Self Tanner on Your Clothes? Here’s How to Get It Out

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By Emma McNab
June 15, 2022

Self tanner is a great solution if you want to enjoy a healthy, bronzed glow without the risks of sun damage. But we all know that using traditional self tanner can be messy, especially when you it gets on your clothes and fabrics. 

However, the traditional self-tanners that dye your clothes do so because they contain nasty toxic dyes. You could have avoided this all together by using our dye and toxin free Naru Organics self-tanner instead! It goes on clear and won’t stain your sheets or clothes. 

But, since you landed on this article, it’s fair to assume the deed has been done and your clothes are looking a little orange. If you’ve accidentally got some self tanner on your clothes, read our guide below to help get it out ASAP.

How to Get Self Tanner Out of Clothes

The good news is, self tanner probably isn’t going to permanently stain your clothes. While most self tanners will contain colored dyes that are more stubborn than your average make-up stain, it will shift eventually if you treat it fast. Here’s the process we’d recommend for getting self tan stains out of your washable clothes:

“Flush” the stain

Before putting your clothes in the wash or soaking them, you want to remove any remaining self tan product. You can remove any tan residue with a spoon or another utensil. (This only applies if you spilt your self tanner while using it, not tan transfers.) 

Once any excess residue has been removed, run the wrong side of the stain under cold water. This is known as “flushing” the stain and will prevent it from being pushed deeper into the fabric.  

Work the stain with dishwashing liquid and warm water (yes, really.)

Once you’ve flushed the stain, use a mix of liquid dish-washing detergent or soap and warm water and apply it gently to the stain using a sponge. Most self tanners (especially mousses and lotions) are typically made up of a combination of DHA and various oils. This is why dishwashing liquid or soap is so useful – it will help break down any oily residue. Rinse well with cold water after.

Wash as normal with a stain remover

Once you’ve sponged the piece of clothing and it’s been rinsed, pop it in the washing machine along with a general stain-remover. You can use cool water or warm water for this step.  

Always let any stained clothes dry naturally

When lifting self tanner stains, always let your clothes air dry naturally inside your home by hanging or lying flat. Intense heat (either from the daytime sun or a dryer) can set your self tanner stain, making it impossible for you to get it out of your clothing.

Treat with bleach or hydrogen peroxide

Once your item of clothing is dry, give it an inspection and see if the stain has been fully removed. If you can still see traces of the product, you can try using the same method again for better results. Or, you can try treating the stain using a mix of cool water and either bleach or hydrogen peroxide. NOTE: Only treat the stained area when using bleach or hydrogen peroxide, not the full piece of clothing. This will work best on truly white pieces of clothing! Be cautious when using bleach on other colored fabrics. 

 

 

How to Get Self Tanner Out of Non-Washable Clothes

If your clothes are non-washable and you accidentally stain them with self tanner, you’ll need to take them to the dry cleaners as soon as possible. Make sure to point out the stain and explain that it was self tanner, so the dry cleaner can use the right cleaning method to get it out.

Why Does Self Tanner Transfer Onto My Clothes?

There are a number of reasons self-tanner might transfer onto your clothes. First of all, the self-tanner you are using contains dyes (unlike Naru Organics!), some of which are illegal in other countries! When these dyes make contact with your clothing, it’s only a matter of time until your clothes take some color on. The most common reason is friction, which happens when your clothes rub against the tan and wear it down. Here’s are some common causes of friction:

Exercise

It’s always a bad idea to head straight to the gym after a self tanning session. Your tan needs 6-8 hours to develop, and exercising during this period can cause your tan to run. We’d advise waiting until after your first post-tan shower before hitting the gym. 

 

 

 

Tight or restrictive clothing

Even once the 6-8 hour self-tan development period is up, super tight clothes can still make your the tan rub off on certain fabrics. Loose and light clothing is always recommended when using a self tanning product, especially when waiting for the color to develop. 

Sweating

Sweating doesn’t just occur in the gym! Whether it’s a crowded space or the realities of living in a hot climate, breaking out in an unwanted sweat can be an everyday occurrence for some. If you’re wearing form-fitting clothes when you sweat, this can cause your self tan to break down and transfer. 

So, How to Avoid Self Tan Stains?

So, if you love getting your bronzed glow on with some self tanner, but you don’t want the stains? Here are some easy hacks for keeping your clothes, sheets and other fabrics tan-free:

Use a self-tanner without a color guide

Using a self tanner that comes without a color guide is the easiest way to avoid fake tan stains. We’d always recommend our Naru Organics Self Tanner, which is a colorless tanning lotion enriched with skin-enhancing Meadowfoam Seed Oil and Sweet Almond Oil. Finding a self tanner that mixes a sunless glow with skincare can be complicated, but our formula is dye-free, chemical-free and gentle on the skin. If you opt for Naru Organics, you can even skip the other tips below. 🙂

 

 

Wear loose-fitting clothing

The best way to prevent self tan from transferring is to wear loose-fitting clothes. Avoid tight clothes such as skinny jeans and bodycon dresses, as these materials can rub off your self tanner off and cause it to transfer to your clothes.

Sleep on darker sheets

When you know you’re going to be self-tanning (either at home or with a spray tan session) it’s a good idea to prepare your bed accordingly. Instead of sleeping on your favorite expensive white sheets, buy some cheaper darker sheets specifically for use after a self tan session. Simple.

Wear dark clothes

For the first 6-8 hours after your self-tan application, you should avoid light colored clothing. Even the most professional tan can rub off with friction, especially during the development stage. Protect your light clothes and opt for darker colors.

Use a tanning mitt

While it might seem like a waste of money, tanning mitts are super helpful for self tan application of traditional self tanners. You’ll avoid staining your hands and the mitt will also absorb any excess product, so you’ll deal with fewer carpet stains or clothing stains.

Powder your tan

Self-tan enthusiasts swear by this hack! Using baby powder, you can effectively “set” your tan to prevent it from transferring. This is best used while exercising or during hot weather. Simply apply some talcum powder or baby powder to sweat-prone areas, such as the armpits and backs of the knees. And don’t forget to also maintain your tan with regular exfoliating and a good moisturizer!

Wash the stain before it sets 

And finally, if you do still end up with a self tan stain, treated the stained area as soon as possible. Treating the problem immediately can save you a lot of hassle – and save your favorite clothes!

Emma McNab

Emma is a writer with a keen interest in all things skincare, wellness, and beauty.