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How do I remove brown sunscreen stains from clothes?


How do I remove brown sunscreen stains from clothes?

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Question: How do I remove brown sunscreen stains from clothes?

Everyone knows the benefits of using sunscreen lotion when we are going to be outside. But what if you find stains on your clothing - especially dark brown ones? Learn the cause and how to get them out.


For most people the worst stain caused by sunscreen is a slightly oily stain which can be easily removed. This can be prevented by allowing sunscreen to dry completely before you dress and avoiding clothing when reapplying. However, for those who have hard water most sunscreens contain products that when washed in hard water cause a reaction that creates dark brown stains which are much more difficult to remove.

The culprit ingredient is avobenzone. When avobenzone mixes with minerals found in the water in certain parts of the country, it could lead to brown, rust-like stains. The severity of the problem depends on the fiber content of your garment - synthetics hold the stain more than cotton or natural fibers - and the hardness of your water.

Steps for removing sunscreen stains
  • If iron content in water is not an issue: pretreat the stain with a heavy duty liquid detergent or make a paste with powder detergent/water and let this set on fabric at least 30 minutes or overnight.Then launder as usual. Check clothing before drying. If stain remains, repeat.
  • If the water has a high iron content, use a water softener . Be sure to wash and rinse clothing in warm water treated with a water softener.
  • High heat and chlorine bleach can make the problem worse if there is iron in the water.
  • If stain is still present, launder with a commercial rust remover. Commercial rust removers are for use only on white or colorfast fabrics.

    If the garment is dry clean only, point out and identify the stain to your professional cleaner. If you are using a home dry cleaning kit, be sure to treat the stain with the provided stain remover before putting the garment in the dryer bag.

    Specific questions? Just ask here.

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