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Yes – You Should Be Washing Your Tanning Mitt, Here's How

PSA: You don't need to buy a new mitt every time you tan.

It's not as painful as washing your makeup brushes, promise. 

If you've ever attempted the art of self-tanning at home, you're bound to have a story to tell - like that time you thought you had applied a flawless tan only to realise it had streaked all over your legs or how about the time when you misread the instructions and left the tan on for 15 hours, instead of 15 minutes and were left looking a little orange or what about that time when you applied tan with your bare hands and well, do we really need to expand on how badly that went?

Thankfully, your tanning game has come a long way since then and while mistakes are inevitable, you're somewhat of a pro when it comes to streak-free application.  Sure, years of practice are to thank for your tanning skills but one item that deserves all the credit? The humble tanning mitt. Not only do they guarantee smooth, spray-tan-worthy results, but they’ll stop your hands from looking like they belong to an Oompa Loompa.

While the texture of those beloved, velvet or sponge (depending on your preference) tools applies self tanner seamlessly, it can also easily hold a lot of pretty disgusting bacteria. And even with this knowledge, we allow our tanning mitts to chill in its own spore-filled cesspool for months, caked in tan and skin oils, and keep rubbing it into our skin without ever taking the time to clean it. 

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The problem isn’t (always) that we are all lazy bacteria-lovers, but that most of us don’t actually know how to clean our tanning mitt and eventually just end up binning it. And sure, you can get soaps and cleansers and magical potions that you can buy for a hefty lump of cash, and yes, they will definitely help prolong the life of your mitt and yadda yadda yadda, but what if you don’t want to spend the money or go through the hassle, just to clean a mitt? Well, that’s where we come in. Thankfully, it's far easier to clean a tanning mitt than you'd think.


You can either hand wash your mitt with warm (not hot) water, or even easier, chuck it in the washing machine on a 30° wash. Be warned though: if you are using a cheap and cheerful mitt, the washing machine can misshape your mitt or even shrink it. Regardless of the quality, you'll also want to refrain from washing it with any other garments or items because the tanning residue can stain certain fibres and fabrics.

As for how often you should be washing your tanning mitt, it's the same as your makeup brushes: after every use. If you're a regular tanner, hand washing is advisable to get the most out of your mitt. Using some good old fashioned soap and warm water, simply rinse the mitt. The tanning solution should come out quickly with a little gentle caressing under the sink. 

After washing, you will also want to wring out any excess water from the mitt and reshape it while it is still damp. This way once its dry it will appear to be back in its original condition and can be used again and again. Air drying your tanning mitt is best because the dryer can cause it to shrink or break.

Washing your mitt frequently will not only leave you with a smoother, streak-free tan but it will also prolong the life of the mitt. That said, if you are a frequent tanner, you might find that the mitt needs to be replaced about once every three months. On the other hand, if you tan less frequently you can get great use from the same mitt for over six months or more.

Main image by @glowbybeca on Instagram

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