent to the stain and let it sit for twenty minutes before putting the garment into the washer, the stain probably will come out entirely during the washing cycle.

Make sure you don’t put a recently stained garment into your dryer. The heat may bake any remaining stain into the fabric, making it almost impossible to remove.

How to Get Waterproof Mascara Out of Clothes

You can get waterproof mascara out of clothes most effectively by combing the makeup remover and laundry detergent methods. Waterproof mascara has extra ingredients in it that make it impervious to regular water and washing methods. The same properties that make it stick to your lashes so tenaciously also make it hard to get out of fabric!

  1. Start by smoothing out the garment, but this time, put the stain face-down on top of a folded paper towel.
  2. Use a makeup wipe or a cotton ball soaked in an oil-based makeup remover to scrub at the back of the stained fabric.
  3. Check to see if mascara has leaked away onto the paper towel.
  4. Rinse the stained area under running water.
  5. Gently work about a teaspoon of laundry detergent into the front of the stained fabric.
  6. Finally, wash it in the washing machine, but do not put it in the dryer.

How to Get Mascara Out of Clothes Quickly

The best way to get mascara out of clothes quickly is to use the dish soap method. This quick-acting degreaser will break up the stain and allow you to rinse away the makeup.

Another great on-the-spot solution to quickly remove a fresh mascara stain is to dab at it with a makeup remover wipe.

Bleach also works quickly, but you may want to save that method as a last resort as bleach can damage many types of clothing.

How to Get Mascara Out of:

Check out these quick tips to learn how to get mascara out of carpets, jeans, and more!


The best way to get mascara out of a carpet is to try either the rubbing alcohol or ammonia method.

Using the ammonia solution works very effectively, but make sure you “rinse” the area repeatedly by blotting with a damp rag soaked in clean water afterward. Otherwise, your carpet will smell gross and the ammonia could even damage its fibers in the long term.


You can get mascara out of a pillowcase using any of the methods described in this article, though the dish soap or laundry detergent methods may be most convenient if you spot the stain while doing your laundry.

If you find mascara on a pillow, try using the dish soap and water solution and blotting at the stain until it comes away. Then rinse the pillow by soaking a clean rag in water and blotting again to remove any remaining soap.


Usually, the safest way to get mascara out of upholstery is to use the dish soap and water method.

  1. Mix a teaspoon of soap into two cups of warm water.
  2. Dip a clean rag into his and use it to blot the stain.
  3. When you no longer see the mascara, switch to a second rag dipped in plain water.
  4. Blot again to remove the soap.

You can try this on any upholstery that will not stain from exposure to water, as well as on most car upholstery.


The best way to get mascara out of jeans is to use the laundry detergent method before washing the jeans in your washing machine. If you notice the mascara right away as you put on your makeup, you can also try using a bit of makeup remover as an instant fix for a small mascara spot.


The best way to get mascara out of towels is to use a commercial stain remover designed to work on grease stains. You may find it tricky to use a spot-removal method on a towel since all the fluffy fibers will hide flecks of mascara and you will have a tough time getting to all of it.

Make sure you give yourself time to wash the towels after applying the commercial stain remover according to the instructions on the bottle.


You can get mascara out of clothes using dish soap or laundry soap rubbed into the stain and then laundering the garment in your washing machine. You can also use rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or shaving cream as handy household products that will effectively remove makeup stains. For a stronger fix, consider using commercial products like bleach or stain removers designed to work on grease.

If you catch the mascara stain right away, try using makeup remover or makeup removing wipes on it. If you don’t have time to wash your clothes, you can also try spraying hairspray onto the stain and letting it harden before brushing away the hardened spray and mascara.