How to Clean Stains from Hands/Skin


Tom asked: How do I get walnut color from walnuts off of my fingers?

Berries, wood stain, grease, walnuts – they all leave marks on our hands that seem impossible to wash off. Here are a variety of household items that can be used to scrub stains off of hands.    

You Will Need:

  • Vegetable oil
  • Vinegar
  • Dish soap
  • Nail polish remover
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt and lemon juice (for really stubborn stains)
  • Dishwashing soap and baking soda
  • Toothpaste
  • Hand soap
  • Water
  • Hand lotion

Steps to Remove the Stains:

  1. Select a stain remover from the list above.
  2. Apply to the stained area on the hands and scrub.
  3. If necessary, the items can be mixed or used on their own.
  4. Once the stain is removed, wash with hand soap and warm water to remove the cleaning agent.
  5. Dry with a soft towel.
  6. If the cleaning agent used dried out your hands, apply a quality hand lotion.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Of course if time allows, just leave the stain be. It will eventually wear off.
  • Avoid using harsh cleaners/scrubbing mixtures on facial skin as it is more easily irritated.


  1. Marlene says:

    My hands and nails were stained from peeling apples – making applesauce. I had previously used bleach and scrubbing – that was quite harsh. This time, I chose lemon juice from your list. How easy; most of the stain immediately disappeared without harsh scrubbing.

    Thank you.

  2. Robin says:

    Viniger works for getting off wood stain from your hands.

  3. Carmelo says:

    I had really bad stains on my hands from timber decking. I tried all kinds of soaps, turpentine, even methylated spirits, and nothing worked. I chose lemon and salt because you have suggested that for really stubborn stains, and thank you! It worked really well. I will never forget this one.
    Thanks again,

  4. Bushra says:

    I have a very, very dark spot on my knuckle, and also on my big toe. Please tell me something to use. I feel very embarrassed when I meet anyone. Please help; I will be very thankful to you.

  5. Jackie says:

    I work in a machine shop drilling aluminum and a lot of greasy parts which leave black stains on my hands. How do I get it off?

  6. AL says:

    I was using a wood stain called Minwax Poly Shade. I tried WD-40, which removes some stains, and then vegetable oil. Unfortunately, as useful as those two were, I still couldn’t get every bit off. However, I’m still satisfied I got the vast majority off. Thank you for the advice! I couldn’t believe vegetable oil worked.

  7. Val says:

    OMG – I just finished making apple butter and my hands were black from the apples. I tried bleach with no results. I then cut a lemon and used the juice. It is amazing; my hands are perfectly clean. Thank you so much.

  8. PauL says:

    Thanks for the tips! Worked like a charm!

  9. So so sad says:

    I just dyed my hair. I didn’t use gloves. I know, very dumb of me. I have tried toothpaste, bleach, oil, lotion, soap, and nail polish remover. What will get rid of hair dye all over your hands? Thanks; I appreciate it.

    Look! We’ve answered your question! Yippee!

  10. Sumaira says:

    I still have walnut stains on my hands from two weeks ago. I tried everything almost, but no change. I am very worried because I have to be in a marriage party soon and my hands are looking very bad. Kindly suggest something by which I can get rid of these stains please.

  11. JG says:

    Sounds crazy, but try unripened walnuts. It works with mulberries; they leave stubborn purple stains on your hands and the only way to remove them is by rubbing green/unripened mulberries on the affected area. Truly.

  12. John says:

    How do I get chestnut stains (brown) off of my fingers?

  13. Nicole says:

    I work at a restaurant where I work with tons of limes for margaritas. My hands are stained and splotchy, and dry and cracked. I am getting married soon and I cannot have my hands look like this and I do not want to find another job. Anyone know what I can do to get rid of the brown spots?

  14. Melanie says:

    The brown spots on skin from lime juice is known as Mexican Beer Dermatitis or Margarita Dermatitis. It is not from only touching the limes, but rather touching the limes and then being exposed to sunlight. According to, you can “use hydroquinone or a glycolic acid-based treatment to lighten” the brown spots.
    To prevent additional spots from appearing, consider placing a glass of water somewhere you can easily access (behind the bar, etc.) and dip your hands in the water after touching a lime if you are too busy to fully rinse your hands each time. (Replace the water in the glass as often as possible.) Also, you do not need to use soap to remove the lime residue, so if you are washing your hands only to remove the lime juice, do not use soap, which will cause more dryness and cracking. Keeping your hands out of sunlight after touching a lime would also help. If your work allows, you could wear fingerless hand covers, or get a pair of lace fingerless hand covers to wear during your wedding. Another idea would be to do Indian wedding henna, which has the fun tradition of hiding your groom’s initials in the henna design so that he can search your body for his initials on the wedding night. You can also cover the spots with make-up.
    For the dryness and cracking, consider using a moisturizing lotion at night and wear gloves throughout the night to lock in the moisture. A hydroquinone lotion could help combat all problems at once. There are also moisturizing gloves that can be worn at night.
    Congratulations and Best Wishes for your wedding!

