Recently I came across an article online from a UK Publication noting the “amazing genius idea” (article quote) of a female user whom had “discovered” the amazing Self Tan/Fake Tan removal ability of a white bathroom sponge on a wand cleaning item.

These are the white soft foam melamine sponge products for household cleaning (similar to the USA Version of the Procter & Gamble Mr.Clean  Magic Eraser Cleaning Sponges, or Scotch Brite Easy Erasing Pad, also sold under other brand names).

The bathroom versions of these sponge tools are also available on a plastic Stick/Wand (making it look appealing for scrubbing your back). The bathroom version of these products contain added cleaning agents, making them more effect for tougher bathroom use (which is what it is marketed for)

This user, we will call her “Jane” was ecstatic to find out it removed all her sunless tanner with ease, (like Magic!) and she waxes poetic about its amazing uses, in leaving her tan free. And the article exclaimed she was a genius for her new terrific Self Tanning Hack. Yeah for Jane!

The Newest Thing?

First off this is not a “New” hack, nor a new thing at all. I have been a part of the self-tanning Industry since 1979. I started visiting and moderating Online Self tanning message boards in the early 90’s. When Mr. Clean sponges first came out in 2003 , you can bet they popped up on message boards all across the internet. Everybody was asking about them, and many were trying them (including myself, as part of Message board testing purposes)

The version in the UK is no different than those in the USA. I did not recommend them then and I do not recommend them now for tan removal.

I will detail reasons below, but want to continue Jane’s story first

A few days after Janes crazy/great testimonial article on the wonders of this product, I now see other articles, noting users trying this same trick, and coming away with irritated raw bleeding skin from abrasion burns, skin is left raw and bleeding, with tissue scrubbed off. Other users suffering chemical burns from bleaches and other ingredients infused in some of these sponges.

Dermatologists and Doctors have come forward noting these should NOT be used on the skin for self tan removal. In fact many packages of these products note in the warnings they should not NOT be used on a number of delicate surfaces, and specifically should not be used on the skin.

But these are Non-Toxic, its says so right on the package!

The sponges themselves are made of a non-toxic melamine foam, which has been used for decades in sound proofing and insulation materials. They have been around for 20 plus years of so. They can safely be used and handled without gloves, or other safety gear.

They are manufactured from a specialized type of soft flexible foam, that though very soft on the surface has sand paper like microscopic fibers, allowing it to scrape away many stains, and lift them up into the sponge foam surface.

The beauty of this material, is with a few quick swipes, the damp sponge can be used to clean a variety of surfaces using just water. And they work very well when used correctly. This makes them a wonderful household cleaning tool popular in many homes. I have a hugh box under my kitchen sink year-round. Love them, for their intended purpose.

However, I have also accidentally peeled paint off a painted wall, and removed a stain finish from wood using these sponges aggressively. So they can be very abrasive.

When used correctly, other than issues related to ingestion from clogging of airways, the are a safe cleaning option for home use.

However, just because the product is non-toxic and does not contain any caustic chemical cleaners does not mean it is safe for use on delicate surfaces (painted walls, glossy or satin finishes, or human skin) as it can abrade/damage these finishes.

In the case of skin it can cause very sever mechanical rub injuries, or “carpet burns” from the rubbing action, tearing and abrading the skin. This can leave skin raw, irritated, and bleeding. It could even cause scarring and excess skin removal on some area.  Normally you are not aware the skin has been damaged until after you have showered and dried your skin.

The continued pressure and rubbing can also possibly cause wear and break down of the skin with time, on delicate skin. (think Face, neck chest) This could lead to excess skin sagging, similar  to that that which can occur from excessive manual scrub exfoliation methods and how they can wear the skin further with time. Breaking down the elastin and collagen (inner support structure) in the skin surface layers. Not an issue for young skin, but not recommended for skin over 40, whose rebuilding capacity has slowed with age.

In Jane’s story, she used the type of product that was on a Wand/Stick. This was a UK article. But in the USA market, the version with a stick is made for bathroom use, such as for Showers, Tile work, Grout, Toilet cleaning. The bathroom versions of these sponges have additional cleaners added to increase their effectiveness. These can be a variety of standard household cleaning agents such as Bleach, Acids etc. None of which should be used on the skin as a cleaning agent, especially skin that has just become rubbed raw from being manually abraded (scrubbed) from an Eraser sponge.

So though these seem like a great idea, in practice they are not really that great an option.

The non-cleanser added sponge can be used carefully on thicker skin areas, (hands, feet, knuckles, knees etc). But use with much caution. Usually you are not aware skin is abraded and damaged until a few hours after the shower, when the red inflamed skin appears. (this was my experience many years ago)

I personally don’t recommend them for self tan removal, but if used carefully they can be used in some circumstances. But they should not be used over the entire body.

The versions containing cleaning agents should never be used anywhere on the body.

Please see this article on a number of safer tan removal options.


Be safe, Baby your skin, it will be with you for a Lifetime!