Any success removing sunscreen stains from clothes?

sue36July 8, 2009

I wore a new white polo on July 4th and after laundering it pale orange stains showed up around the neck. After doing a little research I learned that my 85 SPF sunscreen was likely the culprit. The active ingredient apparently bonds with the iron in well water creating the stain. I've washed the shirt at least 5 times (with Persil, White Out, Oxy, some more than once) and the stains are still there. I am sure others have had this issue and am wondering what you've successfully used to get the stains out (and technique as well, if relevent). Any help is appreciated. Thanks.

In case you are wondering, we do have a (very complex) water treatment system, but it's not working correctly right now and the service call will likely add up to about $1k, so I've been putting it off.

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You might try a dry cleaner. Be sure and tell them what the stain is. They have many more (nasty) chemicals to get stains out and can work wonders. Just be sure and wash the shirt when you get it back to detox it.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2009 at 5:37PM
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If the stain is from iron, then oxidizing bleaches will make it worse. I like to use chelating agents (water softener) to dissolve iron. I use stuff that removes scum from bathtubs like lime away or Tilex Shower spray (not the grout cleaner) or scrubbing bubbles. Cream of Tarter also chelates iron. So does lemon or lime juice (citric acid). In a stonger vein Oxalic acid deck bleach could be used but beware of how you handle it. It dissolves porcelein stovetops and is poison.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2009 at 6:57PM
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I've used citric acid powder (I buy it 8# at a time for making fizzy bombs) to remove sunscreen stains - already mentioned by nerdyshopper. There is also a product called "Iron Out" that might work for you.


Here is a link that might be useful: Iron Out

    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 7:28AM
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Thanks everyone. I just found a stain on the light pink chinos I wore the same same, a little droplet of sunscreen must have fallen when I was putting it on my neck and face. Arrgh!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 9:17AM
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Some experts say that sky-high SPF's are unnecessary. So if the problem is unique to the 85 SPF product, you might consider going back to the sunscreen you were using before.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 10:15AM
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Warm water and rubbing Ivory bar soap will get out sunscreen. It works for fabric softner stains too. Wet garmet, rub on Ivory bar soap, work into lather on spot, agitate with hands a little and rinse. Repeat if nessessary, launder as usual.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2009 at 10:34AM
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Thank to happymomof2kids the Ivory bar soap did the trick
removing the sunscreen stain. I took all may white-t
shirts out and got them all clean with the Ivory soap

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 2:36PM
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This is so good to know as I am fighting the same thing on my husband's favorite.. Margarataville T-shirt from Hawaii...I will try the Ivory soap.. thanks for posting..

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 4:42PM
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