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SunGuard Fabric Treatment - About.com Laundry Guide Product Review

Made in the Shade

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SunGuard Fabric Treatment - About.com Laundry Guide Product Review

Photo: MML

Sun Guard isn't going to give you complete shade from the sun, but it will help protect you from the skin damaging rays. As a redhead with very fair skin, I have experienced the pain of sunburn. And extensive sun exposure and sunburn increases your risk of certain complications and related skin diseases. These include dry, wrinkled skin, liver spots, actinic keratoses and skin cancer, including melanoma.

The only way to prevent sunburn and the related skin conditions is by protecting your skin whenever you are outside, even on cloudy days. This can be done with sunscreens, hats and protective clothing. Unfortunately, the sun's UV rays can penetrate clothing especially after long hours in the sun.


SunGuard is an at-home fabric treatment that coats clothing and helps block more than 96 percent of the sun's harmful ultra-violet rays from reaching the skin. A treatment with SunGuard provides an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of 30 (similar to the SPF or sun protection factor rating for sunscreen). To offer an example of clothing's protection level, a white cotton t-shirt offers an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of five. Clothing that is thicker, more tightly knit and darker in color has a higher UPF rating.

SunGuard works by penetrating the fibers of washable clothing and coating them with a formula that blocks ultraviolet rays. The active ingredient is Tinosorb FD that was developed by Ciba Labs, based in Switzerland. Ciba is now owned by BASF. Listed product ingredients:

  • Sodium Chloride
  • Nonionic Surfactants
  • Ciba Tinosorb FD

    SunGuard is safe for all washable natural fabrics including cotton, linen, rayon and silk. It will not add sun protection to polyester, acrylic or other synthetic fibers. It can be used on blended fabrics but the final protection will not be as effective. To use, one package of SunGuard is suitable for small to large loads. Select the hottest water suitable for each type of fabric. Add SunGuard as the washer is filling with water. Add the clothing and be sure not to crowd the washer or overload. It is best if the wash cycle is at least 15 minutes - this can be agitation or soaking time. After fifteen minutes, rinse and dry as usual. Detergent, bleach or other additives should not be added during the initial treatment.

    After the initial treatment, the sun protection factor will last through twenty washings. You may use bleach, stain removers and detergent as usual. They will not affect the SunGuard protection formula. It is recommended for use on children's clothing after the age of six months. It cannot be used as a spray-on treatment for hats, umbrellas or outdoor fabrics.

  • The World of Rit

    SunGuard is often sold in Rit Dye displays. The Rit Dye Company began in Chicago, Illinois with an entrepreneur, Charles C. Huffman. Mr. Huffman created a formula of dye and soap that would color fabrics and wash them at the same time. The name came from his friend, Louis Rittenhouse, who invested in the company and became its first vice-president. In 1917, the company opened with the slogan: "Never Say Dye...Say Rit!" As America went through the Great Depression, Rit Dye was there to help women extend the life of clothes and household goods.

    In the 1940s new fabrics were hitting the marketplace and Rit developed a new all-purpose formula that would dye nylon and other synthetic fabrics as well as natural fibers.

    The 1960s signaled the hey-day of fabric dye as tie-dyed fabrics become the uniform of the counter-culture movement. Rit Dye is now popular in crafting circles for use on fabric, paper, wood and plastics.

    Additional laundry treatments like Rit Brightener & Whitener, Rit Super Stain Remover, Rit Fixative, Rit White-Wash and Rit Color Remover have been added to the basic line of dye products.

    Sun Guard and Rit are a product brands of Phoenix Brands, LLC based in Stamford, Connecticut.

    Laundry Guide Recommendation

    Living in the south with plenty of sunshine and plenty of heat, many of my clothes are lightweight and light in color - perfect for allowing the sun's ultraviolet rays to penetrate. While I'm not a scientist and able to provide proof of the level of SunGuard protection, I can say that I'm willing to trust and that I feel it helps keep me from sunburn.

    I've used it on all of my natural fiber shirts and slacks. It does not change the texture or feel of the fabric. I did not notice any difference in breathability of the fabric.

    I respect the endorsement of The Skin Cancer Foundation and The Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. At a cost of around $2.60 per package, I feel it is worth the pennies per garment to get the extra skin protection. I recommend that SunGuard be added to your laundry shelf.

    Specific questions? Just ask here.

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  • Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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