How to Remove Makeup From Cloth Face Masks

Barbara Schneider-Levy
·4 mins read

Putting your face on. For some, following their daily makeup regimen during the pandemic has become a thing of the past, while for others it has contributed to creating a greater sense of normalcy. But, with each stroke of the foundation brush or wave of the lipstick wand, comes the risk of staining a cloth face mask.

As face masks increasingly become a part of our everyday wardrobes, it’s slowly turned them from a functional into a fashionable accessory. While there are lots of fabric versions that can be found at supermarkets and discount stores for a little as $3, there are designer masks from Off-White and Dsquared2 that can run as much as $100. Whichever you choose, face masks all need to be cleaned regularly — and that includes makeup removal.

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Since cloth masks are made from a wide range of fabrics, there may be some risks involved with any cleaning processes. But, since most do not come with labels identifying fabric type and washing instructions, these face mask cleaning tips are not likely to harm materials.

Now, don’t confuse removing makeup from your mask with general cleaning practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control. Makeup removal is an added step, but not a substitute. According to the CDC, cloth face coverings should be washed after each use by machine washing with laundry detergent, or hand washing with a solution of a disinfecting bleach and room temperature water. So, remember to follow up with general cleaning guidelines.

Following are fast, easy and economical tips to help get the job done, so go ahead and put your best face on.

Oil-Based Makeup

Gently remove any makeup caked on with a knife, or blot out any wet stains with a tissue or cotton ball. Since many liquid and powder foundations are oil-based, they respond well to grease-cutting dishwashing liquids that cost pennies per use. Simply pour a small amount on the stain and work in gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush, then rinse in cool water. For tough stains, mix two-thirds dishwashing liquid with one-third hydrogen peroxide and work into the stain with a toothbrush.

palmolive, detergent
palmolive, detergent

To Buy: Palmolive Ultra Dish Soap Oxy Power Degreaser, $12 (was $16).

Oil-Free Makeup

For oil-free makeup, try shaving cream. The makers of Persil detergent, recommend pre-treating the stain with shaving cream by rubbing it into the fibers of the fabric so it begins to lather, then rinse with cold water. For tough stains, try a solution of shaving cream and rubbing alcohol.

persil, detergent
persil, detergent

To Buy: Persil Liquid Detergent, $23.

Powder Foundation and Blush

For these, start by brushing the excess off the mask whether it’s oil-based or oil-free. Next, mix a small amount of laundry detergent with water and gently work into the stain for up to 30 minutes, then rinse or wash with your regular laundry.

arm & hammer, laundry detergent
arm & hammer, laundry detergent

To Buy: Arm & Hammer OxiClean Laundry Detergent, $12 (was $20).

Lipstick

Lipstick can also lead to stains on cloth masks but can be tackled. Try spraying the spot lightly with hair spray and let sit for 10 minutes. Then dab stain with a wet cloth. If that doesn’t work, try rubbing alcohol into the fabric, then rinse with cool water. Or, mix white vinegar and dishwashing soap, and gently work into the stain.

Don’t like the idea of using chemical cleaners? There’s a natural way to go according to Dengarden.com, an online destination for home and garden enthusiasts. Start by rubbing some peanut butter into the make-up stain, the smooth not chunky kind, of course, for about 20 minutes. Then, wash with dishwashing liquid. Or, make a paste of baking powder and water. Rub into the spot and let stand for five minutes. Follow by machine washing with baking soda and detergent.

tresemme, hair spray
tresemme, hair spray

To Buy: Tresemmé Hair Spray, $5.

heinz, white vinegar
heinz, white vinegar

To Buy: Heinz Distilled White Vinegar, $2 (was $3).

skippy, peanut butter
skippy, peanut butter

To Buy: Skippy Peanut Butter, $6 (was $8).

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