How to Remove Sunscreen Stains from Clothes and Towels

Sunscreen stains on clothes are difficult to remove. But it's not an impossible task.
How to Remove Sunscreen Stains from Clothes and Towels

Last update: 25 April, 2023

If there’s one essential element during the summer, it’s sunscreen. We can’t do without it. However, it can often ruin clothes and towels by staining them. Don’t worry, there’s a solution, and we’ll be telling you how to remove sunscreen stains in this article.

Why do sunscreens usually leave stains on fabrics? It’s because they have some greasy components that soak into towels, armchairs, and clothes. These stains aren’t so easy to remove, so we invite you to read on and find out how to tackle them.

Why is it so difficult to remove sunscreen stains?

Sunscreen has a wide variety of compounds from different origins, such as oils and minerals, which are not so simple to remove when they come in contact with the fabric. One of the ingredients is avobenzone, a type of sunscreen that absorbs ultraviolet A (UVA) rays and is the photoprotector most widely used by laboratories.

It’s also the most difficult ingredient to remove from clothing fabrics. This is because it oxidizes when it comes into contact with water and generates organic stains.

The stains have an oxidized appearance because that’s what they are. When protectants containing avobenzone are mixed with minerals, such as iron, rust-like colors are produced.

In this regard, we can point out that stains are more likely to appear if the water is heavy. It also occurs more in synthetic fabrics and not so much in natural fibers, such as cotton and linen.

Remove sunscreen stains.
The water we come into contact with when using the protector can determine the color of the stains on clothes.

Ways to remove sunscreen stains from clothes

Next, we’ll share some tips to remove this type of stain. Keep in mind the type of fabric of the garment and, if in doubt, it’s always preferable to try the method on a part that isn’t visible.

White vinegar

White vinegar is always an excellent household ally. In this case, fill a container with hot water (always at a temperature that the garment can withstand), add a cup of white vinegar, soak, and let it act for half an hour. Then rinse and, if you wish, put the clothes in the washing machine.

Another way to use it is to mix white vinegar with salt until a paste is formed. Then, rub this preparation on the stain and follow the previous step.

Lemon juice

This is another natural ingredient that always gets us out of trouble. Put a few drops of lemon juice on the stain and let it take effect for a few minutes.

Then, place the garment in a container with warm water, lemon, and salt and leave for half an hour. Finally, wash the garment by hand.

Baking soda

As you’ll see, all these tips can be carried out with natural ingredients that you have at home. In this case, you must wet the garment and put baking soda on the stain.

Then rub it with a brush. You can also leave the basking sods on for half an hour before washing the garment as usual.


The procedure is the same as with baking soda. Apply, rub with a brush, leave on and wash.

Liquid detergent

To remove sunscreen stains from clothing, first remove the excess cream with a spatula. Next, place the garment in hot water.

Then apply liquid detergent on the stain and rub with a brush in circular motions. Leave for a few minutes and proceed to wash as usual.

Hand washing.
The usual household items come to our aid. Lemon, baking soda and white vinegar are affordable options for the task.

Mistakes you can make when removing sunscreen stains

There are two common cleaning chemicals that you may have used to remove stains. But you shouldn’t use them in this case, because their effect is negative.

One of them is bleach. The other is chlorine. They don’t get along well with rust stains, as in this case, and may even accentuate them.

It’s possible to remove sunscreen stains

We’ve gone over some ways to remove this type of stain using natural ingredients or conventional liquid detergents. However, there are chemical products that are specially for rust stain removal and are suitable for fabrics. In any case, check that the fabric of the garment is resistant to this type of element, as they’re usually quite aggressive.

We hope you can enjoy the sun in a healthy way and these tips we’ve shared with you will be useful. Stain removal is possible!

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.