How to Get Sunscreen Out of Bathing Suit

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Written By Jamila W.
sunscreen on arm

Do you know how to get sunscreen out of bathing suits? The easiest way is to rinse it off with running water before dipping your bathing suit in an alkaline solution. However, through thorough research and personal experience with sunscreen stains, I will show you how to get it done.

This blog covers the following topics:

  • How sunscreen stains look like
  • Methods of removing sunscreen stains
  • Reactions of different materials to sunscreen
  • Useful tips for avoiding stains on your swimsuits

Are you ready to discover more about sunscreen stains? Keep reading to find out more.

Does Sunscreen Ruin Bathing Suits?

That is not always the case. You can easily take care of swimsuits despite being made from delicate materials. However, stains sometimes get stuck after your regular swimsuit washing routine, making it seem ruined. But there’s no need to worry. Even the toughest stains can disappear for good with a few tried-and-true cleaning methods.

If these stains from sweat, salt, or sunscreen are allowed to build up, they affect the fabric of your swimsuit. The good news is that many methods for removing sunscreen stains from swimsuits also work for other stains.

What Do Sunscreen Stains Look Like in Bathing Suits?

sunscreen stain on a bathing suit

Sunscreen can leave behind different types of stains on swimsuits. On darker or colored swimsuits, it often leaves oily spots, while on white bathing suits, it can leave yellowish stains. These oil-based stains don’t simply go away with regular swimsuit cleaning.

Additionally, sunscreen containing avobenzone may result in rust-colored stains. Although these stains can be quite stubborn to remove from fabric, it’s worth noting that avobenzone is a highly effective broad-spectrum UV blocker, which is essential for protecting our skin from the sun’s harmful rays – a valuable alternative.

Methods of Removing Sunscreen Stains From Your Bathing Suits

pair of swim suit

To keep your swimsuit free from sunscreen stains, it would be best to avoid getting sunscreen on it in the first place. If you accidentally get sunscreen on your suit, don’t rub it. You should jump into the water as soon as possible to rinse off as much sunscreen as possible. Also, wash your swimsuit to prevent sunscreen stains from building up and extend its life. You can follow these simple steps to remove sunscreen stains from your bathing suit.

Rinse the Stain With Excess Water

Run warm water on the stain to remove the excess sunscreen. Alternatively, you can fill your sink, bath, or basin. Then, soak in the swimsuit and let it sit for some time. Use fresh water, which softens the sunscreen particles.

Add Baking Soda and Cold Water

Baking soda is a type of substance that is on the alkaline side of the PH scale. When it meets a more acidic substance, like sunscreen (which has a pH between 4 and 5, making it a bit acidic), it reacts and creates fizzy bubbles. These bubbles are good at dissolving and removing sunscreen stains from fabric.

To use baking soda to remove sunscreen stains, don’t rub it in. Instead, sprinkle some on the stain and let it settle for about 10 minutes. If you add more cold water, it can help the baking soda get into the material better by making the reaction work faster. After the solution breaks down the oily sunscreen particles, rinse it off.

Soak in a Solution of White Vinegar

Make a solution of warm water and white vinegar, then soak in the affected swimsuits for at least an hour. 3:1 is the mixing ratio.

Add Detergent or Dish Soap

Apply liquid detergent or soap to the stain after removing the excess vinegar and baking soda. You should use a gentle detergent, but if you don’t have one, regular dish soap will also work. Gently rub the detergent into the fabric, then let it sit for about half an hour.

Wash the Bathing Suit

We suggest washing and drying your swimsuit by hand. It might seem more effort, but it’s a fast and simple task. If you have to use a washing machine, place the swimsuit in a mesh laundry bag, the kind you’d use for delicate clothing, and use the gentle or delicate cycle. I recommend not using hard water for this process.

If the above methods dont work, you can use a commercial stain remover. There are many available products designed to pre-treat your swimsuits, so consider getting one.

