How To Remove Makeup Stains From Car Interior

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Makeup is made to last long, which is the reason why it’s hard to remove it from the car interior. But it’s doable, of course. Here’s how you can remove makeup stains from different parts of the car interior.

Key Takeaways:

  • Cleaning makeup stains from the car interior is similar to removing any other type of stain. You have to use dedicated cleaners, depending on where the stain is.
  • For most makeup stains, you’ll have to do two or three passes because they’re completely gone. This is because most makeup is oil or silicon-based, which makes them harder to remove.
  • Makeup wipes are a great product to clean makeup stains while they’re still fresh quickly.
  • Dressings and protectants for car interiors will prevent makeup stains from sticking so much to the surface, so always apply them after cleaning your car interior.

Removing Makeup Stains From Dashboard and Door Handles

woman putting a lip balm while in the car

Dashboard and door handles are the most common car parts where you’ll find makeup stains. Luckily, they’re pretty simple to clean because they’re usually made out of plastic, rubber, leather, or vinyl.

What you’ll need:

How To Do It:

  • Step 1: Spray a bit of car interior cleaner onto the detailing brush and start working the brush into the stain.
  • Step 2: Wipe off any residue with a clean microfiber towel, and the stain should be gone.

If needed, repeat the process, and the stain should be gone. However, some stains will be tougher to remove, so using a Purple Power Degreaser might be needed to remove the stain entirely.

You can also use a steam cleaner to break it more quickly, but in most situations, the two steps I have shown you above will be enough.

Removing Makeup Stains From Headliner and Sunvisor

Removing makeup stains from headliners and sun visors is tricky if they’re made of upholstery. Luckily, most sun visors will be covered in vinyl or rubber, and on those kinds of sun visors, you can use the exact steps you would do on dashboards and door handles.

When it comes to cleaning headliners and sun visors made of fabric, you should follow this procedure.

What you’ll need:

How To Do It:

  • Step 1: Spray the microfiber towel with an upholstery cleaner.
  • Step 2: Rub the towel onto the stain on the headliner or sunvisor in circular motions. Do that for 10-20 seconds.
  • Step 3: Wipe the surface off with a clean microfiber towel.

If the stains don’t go, don’t oversaturate the area because it may cause the headliner to sag. If you can’t remove the stain, let it dry for 10 minutes and repeat the process. However, this time, try spraying an upholstery cleaner onto the brush and then clean the area by agitating it with a brush.

Removing Makeup Stains From The Seats

Since most people have either upholstery or leather seats, I divided this into two categories: cleaning makeup stains from fabric seats and cleaning makeup stains from leather seats.

Cleaning Makeup Stains From Fabric Car Seats

For removing makeup stains from the upholstery seats, the best option you can do is to deep clean car seats. Here’s how to do it.

What you’ll need:

  • Upholstery and fabric cleaner
  • Detailing brush
  • Microfiber towels

How To Do It:

  • Step 1: Spray a bit of an upholstery cleaner onto the seat and let it sit for 30 seconds.
  • Step 2: Take a soft brush and rub the area to break up the makeup stain.
  • Step 3: Wipe off any residue with a clean microfiber towel and allow the seats to dry.

Instead of using a hand brush, I highly suggest that you use a soft drill brush attachment and do it with a drill. It’s ten times easier, and you’ll get much better results.

Cleaning Makeup Stains From Leather Car Seats

When it comes to leather seats, the process is much simpler. Here’s how to do it.

What You’ll Need

How To Do It:

  • Step 1: Spray the leather cleaner onto the leather cleaning brush
  • Step 2: Gently rub the brush over the stain and do this process in circular motions for ca. 20-30 seconds.
  • Step 3: Wipe off the residue with a clean microfiber towel.

Since leather cleaners are pretty mild, they might not be able to remove all the stains entirely, so if that happens, feel free to use a bit of diluted all-purpose cleaner. With APC, it’ll be much easier to clean any stains for leather, but don’t use it if not necessary.

A Few Tips To Clean Makeup Stains Quicker

Now you know how to remove makeup stains from different car interior parts. But I also want to share a few tips that will make the whole process easier and safer and ensure that the stains won’t seep deep into the car’s interior materials.

Keep these tips in mind:

  • Treat the stains immediately. Don’t let the stains dry and seep into the material. That way, they’ll be much harder to remove.
  • Always start with the least abrasive product. To avoid damaging the car interior, always start with the mildest products, and then if the stain isn’t gone, gradually try a bit tougher cleaning products and methods.
  • Vacuum the car before cleaning. Vacuuming the car will ensure that there aren’t any other dirt or dust particles that may affect the cleaning process.
  • Repeat the process if needed. Some makeup stains, such as hand creams, will probably require you to do the cleaning process twice in order to remove them entirely. So, if that happens to you, don’t worry. Repeat the process, and the stain should be gone.
  • Avoid cleaning in high heat or direct sunlight. High heat or direct sunlight might cause cleaners to dry, reducing their cleaning abilities. So, do it somewhere in the shade with car doors open.
  • Buy makeup wipes. Makeup wipes are the best thing you can get to quickly clean the stain as soon as you spot it. You can always have them in your car, in your purse, or wherever you often cause or see stains made from makeup.

Hardest and Easiest Makeup To Clean

different types of makeup

Some types of makeup are easy to clean, while others are very hard to remove. It all depends on whether the makeup is water, oil, or silicon-based.

Makeups that are hard to clean:

  • Waterproof Mascara: Designed to resist water, it often requires an oil-based makeup remover for thorough removal.
  • Liquid Lipsticks: Especially the matte and long-lasting varieties, these can be quite stubborn and may need an oil-based remover.
  • Gel and Liquid Eyeliners: Especially the waterproof versions, they can be challenging to remove without a good makeup remover.
  • Brow Pomades and Gels: These are designed to be smudge-proof and can be harder to remove than powders.
  • Full-Coverage Foundations: These are formulated to stay on the skin for extended periods and might require a double cleanse or makeup remover to be fully removed.
  • Waterproof Concealer: Like their foundation counterparts, they are designed to last and can be tough to remove.
  • Glitter and Metallic Eyeshadows: The particles in these products can sometimes adhere strongly to the skin, making them a bit more challenging to remove.

Makeups that are easy to clean:

  • Powder Products: These include eyeshadows, blushes, and setting powders. They generally come off easily with a basic face wash or makeup wipe.
  • Non-waterproof Mascara: This can be removed with a simple cleanser or makeup remover.
  • Regular Lipsticks: Traditional bullet lipsticks, especially those with a creamy or satin finish, can be wiped off without much effort.
  • Tinted Moisturizers and BB Creams: These lightweight foundations are usually easy to wash off.
  • Brow Powders: These are typically easier to remove than pomades or gels.

Bottom Line

If you are somehow unable to remove the stain, I highly recommend going to a reputable detailing shop where they’ll fix it in a matter of minutes. That’s because they have all the needed equipment, such as carpet extractors, steam cleaners, etc.

Another important thing is that after cleaning any stains from the car interior, always protect it with a high-quality dressing. Those can be leather conditioners, interior protectants, etc. That way, the surface will be protected from harmful elements, but it will also be easier to keep it clean.


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