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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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)
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.
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!
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).
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.
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)
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.
Alicia from Tampa, FL
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
I just tried The Works and it does work!
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.