How To Get Foundation Out Of Clothes: A Pro Cleaner’s Advice
How To Get Foundation Out Of Clothes: A Pro Cleaner’s Advice

How To Get Foundation Out Of Clothes: A Pro Cleaner’s Advice

5 minutes read

If you’re a make-up wearer (particularly if you love a bit of foundation), learning how to get foundation out of clothes is a key skill to master. Because if it hasn’t happened already, there will inevitably come a time when you find dreaded foundation marks on your favourite item of clothing.

If this happens, what should be your plan of action? We consulted two pro cleaners for their best advice on how to get foundation out of clothes. And here’s what we learned…  

woman with a clothes basket

Damage control: can foundation stains be removed?

Prevention is better than cure, of course. At editorial shoots, make-up artists often cover models’ clothes with tissue to prevent stains, and it’s a trick we must all use. But if the prevention method hasn’t worked, don’t worry – all hope isn’t lost.

Fortunately, you can get rid of foundation stains with the right products and techniques, with only a few exceptions.

The important thing is to tackle the stain as soon as possible.

“Freshness definitely matters,” says Anji, Expert Dry Cleaner at ihateironing. “Fresh stains haven’t set into the fabrics of your garments, making them much easier to remove than older stains, which would have dried onto your clothes and become more embedded over time. I recommend you tackle a stain as soon as it happens (or as soon as you spot it!) to make sure you get the best results.” 

And she assures you that you don’t need any fancy tools: “Staple household items are all you need for these quick fixes: talcum or baby powder, dishwashing liquid and a toothbrush.” Anji and her family have been running the dry-cleaning business in London for nearly two decades, so you can take her word for it.  

We also asked Michelle Urvall-Ashraf, Head of Sustainability at Oxwash, for her thoughts on the subject. Oxwash is a UK-based, sustainability-focused laundry service. Their goal is to eradicate the impact of washing on the world’s ecosystems, achieve clinical-grade hygiene and net zero carbon emissions. 

Urvall-Ashraf agrees that the fresher the stain, the easier it will be to treat.

Removing foundation stains from black or dark-coloured clothing

For both dark and light-coloured clothing, Urvall-Ashraf recommends spot treating with some soap, water and a clothing brush or a soft sponge. “Blot or rub the stain gently without using too much force,” she explains. “Delicate fabrics can tear if you rub too hard and wool fibres can felt when exposed to heat or rubbing. Cotton and linen are more durable but rubbing too hard can make the colour fade.” 

Anji recommends filling a small spray bottle with water, adding a tablespoon of dishwashing liquid (such as Fairy Liquid) and mixing them in together.  

She explains: “Set the garment on a flat surface and spray the affected areas with the solution. Afterwards, grab a toothbrush and gently work the make-up out of the fabrics. 98% of the time this trick will instantly remove your foundation stains from your clothes.”

woman in a white shirt

Removing foundation stains from white or light-coloured clothing

For Anji, talcum powder is a lifesaver when trying to remove a stain from white garments. Her trick is to “sprinkle talcum powder over the stained area and leave it to set,” she reveals. “Leave the powder on the garment overnight and brush it off in the morning. You’ll find that the stain has disappeared!” 

What about delicate fabrics?

Fabrics like wool, silk and viscose require special care. As Urvall-Ashraf mentioned, vigorously rubbing the stain can ruin the fabric.   

“When it comes to more delicate fabrics, a professional clean is your best bet to avoid the possibility of ruining or accidentally discolouring your clothes,” Anji advises. “If you try to use the dishwashing liquid method on silk, for example, you run the risk of lifting the colour, as well as creating a more permanent stain that’ll be even harder to remove down the line.” 

If you still want to try your hand at it, Urvall-Ashraf suggests a different method. “You never want to spot-clean silk as it can stain from water,” she says. “Instead, soak the whole garment and gently use a delicate stain removal product.” 

Powder vs. liquid foundation stains

Powder foundations are easier to remove than liquid ones, because the latter tend to contain oils that make the stains more stubborn.  

“Oily liquid foundations can be incredibly tricky to remove, especially if left for a long time,” says Anji. “For liquid foundations, I recommend immediately scraping off whatever product has made its way onto your clothes before trying the above methods.”  

Urvall-Ashraf’s tip is to use washing-up liquid for liquid foundation stains, as they tend to be good at breaking down grease. 

How to remove foundation stains quickly, without washing

Perhaps you’re short on time and want to get the stain out quickly. Or maybe you’re on holiday and have managed to get foundation all over your clothes. What product should you reach for? 

Urvall-Ashraf suggests reaching for a product most make-up wearers will already own: a make-up remover. “It’s a tried and tested method that make-up artists use backstage at fashion shows,” she says. “Gently blot or rub until the make-up stain is removed. This works best when the stain is fresh and had not had time to dry or set.” 

Anji believes in always keeping some talcum powder handy. “It’s always been my quick fix and has saved many light garments, especially at the last minute,” she says. “It’s always within reach at home and can be taken along on vacations or holidays!” 

Next read: 10 Easy Ways To Go Plastic-Free

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