Sunscreen stains are easy to get on your clothes, upholstery and carpet because you are instructed to put lots of sunscreen on, and therefore it easily gets on things it is not supposed to.
This is especially true of the newer spray versions, which seem to get everywhere, not just on your skin.
Once you get a spot or mark caused by sunscreen, it generally looks oily or greasy, and can seem difficult to remove, but here are suggestions for doing just that, below.
Step 1: Scrape off any excess sunscreen from the fabric.
Hint: Make sure the stain is gone after washing the item, but before you place in the dryer or you may set the stain. Repeat if necessary.
The instructions above assume the sunscreen merely made your clothes greasy or oily, but sunscreen often does something else to your clothes, caused by a chemical reaction -- it creates orange or brownish spots. These are sooooo aggravating, and they are extremely difficult to remove, as well.
Turns out that the chemical reaction is worse when you've got well water, or hard water, which has more minerals in it, which make a stain similar to rust on the clothing. Therefore, to remove make a paste of lemon juice and salt, and apply to the stains, and let sit for 30 minutes before washing as normal.
You can also add water softener to the load, which can also help loosen the mineral stain.
If these measures don't work, you can try a commercial rust stain remover product that is safe for fabrics.
Just as with rust stains, do not use chlorine bleach on the spots because, even though this may be counterintuitive, it will set the stains, making them permanent.
Here's more information about washing swimsuits, including removing sunscreen stains from them, since this type of fabric is commonly affected by these marks and orangish spots, since often you apply sunscreen when wearing your swimwear.
Step 1: Blot up as much of the sunscreen as possible from the upholstery without spreading the stain further.
Step 3: Scrape or vacuum up the absorbent, which has absorbed some of the sunscreen.
Hint: Depending on the amount spilled you may need to repeat this step until no more sunscreen is absorbed by the baking soda or cornstarch.
Step 4: For the remaining spot take a clean white cloth and sponge the stain with a dry cleaning solvent.
Hint: First, be sure to test this solvent on an inconspicuous area of the upholstery to make sure it is safe.
Step 5: Next, blot at the stain until the solvent is absorbed.
Step 6: Repeat steps 4-5 until the spot is removed from the upholstery.
If that does not work you can mix a solution of two cups cool water and one tablespoon dishwashing liquid, and using this solution, sponge the stain with a clean white cloth, blotting until the liquid is absorbed, and the spot removed.
Once the sunscreen is gone use plain cold water and a new white cloth and sponge the area to remove the cleaning solution, and then blot dry.
Hint: Be sure to get the upholstery only as wet as necessary to remove the stain caused by the sunscreen.
You can get more information on how to clean upholstery here.
The instructions for removing these spots from carpet is the same as for upholstery.
Perhaps you don't want to make your own stain remover, but instead want to use something designed to remove these marks and spots.
Here are some articles and reviews on this site which discuss various products that are designed to remove them, or where someone has had success using a particular product:
Carbona Stain Devil #7
Blue Magic Upholstery Cleaner
You can also share your own stain remover reviews here for other removers that work on sun tan lotion or oil, or any other stain.
I'm always looking for more tips and ideas for how to remove spots and marks. You can share your stain removal tip herefor removing these stains, or anything else.
Are you a stain magnet like me? If so, check out the A to Z Stain Removal Guide which gives directions for how to remove over 100 types of stains from all kinds of surfaces.
Bottom photo courtesy of Robert S. Donovan, from Flickr CC
Hi, I'm Taylor, a busy mom with 3 kids, so I have lots of hands on experience with house cleaning, laundry and my fair share of spots, spills and other messy catastrophes. Thanks for visiting my site.
I update the website all the time with tips, tutorials, cleaning recipes, reviews of products from readers like you, and tests I've done on various cleaners, removers and laundry supplies.
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CAUTION: This website is provided for informational purposes only. It is provided as is, without warranties or guarantees. Some stains and messes just won't come out, and are permanent. Further, some cleaning methods can harm your item, so if what you want to clean or launder is sentimental or expensive call a professional. See disclaimer of liability for more information.
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