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Removing Foundation Marks on Towels

By Dr. Laundry January 13, 2014

How do you clean makeup (foundation) stains from washcloths that have already been through the wash several times. Can they be restored to the original white color?


This is a great question! How helpful that the washcloths are white—that gives you more options for getting the stains out! Since it sounds like you have a lot of washcloths, I would presoak them using a good liquid detergent before running them through another wash cycle. Start with a capful of detergent added to 2 gallons hot water and stir to mix. Add the washcloths and let them soak overnight (up to 8 hours). The concentrated soaking solution, hot soaking temperature, and extra time will each help dissolve the oily component of the makeup, which is probably what you have left at this point. The next day, drain the soaking solution, and then run the washcloths through a hot wash cycle using detergent and ½ cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach. This will help remove any remaining color component of the stain.

After washing, it’s a good idea to let the washcloths air dry so you can check for success. If it looks like the stains are gone, you can always dampen them slightly and then run them through a tumble dry cycle to make them more fluffy. These steps will hopefully restore your washcloths. Your chances of eventual success are higher if the washcloths have not been through a hot dryer (and why I recommend letting items air dry until you know a stain is all the way out).

 For make-up stains you may end up with in the future, another good technique for getting them out is to try pretreating them before washing with a little liquid dishwashing detergent. Apply a few drops directly to the stains. Use just a few drops—liquid dishwashing detergent is very concentrated—and let it soak into the stains for 5 minutes. Next, wash the washcloths using hot water, a good detergent, and ½ cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach. The hotter the water the better—if you have a standard deep-fill washer, you may want to monitor the temperature of the incoming water to make sure it’s hot. Clothes washers that are far away from a home’s hot water heater can end up washing in warm or luke-warm water! You may want to start your washer to fill and check the incoming water temperature—once it’s hot, stop the washer and advance the dial to drain the colder water. When you restart the washer you really will get the “hot” temperature you have selected. It may be that your selected wash temperature is on the low end, and why the make-up stains aren’t coming out very well in the first place.