A Comprehensive Guide on Cleaning Sunscreen and Tanning Lotion Stains

Summer is in full swing, and that means sunny beach days, poolside lounging, and outdoor adventures – all of which we at SweepSouth are looking forward to! While these activities make for fantastic memories, they can also leave your clothes with stubborn sunscreen and tanning lotion stains. 

But fret not, for this comprehensive guide will provide you with expert cleaning tips and reveal the secrets to banishing these stains and keeping your summer attire looking fresh.

The Risk of Sunscreen and Tanning Lotion Stains 

Before we dive into the stain-removal techniques, it’s essential to understand why these stains matter. Both sunscreen and tanning lotion contain oils and compounds that can bond with fabric fibres. If left untreated, these stains can become more stubborn over time and may even lead to permanent discolouration.

1. Removing Sunscreen Stains

Follow the 4 steps below to get rid of sunscreen stains successfully:

  1. Blot and Rinse: As soon as you notice a sunscreen stain, blot the excess lotion using a clean cloth or paper towel. Then, rinse the affected area with cold water to flush out any remaining sunscreen.
  1. Liquid Detergent: Gently rub a small amount of liquid laundry detergent or dish soap onto the stain. Allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes to break down the oils in the sunscreen.
  1. Machine Wash: After pre-treating, wash the garment in cold water. Always check the laundry label, and avoid hot water, as it can set the stain.
  1. Air Dry: Heat can further set sunscreen stains, so let the garment air dry after washing. Check for any remaining stains before ironing, as heat can make the stain more permanent.

Tip: For stubborn sunscreen stains, mix one part white vinegar with two parts cold water and soak the stained area for 30 minutes before washing.

2. Removing Tanning Lotion Stains

The 4 steps below will help you get rid of tanning lotion stains: 

  1. Scrape and Blot: Begin by gently scraping off excess tanning lotion with a spoon or a blunt knife. Then, blot the stain with a clean cloth to absorb any remaining lotion.
  1. Dishwashing Liquid: Apply a mixture of equal parts dishwashing liquid and warm water to the stain. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes.
  1. Rinse and Wash: Rinse the stained area with cold water, ensuring the lotion is completely removed. Wash the garment in cold water with a laundry detergent suitable for delicate fabrics.
  1. Air Dry: Just like with sunscreen stains, avoid heat during the drying process to prevent setting the stain.

Tip: For tougher tanning lotion stains, make a paste with baking soda and water, apply it to the stain, and let it sit for 30 minutes before rinsing and washing.


Now that you’ve mastered the art of stain removal, you can enjoy your summer to the fullest. Remember, when the day’s adventures are done, we’re always here to take care of your home. As SA’s #1 home services platform, we offer a range of SweepSouth cleaning services to ensure your home is a spotless sanctuary.

With these stain-removal techniques in your toolkit, you can confidently embrace the summer sun without worrying about the aftermath on your favourite outfits. So, go ahead – make the most of summer’s splendour, stain-free!

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