How to remove foundation makeup from fabric

Updated April 17, 2017

Long-lasting, fade-proof foundation is every woman's ideal make-up--until you manage to spill some on your favourite shirt. Liquid foundation can drip or splatter, and even powder or mineral foundations can create a stain if they are rubbed in. As with most stains, the key to removal is taking action before the stain has a chance to set in to the fabric. Clothing items may be cleaned by pretreating and washing, while upholstery will require a bit of scrubbing.

Blot up any excess liquid make-up with a clean white cloth. For powder-based foundation, shake the fabric out to remove any loose powder.

Apply a stain removing pretreatment to the fabric. If you don't have this on hand, you can substitute a liquid dish soap or shampoo. Squeeze the solution directly on to the stain, then use a clean white cloth to work the treatment in to the fabric. Use a blotting motion to help draw the make-up out of the fabric fibres.

Launder the fabric item as you normally would. When the wash cycle is complete, remove the item from the washer and inspect. If any stains are still visible, do not place the item in the dryer. Repeat the pretreatment steps, then pour a small amount of washing powder directly onto the stain and rub thoroughly. Wash the item again.

Add 1 tbsp of liquid dish soap to 2 cups of cool water. Mix well.

Saturate a clean white cloth with the mixture, then place the cloth over the stained area. Use a blotting motion to draw the stain out of the fabric. Continue blotting until the stain is lifted.

Use a sponge dampened with water to remove any leftover solution from the upholstery. Blot lightly, then use a clean dry towel to soak up any liquid.


You may also wash fabrics in a colour-safe bleach after using the pretreatment procedure. For persistent make-up stains, try blotting with an oil-free make-up remover, then washing as normal.


Do not attempt the stain removal techniques on fabrics that are labelled "Dry Clean Only." Take these items to a professional cleaning service as soon as possible.

Things You'll Need

  • Clean white cloth
  • Pretreatment stain removal product
  • Shampoo
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Water
  • Sponge
  • Towel
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About the Author

Amy McClain has worked as both a feature writer and a copy editor for a prestigious daily newspaper. She also enjoys writing as a hobby and takes creative writing courses in her free time. She has worked in sales and marketing for a wireless company for over seven years.