How to Get Sunscreen Stains Out of Bathing Suits

Summer is a time of fun, sun, swimming and playing outdoors. Because of the health risks associated with sun exposure, many people apply sunscreen to protect against the sun's harmful rays. But applying sunscreen can be messy and sunscreen does not always penetrate the skin completely, making swimming costumes, in particular, a prime target for stains. Fortunately, you can remove sunscreen stains from swimming costumes fairly easily with a variety of household products.

Blot and scoop up as much of the sunscreen as possible from the swimming costume with paper towels without spreading it to other areas of the fabric.

Sprinkle the stained area with baking soda. Allow it to set on the swimming costume for at least one hour.

Shake off the baking soda residue from the swimming costume. Moisten a sponge with warm water and a few drops of dish soap.

Sponge the stained area gently. Do not rub briskly or you risk damaging the fabric.

Fill a bowl or bucket with white vinegar. Place the swimming costume into the vinegar and allow it to soak for a couple of hours.

Remove the swimming costume from the vinegar. If necessary, apply a prewash laundry stain remover.

Wash the swimming costume in warm water in the washing machine on the gentle cycle. Use a washing powder with bio-enzymes, such as Seventh Generation Laundry Liquid Detergent or Ultra Plus Powdered Laundry detergent. Such products are designed specifically to remove oily stains.

Inspect the swimming costume immediately after washing. If the stain is still there, proceed to the next step rather than letting it air-dry.

Treat the stain with colour-safe bleach. Oxygen bleach is colour-safe and effective at removing stains. Rub the colour-safe bleach into the stain. Allow it to sit for five to 10 minutes, then launder again as described above.


Always test any product you are using on a small inconspicuous area of the fabric to prevent damage and discolouration.


Air-drying swimming costumes is always the best option, but if you use a clothes dryer, make sure it is on the lowest heat setting and the stain is completely gone from the fabric. Heat can make stains more permanent.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper towels
  • Baking soda
  • Sponge
  • Dish soap
  • Bowl or bucket
  • White vinegar
  • Prewash laundry stain remover
  • Bio-enzymatic washing powder
  • Colour-safe bleach
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Kimbry Parker has been writing since 1998 and has published content on various websites. Parker has experience writing on a variety of topics such as health, parenting, home improvement and decorating. She is a graduate of Purdue University with a Bachelor of Arts in organizational communication.