How To Get Makeup Out Of Your Sweaters Without Paying A Fortune For Dry Cleaning

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Few sartorial catastrophes are more troubling than makeup-stained clothing and, now that it's fall, we especially must worry about getting makeup out of sweaters. Whether your hand slipped when applying red lipstick to pair with your white chiffon mini dress or a dash of foundation found its way onto your favorite cashmere sweater, the snafu is exasperating — and inevitable. After all, nothing ruins a chic ensemble quite like an obvious cosmetics smudge at the neckline or a streak across the bodice. If your immediate reaction is to scrub away the offending stain or attack the spot with some form of bleach-based product, step away from your garment and set down the cleaning products. Your cosmetics stains can be treated, but a bleach spot or pilled fabric from scouring your garb is a much tougher, if not impossible, fix.

If you're saddled with a favorite garment made considerably less aesthetically pleasing by a makeup smudge, you're in luck; a handful of home remedies combined with a few key products can wipe away even the most atrocious cosmetics splatters. Mary Johnson, Fabric Care Principal Scientist for Tide and Downy, shares her cosmetics cleaning secrets for women who adore their makeup — just not on their clothing.

1. Give Your Cotton Sweaters The Cold Shoulder To Treat Lipstick Stains

As it so happens, your freezer may be useful for more than storing chilled foods. Johnson explains that freezing your clothing can "gently scrape off any excess stain. For waxy makeup stains, first place the garment in the freezer for 20 minutes. Then gently scrape off any excess frozen stain," Johnson advises.

2. Use Dishwasher Soap On Delicates Like Cashmere

Dawn Dishwashing Liquid in Original Scent, $6, quill.com

Instead of simply turning to your favorite laundry detergent for stain-fighting salvation, Johnson recommends using a dollop of dish soap."[You] can try Dawn dishwashing liquid to pretreat the stains until they can wash the garment using the stain removal guidelines above using Tide Ultra Stain Release," Johnson reveals.

3. Soak Your Clothing Right After The Stain Occurs

Tide Ultra Stain Release High Efficiency Liquid Laundry Detergent, $11, Tide

Don't dally after accidentally dousing your blouse in coffee. Johnson insists that every moment counts when tending to a quickly setting stain. "Immediately wet the stain and use paper towels to blot away as much of the stain as possible," Johnson recommends. "If it’s a wet stain like juice or a smoothie, turn the garment inside out and place the stained area under a water faucet to flush the stain out as much as possible. When you are home, pre-treat the stain with Tide Ultra Stain Release as per the instructions above."

4. Don't Trust Unsubstantiated Cleaning Tricks That Sound Suspect... Like Using Hairspray

Alexander Koerner/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

As a rule of thumb, avoid any stain-removal tips or tricks that sound dubious. "Watch out! You may have heard to use hair spray to help prevent stains from setting in. This used to be partially true because hair sprays used to contain high alcohol formulas. However, since hairspray formulas have now shifted to alcohol-free formulas you would actually do more harm than good because you would be coating the stains and fabrics with sticky residues," Johnson discloses.

5. Give Stained Clothes A Detergent Bath Before Machine Washing

Adam Berry/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Instead of simply dunking your clothing in the washing machine post-stain, try a pre-wash detergent bath. "If the sweater is machine washable, pretreat the stain. Let set for 20 minutes then wash the garment with stain-fighting detergent in the warmest setting allowed as per the care instructions," Johnson states.

6. Don't Use Your Dryer Until The Stain Is Completely Gone

Ethan Miller/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Unless you wish to have a permanently stained sweater, resist the urge to stick your clothing in the dryer until no trace of the stain remains. "Do not put the sweater into the dryer if the stain remains as that will set the stain," Johnson urges. Follow all these tips, and your favorite chunky knit just might make it through.

Images: Lenore Edman/Flickr