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.

Removing Sunscreen Stains from Clothing
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Tip: The Works for Sunscreen Stains

The Works for Sunscreen StainsAfter 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 and you can enter your zip to find a store near you.

By Barb

CommentWas this helpful? Yes

Tip: Removing Sunscreen Stain from Clothes

By debmw 7

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.

    CommentWas this helpful? Yes

    Question: Removing Sunscreen from Whites

    By Gail 1

    How can I get the orange stains from sunscreen out of white clothes? I cannot find Biz bleach, which was recommended for an enzyme pre-soak. I also tired The Works but the stains reappeared as soon as I washed the clothing.

    By Gail from NY

    AnswerWas this helpful? Yes


    Most Recent Answer

    By Minnie Mouse 3 Flag

    August 14, 2010

    Bar Keepers Friend: Thanks for the tip! I had given up on my new white blouse badly stained from SPF cream, but I followed the instructions provided on this site and I can wear the blouse again! Many thanks to all who alerted me to this product which I had in my kitchen. It also removes stains from bathroom sinks, rust stains in the toilet basin and of course, shines the stainless steel sink to look like new. You all saved me a great deal of money!

    ReplyWas this helpful? Yes

    Question: Sunscreen Stains on Clothing

    By Patti Kimble 2

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

      AnswerWas this helpful? Yes

      Question: Removing Sunscreen Stains on Clothing

      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

      AnswerWas this helpful? Yes

      Question: Removing Stains on Bath Towels

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

      By Marlyn

      AnswerWas this helpful? Yes

      Question: Removing Stains from Towels

      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!

      By DSC

      AnswerWas this helpful? Yes

      Question: Removing Sunscreen Stains on Sheets and Towels

      By ann 1

      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

      AnswerWas this helpful? Yes

      Archive: Sunscreen Stains

      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!


      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


      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

      Archive: Sunscreen Stains on Clothing

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

      Alicia from Tampa, FL


      Blue Lizard Sensitive

      After fighting stains for 2 years and trying multiple sunscreens Shannon appears to have hit paydirt! I've used the Blue Lizard Sensitive and NO STAINS! For those of you that believe it is the water, I thought so at first, also. But we have municipal water and a water filtration system. After putting in the filtration system, we still had the stains. The Blue Lizard SENSITIVE is harder to smooth into the skin than other sunscreens but it does not have the smell which is a bonus. We used it yesterday after being on the motorcycle all day and washed the clothes - miracle, NO STAINS. After using it all week I'm so glad! Thanks Shannon for your research! (06/15/2008)

      By N in IL

      The Works

      I just tried The Works and it does work!

      By Mickey

      Archive: Sunscreen Stains on Clothing

      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



      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


      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

      Archive: Sunscreen Stains on Clothing

      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



      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.

      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.

      • CTS = Coppertone Sensitive - SPF 50
      • NB = Neutrogena Pure and Free Baby - SPF 60+
      • WB = Walgreen's baby pure and gentle stick - SPF 60+
      • CTU = Coppertone Ultraguard - SPF 50
      • NU = Neutrogena Ultrasheer - SPF 70
      • MS = Meijer Sport spray - SPF 50
      • MK = Meijer Kids spray - SPF 50

      By LifeWithTheBoys

      <img src="" width="400" height="533" alt="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

      Home and Garden Cleaning Clothing StainsAugust 14, 2012
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