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How To Get Mascara Out Of ANYTHING

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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
By Jolie Kerr

The key to understanding how to remove mascara from things on which you do not want mascara (read: everywhere except for your lashes!), is understanding what mascara is made of. Blessedly, the answer is not bat guano.

According to WebMD, "Mascara's ingredients typically include a carbon-black or iron-oxide pigment to darken lashes; a polymer to form a film that coats lashes; a preservative; and thickening waxes or oils such as lanolin, mineral oil, paraffin, petrolatum, castor oil, carnauba wax, and candelilla wax." For our purposes here, we're focusing on the bookends of that ingredient list — the pigment, and the waxes and oils. In a way, mascara is similar to lipstick, though lipstick is more waxy than greasy, and mascara is more greasy than waxy.

How Do I Clean Mascara Off My Clothes?
I love writing about mascara stains because, well, I'm intensely weird. But, also, because the secret weapon in the fight against the makeup stains is one of my favorite products. It's not typically thought of as something you'd use in the laundry: Lestoil, or its very close (and much easier to find) equivalent, Pine-Sol. So strange yet awesome, right?

We typically associate these products with cleaning our floors, but they do double duty as laundry-stain removers — and, they're especially effective on grease or oil stains. So, remember this the next time you splatter salad dressing on your shirtfront!

Related: How To Remove Lipstick Stains

Should you accidentally get a swipe of mascara on your clothes, dab a bit of Lestoil or Pine-Sol on the spot using a clean cloth or a cotton ball, and launder the item as quickly as possible. Be sure to check that the stain was fully removed in the wash before drying, as heat can cause a stain to set into a garment. If you're on the run and have limited product choices on hand, try the rubbing-alcohol technique we explain in our guide to removing lipstick stains.

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.

How Do I Clean Mascara Off My Pillowcases? 

If the stain is fresh, strip the case off the pillow, and flush the soiled area with cold, running water. Then, massage a small amount of dish soap into the stain. Because mascara is grease-based, a good grease-cutting soap like Dawn or Palmolive is recommended for this task. Hopefully, most of the mascara will come out using this technique; you can hit any residual staining with a laundry pretreatment product (like Shout, Zout, or something similar). Or, of course, you can use the Lestoil/Pine Sol technique here, too.

Related: How To Clean Hairbrushes & Combs

How Do I Get Mascara Off My Towels?
The main issue with getting mascara on towels is that the pigment has a tendency to get down in the fibers, which makes it a little bit harder to get out. That said, if you do get a bit of mascara on a towel, try flushing it with water — just do so from the back of the towel, which will allow the force of the water to push the stain away from the fabric rather than back through it. Then, follow the same treatment instructions for clothes and pillowcases; either dish soap or Lestoil/Pine Sol will do the trick on these stains.

How Do I Clean Mascara Off My Glasses?
The good news here is that the mascara-removal instructions for eyeglasses is exactly the same as the instructions for cleaning your glasses normally.

While you may be tempted to use a glass cleaner, like Windex or white vinegar, to get your eyeglasses free of spots and gunk and perhaps even mascara, that's a no-no. Those products can strip away the coating on the lenses. So, skip them and stick with dish soap. It does more than just dishes! Just massage a very small amount into the lenses under warm running water.

The washing part is easy, but when it comes to drying your lenses, be sure to use only a soft cotton, chamois, or microfiber cloth — paper products, even very fine ones like tissues, can lead to scratching on the lenses.

How Do I Clean Mascara Buildup Off My Beauty Tools?
A small amount of rubbing alcohol applied to a cotton ball will remove any mascara buildup from metal items like eyelash curlers. Even you don't see visible buildup, it's not a bad idea to clean anything you use near your eyes to ensure good eye health!
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