yellow sunscreen spill staining clothes

How to Remove Yellow Sunscreen Stains From Clothes

Sunscreen is a staple in many people’s skincare routine, especially during the sunny months. While it plays an essential role in protecting our skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays, it sometimes leaves behind unsightly yellow stains on our clothing. But it’s important to learn how to remove yellow sunscreen stains from clothes without damaging them.

Sunscreen stains on clothes can be effectively removed using household items. Dishwashing liquid with baking soda, white vinegar mixed with cornstarch, or alcohol-based hand sanitizer are three proven methods. For best results, address stains promptly and always check care instructions before treating garments.

In this guide, we’ll explore those three effective methods to get rid of annoying yellow sunscreen stains.

Remove Yellow Sunscreen Stains From Clothes with Dishwashing Liquid and Baking Soda

Dishwashing liquid combined with baking soda offers an effective solution for tackling sunscreen stains. These common household items work in tandem to break down sunscreen oils and remove the stain from your clothes.

  1. Prepare the garment: Lay the sunscreen stained garment on a flat surface, ensuring it’s spread out and the stain is easily accessible.
  2. Dab with dishwashing liquid: Gently apply a small amount of dishwashing liquid directly onto the stain. This will help break down the sunscreen’s oily components.
  3. Prepare the baking soda paste: In a small bowl, mix equal parts of baking soda and water until you get a thick paste.
  4. Apply the paste: With a spoon or your fingers, spread the baking soda paste onto the stain, making sure to cover it entirely.
  5. Rub gently: Using your fingers or an old toothbrush, gently work the paste into the stain with circular motions. This helps penetrate the fabric and lifts the stain.
  6. Allow it to sit: Let the paste remain on the stain for about 30 minutes. This gives it ample time to act on the stain.
  7. Rinse with cold water: After the waiting period, rinse the treated area thoroughly with cold water. This helps remove the loosened stain particles.
  8. Inspect the stain: Check if the stain has lightened or been removed. If remnants remain, you might need to repeat the process.
  9. Wash the garment: Once satisfied, launder the garment following its care instructions. Always check the yellow sunscreen stain is gone before drying, as heat can set the stains permanently.

Remove Yellow Sunscreen Stains From Clothes with White Vinegar and Cornstarch

Harnessing the cleaning prowess of white vinegar combined with cornstarch’s absorbent properties. This method offers a potent solution to the challenge of sunscreen stains on your favorite clothes.

  1. Layout the garment: Place the clothing on a clean, flat surface, ensuring the stained area is fully exposed.
  2. Mix white vinegar and cornstarch: In a mixing bowl, blend 3 parts white vinegar with 1 part cornstarch until a smooth paste forms.
  3. Spread the mixture: Using a spatula or an old brush, apply the paste generously onto the sunscreen stain, ensuring it’s well-covered.
  4. Allow drying time: Let the applied mixture dry for several hours. Placing the garment in a sunny spot can expedite this process.
  5. Brush away residue: After the paste has dried, use a soft-bristled brush to gently scrub away the residue. This action will help lift the sunscreen stain from the fabric.
  6. Pre-soak if needed: If the stain is particularly stubborn, consider soaking the garment in a solution of cold water and a bit of white vinegar for about an hour.
  7. Rinse thoroughly: Use cold water to wash off any remaining paste and loosened stain particles from the garment.
  8. Check the results: Before proceeding to the final wash, inspect the stain area to ensure it has been effectively treated. If necessary, you can reapply the paste and repeat the process.
  9. Launder the clothing: Wash the garment according to its label instructions, avoiding any heat until you’re certain the stain has been fully removed. Heat can cause sunscreen stains to become permanent.

Remove Yellow Sunscreen Stains From Clothes with Alcohol-based Hand Sanitizer

Utilizing the strength of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, this method provides a quick and efficient way to address new and fresh sunscreen stains on clothing.

  1. Prepare the clothing: Lay out the affected piece of clothing on a clean surface, making sure the stained area is easily visible.
  2. Spot test: Before applying the hand sanitizer broadly, test a discreet section of the garment to ensure the alcohol doesn’t affect the color or integrity of the fabric.
  3. Dab on hand sanitizer: Apply a generous dollop of hand sanitizer directly onto the stain, spreading it evenly.
  4. Rub gently: Use your fingertips or a soft cloth to rub the hand sanitizer into the stain in a circular motion. This helps the alcohol penetrate the fabric and dissolve the sunscreen oils.
  5. Wait a moment: Let the hand sanitizer work its magic on the stain for about 10 minutes.
  6. Blot away: Use a clean cloth to blot away the hand sanitizer and lifted stain, pressing firmly but without rubbing.
  7. Rinse area: Flush the treated section of the garment with cold water to remove any residue.
  8. Assess the outcome: Examine the stain’s appearance. If remnants persist, it might be beneficial to treat the area again.
  9. Proceed with washing: Once you’re satisfied with the treatment, clean the garment based on its specified care guidelines. Remember to avoid using heat during drying until you’re sure the sunscreen stain is gone from the clothing to prevent it from setting.


How do I prevent sunscreen stains from setting in my clothes?

Letting sunscreen dry on your skin before putting on clothes can be a preventive measure. If you accidentally spill or smear sunscreen on your attire, promptly blotting it without rubbing can minimize the stain. Washing the affected clothing soon after can also prevent the stain from becoming more stubborn.

Can I use bleach to remove sunscreen stains from white clothes?

While bleach might seem like an obvious solution for white fabrics, it’s essential to tread with caution. Some fabrics may react adversely to bleach, causing them to weaken or tear. Always consult the garment’s care label. If in doubt, consider using a gentle stain remover designed for white clothes.

Can I use lemon juice to remove sunscreen stains from clothes?

Lemon juice has natural properties that can help fade stains. If you’re considering this method, always conduct a spot test on an inconspicuous area of the garment to ensure it doesn’t cause any discoloration. If the spot test is successful, you can dab lemon juice on the stain, let it sit for a while, then rinse and wash.

What fabrics are most susceptible to sunscreen stains?

While all fabrics can be stained by sunscreen, synthetic materials such as polyester and nylon often show stains more prominently. Natural fibers like cotton may be more forgiving, but they aren’t immune. It’s always best to treat any stain, regardless of the fabric type, as soon as possible.

How do I remove old sunscreen stains from clothes?

Old stains can be more challenging to remove. Pre-soaking the garment in a mix of water and a gentle detergent can be effective. After soaking, you can treat the stain with one of the methods mentioned above. Persistence and repeated treatments might be necessary for particularly stubborn stains. Always avoid drying the garment with heat until you’re sure the stain has been removed.


Removing yellow sunscreen stains from clothes can be a challenge, but with the right methods and some patience, it’s entirely possible. Whether you choose to use dishwashing liquid and baking soda, white vinegar and cornstarch, or hand sanitizer, always remember to check the garment’s care instructions and test a small area first. With these tips, you can enjoy the sun without worrying about unsightly stains on your clothes.