How to remove fake tan stains

Orange stains from fake tanning can be tricky to remove! Read on for tips & tricks on how to get fake tan stains out of different fabrics with this simple guide.

Updated 10 July 2019

how to remove fake tan stains

When summer comes around, everyone wants to have a sun-kissed glow! Fortunately, with fake tanning products, we don’t have to jet off to exotic places to look bronzed all year round. However, fake tan can leave troublesome orange stains, which can be tricky to remove if you don’t know the best method: use this video to learn how to get fake tan out of clothes, sheets, and carpets effectively.

As with most stains, the trick with removing fake tan from clothing and other fabrics is to move fast – do not allow the stain to dry and set!

How to Remove Fake Tan from Clothes: Washable Fabrics

Some fake tanning products contain dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a colour additive, which makes your skin darker for a few days or even weeks. If it gets on fabric, it won’t cause a permanent stain immediately, but will eventually set. So remember to act fast, ideally while the stain is still wet. Removing fake tan from clothes can be quite easy if the fabric is machine washable. The same goes for towels and sheets, which are generally machine washable.

  1. Check the garment care tags. Pay particular attention to any specific instructions on washing or stain removal.
  2. Flush the back of the stained fabric with cold running water or sparkling water. Hold the reverse of the fabric under the tap or – if that’s impossible – saturate the stain with cold and/or sparkling water. This will help loosen the fake tan particles and drive them out of the clothing fibres. Do not rub the fabric.
  3. Mix a solution of soapy water and dab at the stain. Mix up a water and laundry detergent solution; in a pinch, even dishwashing liquid mixed with water can work. Use your fingertip to work the solution into the stain, then rinse, repeat, and continue sponging with the solution until the stain is gone. You can also try a commercial stain remover – follow the instructions on any product labels to ensure safe and effective use.
  4. Launder as usual in the washing machine, and the stain should be gone. Cottons, towels, and sheets should be washed in the washing machine with a biological detergent like Persil small & mighty. Always follow the guidance on the garment care tags.
  5. Do not tumble-dry fabrics or hang in the sun until the fake tan stain is thoroughly removed. Otherwise, the heat will cause the stain to set.

If your garment is made from a dry-clean-only fabric, it is essential that you refer to the relevant steps below.

How to Get Fake Tan Off Clothes: Whites, Delicates, & Non-Washables

These further steps can help if your garment is white, or if it isn’t machine-washable. Remember to test any stain remover on an inconspicuous area of fabric to see it does not damage your garment, and to read the instructions on the label first.

How to remove fake tan from white clothes:

  • Oxygen-based bleach: This is one possibility for how to remove fake tan from white clothes. Mix a solution according to the oxygen-based bleach instructions with cool water. Soak the garment for up to eight hours, rinse, and repeat if the stain persists. Eventually, launder as normal in the washing machine. Remember – always test any new product on a small area first.

How to remove fake tan from clothes that can’t go in the machine:

  • Glycerin: Another option for a fake tan stain remover is glycerin, which can be applied to small areas on non-machine-washable fabrics. Again, spot-test first in an inconspicuous area, and dab away to lift the fake tan stain.
  • Professional Dry Cleaners: A professional cleaner should always be consulted if your garment is particularly delicate or important, or if it is dry-clean only. Take it to them as soon as you can, while the stain is still fresh.

Removing Fake Tan Stains from Carpets

An accidental spill of fake tan on your carpet can be removed with enough dedication and elbow grease. Follow our steps below:

  1. Blot as much fake tanner as possible from the carpet, using either kitchen roll or tea towels you don’t mind staining.
  2. Mix a solution of warm water and a good quality laundry liquid, or even dishwashing liquid. Use a clean cloth or sponge to apply the solution to the stain, and gently scrub away in a circular motion.
  3. If the stain persists, scrub the soapy solution into the carpet fibres with a clean, old toothbrush. You can also use a specialist carpet cleaning product – just follow the directions on the label, and test the product in a small area first.
  4. Rinse thoroughly by blotting with clean water and a sponge or towel.
  5. Vacuum the carpet to lift any remaining fake tan residue.

Go ahead: use fake tanner to achieve that enviable sun-kissed glow, and worry less about staining your clothes. With our handy guide to help, you can continue looking tanned and summery in your clean clothes all year round.

Originally published 19 July 2018