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Removing Sunscreen Stains from Clothing

When covering your skin with sunscreen it can be difficult to avoid getting any on your clothing. This guide is about removing sunscreen stains from clothing.
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Solutions

Share on ThriftyFunThis guide contains the following solutions. Have something to add? Please share your solution!

1 found this helpful
March 20, 2013

Having freckly/fair skin I need to wear sunscreen every day. Some brands can leave a yellow/brown stain on light clothes. To remove this stain: moisten the area, rub with plenty of dishwashing liquid (I use a popular clear green type), and scrub with a nail brush if the fabric can take it. Then soak overnight and wash as usual. I've come across this tip only once, and it works so well it bears repeating.

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Comment Was this helpful? 1
November 30, 20130 found this helpful

Thanks for the great tip. I have just changed to a Coppertone kids product and it wasn't until I did a white wash that I found 4 of my daughters white tops essentially ruined by yellow stains. I followed your tip with regular dishwashing liquid with an old toothbrush and this morning 2 are back to normal and the other 2 are much improved. Thanks heaps, you've saved me from throwing them all away!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

August 20, 20125 found this helpful

After reading all the comments about chemical reactions I decided to do a little experimenting myself. I found that The Works tub & shower cleaner takes out the stain. I spray it on wet or dry clothes, rub it gently and walk away for 5 minutes. When I returned the stain was gone. It's very inexpensive (under $2) and can be purchased at Walmart or Kmart. It works great on rust stains in toilets & tubs too! Their website is theworkscleans.com and you can enter your zip to find a store near you.
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By Barb

Comment Was this helpful? 5
August 25, 20130 found this helpful

Turned by t-sheet toilet bowl cleaner blue.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

0 found this helpful
July 26, 2015

How do I get stains from sunscreen out of my clothes? It also left stains on my enamel on steel bathtub.

Answer Was this helpful? Yes

July 29, 20130 found this helpful

I have orange stains on my bath towels and face cloths. I tried The Works and the face cloth turned blue with still some orange areas. Any ideas? I thought the orange would go away, but instead the entire white areas turned blue and after washing, it is still blue. And ideas would be appreciated!

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By DSC

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
April 16, 20170 found this helpful

I think you were to use the shower and tub works, which is colorless... The toilet bowl cleaner was pictured but the tub cleaner was described

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

July 7, 20140 found this helpful

I am trying to remove orange and yellow stains from sunscreen on kids' clothes After Barkeepers Friend, The Works, etc. is used do you let it sit and then launder as normal?

By Emily

Answer Was this helpful? Yes

April 27, 20140 found this helpful

How do I remove the yellow stain in my blue stripes towels?

By Marlyn

Answer Was this helpful? Yes

0 found this helpful
April 4, 2011

Sunscreen caused yellowing on cotton sheets and towels. I need something other than Barkeepers Friend or Biz bleach. I live in the Bahamas and thus have limited options available. Thank you.

By Ann from Bahamas

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December 3, 20101 found this helpful

Sunscreen seems to be staining my t-shirts around the neck and also the tops of ankle socks. I've tried pre-cleaners and bleach and still no luck.

By Nancy

Feedback:

Dawn

Try Dawn dish washing liquid. I just used it for the first time to get rid of human urine on decorative bathroom rugs. (05/16/2010)

By metroplex

My Stain Tests

I have had the same orange problem for several years. Recently I did my own experiment with sunscreens we have at home. As many others noticed any with avobenzone left dark orange stains. However Walgreen's Baby Sunscreen stick, Neutrogena Pure and Free Baby, and Coppertone Sensitive Skin left no stains even after washing. Their active ingredients are tianium dioxide or zinc oxide instead of chemical sunscreens. They do go on thicker and slightly white, but I think it's better than ruining all my clothes.

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I think our hard water is part of the problem. I also think that clothes that have been washed in hard water will hold a small amount of that rust in the fabric because there was almost immediately an orange discoloration on the old white cotton sock I used for my experiment, the stains became darker after washing.

I have attached a photo of the sock I used in my experiment. Below is the meaning of the letters on the sock.

By LifeWithTheBoys

RE: Sunscreen Stains on Clothing

The Works

I read many of the recommendations and tried "The Works" toilet bowl cleaner because I didn't have any of the bathroom cleaner. It worked instantly, no scrubbing needed! The stains just disappeared, even old stains that had been washed and dried multiple times. I went out and bought "The Works" bathroom cleaner and it worked just as well. I am so relieved. Don't try anything else, just go out and get "The Works" because it works!

By bharris1

Comment Was this helpful? 1
May 20, 20160 found this helpful

I tried this but the Works is blue and it stained my white shirt. Did you not have this trouble too?

