How to remove sun cream stains

Find out how to remove sun cream from clothes, swimwear, leather, and more

how to remove sun cream
(Image credit: Getty)

Wondering how to remove sun cream from your favourite t-shirt, or your leather car seat? The key to successful sun cream stain removal is speed: get cleaning as soon as you've noticed it. A wet sun cream stain is much, much easier to remove than an old stain. This is because the oil contained in sun cream will begin to oxidise over time, leaving a yellow mark that can be very challenging to remove. Follow these tips for removing sun cream from a variety of fabrics.

For more cleaning tips for your whole house, head to our cleaning hub page.

1. How to remove sun cream stains from cotton

Those oily stains on cotton t-shirts and sun dresses can be a real nightmare to remove, because the oils in the sun cream begin penetrating the fabric very quickly. If you've noticed the stain while you're still at the beach, you may be in luck: put some sand on it and rub vigorously; this should remove at least some of the substance. When you're home, apply stain remover to the stain and let sit for several hours. Only then pop it in the wash. If you put the item straight in the wash, you will most likely end up with a stain that is deeply embedded and harder to get off. If this has happened, try soaking the stain in bleach (if the fabric will take it) before washing it again. Don't try lemon juice or hanging the garment in the sun, as these methods could make the stain worse.

2. How to remove sun cream stains from swimwear

Sun cream stains in swimwear can be even more stubborn than those in regular clothing. So, it bears repeating that your chances of getting that stain out are greater if you start treating the stain as soon as it's appeared. If you can see yellowing, the stain is old and will require some extra effort to remove. You can try either massaging a stain remover in with an old toothbrush, or soaking the swimsuit in a solution of white vinegar and lukewarm water (followed by a handwash with your regular detergent). Find more ways to use vinegar to clean around your home.

3. How to remove sun cream from leather

Sun cream stain on your leather car seat? Time is, again, of essence: as soon as you've noticed it, get some paper towels/a sponge/anything you don't mind discarding afterwards and start blotting. It's important not to rub, as you'll just make the cream penetrate further into the leather. When you've soaked up all the cream you can, cover the spot in a layer of baking soda, which is highly absorbent and should soak up any residue. Afterwards, apply a specialised leather cleaner, again blotting away gently as you go. 

Find more tips on cleaning your home with baking soda and lots more info on how to clean leather in our guides.

4. How to remove sun cream from upholstery

Blotting is, again, the technique you'll need to use. Making a solution of washing-up liquid and water and blot the stain with a paper towel or sponge soaked in the solution. You can use the baking soda method, too. Vacuum up the baking soda residue afterwards. Use the same technique on stained carpets. Find more tips on how to clean upholstery in our guide.

More cleaning reading: