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Summertime Washing Advice: How to Remove Sunscreen Lotion Stains from Your Clothing Properly

Posted by Patricia Spencer on
Summertime Washing Advice: How to Remove Sunscreen Lotion Stains from Your Clothing Properly


If you’re like most people, you slather on the sunscreen once the weather warms up, to avoid getting a painful, nasty sunburn.  Sunscreen is an essential part of our daily summertime routine – in fact, it should be worn daily throughout the year, even on overcast days – and it does a phenomenal job at protecting the skin against the sun’s harsh rays.  But, at the same time, the very product that benefits our skin can be disastrous for clothes.  If you’ve ever had a sunscreen stain on your favorite white t-shirt, then you know what we’re talking about.

Luckily, like most things, sunscreen is a strain that can be removed pretty easily – as long as you follow the right cleaning methods, that is.  We’re here to offer some tips that revolve around natural cleaning methods like non-toxic laundry detergent, natural dryer sheets and more, to avoid harsh ingredients that may get rid of the stain, but at a cost.

What You Need to Know About Removing Sunscreen from Clothing

Sunscreen is a thick, goopy white lotion formula that goes all over our skin – ideally from head to toe if we’re planning on spending some time uncovered outdoors.  It’s the ingredients in sunscreen that are prone to oxidizing which make stains particularly troublesome.  Most sunscreen stains start to yellow as they’re exposed to air, causing a particularly unsightly appearance. 

So, what can be done using nontoxic cleaning products?

Step #1: Scrape It Away

First, remove the garment as soon as you notice the stain, because the longer it has to dry, the harder it is to remove.  Grab a dull knife and scrape the excess sunscreen off the surface, being careful not to rub it deeper into the fabric’s fibers.

Step #2: Do a Pre-Treatment

We recommend grabbing a natural dish soap, like Grab Green’s sustainable dish soap formula, and pouring some directly onto the stain.  Gently work the dish soap into the stain, which will help break up the oils in the sunscreen formula.

Step #3: Launder Away

Now, you can wash your garment in the laundry, according to its care label.  Ideally, the dish soap has pre-treated the stain properly so it will lift more easily in the wash.  We suggest non toxic laundry pods, such as our 3 in 1 Laundry Detergent Pods, which is the best eco-friendly laundry detergent for sensitive skin.  Another great option is 3 in 1 Laundry Detergent Powder.  From there, go ahead and run your clothes through your dryer, using natural dryer sheets like Grab Green Classic Laundry Dryer Sheets or Stoneworks Dryer Sheets, or even Grab Green Dryer Balls to prevent clinging.

If You’re Using Zinc Oxide

Zinc oxide is a specific ingredient used in sunscreen pastes as opposed to lotions, and it can stain just about anything white.  This natural mineral can be removed using the same methods as above, with one important step added prior to the washing process.  Before applying dish soap as a pre-treatment, sprinkle some baking soda onto the stain, followed by dabbing some rubbing alcohol or vodka onto it.  Keep dabbing to lift as much zinc oxide away as possible, and you should be good to go.

A Sunscreen Stain Doesn’t Have to Ruin Your Day in the Sun

Sunscreen is definitely capable of staining your clothes, but it doesn’t have to ruin them forever.  As soon as you notice the stain, remove the garment and follow the directions above to treat it quickly and effectively, with natural cleaning products whenever possible.  And, next time you apply before going outside, be extra careful about getting it onto clothing to avoid running into this common issue again.

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