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A Cleaner World Blog

How Sunscreen Impacts Your Clothes

My husband often teases me about my pasty-white skin, in particular, my pasty-white legs. I don’t mind. The truth is that I have a rather fair complexion, and I work hard not to get too much sun. During the winter, I wear an everyday lotion with SPF 15, and during the summer I break out an odorless sunscreen with SPF 30.

I am often guilty of not following much of the advice and tips I share online, but in this instance, I am deliberate about applying either the lotion or sunscreen well in advance of dressing, giving it plenty of time to dry. I’ve never had an issue of staining with the lotion, but on occasion, even with being as careful as I am, I’ve had oily spots because of the sunscreen.

Why Can Sunscreen Cause Stains?

There are two main culprits when it comes to issues with sunscreen. First, many sunscreens are oil-based which means if they get on clothing, they can leave a stain similar to that of mayonnaise or butter. Second, sunscreen contains avobenzone, a chemical that when mixed with water, can leave a stain anywhere from brownish to orangish to yellowish. The good news is, as with most stains and spills, that it isn’t difficult to remove as long as you know the makeup of the spill and the type of fabric you’re dealing with.

What Do I Do if I Get Sunscreen On a Garment?

  1. As with all stains and spills, the sooner you address it, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to remove it.
  2. Check the care label to make sure the garment is machine washable. If it’s not, take it to a professional.
  3. Remove the excess then blot the area with a clean, white, dry cloth.
  4. Sprinkle baking soda over the area and let it sit for approximately 30 minutes to absorb the excess oil.
  5. Next, apply laundry detergent with a degreaser or try using the original Dawn dish detergent.
  6. Launder according to the care label’s directions and check the area before placing the garment in the dryer. If it has been removed, move forward with drying the garment. If it hasn’t been removed, reapply the degreaser and soak in the hottest water the care label will allow for 30 minutes.
  7. Then launder according to the care label.
  8. If it doesn’t come out on the second try, drop it off at one of our locations.

Sometimes it’s important to know when to quit. Continued efforts could pull the color from the garment, which cannot be reversed. So, slather up and enjoy the sunshine; we’ve got your back if you have any sort of clothing emergency.

sunscreen
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