How to get makeup out of carpet: 8 swift ways to remove foundation and lipstick stains

Spilled foundation on the floor? Here's how to get makeup out of carpet and area rugs with eight tried-and-tested methods.

A graphic with red carpet-like background, white capitalized text and assortment of vectorized cosmetic illustrations
(Image credit: Future)

If you're looking for quick tips on how to get makeup out of carpet, fear not: your foundation hasn't necessarily ruined that vintage Persian rug or beautiful Berber floor covering you bartered for on vacation. After all, makeup is designed to be removable, so even long-wear foundation can be successfully removed from carpets, with a bit of know-how and patience.

If you have one of the best carpet cleaners, this will be an even simpler job, IF you don't, there are plenty of ways you can clean a carpet manually to get rid of lipstick, blusher, foundation, and other makeup stains.

While you might be able to put a small area rug in your washing machine, you can't exactly lift your full floor covering and pop it in the wash. So if you're worried you won't get your rental deposit back, or are just embarrassed about that orange splodge in the middle of the room – look no further.

Carpet cleaning essentials

1. Disposable gloves (opens in new tab)
2. WD-40 (opens in new tab)
3. Oven cleaner (opens in new tab)
4. White microfiber cleaning cloths (opens in new tab)
5. White vinegar (opens in new tab)
6. Dish soap (opens in new tab)

1. Blot, do not rub

As when dealing with most household stains, if the foundation stain is fresh and still wet, carefully remove the excess with a paper towel. Use blotting movements to gently absorb the liquid; do not rub. Done in time, and depending on the type of carpet you have, this could be all you need.

2. Choose a commercial stain remover

Simple but effective, once you've wiped up as much of the excess foundation, lipstick and what have you, follow this with a carpet with stain or makeup remover if the stain hasn't totally lifted.

Method:

  1. Spray on a stain remover or upholstery cleaner. You can also use a makeup remover (opens in new tab), but if yours is expensive, you may not want to waste it. Our favorite is the Hate Stains Co. Stain Remover (opens in new tab) – we've tried it on every type of carpet and rug there is, and it's safe and effective to remove makeup from clothes too. You can also use an upholstery cleaner of your choice. Spray liberally, let sit for five minutes.
  2. Gently remove the stain with a cloth. If a lot of foundation has been spilled, you may need to repeat this process twice. 

3. Use dish soap

We can always count on dish soap to perform. If it can remove that baked-on bit of lasagne from your glass bakeware, then foundation should be a breeze. But rather than combining it with water, try using your best washing up liquid neat (or with little water) for clean results.

This tip comes from Laurence Smith, owner of In The Wash (opens in new tab) blog. Here he shares this simple method for removing foundation.

Method:

  1. First, scrape up the excess makeup from the carpet using the edge of a clean butter knife or spoon. It is important to take this step as soon as possible to prevent the makeup from seeping into the carpet.
  2. Next, mix a few drops of dish soap (ie: Dawn (opens in new tab)) with cold water. Dampen a cloth or paper towel and use this to gently blot at the stained area.
  3. Work from the outside in and take care not to scrub at the area to stop the stain from pushing into the deeper fibers.
  4. Dab at the stain until there is no more foundation left. You may need to rinse or change the cloths and towels a couple of times if there is a lot of foundation.
  5. Dampen a fresh cloth in clean water and use this to remove all traces of the soap. Blot the area dry with a clean cloth and use a vacuum cleaner to pick up any debris left behind.

4. Make a coconut oil or baking soda mix

Cleaning with baking soda is our go-to method when we 1) don't want to use nasties around the house and 2) when budget is a bit tight for specialist stuff. And when mixed with coconut oil, it's the ideal eco-friendly cleaner to get makeup out of carpet.

As a saturated fat, coconut oil is solid at room temperature, so you can literally scoop a piece out of the tub, and gently massage it into the stain. Alternatively, mix it with a bit of baking powder for an au naturel stain remover. You can get both coconut oil (opens in new tab) and sodium bicarbonate (opens in new tab) for cheap on Amazon if you don't have these in your pantry already.

5. Removing foundation with hydrogen peroxide

If you took chemistry in high school, you'll know all about this bleaching agent. Known in its chemical state as H₂O₂, it can do a good job of wiping your warpaint out of the carpet.

Method:

  1. Wearing disposable gloves (opens in new tab), take a tissue paper and absorb the extra foundation from the carpet avoiding any new smudges.
  2. Take the cloth and soak a section of it in hydrogen peroxide (opens in new tab), wringing out the excess
  3. Dab the cloth onto the stain and you will notice the foundation coming off the carpet onto the cloth. Continue dabbing until all the foundation has left the carpet and is on the cloth.
  4. Spray clean water on the area. It will dissolve hydrogen peroxide and will leave the carpet as good as new.

6. Use a degreaser on lipstick

Lipstick is a little bit trickier to get off carpets than foundation, because lipstick is fat- or oil-based. So, you need something that will break down the fat. Degreasing agents are your go-to for this type of stain removal.

Method:

  1. Carefully remove any solid bits of lipstick from the carpet with a paper towel. Be very careful not to rub or spread the stain, as that will drive it in deeper.
  2. Spray the stain with a degreasing agent. WD-40 works (opens in new tab), but we've also had good results with other oven cleaners such as Easy Off (opens in new tab). This is a strong product, so you'll need to dilute it with a bit of warm water a test it on an inconspicuous area of your carpet first, to make sure it won't cause discoloration. 
  3. Leave the degreasing agent on for five minutes, then gently remove it with a microfiber cloth. 

7. Remove eyeliner with vinegar

Getting winged liner and flicks on fleek is hard enough, without having liquid eyeliner spill onto your carpet. But before going in with the best cleaning products, you may want to give vinegar a go. 

Method:

  1. Mix the vinegar (opens in new tab) with the water
  2. Dab a cloth into the solution, then use this to blot at the stain. Make sure you’re working from the outside in.
  3. Blot until there’s no more eyeliner left on the carpet.
  4. Lightly dampen a microfiber cleaning cloth (opens in new tab) with plain water and blot to get rid of any remaining vinegar solution.
  5. Gently pat dry with a fresh microfiber cloth.

8. Stain still not out? Consider a carpet cleaner

If that stubborn stain just wont lift, you might want to consider loaning out a professional carpet cleaning machine. While it's an annoying expense (that you probably didn't budget for), the cost of a carpet cleaner lies in the ballpark of $20-40 so it's not bank-account busting if you do need to go down this route.

And, if you're the type of person that leaves their stuff on the side of the bathroom sink instead of a cosmetics caddy. Learn from your mistakes and invest in a proper makeup storage idea. Because we don't want to have to tell you twice!

Will makeup come out of carpet?

The simple answer is yes. But be sure to use the correct equipment and use it appropriately to avoid worsening the stain and damaging your carpet permenantly. More elbow grease doesn't always mean better results, so go gently if this is your first rodeo.

Kal Kozomos, digital e-commerce manager at WD-40 (opens in new tab) says: 'Never rub makeup stains when cleaning them. Instead, dab the stain. It will prevent the stain for spreading and smudging further,'

'Do not use coloured or dyed cloth to clean the carpet. Always use white cloth to avoid staining the carpet further from the color of the cloth to remove makeup stains from carpet.'

Anna is Content Editor at Real Homes. She moved to the world of interiors from academic research in the field of English Literature and photography. She is the author of London Writing of the 1930s and has a passion for contemporary home decor and gardening. At Real Homes, she covers a range of topics, from practical advice to interior and garden design. 

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