7 Home Remedies to Remove Sunscreen Stains from Bathing Suit


Sunscreen, a critical ally in our defense against harmful UV rays, is a must-have for any summer outing.

But while it’s busy protecting our skin, it often leaves unsightly stains on our cherished bathing suits.

These yellow-orange splotches, caused by the avobenzone in many sunscreen formulas, can be a nuisance.

But worry not because this blog post is here to help. We aim to provide you with a range of effective, easy-to-follow remedies that you can use at home to get your bathing suits as good as new, sans the stubborn sunscreen stains.

Sunscreen Stains

As a beach lover, it was a revelation when I discovered that avobenzone is the active ingredient in many of our sunscreens responsible for those pesky stains.

This chemical compound in broad-spectrum sunscreens reacts with iron in hard water, resulting in dark, unsightly blotches on our clothes and swimwear.

Different types of fabrics and how they react to sunscreen

Not all fabrics are created equal, especially regarding sunscreen stains. Take it from me; I’ve had my fair share of stained swimwear over the years!

Synthetic fibers like polyester and nylon, commonly used in swimwear, are especially prone to these stains, while natural fibers like cotton are typically more resistant, although they’re not entirely immune.

The importance of prompt stain removal

Trust me when I say the sooner you address the stain, the better. I’ve found that if left untreated, these stains can become stubborn and tenacious, significantly shortening the life span of your beloved swimwear. Prompt action is always best!

Home Remedies: The Basics

Gentle handwashing with mild detergent

  • Step-by-step guide on handwashing technique

Here’s my tried and true handwashing technique: First, rinse the stain with cold water as soon as possible.

Then, apply a mild detergent directly to the stain. Gently rub the fabric together, or use a soft toothbrush to work the detergent in. Let it sit for 15 minutes, and then rinse thoroughly. Repeat the process if necessary.

  • Suitable detergents for different fabric types

Different fabrics require different care. For synthetic swimwear, I recommend a mild detergent specifically designed for delicates.

For cotton, a regular laundry detergent should do the trick. Remember, always check the care label on your garment before proceeding.

Immediate Rinsing After Exposure

Importance of Quick Action

You might find this hard to believe, but I didn’t realize how crucial immediate rinsing was until I lost my favorite bikini to a stubborn sunscreen stain.

Once I started rinsing my swimwear right after exposure to the sun, I noticed a significant reduction in those pesky sunscreen stains.

This quick action prevents the sunscreen from fully sinking into the fabric, thereby minimizing staining.

Recommended Water Temperature for Rinsing

Another lifesaver tip I learned the hard way involves the water temperature. Always rinse your swimwear in cold water.

Why, you may ask? Well, I once made the mistake of rinsing a beautiful swimsuit in warm water, only to find the sunscreen stain had set in even more.

Cold water helps prevent the stain from setting, giving you some time to treat it properly.

DIY Remedies for Stubborn Stains

White Vinegar Solution

Mixing Ratios and Application Method

When stubborn stains refuse to budge, I turn to my trusty ally—white vinegar. Here’s my secret recipe: mix one part white vinegar with two parts water.

Apply this solution directly onto the stain and gently rub the fabric together. Let it sit for about 30 minutes before rinsing.

This method is incredibly effective in breaking down those rigid sunscreen stains.

Precautions for Delicate Fabrics

But before you rush off to try this, remember: caution is key! Just as I found out, when I discolored a delicate piece, not all fabrics take kindly to vinegar.

Always perform a patch test on a small, hidden part of the garment. If there’s no adverse reaction, go ahead and treat the stain. Trust me, caution can save your favorite swimwear piece from a disastrous fate!

Baking Soda Paste

Creating a Paste for Targeted Stain Removal

On one of my beach outings, I found myself battling an especially stubborn sunscreen stain. My regular vinegar solution wasn’t cutting it. That’s when I discovered the magic of baking soda.

Mix equal parts of baking soda and water to create a thick paste. Then, apply this paste directly to the stain.

The baking soda’s granular texture helps scrub the stain off effectively, almost like a gentle exfoliator for your swimwear!

Duration for Leaving the Paste on the Stain

You might wonder, “How long do I let this concoction sit on my favorite bikini?” I’ve learned from experience that leaving the baking soda paste on the stain for about an hour does the trick.

It gives the baking soda enough time to penetrate the stain and lift it off the fabric. Remember to rinse thoroughly afterward!

Lemon Juice Treatment

How Citric Acid Aids in Stain Removal

Let me take you back to a sunny afternoon when I accidentally spilled sunscreen on a brand-new swimsuit. Panicked, I rummaged through my kitchen, and my eyes landed on a lemon.

I found that the citric acid in lemon juice is a natural stain remover! I squeezed the juice onto the stain, gently rubbed the fabric together, and voila!

The stain lifted right off. The acidity in the lemon juice breaks down the sunscreen stain, making it easier to wash away.

Caution Regarding Potential Fabric Discoloration

A word of caution when using lemon juice—it can bleach certain fabrics! I once used it on a dark-colored swimsuit and lightened the fabric where the stain was.

Always do a patch test on a hidden swimsuit area before applying lemon juice on visible parts. This way, you can ensure your swimwear remains stain-free and vibrant!

Special Care for Delicate Fabrics

Guidelines for Treating Stains on Delicate Fabrics

Dealing with stains on delicate fabrics like silk and lace can be a nerve-racking experience! I once had a beautiful lace beach cover-up that had an unfortunate run-in with some sunscreen. Rather than panic, I chose to treat the stain gently. I used a mild detergent and cold water, working the solution gently into the stain. Remember, the key is to be gentle and patient.

Importance of Reading Care Labels before Applying Remedies

I cannot stress enough the importance of reading care labels before treating any stains. Last summer, I had a gorgeous silk sarong that got stained with sunscreen. Thankfully, I read the care label beforehand and realized it was dry-clean only. Had I not checked, the stain removal process might have caused irreversible damage!

Prevention Tips to Avoid Sunscreen Stains

Applying Sunscreen before Wearing the Bathing Suit

One of the most effective strategies I’ve found to avoid sunscreen stains is to apply sunscreen before putting on my bathing suit. This way, I can ensure the lotion is fully absorbed and dry before the fabric comes into contact with it.

Allowing Sunscreen to Fully Absorb before Swimming

On a family beach vacation, I learned the hard way that jumping into the water immediately after applying sunscreen can lead to stains. Now, I always wait for the sunscreen to fully absorb into my skin before going for a swim.

Using Spray Sunscreens Strategically to Minimize Overspray

Spray sunscreens can be a double-edged sword. They’re convenient, but if not used correctly, they can lead to accidental overspray on your swimwear. My trick? I spray it onto my hands first and then apply it to my body.

Eco-Friendly Alternatives

Environmentally Friendly Options for Stain Removal

In my journey to reduce my environmental footprint, I’ve found vinegar an effective and eco-friendly stain remover. Dab some distilled white vinegar on the stain, let it sit for a while, then rinse.

Tips on Reducing the Environmental Impact of Sunscreen Disposal

When it comes to sunscreen disposal, I always use it completely to avoid waste. If disposal is necessary, I consult local guidelines to ensure it’s discarded responsibly.


In my experience, taking swift action is key to successfully removing sunscreen stains. Whether using baking soda, lemon juice, or vinegar, the sooner you treat the stain, the better the results will be.

I’d love to hear about your stain-removal adventures. Feel free to share your tips, tricks, and experiences in the comments!

In the end, managing sunscreen stains is all about preserving the longevity of our beloved swimsuits and being mindful of our environment. Here’s to many more sun-filled, stain-free beach days ahead!

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