    Source: – If life hands you limes, have Lemon-Aid on hand
    Source: NPR – Mexican Beer Dermatitis: Scourge Of The Beach Bum And The Proper Lady
    Source: Shape Magazine – Is Your Margarita Bad for Your Skin?
    Source: Camp Wander – Rescue Remedies for Summer Dry Heels
    Source: Henna Caravan – Henna for Weddings, Sangeets and Engagement Celebrations

  15. Dalton says:

    How do I get rust stains off my hands?

  16. Melanie says:

    To clean rust stains off surfaces, it is recommended to use an acid like vinegar or lemon juice, or an abrasive like baking soda. The lemon juice and salt method sounds ideal for removing rust from skin. As a side note, do not combine baking soda with an acid like vinegar or lemon juice; they will react.
    Source: How To Clean Stuff – How to Remove Rust Stains from Patio Furniture

  17. Izzy says:

    INK. That’s what’s bugging me so badly. I’ve been on the article about clearing ink stains and they either didn’t work or I simply didn’t have access to the ingredients. I am left with blue ink smudged randomly across my palms and despite my best efforts, it won’t clean away. I am about to try the lemon juice and salt and the toothpaste, but I need some more advice. Please help! :(

  18. Rita says:

    I got my stain from pitting cherries for jam. I used juice of one lemon. Cleaned my hands beautifully. My problem is I can’t get the stain out from around my nail. It looks like my hands have been in dirt forever. By the way, the cherry jam is delicious.

  19. Liza says:

    It’s been almost two weeks from when I peeled a walnuts and my hand is just like it was soaked in brown dye. I am so frustrated that I cannot remove it. Please do help me. We will have visitors next week and I couldn’t let them see these hands of mine. :'(

  20. Linda says:

    I was peeling butternuts and walnuts, left brown stains on my fingers. I tried everything from Javex, lemon juice to peroxide, nail polish remover, and nothing is helping. Please help. :(

  21. Paul says:

    After peeling hull off butternuts that had been soaking in water overnight, I now have dark brown stains on my hands and nothing seems to work removing the stain. Any suggestions? I tried everything listed on this article.

  22. Melanie says:

    Butternuts (and also walnuts) are sometimes used to make ink. You could look through some of the comments on the How to Clean Ink Off Your Hands article to see if there are other ideas there that you might want to try.
    Source:The Fountain Pen Network – Making Walnut and Butternut Inks

  23. Anonymous says:

    That was fantastic! I had some serious decking stains on my hands; the the lemon and salt just took it straight off. Just be careful if you have cuts because it will sting terribly.

  24. Rubygale says:

    Thanks for the advice. I had black furniture stain all over my arms and around my fingernails, and I used hand lotion and it worked!

  25. Yayay says:

    THE BEST WAY to remove a butternut stain!!!

    Put your hads in very, very warm/hot water for like a minute, then use one of those things that they use to scrub off dead skin from your feet…use it on your hands and the butternut stain WILL come off!!!

    Good luck!!!

  26. Natasha says:

    My partner has very black hands through his job. He shot blasts metal for a living and the metal seems to stain his hands. We go away soon and they look so bad. What can he use to get rid of it?

  27. Melanie says:

    Try using some of the solutions listed in the article How to Remove Tarnish Stains from Fabric.
    You can also try using baking soda. Plain white toothpaste might also work.
    Also, castile soap is a great surfacant – better than most chemical surfacants in my opinion. Try using one of the Dr. Bronner’s soaps (the eucalyptus one might be best for this purpose) or the Desert Essence hand soap – both are available at most health stores. Using these regularly might help to keep the staining build-up down and make removal easier in the future.

  28. Susan says:

    PLEASE HELP!!!!! I cannot get red lip stain off my cheek! I have tried what the manufacturer recommended! I even tried a little gasoline. The stain will not budge! Could I try a little laundry bleach? What about WD-40? HELP!!!!!!

  29. Melanie says:

    Try rubbing alcohol; that works well on most dye stains. Nail polish remover might also work. Here are some other related articles that have more suggestions:
    How to Remove Hair Dye from Skin
    How to Remove Food Coloring from Skin
    Many people have written in on the article How to Remove Ink from Skin saying that laundry bleach worked for them. However, laundry bleach is a hazardous chemical and is not intended to be used on skin.
    If you can’t get it all off, try covering it up with some concealer. If you have one of those green concealers for acne, that would probably work best since the green would cancel the red. Good luck!
    Source: HowStuffWorks – How are lip stain and lipstick different?
    Source: Styles101 – How to apply green, yellow, and purple corrective concealers

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