How to Get Makeup Stains Out of White Towels

Makeup stains on towels are a common problem that can be difficult to remove. However, with the right techniques, you can successfully lift makeup stains to restore the look and feel of your towels.

In this guide, we’ll explore effective methods for removing makeup stains from white towels, so they stay clean and fresh for a long time.

Why Makeup Stains are Common on Towels

Makeup stains are common on towels due to the ingredients found in makeup. Most makeup products contain pigments, waxes, and oils, which stick to towel fibers and cause stains. The pigments in makeup are responsible for the visible discoloration, while waxes and oils make the stains water-resistant, making them more challenging to remove.

White towel with makeup stains

Types of Makeup Stains

Identifying the type of makeup stain is crucial for selecting the appropriate cleaning method. Common makeup stains on white towels include:

1. Oil-Based Makeup

Oil-based makeup includes products like:

  • Mascara
  • Liquid eyeliner
  • Eyeshadow
  • Lipstick
  • Foundation

These makeup products contain waxes and oils that make them very resistant to water and detergents. You need special liquids that can break down the oily components before you can completely wash them off.

Makeup Products

2. Water-Based Makeup

Water-based makeup consists of products like:

  • Powder blush
  • Powder foundation
  • Oil-free foundation

While powder makeup still contains pigments that can stain fabric, the lack of oils and waxes means you can easily wash them out with warm water and detergent.

Differentiating between oil-based and water-based stains is essential, as their removal methods vary significantly. Oil-based stains are resistant to water and often require specific solvents for effective removal. On the other hand, water-based stains can often be cleaned up with just water and soap, which is usually simpler.

Removing Makeup Stains from Towels

1. Lift Off Excess Makeup

Use a butter knife or credit card to gently scrape off any excess makeup from the fabric. For dry powdered makeup, a lint roller can effectively remove loose particles.

2. Apply Cleaning Solution:

  • For oil-based stains, apply a few drops of dish soap directly onto the stained area and allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes.
  • For water-based stains, create a paste using powdered laundry detergent and water, then apply it to the stain and let it sit.

3. Scrub Gently

Using a soft-bristled brush, gently scrub the stained area to help loosen the makeup particles from the fabric.

4. Rinse and Wash:

Rinse the towel with warm water to remove the cleaning solution, then wash it in warm water with detergent.

5. Check for Remaining Stains:

After washing, inspect the towel for any remaining stains. If necessary, spot-treat the area with dish soap or a stain remover before washing again.

6. Avoid Heat:

Avoid putting towels in the dryer until the stain is fully removed because heat can set the stain and make it more challenging to remove.

Home Remedies for Makeup Stains

In addition to commercial products, several household remedies can be effective in removing makeup stains from towels:


  • Baking Soda Paste: Make a paste with baking soda and water, then gently rub it into the makeup stain and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before washing. The abrasiveness of baking soda helps lift stains.
  • White Vinegar: Dampen a clean cloth with white vinegar and dab the stain, allowing it to sit for 15 minutes before washing. The acidity in vinegar helps break down makeup pigments.
  • Lemon Juice: Squeeze fresh lemon juice onto the stain and let it sit for 10-15 minutes before washing. Like vinegar, the citric acid in lemon juice aids in removing pigment stains.

Tips for Preventing Future Stains

Preventing makeup stains on white towels starts with good habits and proper care. Here are some general tips:

  • Whenever possible, remove your makeup before using towels to prevent stains from transferring onto the fabric.
  • Use dark-colored towels to remove makeup to minimize the visibility of stains.
  • Consider using disposable makeup remover wipes to avoid transferring makeup onto towels.

When to Discard a Stained Towel

Despite your best efforts, there may come a time when it’s necessary to part ways with a stained towel. Consider discarding a towel:

  • If the stains don’t come out after washing and treating them many times.
  • If the towel material is worn down or has holes and can’t be fixed.
  • If the stain has gotten very big and spread across a lot of the towel, making it looks bad or is not usable anymore.


In conclusion, dealing with makeup stains on towels doesn’t have to be a daunting task. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can effectively remove stains from your towels. Remember to identify the type of stain, pre-treat accordingly, and use appropriate cleaning methods. With a little patience and perseverance, you can keep your white towels looking clean and fresh for years to come.


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