How to Get Tanning Lotion Stains Out of Clothing

by Amy Davidson
Wear an old swimsuit or no clothing when you apply.

Wear an old swimsuit or no clothing when you apply.

Tanning lotion is an effective way to enhance a tan or add a tint of color to your skin, but it can damage your garments should you dress too soon after applying. Even hours after you’ve applied, pigmented skin flakes or the lotion itself can rub off on clothing and leave stains. Thankfully there is an easy way to remove tanning lotion stains to keep your skin vibrant with subtle tan lotion color, without jeopardizing your clothes.

Mix a teaspoon of dye-free liquid dish soap with one cup of warm water. Some garments cannot take any heat; if this is the case, use lukewarm or cool water to protect your garment.

Allow the stained area to soak in the solution for five minutes, and then begin pressing it from both sides of the garment with two paper towels. Do not rub; simply press the stained area firmly between paper towels to pull the stain out and not rub it further into the fibers.

Wash your garment as you normally would with detergent and check the stained area. If it still is there, mix together ¼ cup of hydrogen peroxide with 1 cup of water. Soak the stain in this solution for five minutes.

Remove the garment and press the area between two paper towels as you did before; machine wash and dry.

Items you will need

  • 1 teaspon dye-free liquid dish soap
  • Water
  • Paper towels
  • Laundry detergent
  • Hydrogen peroxide


  • If this method proves unsuccessful, head to your local dry cleaner who can either offer suggestions that will help prevent further damage to the garment, or clean it for you.
  • Wait until tanning lotion is dry -- usually about five to ten minutes -- before dressing. If possible, wear old clothing and darker materials for at least eight hours.
  • Apply lotion before bedtime, wear an old nightshirt and boxers and sleep on old sheets. In the morning, rinse skin off with gentle soap and water before putting on your regular garments.

About the Author

Amy Davidson is a graduate from the University of Florida in Gainesville, with a bachelor's degree in journalism. She also writes for local papers around Gainesville doing articles on local events and news.

Photo Credits

  • Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images