How to remove sunscreen stains from clothes, leather and more

Find out how to remove sunscreen stains from clothes, swimwear, leather, and more

how to remove sunscreen stains from clothes - a woman using sunscreen - Getty
Image credit: Getty
(Image credit: Getty)

Wondering how to remove sunscreen stains from your favorite t-shirt, or your leather car seat? We've got some great laundry hacks to share. 

The key to successful sunscreen stain removal is speed: get cleaning as soon as you've noticed it. A wet sunscreen stain is much, much easier to remove than an old stain. 

Lynsey Crombie, a.k.a Queen of Clean explains, 'Sunscreen can be a real pain to get out and the longer you leave it the worse it is going to get.  If you are out and about when the stain occurs you are naturally going to wipe the stain with a tissue or a wet wipe but the heat from the sun and perspiration can activate the grease even more making it much worse.'

This is because the oil contained in sun cream will begin to oxidize over time, leaving a yellow mark that can be very challenging to remove.

'Try to prevent sunscreen stains always rub the suncream into your skin really well and wash your hands straight after application. If you are travelling with sunscreen always place it in a safe secure plastic travel pouch bag or place inside two carrier bags and wrap tight. There is nothing worse than getting to you destination opening your suitcase to a burst bottle of sunscreen.'

Follow these tips for removing sunscreen from a variety of fabrics.

how to remove sunscreen stains - white shirts on hangers - GettyImages-1140091714

(Image credit: Getty)

How to remove sunscreen stains from cotton

Those oily sunblock 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. 

Find out how to remove sunscreen stains whether you're at home or at the beach:

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.

How to remove sunscreen stains from swimwear

Sunscreen 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 hand wash with your regular detergent).

Decor Trends

(Image credit: Wayfair)

How to remove sunscreen stains from leather

Sunblock stain on your leather car seat or sofa? Time is, again, of essence. 

Here's how to remove sunscreen stains from leather:

  • 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 specialized leather cleaner, again blotting away gently as you go.

natural light

(Image credit: Next)

How to remove sunscreen stains from upholstery 

Blotting is, again, the technique you'll need to use. 

Here's how to remove sunscreen stains from upholstery:

  • 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 information on How to clean a carpet in our in-depth guide.

Queen of Clean's sunscreen stain hack

Lynsey Crombie, a.k.a Queen of Clean, has a few fail-safe tips on how to remove sunscreen stains:

1. 'As soon as you can rinse the stain from the reverse under a cold water tap, this way the stain is being pushed out of the fabric and hopefully flushing out as much as the stain as possible.'

2. 'Sun creama and sunblocks have an oil base so you need something to break that down, so one of your go to products here is white wine vinegar. Cover the stain in the vinegar and leave a good 30 minute to an hour to really allow the vinegar to work.'

3. 'Another option is eucalyptus oil. Eucalyptus oil is great for oily stains. Just cover the whole stain and leave for around 15 minutes.'

4. 'Next, wash the garment on the hottest temperature that is safe for the fabric and the check for the stain again before you dry. Once the item has dried you will won’t get the stain out. So if there is still a trace of the stain repeat this process again.'

Anna Cottrell
Anna Cottrell

Anna is Consumer Editor across Future's home brands. She moved to the world of interiors from academic research in the field of English Literature and photography. She is the author of London Writing of the 1930s and has a passion for contemporary home decor and gardening.

SPONSORS