Does Self-Tanner Stain Clothes? Tips for Prevention and Removal

tanned woman

Self-tanner is a popular alternative to traditional tanning methods like sunbathing and tanning beds. It’s a convenient and safe way to achieve a sun-kissed glow without exposing your skin to harmful UV rays. 

However, one common concern among self-tanner users is whether it stains clothes. 

The good news is that self-tanner stains on clothes are avoidable and, if they do occur, can be removed with the right approach. 

Here’s what you need to know.

What Causes Self-Tanner Stains on Clothes?

Self-tanner contains dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a chemical that reacts with the amino acids on the surface of your skin to produce a brown pigment. When DHA comes into contact with fabric, it can also react with the fibers and cause stains. 

The intensity and color of the stain depending on the concentration of DHA in the self-tanner, the fabric type, and the length of time the self-tanner is in contact with the fabric.

Preventing Self-Tanner Stains on Clothes

The best way to prevent self-tanner stains on clothes is to take precautions before and after applying the self-tanner. Here are some tips:

  1. Wear dark-colored clothing: Choose dark-colored clothing when applying self-tanner. This will minimize the visibility of any stains that might occur.
  2. Wait for the self-tanner to dry: Give the self-tanner time to dry completely before putting on any clothing. This will reduce the risk of the self-tanner transferring onto your clothes.
  3. Avoid tight clothing: Tight clothing can rub against the skin and cause the self-tanner to smudge or transfer onto the fabric.

Removing Self-Tanner Stains from Clothes

If self-tanner stains do occur on your clothing, there are several ways to remove them. Here are some recommended products and tools for removing self-tanner stains:

  1. Baking soda: Mix baking soda with water to form a paste, then rub it onto the stain and let it sit for about 30 minutes before washing.
  2. White vinegar: Mix 1 part white vinegar with 4-5 parts water, then apply the solution to the stain and let it sit for 10-15 minutes before washing.
  3. Lemon juice: Squeeze fresh lemon juice onto the stain and let it sit in the sun for several hours before washing.
  4. Stain remover: Use a stain remover product specifically designed for self-tanner stains. Follow the instructions on the package.

When removing self-tanner stains, be careful not to damage the fabric. Test the stain remover on a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric first, and follow the instructions carefully.


Self-tanner stains on clothes are a common concern, but with the right approach, they can be avoided or removed. To prevent self-tanner stains, wear dark clothing, wait for the self-tanner to dry, avoid tight clothing, and wash your clothes before wearing them. 

If stains do occur, use baking soda, white vinegar, lemon juice, or a stain remover product to remove them. With these tips, you can enjoy a beautiful, sun-kissed glow without worrying about staining your clothes.

Got a different stain problem? Spilled some oil on your favorite shirt while cooking? Read Does Oil Stain Clothes? Understanding and Preventing Oil Stains on Your Clothing.

Thanks for dropping by my blog.

-Baking Soda Guy

Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels