How to Remove Makeup Stains from Mattresses and Bedding

Last Updated On April 18th, 2024
How to Remove Makeup Stains from Mattresses and Bedding

Key Takeaways

  • Prevention is Key: Establishing simple habits like washing your face before bed and using a mattress protector can help prevent makeup stains on bedding and mattresses.
  • Act Swiftly: It’s easier to remove fresh makeup stains, so tackle them as soon as possible. Remember to spot test cleaning solutions to avoid damage.
  • Delicate Fabrics Need Care: Be extra cautious when dealing with delicate fabrics like silk or satin. Use gentler cleaning solutions, avoid aggressive scrubbing, and allow for longer drying times.

We’ve all been there – you fall into bed exhausted after a long day, not even thinking to take off your makeup first. Or maybe you decided to indulge in an afternoon nap and forgot you had a full face of cosmetics on.

Next thing you know, you’re waking up to mascara smudges, lipstick smears, and foundation stains on your nice clean pillowcases and sheets. Well, what’s the harm, you might wonder? Just clean the bedding and be done with it.

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While a few makeup stains here and there may not seem like a big deal, leaving them untreated can lead to permanent discoloration and damage on your bedding. The oil and pigments can also rub off onto your mattress if you don’t act quickly. Worse, makeup stains can provide an environment for bacteria to thrive, making your bed a much unhealthier place to sleep.

The good news is that with the right techniques and cleaning solutions, you can get your linens looking fresh and clean again. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know to tackle even the toughest makeup stains on mattresses and bedding.

Preventing Makeup Stains in the First Place

Quick Guide: A 30-Second Summary

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They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that’s definitely true when it comes to keeping your bedding makeup-stain free. Here are a few simple habits you can adopt to avoid having to deal with removing stubborn cosmetic stains down the road

Wash Your Face Before Bed

This may seem obvious, but taking the time to thoroughly remove all traces of makeup before slipping under the covers can save you a lot of headache. Invest in some high-quality makeup remover and micellar water and be sure to fully cleanse your face each night.

Use a Mattress Protector

Placing a mattress protector or cover over your mattress is an easy way to create a barrier that keeps mattress stains from penetrating deep down into the padding and fabric. A mattress protector keeps pests and allergens from penetrating the mattress, and saves you from having to clean up other accidents on your mattress:

Look for protectors made of materials that are soft yet impenetrable. Make sure you also choose a mattress protector size that matches your bed for a snug fit.

It’s also a wise practice to wash your protector after addressing any bodily spills or other accidents to prevent mattress stains and unwanted substances in your bed.

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Change Pillowcases Frequently

Aim to wash your pillowcases at least once a week, or even more often if you use rich moisturizers or night creams in your nighttime skin routine that could transfer onto the fabric.

Having multiple pillowcases and shams on hand makes it easy to swap in fresh linens.

General Tips for Removing Makeup Stains

If you do end up with cosmetic stains on your linens, follow these tips for the best chance of getting them out. With those general tips in mind, let’s go through how to remove some of the most common makeup stains from bedding and mattresses.

Act Quickly

Fresh stains are always easier to tackle, so try to treat them as soon as possible. The longer makeup sits on fabric or your sleep surface, the more difficult it becomes to lift a mattress stain.

Spot Test Cleaning Solutions

Before applying any stain remover or cleaning agent, first test it on a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric. This ensures it won’t discolor or damage the material.

Remove Excess Makeup Gently

Use a dull butter knife or spoon to lightly scrape off any excess makeup. Avoid rubbing or scrubbing aggressively as this can push the stain further into the fibers.

Allow Cleaning Solution Time to Work

Most stain removers need a bit of dwell time to fully penetrate and lift the makeup stain. Give it at least 5 minutes of contact time before rinsing or washing.

Air Dry Instead of Machine Drying

The high heat of a clothes dryer can actually set stains. Always air dry bedding after stain removal to ensure the stain doesn’t become permanent.

Removing Mascara from Pillowcases

Many mascaras nowadays boast claims of being long-wearing, volumizing, and even waterproof. So it’s no wonder mascara stains can be tricky to tackle.

Here are the steps and supplies you’ll need to get it out of pillowcases and bed shams.


  • Butter knife or spoon
  • Dish soap (look for a gentle, grease-cutting formula)
  • Warm water
  • Clean cloths or soft rags


  1. Use the dull side of a butter knife or spoon to gently scrape off any flecks or chunks of mascara.
  2. In a small bowl, dilute a few drops of dish soap with warm water.
  3. Dip a clean rag into the soapy solution and gently blot at the stained area. Avoid aggressive scrubbing with a damp cloth.
  4. Rinse the backside of the fabric with cool water until the water runs clear.
  5. Allow the pillowcase to fully air dry then check for any remaining traces of the stain.
  6. Repeat the process as needed until no more makeup transfers onto the rag.
  7. Wash as usual once the stain is fully removed.

