Even in the summertime — especially in the summertime! — many of us use self-tanners to supplement or augment the effects of beach time. But anyone who has ever used any kind of self-tanning product knows that the stuff stains like the dickens.
Part of the problem is that self-tanners fall into the combination stain category (in this case the combination is of oil and dye). So, much like when dealing with a lipstick stain, you’ll need to address both of those elements. Here’s how:
Removing Self-Tanner From Clothing
First thing’s first: If you catch a stain right as it happens, grab a baby wipe, which will be safe to use on almost any kind of fabric, including silk, and which will remove a new self-tanner stain. If you don’t have baby wipes on hand, turn the fabric inside out and flush it with water; turning it inside out will allow the water to push the self-tanner away from the fabric, rather than back through it. Then, rub a small amount of a grease-cutting dish soap like Dawn into the stained area using your fingers, rinse with cool water and repeat as needed until the stain is out or at least diminished enough that the garment can be laundered as usual.
When dealing with an older stain, an oxygenated bleach like OxiClean or Clorox Oxi Magic is going to be the best bet for saving your favorite shirt. Dissolve a scoop of it in a gallon or so of hot water, and submerge the item in that solution. Let it soak for a few hours up to overnight — the longer the better! — before laundering as usual.
Removing Self-Tanner From Towels
If the towels are white or light colored, hydrogen peroxide is a good option for removing self-tanner stains. On darker colored towels it may lead to color loss, so always be sure to check that it’s safe before using peroxide for stain-removal purposes.
For stains that are more set-in, the same oxygenated bleach you’ll use to get self-tanner out of clothes can be used on towels.
You may also, if you’re a regular user of self-tanners, want to take a page from my post on how to clean up hair dye stains and dedicate a dark-colored towel for use on self-tanning day.
Removing Self-Tanner From Furniture
An upholstery cleaner and stain remover like Resolve is what you’ll want if you accidentally transfer some of your self-tanner onto the couch. Always test the product on a hidden spot before using, to ensure that it’s safe for the fabric type. If your test goes A-OK, spray a small amount of the product on the stained area and blot with sponge or cloth. Rinse the cloth or sponge and go over the area with it to remove the cleaner, repeating as necessary until the stain is gone.
Removing Self-Tanner From Totes and Handbags
For nylon, canvas or cotton bags, baby wipes, dish soap or oxygenated bleach are all good options for removing self-tanner stains. If your tanner transferred onto a leather bag, a small bit of saddle soap will take the stain right out.
Avoid Self-Tanner Stains in the First Place
There are two rules to follow, post-self-tanning, that will help you to avoid these kinds of stains altogether. The first is pretty obvious: Let the self-tanner dry completely before you touch anything onto which it can transfer. The other is to, if at all possible, avoid wearing lighter-colored clothing for 12 to 24 hours after applying a self-tanner. The same is true of nylon, tight-fitting, and silk clothing, which should be avoided. Bras are another common item onto which self-tanner will transfer, so if you can avoid wearing one or can choose a darker colored option, that will help to save your bras from those ugly brown stains.