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Baffled about how to remove yellow sunscreen stains from white clothes? Well, you’ve landed in the right place.
I can tell you how to remove those unsightly stains and I can also tell you how to avoid getting sunscreen stains on your clothes in the first place.
HOW TO REMOVE YELLOW SUNSCREEN STAINS FROM WHITE CLOTHES
Sunscreen is an absolute MUST but one major downside is that it can stain our clothes, especially white clothes, especially light coloured clothes and most annoyingly of all, white clothes.
Beautiful, crisp, white clothes that set off our lovely summer skin.
Except they don’t look so lovely if there is a greasy looking yellow stain around the neckline and cuffs.
BUT there is something that can be done to both stop your clothes getting stained by sunscreen in the first place and to remove the stains if they do occur.
First up, how to remove yellow sunscreen stains from white clothes. I’ve put together a list of simple tips:
- How to treat washable fabrics
- How to treat washable fabrics in hard water areas – hard water brings its own special challenge
- Dry-clean fabrics
HOW TO REMOVE SUNSCREEN STAINS FROM WASHABLE FABRICS
1. MINIMISE IF YOU CAN’T TREAT STRAIGHT AWAY
If you can’t treat a sunscreen stain right away, at least try to remove any splodges of sunscreen from your clothes without rubbing it in further.
For example, if you are at the beach you can use sand to soak the sunscreen up. Just let the sand sit on the stain for around 15 minutes, to make sure it absorbs all the oil it can.
2. PRETREAT THE STAIN BEFORE WASHING
Pretreat the sunscreen stain with a prewash stain remover or by covering it in heavy duty liquid washing detergent.
This is where a biological washing liquid works best over non-biological.
Why biological? Because you’re relying on the enzymes to break apart the oiliness of the stain.
Work the stain remover or liquid detergent into the sunscreen stain with either your fingers or a soft bristled brush.
Let the stain remover/detergent work on the stain for at least 15 minutes.
Please note that it is really important to avoid using stain removers that use chlorine or oxygenated bleaches, as these active ingredients can actually make sunscreen stains worse.
3. WASH IN HOTTEST WATER RECOMMENDED
Once you’ve allowed the stain remover to work, wash the clothing on the hottest wash recommended on the clothing’s care label.
You can use your regular washing powder or washing liquid at this point.
4. BE CAUTIOUS BEFORE DRYING
Once the clothing has been washed you should check to see if there is still a visible stain before you allow it to dry.
If there is still a stain you should repeat the pretreat stage again before allowing the clothing to dry.
If the stain has faded enough or vanished you can allow the clothing to dry.
Ideally dry the clothing outside on a washing line in the sunshine, because sunshine will help fade any discolouration.
5. AVOID PUTTING SUNSTAINED CLOTHING IN THE TUMBLE DRYER
It is really important that you don’t put any clothing that has sunscreen stains on it into the tumble dryer.
It is MUCH more difficult to remove stains once they’ve been set in by tumble drying.
So always make sure that a stain has been treated and has completely gone before you tumble dry.
HOW TO REMOVE SUNSCREEN STAINS FROM WASHABLE FABRICS IN HARD WATER AREAS
If the water in your area has a high mineral content – i.e is hard water – use a water softener or distilled water to wash the sunscreen stained item.
If you are using a water softener for hard water, you should also avoid using excessively hot water.
You should also avoid products with chlorine bleach in them. Because they can react with hard water to make the problem worse.
If you find the stain still prevails, use a commercial rust remover. Though this can only be used on white or colourfast fabrics.
HOW TO REMOVE SUNSCREEN STAINS FROM DRY-CLEAN ONLY FABRICS
If you get a sunscreen stain on clothing that is dry clean only, it really is best to take it the dry cleaners.
I’m sorry, that’s probably not the miracle tip you were hoping for and I’m going to add that you should take the stained clothing as soon as possible.
This is because the longer the stain is on the fabric, the less likely it is that it can be completely removed.
Always make sure to point out to the cleaner where the stain is and how it was caused.
HOW TO PREVENT SUNSCREEN STAINS ON CLOTHES
I really hope you find these tips useful.
So, that’s my simple tips on how to remove sunscreen stains from clothing.
Now, I’ve got some useful information on how to stop the stains happening on the first place, this is particularly useful to bear in mind if you want to keep your white clothing free from stains.
So, first up, here’s a little insight into WHY sunscreen stains fabrics in the first place…
WHY DOES SUNSCREEN STAIN FABRIC?
The main reason why sunscreen stains clothes is because of the reaction of certain chemical ingredients found in many sunscreens reacting with the minerals in the water the clothes are then washed in.
This is a particular issue if you live in a hard water area, because ‘hard’ water is essentially water with a high mineral content.
The reaction of of the minerals with the chemicals causes any oil sunscreen residue on clothing to darken and become much harder to get rid of.
The main culprit chemical ingredient in sunscreen is called avobenzone.
When avobenzone mixes with minerals found in hard water, it can lead to brown, rust-like stains.
The depth of the problem depends on the type of fabric it ends up on.
Synthetic fabric will stain more easily than cotton or other natural fabrics for example.
HOW TO AVOID AVOBENZONE STAINING YOUR CLOTHES
There are a couple of great ways to avoid avobenzone staining your clothing.
The first is to make sure that the sunscreen you’ve applied to your skin is completely dry before you put your clothes on.
Now this isn’t always easy to do if you are applying sunscreen to young children or if you are reapplying sunscreen to yourself of your kids whilst you are out and about.
So, the second thing that you can do to avoid staining from avobenzone is to check the ingredients of a sunscreen before you buy it and buy one that doesn’t contain avobenzone.
The best way to avoid avobenzone is to look for a sunscreen product that contains a mineral sunscreen product rather than a chemical one.
The added benefit is that mineral sunscreens are much better for both us and the planet.
WANT MORE LAUNDRY TIPS?
I really hope these tips on how to remove yellow sunscreen stains from white clothes and how to prevent the stains in the first place will help you keep your clothes stain-free for longer.
If you fancy more laundry tips – who doesn’t love a laundry tip or two!! – I have a post on creating an easy laundry routine that actually works for you and also a super popular post on how to get paint out of kids clothes.
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Luci is the founder of Mums Make Lists. She has written about all aspects of organising family life for ten years. Her main areas of expertise are family finance and budgeting, simplifying housekeeping and family admin and kids’ party planning. Read more.