This technique using dish soap can work wonders at breaking down and lifting away stubborn mascara stains. The key is patience and resisting the urge to aggressively scrub.

Removing Foundation

Liquid, powder, and mineral – no matter what type of foundation you use, it can be a challenge to remove from bedding. Here’s how.


  • Spoon or butter knife
  • Shaving cream
  • Clean rags or cloth
  • Water


  1. Use a dull knife or spoon to gently scrape off any excess foundation that has caked or layered on the fabric.
  2. Shake the can of shaving cream and spray a liberal amount directly onto the stained area until it is completely covered.
  3. Allow the shaving cream to sit for 3-5 minutes. This gives the ingredients time to break down the makeup stain.
  4. Using a clean rag, gently blot and dab at the stain, working in a circular motion from the outside toward the center. Switch to a fresh area of the rag frequently.
  5. Once the stain has lightened considerably, rinse the back of the fabric with cool water until the water runs clear.
  6. If any residual stain remains, repeat the shaving cream process.
  7. Allow the bedding to fully air dry before returning it to the bed or washing machine.

The lubricating oils and emollients in shaving cream help dissolve all types of foundation, making it an inexpensive and effective stain remover. Just be patient and let it fully penetrate the stain before attempting to blot it away.

Removing Lipstick

From classic reds to trendy mauves, light pinks and deeper browns or even striking gothic blacks, many of us have a favorite lip color we can’t live without. But leaving lipstick kisses on your sheets is a recipe for stains.

Here are two simple methods for tackling lipstick stains:

Method #1 – Dish Soap


  • Butter knife or spoon
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Warm water
  • Clean rags


  1. Use a butter knife to gently scrape off any excess lipstick.
  2. In a small bowl, dilute a few drops of dish soap with warm water.
  3. Dip a clean rag into the soapy solution then blot at the stain repeatedly.
  4. Rinse the back of the fabric thoroughly with cool water.
  5. Allow the bedding to fully air dry then check for any remaining stains.
  6. Repeat as needed until no more color transfers onto the rag to remove lipstick stains.

Method #2 – Rubbing Alcohol


  • Butter knife or spoon
  • Cotton balls or round cotton pads
  • Isopropyl rubbing alcohol


  1. Use a butter knife to gently scrape off excess lipstick.
  2. Soak a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol then gently dab at the stain. Apply light pressure rather than scrubbing.
  3. Switch to fresh cotton balls frequently to prevent spreading the stain.
  4. Rinse the back of the fabric thoroughly with cool water.
  5. Allow the bedding to fully air dry then check for any remaining stain.
  6. Repeat the process as needed until the stain has lifted.

The alcohol in rubbing alcohol or witch hazel helps dissolve and cut through the oils and pigments in lipstick. Be patient and let the solution fully penetrate and lift the stain a little at a time.

Removing Powder Eyeshadow and Blush

Eyeshadow, blush, and bronzer can leave dusty powder stains on bed linens.


  • Makeup remover wipe
  • Liquid laundry detergent


  1. Very gently brush a makeup remover wipe across the stain to lift any excess powder. Try not to rub aggressively.
  2. Apply a small amount of liquid laundry detergent directly onto the stain.
  3. Let the detergent sit for 5-10 minutes to penetrate the powder stain.
  4. Rinse the back of the fabric thoroughly with cool water until the water runs clear.
  5. Allow the bedding to fully air dry, then check for any remaining stain.
  6. Repeat the detergent process if needed before washing as usual.

The surfactants in liquid laundry detergent help dissolve and lift pigment stains, making it an effective stain fighter for powder makeup.

Removing Liquid Eyeliner and Kohl Liner

Dragging a sharp pencil or brush dipped in pigment across your lash line may give you perfect cat eyes, but it can also leave ugly black liner stains on your pillowcases. Here’s how to remove them.


  • Makeup remover wipe
  • Liquid laundry detergent
  • Clean toothbrush


  1. Very gently brush a makeup remover wipe across the stain – don’t rub aggressively.
  2. Apply laundry detergent directly onto the stain. For pencil liner, gently scrub with a clean toothbrush.
  3. Allow the detergent to sit for 5-10 minutes to penetrate the stain.
  4. Rinse the back of the fabric thoroughly until water runs clear.
  5. Allow the bedding to fully air dry then check for any remaining stain.
  6. Repeat as needed, reapplying detergent and gently scrubbing with the toothbrush for any remaining pencil liner stain.

