How to Remove Theatre Makeup From Laundry

OIl-based makeup stains are best treated if you act fast.
OIl-based makeup stains are best treated if you act fast. (Image: makeup setup image by Julia Britvich from

Theatre makeup is used to enhance performers' features while on stage for dramatic effect. Most stage makeup is oil based, which makes it much more difficult to remove than its water-based counterpart. The majority of theatre makeup stains end up on stage costumes, which are costly and are definitely not garments you want to toss in the trash because of unsightly stains. As with most stains, the trick to removing theatre makeup stains thoroughly is treating the stains as soon as possible.

Things You'll Need

  • Butter knife
  • Liquid makeup remover
  • Clean towel
  • Clean cloth
  • Grease-cutting dish detergent (such as Dawn)
  • Warm water

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Remove excess makeup with a butter knife if it has already dried. If not, continue to step 2.

Place a clean towel on a flat surface. Lay the stained garment on the towel, stain side down. Saturate a cloth with makeup remover, and dab the fabric behind the stain. Press the garment firmly on the towel to allow the stain to transfer from the garment to the towel. Repeat this process to get as much of the makeup as possible off of the garment and onto the towel.

Turn the garment, stain side up, and liberally apply dish detergent to the stain. Let it sit overnight.

Rinse the garment well with warm water, and inspect for any traces of makeup. If the makeup is still visible, repeat steps 2 and 3.

Launder or dry clean the garment as usual once the stain has been removed.

Tips & Warnings

  • For best results, treat the stain immediately.
  • Before applying makeup remover to any garment, test for color fading in a hidden area.


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