How to Avoid Sunscreen Stains: Useful Tips

You must always be cautious when applying sunscreen to prevent stains from sticking to your swimsuits. Check out some useful tips to help you avoid the long process of removing sunscreen stains.

Rotate Your Swimsuits

Try to have more than one swimsuit and rotate them. This gives your suits a break, so they last longer and are less likely to get stained.

Spot Clean Right Away

If you notice a sunscreen stain at the beach or pool, try to spot-clean it immediately. Use a little water and soap to dab the stain gently. This can prevent it from setting and becoming harder to remove later.

Store Your Swimsuits Properly

Store your swimsuits in a cool, dry place when you are not using them. Don’t leave them bunched up in a bag or under direct sunlight. This helps maintain the fabric and keeps your suits looking good for longer.

Apply Sunscreen 15 minutes before Putting On the Swimsuit.

Take about 15 minutes to let your sunscreen soak. Do this before putting on a suit to prevent it from sticking on. Think about bringing a wrap or cover-up with you. This way, when it’s time to put on more sunscreen, you can wear the cover-up for an extra 10 minutes to let the new layer of sunscreen soak in before you put your swimsuit back on.

Avoid Using Spray-on Sunscreens

Spray-on sunscreens might seem easy to use, but they can be hard to control when applying them. If you have already started your beach day and need to put on more sunscreen, using a spray can end up getting sunscreen all over your swimsuit.

Wash Your Suit Daily After Use

If you can’t reach a washing machine, at least rinse your swimsuit in clean water and hang it up to dry when the day is done. This not only stops sunscreen stains from becoming permanent but also removes salt, sand, chlorine, and other things that can make your bathing suit wear out fast.

Different Materials and How They Handle Sunscreen Stains

Bathing suits are made from different fabrics and materials. Each has a different stain tolerance, with some being affected more than others. The following are the common swimsuit material and their susceptibility to sunscreen stains.

Synthetic Fabrics

Synthetic materials are more prone to staining. While synthetic material is durable, most can quickly get damaged by chlorine bleach and some other strong oxidizing agents. To remove sunscreen stains from synthetic fabrics, wash them with dish soap to prevent oil spots. Pre-treating your swimsuits can put you on the safer side.


Cotton is a natural and versatile material often used in clothing. It’s durable and relatively easy to remove stains from. You can easily get rid of stains on cotton by using detergent and rubbing with soft bristles. Cotton can be soaked and dried without much limitation.


Silk is a durable material, but it’s not invulnerable. Getting sunscreen stains on your swimsuits can leave permanent stains if not cleaned immediately. It would be best to use a damp cloth to remove stains from the silk and gently wipe away the sunscreen residue before rinsing it under cold water with soap.

Can I Remove Mineral-Based Sunscreen Stains From My Bathing Suit?

Yes, you can. Use baking soda to help loosen the stain particles from the fabric to prepare the stain for removal. Additionally, apply some liquid soap or detergent to the stain. This will make it easier to clean the stain from your clothing.

Does Oxiclean Remove Sunscreen Stains?

Yes, Oxiclean is a useful product for getting rid of sunscreen stains. As its name implies, OxiClean creates oxygen bubbles that dissolve and remove stains from fabric. Ensure you carefully read the label on your swimsuit and the instructions on the OxiClean product to ensure you use it correctly.

Can I Use Regular Laundry Detergent to Clean My Swimsuit?

While you can use regular laundry detergent for your swimsuit, it’s best to use a mild detergent to protect the fabric. Avoid using bleach or strong chemicals, which can damage the swimsuit material.


Taking care of your new bathing suit and dealing with sunscreen stains is simple if you know how to. You can maintain the looks of your swimsuits by following these simple tips. With some care and the correct methods, your swimsuit can stay in great shape for a long time.

Remember these tips, and enjoy your time in the water without worrying about sunscreen stains. I hope you can go on your next adventure with peace of mind.