How to Remove Sunscreen Stains from Your Swimsuits

Gwen Whiting from The Laundress shares top tips.

Product shot of a white one-piece bathing suit with red, cream, and black vertical accent stripes on one side
Photo: Time Inc Digital Studio

Soaking up the sun or taking a swim off the Amalfi Coast is all fun and games until the end of vacation and your swimsuits have become yellowed and grossly discolored beyond repair. Or so you would think. We looked to Gwen Whiting, one-half of the cleaning dream team behind The Laundress, who shared with us how to remove these post-swim stains. The culprit? Sunscreen.

"Sunscreen is a necessary evil — it stains, and it's hard to get out," Whiting says. "It's even harder to get the sunscreen out of swimsuits because they're made of synthetic materials, which love to grab, absorb, and not let go."

But let's be realistic; it's not like we can forego sun protection in the name of pristine swimsuits. So what does one do? Whiting gives us the lowdown on how to remove sunscreen stains best (FYI: These steps work for self-tanning and bronzer stains as well).

Rinse After Each Wear

"The very least you can do is rinse your suit at the end of the day," Whiting says. "Even if you drop it on the shower floor and let it sit while you shampoo and wash, that counts as a rinse. It's the super easy, lazy girl's way of getting the job done. If you don't rinse, stains build up and are harder to remove over time, like an armpit stain."

Pre-Treat Stains

When you're ready to give your suit a proper wash, pre-treat stain-prone areas first. Use a spot-treat solution—Whiting recommends using The Laundress Wash & Stain bar ($7;—and work it into places that require more attention, like the straps, the ties, the edges along the top and bottom of a bandeau, and the waistband.

Draw a Bath for Your Suit

"Use warm water and detergent—we like to use one capful of our Sport Detergent—but any one with an enzyme ingredient will work," Whiting says.

Swirl and Soak

"Use your hands to agitate the water and swirl your suit around, and let it soak for 30 minutes," she continues. "If you have a tougher stain, it means you have to work harder scrubbing those areas with the Wash & Stain bar; you have to soak it longer and re-wash your suit a couple of times."

Rinse Again and Press Dry

Give your suit a final rinse and gently squeeze out excess water or roll it in a dry towel. Wringing and twisting can stress the fabric. And finally, Whiting says to let it air dry on a flat surface.

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