How To Remove Stubborn Sunscreen Stains From Your Clothes

While sunscreen is undoubtedly necessary for keeping skin healthy, it is not without its problems. Sunscreen ingredients can leave unsightly stains on beach towels, clothes, and other materials that can be very challenging to get rid of.

Combination stains, such as sunscreen stains, are made up of multiple stain types. In the case of sunscreen, the solution comprises both a more challenging stain type—mineral stains—and oils that can create grease stains on garments. The secret to successfully removing these intricate stains is comprehending the science underlying them.

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Why is sunscreen such a difficult stain to remove?

Different methods are used to break down the combination of mineral and oil molecules contained in sunscreen stains in order to remove the stain.

The main offender is avobenzone, a chemical present in the majority of sunscreen formulations. In 1988, the FDA permitted the use of avobenzone, an oil-soluble dibenzoyl methane derivative, in sunscreen compositions. It absorbs UV rays, which is how it functions as a sunscreen agent. Additionally, it tends to oxidize in water, leaving behind dark, orange streaks.

These might resemble rust stains, and in a way, they do. Avobenzone-containing sunscreens react with naturally occurring minerals in our water supply, such as iron, to produce stains that resemble rust.

The same methods that you would use to treat a rust stain must be applied to those stains.

Two things are important to note. The characteristics of the local water supply will first create more of this kind of sunscreen staining in locations with hard water, or water with a high mineral content. Secondly, synthetic materials like cotton, linen, or denim are less prone to these kinds of stains than natural fibers.

Techniques for Eliminating Sunscreen Stains

When attempting to remove sunscreen stains, it is essential to determine their type. The same care should be used for rust stains on clothing and other materials if they have sunscreen stains.

Orangish sunscreen stains can be removed in part by using a commercial rust stain remover. Commercial rust removers like Carbona Stain Devils Rust and Perspiration are made especially for use on laundry, while multipurpose rust removers like Whink Rust Stain Remover are made to remove rust stains from fabric and hard surfaces.

One do-it-yourself method for treating sunscreen spots is to mix salt and lemon juice. Dark orange stains on clothes and other textiles will fade with time.

Be careful not to use oxygen bleach or chlorine bleach on sunscreen stains as they react negatively with rust stains and can make them worse. Additionally, avoid soaking sunscreen-stained clothing as a stain removal option due to the naturally prevalent mineral component in our water source.

How to Use Rust Remover to Remove Sunscreen Stains

Use Rust Remover on Discolorations

For use on cloth, adhere to the manufacturer’s directions. Use a washing brush, an old toothbrush, or a nail brush to work the rust stain remover into the cloth and take the spot away after applying it.

Clean as Usually

Launder the clothing as normal after the stain has been eliminated. Before placing the clothing in the dryer, be sure all stains have been removed. The heat from the dryer can set in stains, making them extremely difficult, if not impossible, to remove.

How to Use Lemon Juice and Salt to Remove Sunscreen Stains

Sunscreen stains that resemble rust can be removed using a mixture of salt and lemon juice. The secret to making these pantry basics work double duty in the laundry room is in how you prepare them.

Clean Up the Stain

Holding the fabric under cool running water, flush the soiled area of the garment. Work swiftly, simply letting the stain soak into the area for as long as necessary. After that, place the clothing on a level surface so it can remain there all night.

Add salt and lemon juice

After thoroughly saturating the stain with lemon juice, sprinkle a generous amount of salt on top of the liquid. To help the lemon juice and salt penetrate and dissolve the discoloration, let them sit for the entire night. After washing the item as normal in the morning, dispose of the salt in the garbage or sink.

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