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Summer Stain Alert: How to Remove Sunscreen from Your Clothing Safely


Sunscreen is a vital part of your summer toolkit. Whether you’re swimming in the pool or ocean or just out enjoying the great outdoors, you definitely need that SPF to protect your skin and your health. 

However, while sunscreen may be good for your body, it’s not necessarily good for your clothes. The sunscreen can leave greasy stains on your favorite swimsuit or your new white T-shirt. Can you protect your skin while also taking good care of your clothing? Take a look at what you need to know about removing sunscreen from your clothing. 


Don’t Let Sunscreen Stains Sit

Sunscreen stains can usually be treated pretty easily if the sunscreen doesn’t sit on the clothing for too long. The longer the sunscreen sits on the clothing, the harder it will be to get the grease and chemicals out of your clothes. So make sure that when you take off the clothing, you don’t just toss it into a hamper and let it sit. 

If you can’t wash the clothing right away, pre-treating it can help. If it’s your swimsuit that has greasy SPF spots on it, rinse the suit out with cold water before washing it. For other clothing, use laundry detergent or a stain stick to pre-treat. 


Absorb the Oil

It’s the oil in the sunscreen that can really damage your clothing, so it’s important to get as much of it out of the fabric as possible. For particularly greasy stains, you can sprinkle cornflour over the stained area to soak up as much of the oil as possible. 

Let the powder sit on the stain for half an hour or so before brushing it off. Apply the powder to the stain before rinsing or pretreating the stain, then pretreat after you remove the excess powder.


Use Lemon Juice on Whites

White clothes are particularly vulnerable to grease stains. Even if you get all of the oils out, you may still see a stain or shadow on the clothing where the sunscreen was. However, if you have some lemon juice in the house, you can eliminate these stubborn stains.

Just squirt some lemon juice on stained areas after washing, and then hang the clothing on a line outdoors in the sun. The combination of lemon juice and sunlight has a bleaching effect that can help your whites get back to their usual bright hues.


Change Your Sunscreen

Of course, if you want to avoid the hassle of getting stains out, you may want to look for ways to avoid sunscreen stains entirely. Don’t skip the sunscreen, but avoid the staining problem simply by changing the type of sunscreen that you use. 

The ingredient that is most responsible for staining clothing is avobenzone. It can be difficult to find sunscreen formulas that don’t contain this ingredient, but it’s not impossible. It’s often sunscreens that are made for babies and children that are made without avobenzone, so that’s a good place to start. The good news is that these sunscreens are not only gentle on your clothing, they’re also gentle on your skin, making them a good choice for those who have sensitive skin.