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Experts Share How to Get Sunscreen Out of Fabric At Home to Avoid Stains

These tips and tricks use products already in your home to remove SPF from your clothes 


Nothing screams summer quite like a nice day in the hot sun, after slathering on your sunscreen, of course. The only downfall to all of that application diligence? The sunscreen doesn’t only get on your skin, it can get on your clothes, bathing suit and towel. The good news? It doesn’t have to leave a permanent mark. Keep scrolling to find out how to get sunscreen out of fabric.

Why is it important to get sunscreen out of fabric ASAP?

“Most sunscreen formulas contain oils that can stain your clothes, similar to the way food greases can,” explains Sammy Wang, a P&G Fabric Care Senior Scientist, “and physical’ sunscreens also contain minerals, which can leave stubborn white marks on clothes.” Also, sunscreen contains avobenzone, the chemical that blocks UVA rays, which can create a rust-like spot if left to sit. That’s why, she explains, “it’s important to remove sunscreen as soon as you can to prevent permanent staining.”

How to get sunscreen out of fabric

These three methods make it super easy!

1. Using baking soda to get sunscreen out of fabric

Most sunscreens contain oil, which can be tough to remove if it sets into your clothes or bathing suit. “To lift stains, simply make a paste by mixing equal parts water and baking soda; let sit on the fabric for 10 minutes before brushing off,” advises professional cleaner Dean Davies. Baking soda binds to the oils used in sunscreens, so they come right out. 

Related: 16 Brilliant Uses for Baking Soda That Will Save You Time and Money

2. How to get sunscreen out of fabric using a DYI lemon scrub

how to get sunscreen out of fabric: Lemon and sea salt - Beauty treatment with organic cosmetics with lemon ingredients on wood and rosemary background for body scrub and spa care.

Another easy way to remove sunscreen? A mix of lemon juice and baby powder! Simply sprinkle baby powder on the spot to absorb it. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then rinse with cool water. 

And if it’s already set-in? Sprinkle salt on the cut side of a lemon and rub the stain. Lemon’s citric acid breaks it up, and the salt scrubs it away.

3. White vinegar and laundry detergent can help get sunscreen out of fabric

Sure you know to use laundry detergent to clean your clothes, but how you use it can make all the difference. Wang recommends first brushing the excess sunscreen off with a soft-bristled toothbrush before running in it cold water to dilute the stain. Then, pretreat by pouring a grease-cutting detergent like Tide Ultra OXI with Odor Eliminators Liquid Laundry Detergent onto the fabric and let it sit for 20 minutes. Then, place the garment in the washing machine and run the cycle normally. “Leaving the detergent on the stain will give an extra boost of cleaning power,” Wang explains.

To make it even cleaner, Wang recommends adding in some Tide Clean Boost Fabric Rinse. “It has a specialized formula that breaks down residues and buildup like sunscreen, so they don’t stick to clothes as much,” she explains. “To use, pour it into the fabric softener compartment of the dispenser. This will release it during the rinse phase so it can boost the cleaning power of the detergent.”

Don’t want to splurge on the fabric rinse? Try vinegar! “Vinegar has a low pH so it can help to remove buildup,” explains Wang. “However, pouring it into the fabric softener compartment won’t deliver enough vinegar to make a big difference — it’s actually most effective when used as a vinegar soak”

Simply soak the items in a bucket of white distilled vinegar for 30 minutes, then rinse it out before washing as normal.

Related13 Brilliant Uses For White Vinegar Guaranteed To Make Your Life Easier

How to keep sunscreen from staining your fabric

Now that you have the sunscreen out of your fabric, the next thing is to ensure the stains stay gone — and Wang has a tip for doing that as well.

“Like with all stains, it’s best to try and remove as much of the stain as you can while it’s still fresh,” she says. “Simply wet the stain and blot it gently from the outside edges-in to avoid spreading the stain further. Try to get as much of the stain off as you can, and then pretreat with liquid detergent when you get home and then wash.”

She also adds, “Avoid machine-drying stains — the heat from the dryer can ‘set’ some stains, making them harder to remove in the future.”

For more on removing stains, click through the links below!

The Simple Method That Will Get Nail Polish Stains Out of Clothes From Laundry Pros

How to Get Foundation Out of Any Type of Fabric, According to Experts

How to Remove Toothpaste Stains From Clothes: Laundry Experts’ Fast Fixes

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