Remind me how to remove mascara from white towels?

Sorry for the repetitive question but I can’t find earlier responses. Is Oxy pre-treatment and then a bleach washing not enough? Do I need to use dishwashing liquid or something like first?

Hi Chicagohost,
Usually mascara is good with a soap or detergent dampen and wash first to dissolve the grease in it, and out it comes. It is the lipsticks - red and pink in heavy pigments that will ruin your towels forever. If you get these things before the wash with a good degreasing soap or detergent you should be fine to throw it in the wash after you have emulsified it a bit with water. If it isn’t out after the wash, don’t dry it, as that sets in stains. It may require and oxy soak. But I have never required this, and my guests are pretty bad with make up stains.

Great advise, thank you!

thx so much. The black mascara (or maybe eyeliner?) actually washed out really easily with some soap and water so it was apparently water-soluble. I’ve had black makeup smudges stain quite badly before so maybe those were waterproof formulas or something. I will keep the lipstick tips in mind, Sandy, thanks again!!

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My advice is get black or navy washclothes. I am a huge advocate for white bath and hand towels but black washclothes are awesome. No more worrying about mascara and makeup. Roll them up in a basket in the bathroom and they look very chic.

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I use brown wash clothes. You can get a bundle at target for 5$

I give guests crocheted organic cotton washcloths. So long as they give them a rinse out afterwards, the makeup comes right out. So far everyone loves them and treats them well. The thing I have trouble with are careless and messy young women guests using my towels to wipe their makeup/lipstick off on. I have had this happen a number of times and each time my lovely towels have been destroyed. Now I have it in my houserules that you get charged for it. It makes me wonder what these attractive young women’s apartments look like, if that’s the way they treat things, or was it just that they saw my stuff as a hotel to treat without the same respect as their own? I’ll never know, but each time it has been twenty something girls in young professional jobs in NYC.

I really like Sandy’s suggestion and am going to look for some crocheted washclothes. But I have a similar problem as Sandy, where the general makeup/lipstick residue won’t wash out - the towels/washclothes remain dingy and just don’t look ‘clean’.

What I did recently was to buy a box of the Make-up remover wipes/towelettes and used my label maker to label the box “Please help extend the life of our washclothes and remove your makeup first.” I leave this box on the back of the toilet tank and I haven’t had any problems since. I find when I ask the guest to put themselves in my position and think about what they are doing - they are more careful.

Here’s a good trick for getting stains out of white towels and sheets.
I’m not sure what brands you have in the States, but you need Napisan or Vanish, a white powder for soaking cloth diapers or laundry. And then liquid bleach.

Fill a bucket or tub with quite hot water and the powdered laundry soaker (be generous). Then add a good splash of liquid bleach. The whole solution will start to foam and go white. Throw in the dirty item in and leave for 20 mins or so. If it’s still showing, give the fabric a bit of a rub. It’s never failed to remove stains for me. Even blood that’s already been through the washing machine and dryer - also foundation, mascara, tomato, red wine. It’s really best for 100% cotton items. A 50/50 blend is okay, but you will need to take it out of the solution earlier. If you can hang them in the sun that also helps the whitening process.

Also I love the idea of the black washers. I bought charcoal grey everything (which doesn’t show the stains) but then they’re a little bit sensitive to optic whiteners and perfumes etc and some of mine now have lightened patches on them. So I just use the white now and after several months and constant guests they still look new and fantastic.

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They sell travel sized packets of baby wipes, which are brilliant as disposable make-up removal tools for the thoughtless women who travel with a bunch of make-up and no plan to remove the make-up without destroying the host’s towels. The question is how to get them to use those wipes rather than my towels? That’s the tough part. As a host I hate to act like “grandma” running around with little signs and labels, but I am starting to think it’s the only way to spell things out for folks who lack common sense.

Unfortunately Jackulas, it’s true. I have had women that seemed like they should know better look like they had literally just wiped a face full of makeup across my snowy white fluffy towels. While I had marked and labeled washcloths there for use. Who in the world even does that? Do they do this at home? Of course afterwards I realized that just because a woman is dressed reasonably fashionably, it doesn’t mean she has clean or considerate habits. Nothing worse than finding a big brown/orangey mask with two black eyes and smears of thick red lipsticks to take the cheer out of what you thought was a reasonable stay. And these people knew they were in my home, and not a hotel. I think they had parents that dealt with anything and everything and didn’t teach them how to take care of things, because someone else would always be there to clean up the mess, or they can just buy new ones. Not considering consequences can be the only reason that someone would do that, and walk out of your house with a smile on their face.

I almost purchased a pack of disposable makeup removal wipes until I pictured these young guests flushing them down the toilet and creating an even bigger and more costly headache for me.

I wonder if Napisan is like Oxy – anyone know? I don’t think Oxy is as effective as what you’re describing, however. It would be wonderful to have a laundry routine where I wouldn’t have to identify and pre-treat individual stains – it’s disgusting and time-consuming. I’d love to throw the whole fitted sheet into a bucket, soak, wash, and dry. I’m often afraid of drying fitted sheets for fear of setting stuborn stains. It’s just all taking too much time.

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Probably those girls never saw a washcloth that nice in their lives and just thought it was the same old rags they have at home.


The way to enforce it is to note something in your house rules. I have a section that states towels and linens must be respected. Guest agrees to be responsible for any that cannot be salvaged. I also state that they are provided plenty of separate towels to do with as they please. If you have access to a Sam’s Club, I purchased the “bleach safe” brand 13 X 13 brown wash cloths. Google it. They come in various colors. I roll them all and place in a basket on each bathroom counter. In the basket there is a laminated note that says this:

Bleach/stain resistant cloths for:

• Makeup removal
• Facial Medications
• Tanning products
• Whitening toothpastes
• Creams with Benzoyl Peroxide

Thank you for not ruining regular
hand/bath towels with these products :smile:

This has improved my towel/linen situation tremendously. Another thing I noticed that gets people to read is to not accept payment before they have read all of your house rules. I know some will just say they read them. But on other sites, I send out a contract and the house rules first. Once signature is received then I will issue the payment request. I tell them to read everything before they sign the contract. It is just one more step to get guests to read, and then not be shocked that they were charged for ruining items.

Watch out for guests who wear ProActiv if you have colored towels. It will bleach the color out after you run it through the wash. Guest won’t even know while they are staying unless they have done the same to all of their towels at home. Yes, I too don’t want to be like grandma telling guests how to behave. A few might be offended but oh well. I would rather deal with a few offended guests than be eating the cost of people ruining things. Because guests will surely cry if they weren’t warned about damaging towels.

I have beaten myself over the head to try and figure out why a women would travel with no plan to remove makeup. My conclusion is that she does the same thing at home. Women don’t “forget” their precious makeup on vacation - so they didn’t conveniently forget their night time routine. They just do this at home too.

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And that’s my BIGGEST Fear, flushing wipes, quips and tampons down the toilet. I once had a plumber snake my toilet and find a countless amount of condoms too!

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Oh god no! That’s another bloody note we have pinned up - nothing down the toilets except toilet paper. Ugh. You just freaked me out again.

I just stayed in an Airbnb wherein the host had left a package of makeup towellettes. I thought it was brilliant! I never once thought to use a washcloth to remove my mascara. That’s one solution, although it might add up after a while.

thank you for sharing!!

thank you for you sharing!!

Nice thank you for sharing!