The mechanical action of the toothbrush bristles combined with the cleansing power of laundry detergent helps brush away inky liner stains. Just be very gentle to avoid damaging delicate fabrics.

Tackling Makeup Stains on Delicate Fabrics

When dealing with stains on more delicate bedding fabrics like silk, linen, or satin, take additional precautions to avoid damaging the material. Just be patient, work gently, and allow sufficient drying time.

  • Spot test any cleaning solution on an inconspicuous area first. Silk and satin in particular can be prone to water marks or discoloration.
  • Opt for more gentle cleaning solutions. Avoid harsh chemicals like bleach that could weaken fibers.
  • Rub very lightly and avoid aggressive scrubbing during the stain removal process. Delicate fibers are prone to pilling and abrasion.
  • Allow extra time for drying. Lay flat on a towel or drying rack. Avoid direct sunlight or heat which could yellow delicate fabrics.
  • Check the material laundry care label and follow washing instructions carefully, hand washing if recommended. Use a gentle cycle on your machine.

Removing Makeup Stains from Mattresses

While your sheets take the brunt of most makeup stains, over time pigments and oils can work their way down into your mattress as well. Removing stains from mattress fabric and padding can be tricky.

As soon as you notice a stain, lightly dab at it using a clean cloth to absorb as much of the makeup as possible. Avoid rubbing, which drives the stain deeper.

Sprinkle baking soda liberally over the stain to help absorb oily residue. Let it sit for 15-30 minutes before vacuuming up. The baking soda will help pull stains from the mattress fibers and can also deodorize a mattress as a bonus.

Mix a solution of gentle laundry detergent and water and use a soft-bristled brush to gently spot clean the area. Allow solution to sit for 5 minutes before blotting dry with a towel.

Hydrogen peroxide can also help lift many makeup stains from mattresses. Use a spray bottle to evenly apply it to the stain. Let it bubble for 2-3 minutes before blotting.

For tough stains, try an enzyme-based mattress cleaner. Enzyme cleaners work by breaking down organic matter like body oils, sweat, and cosmetics that have penetrated the mattress.

Use an upholstery attachment on your vacuum to thoroughly extract all powder and moisture once the stain has lifted. Let the mattress air dry fully before making the bed.

For severe stained mattress damage that requires re-dyeing or replacement, contact a mattress cleaning professional for assistance.

Why Mattress Cleaning Matters

Keeping your mattress clean goes beyond just surface-level appearance. Letting stains, dust mites, and grime buildup can negatively impact your mattress and your health. Here are some reasons why regular mattress cleaning is so important:

Removes Dust Mite Food Sources

Dead skin cells and oil from our bodies provide food for millions of dust mites in our mattresses. Reducing these grimy buildups starve out the mite population.

Prevents Mold and Mildew

Spills and stains that sit damp in a mattress provide the perfect breeding ground for mold, mildew, and bacteria in the bed. And aside from how gross this can sound, it’s also not good to sleep on an unclean mattress surface.

Regular deep cleaning helps control microbial growth and prevent mattress mold.

Reduces Allergens

For allergy sufferers, soiled mattresses can worsen symptoms. Thorough cleaning removes dander, dust mite matter, pollen, and other allergy triggers. To fully maintain an allergen-free bedroom, consider the benefits of an air purifier.

Extends Mattress Life

Allowing stains and grime to buildup can break down mattress materials faster. Cleaning protects your investment by keeping mattresses fresh and durable.

Improves Sleep Quality

Getting better sleep starts with a clean, comfortable mattress. Keeping your mattress sag-free, reducing odors, and creating a hygienic mattress surface all set the stage for better rest. And simply knowing your mattress is deeply clean and free of buildup helps ease worries about germs or allergens.

When to Call in a Professional

While most run-of-the-mill makeup stains can be successfully treated with the methods described above, there are certain scenarios where calling in a professional may be advisable.

Learning how to remove makeup stains from your own linens is certainly worthwhile, but don’t hesitate to call in reinforcements for mattresses or upholstery. The pros have the proper tools, products, and techniques to fully refresh your bedding.

Severely Stained Mattress

If makeup stains have penetrated deep down into your mattress padding and fabric, DIY removal becomes difficult. Professionals have access to industrial-strength cleaning solutions and equipment needed to thoroughly clean mattresses.

Upholstery Cleaning

Fabric upholstered headboards or entire upholstered bed frames can also be a challenge for DIY stain removal. Professional upholstery cleaners use specialized tools, products, and techniques to safely clean delicate fabrics without causing damage.

