We’re busy people, and doing make-up can be last on the list before running out the door, praying we’ve got our bus pass/car keys/purse. Sometimes all that multi-tasking, hurrying, checking and chivvying – plus general lapses of attention – mean make-up spills can happen. Add in the possible peril of investigative children wanting to test out products they’ve found on your dressing table – and, of course, it's the time of year for house parties – and the chance of incidents goes up significantly.

But don’t fret. Thanks to cleaning expert and founder of Beanbags.co.uk Rosalind Peters, we’ve got the lowdown on the best methods for cleaning carpets that will fight back against those stains.

Spilt make-up can be a pain – but here's how to clean it

Firstly, the four golden rules that apply to all stains:

Dab, don’t scrub

“Always dab when cleaning a stain as this will help keep the stain from spreading further,” says Rosalind. “Wiping will just spread it around more.”

Work from the outside in

“Work from the outside towards the stain’s centre so that you don't smudge anything else in its path. Also keep in mind that some stains are more stubborn than others so you may have to repeat this step several times until all traces of colour have been removed,” she explains.

Check whether cleaning products are suitable

“If you're using harsh chemicals, be sure that it’s safe to use for your surface. For example, bleach isn't recommended for a carpet – it can cause discolouration,” says Rosalind.

Act fast, but don’t panic

Acting quickly, before a stain dries and sets in, is always best. However, WHAT you do is even more important than how quickly. “There are several ways to remove make-up stains from your carpet,” explains Rosalind. “Most of them involve using some kind of chemical product with varying degrees of success. However, if you use these methods incorrectly, they can make your stain worse!”

For instance, oil-based make-up reacts very differently to water based make-up. Oil can actually become harder to remove if you add water too soon. Powder pigments can turn to a paint consistency and set further with water. To make things easier, Rosalind has given us tips on several specific types of stains and how to tackle them to get the very best results.

Always check if a cleaning product can be used on carpets first

Foundation stains

For water-based foundation

  • Blot away any excess make-up with a paper towel, then rinse the area with warm water.

  • Next, pre-treat the stain with dish soap by massaging it in.

  • Allow the dish soap to work for 20 minutes on the stain so that it has enough time to airdry. Whatever you do, NEVER use the heat from a hairdryer to speed up this process as it can cause a stain to set.

  • Rinse well with cold water again after scrubbing to ensure that no soap residue remains behind.

“If that doesn’t work, try using an enzyme-based detergent,” as Rosalind. “These cleaners are designed to break down protein stains such as blood, sweat and urine without damaging your clothes – and therefore should work on your carpet.”

For oil-based foundation

  • Act quickly by dampening the stained area with cold water.

  • Then add a few drops of washing-up liquid and allow it to sit on the stained area for a couple of minutes.

  • Next, use a microfiber cloth to dab gently. This helps break up the oils within the foundation and helps it disappear.

  • Finally, gently blot the stained area with a paper towel – and keep repeating until it has gone.


Do not rub a lipstick stain – it’s a pigment designed to be spread over your lips and hold its colour, so you will just make it bigger. “To get rid of lipstick stains on carpets, use a cloth dipped in warm water and dab it on the affected area until the stain disappears completely," says Rosalind.

Never rub a lipstick stain, says Rosalind


Mascara is especially tricky because it’s designed to set hard and not budge, so you will need something stronger than water to work here. “Use a cotton swab dipped in nail polish remover to dissolve the make-up and get rid of it completely,” says Rosalind. “Afterwards, clean up any remaining residue using another cotton swab dipped in baby oil or mineral oil.”


The deep and strong pigments in eyeshadow make this an especially tricky stain to handle, and it’s a good idea to adjust what you use depending on the shade of the eyeshadow. Rosalind explains:

  • First blot the stain with cold water. This will help lift the stain and make it easier to remove. It's important not to use hot water, as this could cause the dye in the eyeshadow to set deeper into the carpet fibres.

  • Once you've blotted off as much as possible, apply dish soap directly onto the stained area and rub vigorously with your fingers until all traces of colour are gone.

  • Rinse well with cold water again after scrubbing to ensure that no soap residue remains behind.

For a light coloured eyeshadow: "Add toothpaste directly to the stain and rub it in with a damp cloth.”

For a darker coloured eyeshadow: “Apply some vinegar directly onto the stain and let it sit for about 30 minutes before scrubbing off with a wet rag.”

Eyeshadow should be vacuummed up first


For these stains, you can do a lot to limit the damage by hoovering up any excess before you begin.

  • First, get your vacuum and go over the spot.

  • Next, dampen a clean cloth or sponge with some dish soap, and gently dab it over the stain.

  • Keep rinsing the cloth and repeat this stage until the soap has disappeared.

  • Finally, blot the area with a paper towel until the excess water has gone.


By Editor