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How To Wash Reusable Makeup Pads Like A Pro

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Learn how to wash your reusable makeup pads the easy way – by hand and in the washing machine – to help keep them sparkly clean for longer.

Facial cleansing wipes may be an easy and convenient way to take off your makeup, but these single-use wipes are also responsible for more than half of all sewer blockages in the UK. Whilst many wipes are labelled flushable, the truth is makeup wipes should never be flushed down the loo. When flushed, these wipes mix with oil and fat in the water treatment system and cause fatbergs – a rock-like mass of waste matter that blocks up our sewers.

Most single-use wipes also come packaged in plastic, which many of us are looking to reduce our reliance on.

One eco solution is to switch to reusable makeup pads. Whether you make your own reusable makeup pads or opt for shop-bought ones, both are great ways to green your skincare routine.

As much as I love reusable makeup wipes, some types of makeup – even sustainable makeup – can be greasy. This means your once pristine wipes can quickly stain after just a few uses, and these stains can be tricky to shift. Whilst not dirty, stained wipes can be less appealing to use. And if something isn’t appealing to use, then you’re more likely to switch back to single-use products.

So how do you keep your reusable makeup pads clean and fresh so that they last the distance? Let me help.

How To Wash Reusable Makeup Pads

Reusable cotton rounds on a pink background with a blue text box that reads how to wash reusable makeup remover pads effectively.

From simple hacks that help prevent stains in the first place, to stain removal advice, and all the washing and drying tips you need – whether you wash your pads by hand or in the washing machine – I’ve got it all here.

1. Wet Your Pads Before Each Use

Through trial and error over the last few years, I’ve found that wetting the pads before using them to remove any makeup goes a long way in helping to stop stains before they get a chance to set.

Before discovering this simple hack, I would wet my face, apply cleanser and then use a dry pad to wipe it all off. Now, I still wet my face and apply cleanser, but I also run my pad until a little water and then squeeze the water out first, before using the damp pad to help shift my makeup.

What I’ve found is that wetting the pad before use seems to help stop the makeup from getting ingrained in the fibres of the pads – whether the pads are made of cotton, bamboo or wool. Any staining is also easier to remove.

2. Prewash Your Pads After Each Use

After taking off your makeup, don’t immediately toss your pads in your laundry basket. Instead, it’s important to pre-wash your pads. Especially if you’ve been wearing mascara, foundation or highly pigmented lipstick.

The good news is this step isn’t super involved. All you have to do is quickly rub a little soap (a bar of soap or liquid handwash is fine) into your pad, and then give it a little rinse under the tap. You can then pop your pads into your laundry basket, ready for washing.

This step helps stop any stains from setting and helps loosen any makeup trapped in the fibres of your pads. This means that it’s more likely that your pads always will come out of the wash sparkling clean.

You can now skip to step four if your pads are only lightly stained. If your pads have stubborn staining, then head to step three.

3. Pre-Treat Stains

Before you pop your pads in the wash, you can pre-treat any stubborn stains. What you use depends on what you have to hand.

An eco-friendly stain remover rubbed into the pad should do the trick. However, for washing makeup pads, my personal favourite is sodium percarbonate – also known as oxygen bleach. I find it’s hands down the most effective option.

Here’s what my heavily stained makeup pad looked like before treatment with sodium percarbonate, and after.

A before and after of stain removal on a reusable cotton round.

It had been through multiple washes in the washing machine, but the lipstick and eyeliner would not budge from it. As you can see, sodium percarbonate sorted it right out!

To remove stains on one pad, you can mix a little sodium percarbonate and warm water into a paste, and leave the paste to sit for 15 minutes. Sodium percarbonate is activated by hot water, so it needs a little time to activate. After 15 minutes, you can apply the paste directly to the stain and give your pad a good rub – letting it sit for 30 minutes – before washing as normal.

For removing stains from multiple makeup pads, it’s easier to make up a pre-soak solution. Add 1 tablespoon of sodium percarbonate into a 2-litre bowl of hot water, and then soak your pads for up to six hours. You can then wash your pads as normal.

For very heavily set stains, I’d recommend rubbing a little washing-up liquid into your pad after soaking it with sodium percarbonate. Work it in with a scrubbing brush, before rinsing and then putting it into the washing machine.

4. How To Wash In The Washing Machine

Once you’re ready to run a full load on your washing machine, you can pop your pads in your washing machine alongside other like coloured clothes and other laundry items.

I prefer to use a mesh laundry bag to corral my pads, as otherwise, they tend to get lost in other items of laundry or get stuck in the seal of the machine. If you don’t have one, it’s no big deal. They’ll still get clean.

A 30°C wash on a standard wash cycle is enough to get your reusable makeup pads clean. There’s no need to do a hot wash or do an extra-long cycle provided you’ve prewashed your pads, and/or pre-treated any stubborn stains.

When it comes to laundry detergent, there’s no need to use anything specialist on your pads. I tried both eco-friendly detergent powder and laundry liquid and so far have had good results from both.

The only thing I would avoid using is fabric conditioner, as this can negatively affect the absorbency of your pads. Instead, skip the conditioner or use a little vinegar as a natural fabric conditioner to keep your pads naturally soft.

5. How To Wash By Hand

If you’d prefer to wash your reusable makeup pads by hand, then it’s also an easy process.

Simply apply a little liquid laundry detergent to a wet pad and rub it to loosen any makeup. Once the suds turn white, rinse the pad under the tap until no detergent is left. Gently squeeze out any excess water, and leave to dry.

6. Drying Your Pads

When it comes to drying your pads, personally, I would avoid tumble drying your pads where possible. As well as being costly and less energy-efficient, the tumble dryer can shorten the lifespan of your pads. High heat can also permanently set stains, making it nearly impossible to get stains out in future washes.

Instead, hang your pad on the washing line or a clothes horse, where you can, for best results. Alternatively, lying them flat on a sunny window ledge can also dry them quickly, ready for the next use. Sunshine also has the added bonus that it naturally bleaches fabric, helping to remove any lingering marks from your makeup pads.

7. Switch To Dark Coloured Reusable Makeup Pads

Finally, if you’re looking for a less involved way of taking off your makeup the zero-waste way, then consider switching to dark-coloured reusable makeup pads – like these pads from Modibodi – the next time you need to replace your existing pads. Dark-coloured fabrics are less likely to show up any stains, and need less upkeep! Simply use and chuck in the washing machine, without worrying about your pads getting stained.

Final Thoughts

Reusable makeup remover pads are a great way to green your skincare routine. With just a little TLC, you can help keep your reusable makeup pads in top-notch condition for longer, making them even more sustainable.

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