How to remove sunscreen stains from clothes

We’re sure there’s no need to tell you how important sunscreen is for your health. But just because sunscreen is good for your skin, doesn’t mean it’s good for your clothes. Getting sunscreen on your clothes can leave a sunscreen stain, which can be difficult to remove. This guide should help you continue slapping on sunscreen, while also keeping those annoying stains away from your favourite clothes.

What is a sunscreen stain?

Sunscreen stains are oily looking stains caused by large blotches of sunscreen being left behind on clothes. There are two kinds of sunscreen stains – the more common grease stains and the more difficult stains that are brown/orange in colour.

Sunscreen stains tend to occur if you leave large amounts of sunscreen on clothes for a period of time. If you wash your clothes immediately afterwards, most of the stains should be taken care of before they take form. But if you leave them for a while, that’s when things can become difficult.

What causes sunscreen stains?

Sunscreen causes stains to clothes due to the chemicals it contains. Sunscreen is naturally oily, but the main culprit is the chemical called avobenzone. Avobenzone is a key ingredient in sunscreen, and when it mixes with minerals found in water, it can lead to yellowish and dark-brown marks. The good news, however, is that these stains aren’t overly difficult to remove.

How to get sunscreen stains out of clothes

If you do happen to get an oily sunscreen stain on your clothes, here’s how to get rid of them. The key is to use a laundry detergent that is designed to cut through oils and grease.

  1. Remove as much excess sunscreen from the affected area as you can, then blot it with a dry cloth
  2. Sprinkle either bi-carb soda or cornflour over the stained area to absorb excess oils. Give it about 30 minutes before brushing off
  3. Brush off any excess powder then rub it with a strong laundry detergent as we mentioned above
  4. Soak your clothing in hot water mixed with detergent for up to 30 minutes, then rinse it with clean hot water once this time has expired
  5. If you’ve done all this, then it’s fine to be laundered with the rest of your clothes

Remember to check the labels of your clothes to see if they require any special circumstances for treating stains. A lot of clothes have temperature limits that you should try to adhere to.

How to get sunscreen stains out of white clothes

White clothes are particularly bad when it comes to sunscreen stains, but aren’t too difficult to treat. If the above method fails you, then you can try the following to get sunscreen stains out of your white clothing:

  • After washing, hang your white clothes out in the sun and squirt the area with lemon juice. Lemon juice can intensify bleaching results, so this is good for stubborn stains
  • Use a chemical bleaching agent that’s been diluted with water, making sure to keep your kids and pets out of the way!

Hopefully these methods will keep the sunscreen stains out of your clothes for good.

How to avoid sunscreen stains

Sunscreen stains are really quite easy to avoid as long as you’re careful with your sunscreen application. The best way to avoid stains is to put it on before you get dressed, allowing some time for it to dry. Not only does this increase how well it will protect your skin, it will stop stains from getting on your favourite outfit.

You can also look for brands of sunscreen that do not contain the avobenzone chemical, but this significantly limits your choices. It would be much easier to not use excessive amounts of sunscreen, and to give it about 15 minutes before you go outside to give it time to be absorbed into your skin.

See also:

hat sunscreen sand beachWhat materials are most susceptible to sunscreen stains?

While no fabric is entirely immune to sunscreen staining, some are worse than others.  Often, synthetic fabrics stain very easily – sweat stains can be particularly noticeable. When there is potential to get messy, the fabrics to avoid are those that are difficult to clean.

  • Cotton is incredibly versatile and fairly easy to get stains out of. It is also a tough material and can endure a great deal of soaking and drying without distortion. For cotton, the best way to treat stains is with detergent, or a light acid such as lemon juice or vinegar (should the stain require it)
  • Synthetics can be very sturdy, but they will be quickly destroyed by bleach and other oxidising chemicals. Cleaning synthetics with laundry detergent is best, but on tougher, greasier stains, dish soap is recommended
  • Silk is a tricky one to clean. While it is a natural fibre, silk does not like water, and spot cleaning can often result in a stain that is worse than the original. The best way to clean a stain on silk is to wipe off the stain with a damp cloth, and then rinse the entire garment thoroughly. Do not leave the initial wet spot to dry, rinse it straight away.
  • Wool is a very heat-sensitive material, so it must be treated with great care. While it can be soaked, the item must be laid flat to dry so it does not become misshapen. To wash a woollen garment, use lukewarm water and a wool-safe detergent. Bleach or acid will permanently damage the wool, so avoid these at all costs. After treating, get the wool to a dry cleaner as soon as possible.

If you’re looking to try out some new sunscreen to keep your skin safe, then check out our latest customer satisfaction ratings for sunscreen brands across Australia.

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