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The Best Way to Remove Stubborn Makeup Stains From Your Bedding, Sheets and Pillows

Eyeliner or foundation not coming out of your sheets? That's no problem with these effective stain-fighting tricks.

Macy Meyer Editor I
Macy Meyer is a N.C. native who graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2021 with a B.A. in English and Journalism. She currently resides in Charlotte, N.C., where she has been working as an Editor I, covering a variety of topics across CNET's Home and Wellness teams, including home security, fitness and nutrition, smart home tech and more. Prior to her time at CNET, Macy was featured in The News & Observer, The Charlotte Observer, INDY Week, and other state and national publications. In each article, Macy helps readers get the most out of their home and wellness. When Macy isn't writing, she's volunteering, exploring the town or watching sports.
Expertise Macy covers a variety of topics across CNET's Home and Wellness teams, including home security, smart home tech, fitness, nutrition, travel, lifestyle and more. Credentials
  • Macy has been working for CNET for coming on 2 years. Prior to CNET, Macy received a North Carolina College Media Association award in sports writing.
Macy Meyer
4 min read
Woman asleep with smudged lipstick on bedding.

There are tricks for removing even the brightest lipstick from your bedding. 

Tara Moore/Getty Images

We've all done it before: got into bed before taking off makeup or went down for a quick nap only to wake up with eyeliner smeared on your favorite pillowcase. Like many stains, smudges of eye makeup, foundation and lipstick can be difficult to remove from fabric. And sometimes a quick rinse through the washing machine just isn't enough.

But before you strip the bed and throw away your favorite set of sheets, try these simple stain-fighting tricks. Whether your makeup is oil-based or powder, these cleaning tips -- mixed with some determination -- should remove those stubborn stains in no time. (For more cleaning tips, you can also check out how often you should clean your makeup brushes, and the best way to machine wash your sheets and bedding.) 

Step 1

Figure out what stain and material you're dealing with

The first step is maybe an obvious one, but it matters in how efficiently you'll be able to remove the stain -- you have to know what you're dealing with. Is the stain from an oil-based lipstick? Is it powder eyeshadow? Are your sheets a cotton blend or something more delicate (like silk)?

All of these questions are important to answer before you start dumping a mixture of solutions onto your bedding because different cleaning solvents work better on certain stains and fabrics. (I'll break down what is best for each stain later.) Once you've done this, you can start the cleaning process.

Pro tip: Start the cleaning process right away! The older the stain, the more it sets into the fabric and the tougher it becomes to remove. 

Step 2

Remove the excess makeup

This is the quickest step of the process, but it's important to not skip it. With a spoon or butter knife, gently scrape the stain to remove any excess that may be caked onto your bedding. This process not only makes the stain smaller, but it'll also prevent the excess from spreading once you pour a liquid solvent on the stain. You may also blot the stain with a damp paper towel before you start applying solutions. 

lipstick stain on bedsheet

Scrape off any excess makeup before you start the cleaning process.

Aphiwat Chuangchoem/EyeEm/Getty Images
Step 3

Make and apply your cleaning solution

Now it's time to clean. Below, I break down which methods and solutions are best for each type of makeup stain.

I highly recommend first testing the solution on a small, unnoticeable section like a corner piece to make sure the solution won't damage or leave marks on your bedding. 

Removing lipstick

Most lipsticks are oil-based, which means you'll need a solution to cut through that oil base. A dish detergent and warm water mixture can work, but isopropyl rubbing alcohol is the most effective at removing lipstick stains. 

Simply soak a cotton ball in the isopropyl rubbing alcohol and dab at the stain gently. This process works best with fresh cotton balls so don't be afraid to use several. The red or pink pigment should begin to fade as you repeat the process. 

Removing liquid foundation

Foundation might be the most common makeup stain found on bedding. Luckily, there are several effective cleaning solutions to tackle the foundation stain. 

A 3% hydrogen peroxide solution is one of your best bets. After applying, work the solution into the fabric with a clean toothbrush. 

Another common household item that surprisingly works well is shaving cream. Apply the shaving cream to the stained area and let it sit for three to five minutes before gently dabbing the area with a clean, damp cloth. Rinse with cold water and repeat as needed. 

Removing eyeliner and mascara

Dishwashing detergent is a viable option for getting both eyeliner and mascara out of bedding. Just mix a few drops (up to a tablespoon) of the grease-fighting detergent with 2 cups of warm water, dip a clean cloth into the solution and gently blot at the stain until it begins to lift from the fabric. 

Make sure you blot delicately rather than scrubbing to avoid spreading the stain. Rinse and repeat as needed. 

Removing powder makeup

From eyeshadow to blush, there are several powder-based makeups that can unfortunately smear on your bedding. Powder makeup stains are best handled with undiluted liquid laundry detergent. Just apply the detergent straight to the stain and let it sit for at least 10 minutes before rinsing with cold water. 

Removing cosmetic stains from silk pillowcases

Your silk pillowcase has a ton of perks: It causes less damage to the hair, helps your skin retain moisture and stays cleaner longer. Plus, silk feels so luxurious. On the other hand, it's also hard to wash and can easily become damaged. Luckily, you don't have to pitch a silk pillowcase if you get cosmetic stains on one: You can use many of the tips listed above.

You can use a cotton ball soaked with hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol for most makeup stains on a silk pillowcase. You can also use diluted household ammonia (2:1 ratio of water to ammonia) on silk to remove most stains. Use a clean cloth or cotton ball to apply the agent, but don't forget to wear gloves to protect your hands.

Compact face powder, blush, eye shadow and blush brush.

Powder makeup stains are best handled with undiluted liquid laundry detergent.

Iana Kunitsa/Getty Images
Step 4

Wash your bedding

Once you've applied the solution and allowed adequate time for the mixture to work into the stain, clean your bedding in the washing machine as you normally would. Only put the bedding in the dryer if the entire stain has been removed after the cycle. Heat from the dryer could actually cause stains to set in further, making it more difficult to get the stain out once and for all. Otherwise, allow your bedding to air dry. 

Want more cleaning tips? Learn about the most energy-efficient way to do your laundry and these nine incredible laundry hacks you have to try

More cleaning advice