How to remove sunscreen stains from clothes and towels

The stains that sunscreen leaves on clothing are difficult to remove. But the task is not impossible.

Last update: 12 September, 2022

If there is one element that is essential during the summer, it is sunscreen. We cannot do without it. It is true that he can ruin clothes and towels, but there is a solution. Therefore, we will be reviewing how to remove sunscreen stains.

Why do sunscreens usually leave stains on fabrics? It happens that they have some greasy components that are impregnated in towels, armchairs and clothes. These stains are not that easy to remove, so we invite you to read until the end to discover how to deal with them.

Why are sunscreen stains difficult to remove?

This sun cream has a wide variety of compounds from different sources, such as oils and minerals, which are not so easy to remove when they come into 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 used by laboratories.

At the same time, it is also the most difficult ingredient to remove from clothing fabrics. This is because it oxidizes when it comes into contact with water, causing organic stains.

Stains have a rusty look because that is what they are. When protectants containing avobenzone are mixed with minerals, such as iron, rust-like colors are produced.

In this sense, we can highlight that stains are more likely to appear if the water with which we come into contact is heavy. Or, in synthetic fabrics and not so much in natural fibers, such as cotton and linen.

The water that we come into contact with when having the protector can determine the color of the stains on the clothes.

Ways to remove sunscreen stains from clothing

Next, we will share some tips to remove these types of stains. Take into account the type of fabric of the garment and, if in doubt, it is always preferable to try the method on a part that is not visible.

White vinegar

White vinegar is always an excellent ally at home. In this case, fill a container with hot water (always at a temperature that the garment can withstand), add a cup of white vinegar, submerge and leave 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 to form a paste. Then, rub this preparation on the stain and only then 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 it for half an hour. Finally, do a hand wash of the garment.

Baking soda

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

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


The procedure is the same as that followed with bicarbonate. Apply, rub with a brush, leave to act and wash.

Liquid detergent

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

Then apply liquid detergent on the stain and scrub with a brush in circular motions. Let it act for a few minutes and proceed to wash as usual.

The usual homemade 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 cleaning chemicals that are very common and that you have used more than once to remove stains. But you should not use them in this case, because their effect is negative.

One of them is bleach. The other is chlorine. They do not get along with rust stains, as is the case here, and they could even accentuate them.

It’s a possible mission

We have reviewed some ways to remove these types of stains using natural ingredients or conventional liquid detergents. However, there are chemical products that are special to remove rust stains and that are suitable for fabrics. Anyway, check that the fabric of the garment is resistant to this type of elements, since they are usually aggressive.

We hope you can enjoy the sun in a healthy way and that you put into practice these tips that we have shared with you. Removing stains is a possible task.

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