See also How to Clean an Upholstered Bed Frame

Lingering Odors

Even if you successfully remove the visible stain, makeup can leave behind stubborn odors that simple laundering or a sprinkling of baking soda won’t eliminate. Professional cleaners use professional-strength enzymatic cleaners and deodorizers to fully neutralize odors at their source.

More Mattress & Bedding Cleaning Guides

For pillows:

For sheets:

For blankets and other coverings:

For other bedding items:


How do you remove dried makeup stains?

The first step is to try and break down the stain by softening it. For dried makeup stains, apply a few drops of liquid laundry detergent directly onto the stain. Gently rub the detergent into the fabric using your fingers or an old toothbrush. This helps emulsify any oils in the makeup stain. Let the detergent sit for 10-15 minutes, then rinse or blot away.

Make a pretreatment solution by mixing equal parts dish soap and baking soda into a paste. Apply this paste onto stubborn dried makeup stains and allow to sit for 30 minutes before washing. The abrasiveness of the baking soda combined with the degreasing power of the dish soap helps slough off set-in stains. For makeup stains on delicate fabrics, swap baking soda for cornstarch, which is less abrasive. Add just enough water to form a thick paste.

Hydrogen peroxide can also help lift many dried cosmetic stains. After pretreating with detergent or a baking soda paste, apply peroxide to the stain and let bubble for 2-3 minutes before rinsing and washing. For really stubborn stains, a second peroxide application may be needed.

How do you get foundation out of bed covers?

Carefully remove any excess foundation from the fabric’s surface by scraping it off with a butter knife. Then, pre-treat the stain with a small amount of liquid laundry detergent or a specialized makeup stain remover. Gently rub the fabric together to let the treatment sink in, then machine wash the sheets in cold water with an enzyme-containing detergent.

Avoid hot water as it can set in the stain. Be careful drying the sheets as well, as you’ll want to avoid machine drying the stain if it doesn’t come out completely in the wash.

How long should you leave baking soda on a stained mattress?

When using baking soda to clean a stained mattress, it’s standard procedure to leave it on for at least 30 minutes. This gives the baking soda time to absorb odors, moisture, and help lift stains.

However, if the stain is particularly stubborn or has penetrated deeply into the mattress, or if you are trying to eliminate a particularly pungent smell, you can leave the baking soda on for a longer period. Even up to several hours or overnight, if you want to see more effective results.

Is it OK to sleep on a stained mattress?

Generally speaking, you do not want to sleep on a stained mattress. Stains on a mattress can be a sign of moisture, mold, or other issues that may affect its hygiene and your health. However, sleeping on a mattress with makeup stains is generally safe from a health perspective. Makeup stains are not inherently harmful to your health.

Still, makeup stains can attract dirt and bacteria over time, potentially compromising the overall cleanliness of your mattress. This accumulated dirt and bacteria can also exacerbate allergies for some individuals. In other words, stains from makeup can lead to an unhygienic sleeping environment.

Plus, attending to makeup stains quickly rather than letting them sit is the best way to keep them from setting in.

What happens when I sleep in makeup?

Leaving makeup on overnight can clog your skin pores, leading to acne breakouts and blackheads. Makeup left on for the next day can also mix with the natural oils and sweat produced by your skin, creating a breeding ground for bacteria in bed. Over time, this can lead to skin irritation, redness, and even infections.

Plus, sleeping in makeup prevents your skin from undergoing its natural rejuvenation process, potentially causing premature aging and forming fine lines and wrinkles. To maintain healthy skin, cleanse your face thoroughly before bedtime. It allows your skin to breathe and regenerate while you sleep and gives you a healthy canvas for a fresh application of makeup the next day.


Waking up to find lipstick stains and mascara smudges on your nice clean sheets is never fun. But with the right techniques, supplies, and a bit of persistence, even the most stubborn makeup stains can be removed from bedding.

The key is to act quickly before stains have a chance to set and penetrate fibers. Gently remove any excess makeup then use cleaning solutions targeted to the specific type of cosmetic. Avoid harsh rubbing and always air dry bedding fully before returning it to the bed or dryer.

With the tips provided in this guide, you can keep your bedding fresh and restore linens to their original pristine state. Sweet dreams!

About the author

April Mayer is a sleep expert and writer with a degree in exercise physiology. She has dedicated her career to exploring the relationship between sleep and productivity. Her insightful articles, such as "The Surprising Way Your Mood Might Be Messing With Your Productivity" and "Wake Up to More Productive Mornings," have been featured in reputable publications like Forbes, Greatist, Real Homes, Thrillist, Tom's Guide, and Eat This, Not That. With a passion for helping others lead more productive lives through restful sleep, April offers valuable expertise on foods and vitamins for better sleep. As a trusted member of the Early Bird team since March 2020, she continues to provide informative and well-researched content.

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