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

December 7, 20070 found this helpful

I have a number of white cotton t-shirts that have orange and red stains around the sleeves and neck from what I could only imagine is sunscreen. These stains magically "appear" when I wash them. I use ALL Free detergent, borax and vinegar in each wash. Anyone have any ideas on how to get these stains out?

Thanks in Advance!
Rebekah

Answers:

Bar Keepers Friend

I have the same problem. I use Bar Keepers Friend and have good results. It's a cleanser similar to Comet or Bon Ami. I usually wet the stained shirt, sprinkle with Bar Keepers Friend, work it in (sometimes scrubbing with a brush) and let it sit a few minutes, then wash it out in the sink. It works like magic! Warning: Be sure not to mix it with detergents or bleach.

I live in Oregon and use well water. Our water has a lot of iron/rust in it. I haven't noticed this before and wonder if it's due to some ingredient in the new sunscreen I've been using. It's Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch 45 SPF.

By Kelly

Whink

We have the same problem. Use "Whink" in the brown bottle and the stains will come right out with no scrubbing!

By Elizabeth.

Well Water

I just wanted everyone to know that I spoke to a lady at Coppertone, and she advised me that there can be a chemical type reaction between the sunscreen ingredient avobenzone (also known as Parsol 1789) and the minerals in well water. I'm now trying a chemical free brand called Blue Lizard, and so far the "sensitive" formula has NOT caused any stains! Since it's chemical free, it is more expensive and harder to find but may be a solution for others!

By Kara

Soak Clothing Overnight

I don't have well water (our water is soft) and had the same problem this summer, especially on the t-shirts my son wore when he played tennis. He used Neutrogena Ultra Sheer dry-touch sunblock SPF 55 with helioplex.

For years I have used Biz stain activated booster powder (about 1/2 cup mixed in with half a dish container of water) to soak stained clothing overnight and it seemed to work pretty well on these stains as well. I always scrub the affected areas and try to make sure the stain is out before washing.

By Diane

Comment Was this helpful? Yes
August 22, 20160 found this helpful

I, too, had yellow stains on a white shirt at the elbows and collar following use with Coppertone waterproof Baby sunscreen 50 and a hot day. The shirt came out of a cold water wash with Tide liquid, and there were the stains. i first soaked it in hot water and OxyClean with no improvement. Reading here I tried Whink Wash Away applied liberally on the sleeves and collar, and then left it to soak overnight in cold water. This morning the stains are gone! I support the Whink Wash Away, which I don't think I have ever used before, but was in my laundry cupboard.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

May 13, 20100 found this helpful

Can someone please help me with orange sunscreen stains on clothing? I'm finding the stains after washing. They don't appear until the clothing has been washed. I called Coppertone and they said it's the avobenzone reacting with iron levels in our water. I don't understand why this hasn't been a problem in the past.

I've tried Oxiclean, Biz, and now I'm going to try The Works like someone suggested. I'm ruining clothing left and right. The Blue Lizard Sensitive stuff works, but my son breaks out from it so he can't use it. Plus it's a pain to apply and everything sticks to it. I did just order some Trigger Spray Coppertone, the Coppertone people said it's one that doesn't have the avobenzone. Anyone else having this issue this year and not in the past?

Chantel from MN

Answers:

KABOOM

I have had the same problem with staining when using Neutrogena Ultra Sheer. I have found that if you spray KABOOM for laundry on it, it removes the stain. It is hard to find ( I got mine off of the Shopping channel I think it is made by the same company as Oxiclean).

By Tia

Bar Keepers Friend

I sing praises to the internet and this website. Just got back from vacation and hot weather. Wore a high spf sunscreen (checked it and it has avobenzone in it). Needless to say, my white clothes got the big orange blotches when I washed them. I was so dismayed and tried Iron Out, stain remover, etc. I suspected sunscreen, so I did a search which lead me to this site. One feed back suggested Bar Keepers Friend, which I had on hand. Tried it and it worked. Just sprinkled it on the stains and they disappeared in seconds. There is a solution. Don't discard those clothes you might think are ruined.

By Thrifty Grandma

Lemon Juice

Do not use bleach or any Oxi type of cleaner. Oxidation is what caused the stains to begin with. Bleach, peroxide, or Oxi will cause the stains to get worse. Use lemon juice, vinegar, CLR, or acid-based (chelating) cleaner. The sunscreen stains will disappear before your eyes. (08/10/2009)

By saminbama

GOOP

Everyone, please try a product named GOOP. It can be found in the automotive section of most discount stores. It is basically a hand cleaner, but works miracles on fabric stains. It is a white cream. Rub it in covering the entire stain and let it sit for at least an hour, then wash the item the regular way. My golf shirts come out stain free. This is not a joke and I am not associated with the product in any way.

By Rangered

Comment Was this helpful? Yes

I'm a golfer and I have ruined many shirts and shorts due to the sunscreen. How do I get rid of these stains?

Comment Was this helpful? Yes
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