How to Get Sunscreen Out of Clothing and Fabric

Those sunscreen stains stuck on clothing are gross – let’s get rid of them.

We all know the importance of sunscreen, but a summer full of trips to the beach will inevitable result in some unattractive sunscreen strains.

These orange-y and yellow stains are nasty looking and the bane of all sunscreen fans. Good news though – most sunscreen stains can be removed with the right cleaning solution and some elbow grease.

Most Popular Method for Removing Sunscreen: Soap + Water

  • Step 1. Run stained clothing under cold water
  • Step 2. Blot the stain with a solution of warm water mixes with liquid dish soap.
  • Step 3. Rinse with cold water
  • Step 4. Put the offending garment into the laundry machine and wash as usual
  • Step 5. Avoid putting the clothing into the dryer unless you know for sure the stain is gone, as high heat can further embed a stain that’s still present.

If you’re still struggling with the stain, repeat the process and use a hard bristle brush or your fingers to further embed the warm water and soap mixture. Let the clothing soak in the mixture sit for 15-30 minutes this time, then launder as usual.

Option 2: Use a Stain Remover

There are a variety of commercial stain removers available on the market that can be a game changer when it comes to removing stubborn sunscreen stains.

Apply your chosen brand of stain remover and let it sit for 15-20 minutes before washing as usual.

If you’re dealing with an orange or yellow colored stain, consider trying a rust stain remover, as that’s technically the kind of stain you’re fighting against!

Option 3: Apply Lemon Juice and Salt

This home remedy for getting rid of sunscreen stains is a tried-and-true trick for many who prefer the all natural route.

  1. Start by rinsing the stained section of the garment with cool water.
  2. Apply lemon juice to the stained area.
  3. Next, with the clothing laying flat, add a small pile of salt on top of the lemon juice
  4. Let the mixture sit overnight. Then, brush off the salt and clean as usual.

Why Does Sunscreen Stain My Clothing Orange?

So, why exactly do those orange stains appear on clothing?

The problem lies in large part due to avobenzone, a compound found in most chemical sunscreens. Avobenzone is great at protecting skin from harmful UV rays, but when avobenzone comes into contact with iron, it forms a chemical reaction that creates stains (which effectively means your sunscreen stains are actually rust stains).

The problem is that there is iron in our water supply, especially if you live in an area with hard water.

Thus, when we get those orange-colored sunscreen stains on our clothing, our best bet is to treat them as rust stains.

What NOT to Use on Sunscreen Stains

When it comes to treating sunscreen stains, use a bleach that does not contain chlorine or oxygen, as these ingredients have the potential to make the stain worse.

How to Avoid Sunscreen Stains

It’s always smart to do everything in your power to avoid sunscreen stains from the start. In which case, you’ll want to:

  • Wait for sunscreen to fully dry before putting on a bathing suit. If you put on your bathing suit or clothing while your sunscreen is still wet, it’s more likely to cause a stain.
  • Find sunscreens that don’t contain avobenzone. Since avobenzone is what causes those pesky yellow sunscreen stains on your clothing in the first place, consider using a sunscreen that doesn’t have this ingredient.
  • Choose sunscreen lotion over spray. When it comes to preventing sunscreen stains, using lotion allows you to better control where the sunscreen goes vs spray formulas. It’s not foolproof, but it can certainly cut down on sunscreen stains!
  • Sit on a towel if you’re covered in sunscreen. To avoid getting sunscreen on car upholstery, make sure to line your car seats with towels after a day at the pool. Have leather seats? Make sure to read our guide on how to get sunscreen off leather seats.
  • Remove your sunscreen at the end of the day. Once you’re inside and out of the sun for the day, make sure to thoroughly get sunscreen off of your skin with an oil-based cleanser.

How Do You Get Sunscreen out of Upholstery?

For getting sunscreen out of upholstery and other fabrics, mix together:

  • 1 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid
  • 1 tablespoon of white vinegar
  • 1 cup of warm water

Step 1: Pour the mixture above into a spray bottle.

Step 2. Add one teaspoon of baking soda and screw the top on quickly, as a chemical reaction will quickly occur that creates bubbles.

Step 3. Spray a clean, white cloth with the cleaning solution, and gently dab and rub the stained fabric area.

Step 4. Let the fabric dry and evaluate the results

Sunscreen is essential to keep you safe when spending long days out in the sun, but it can be tough to get the stains out of clothes. The methods described here should work for most types of fabric and sunscreen stains. If one doesn’t work, don’t give up – try another! And always treat sunscreen stains as soon as possible for the best chance of success.

FAQs About Getting Sunscreen Out of Fabric

How do I get sunscreen out of microfiber materials?

Rubbing alcohol can be used to clean most microfiber items. Just spray the area with rubbing alcohol, scrub with a white sponge (to avoid color transfer from a green or blue sponge), and you should see the stain slowly come off.

How do I remove old sunscreen stains?

If you’re dealing with old sunscreen stains, try soaking the stained area in a mixture of bi-carb soda and water. Then, leave leave to dry and launder as usual.

Will vinegar remove sunscreen stains?

Vinegar can be a popular choice for removing sunscreen stains, as it’s gentle and effective. Simply soak the stained clothing in a mixture of hot water and one cup of vinegar. Then launder as usual. You may need to repeat this process for tough stains.

How do you get mineral sunscreen out of clothes?

Mineral sunscreen has ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that can be tough to wash out. This is because these mineral ingredients don’t absorb into skin and are water-resistant. Soak in a mixture of warm water and dish soap, then launder as usual and you should be able to get those white sunscreen stains out!

Can sunscreen stains be removed from clothing?

Yes, in most cases sunscreen stains can be removed from clothing and fabric. However, it’s always best to treat the stain as soon as possible for the best chance of success. There are a few different methods you can use, with the most popular being to apply a solution of warm water and dish soap. Rust strain removers can work great too.

Why does sunscreen turn my clothes orange?

When the avobenzone in sunscreen interacts with iron, it can cause a chemical reaction that’s basically a rust stain, turning the fabric orange. Since iron is often in out water sources, these orange and yellow stains are a common occurrence.

Leave a Comment

The Sun is Killing Me
1530 P B Ln # M3299
Wichita Falls, TX 76302

Affiliate Disclosure is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Additionally, participates in various other affiliate programs, and we sometimes get a commission through purchases made through our links.