Sunscreen stains – How can I protect my clothes from yellow marks?

4 min. read
Show more

Sun protection is essential, but some sunscreen products leave unsightly yellow stains on clothes that don't come out in the wash. Before another white shirt looks old before its time, and before your new white sundress or swimsuit goes yellow around the edges, read this article. It explains how, thanks to Eucerin’s innovative new ‘Anti-Stain After Wash’* technology Eucerin sun protection products protect your skin and help to look after your clothes too.

Why do some sunscreens stain clothes?

UV filters are slightly yellowish in color
Chemical UV filters can leave yellowish marks on light-colored clothing

To give our skin the protection it needs in the sun, sunscreens contain UV filters. These filters are normally organic chemical filters which, by the nature of the job they have to do of absorbing UV rays, have a slight yellowish color. It is this color which leads to the initial yellow sunscreen stains.

The higher the SPF we use, the more filters a product contains and so, generally, the stronger the stain. As we understand more about the impact of sun on skin health we are, sensibly, moving towards using higher sun protection factors than in the past. This means that sunscreen stains are becoming more noticeable, and more of a problem.

What factors intensify sunscreen stains?

The initial sunscreen stain is only part of the story. The way we then go about trying to remove these stains can actually intensify them rather than lighten or remove them:

Powder detergents, bleaching agents, hot and hard water can all intensify sunscreen stains

  • The water we wash our clothes in contains metal ions such as iron and copper. These react with the filter stains on our clothes and can intensify those stains. There are more of these metal ions in hard water and so those washing clothes in hard water areas are more likely to experience sunscreen stains.
  • Hot water can actually seal in the yellow stains rather than remove them: the 40°C (104°F) setting recommended by most washing machine and laundry detergent manufacturers is hot enough to intensify sunscreen stains.
  • Powder detergents and bleaching agents can also react with the filters and increase rather than decrease the sunscreen stains.

How can I protect my clothes from sunscreen stains?

It’s difficult to avoid stains appearing when your clothes come in to contact with your sunscreen, but there are several steps you can take to make it easier to remove those stains when you wash your clothes

Eucerin’s ‘Anti-Stain After Wash’ technology helps to reduce the intensity of sunscreen stains after washing

Step 1: Choose products that can help

Apply superior sun protection products that care for your clothes as well as your skin. Eucerin’s ‘Anti-Stain After Wash’ technology is a breakthrough innovation that is proven to help reduce the intensity of sunscreen stains after washing1.

Step2: Pre-wash stained fabrics without detergent

Use the pre-wash setting on your machine or rinse stained fabrics in cool water without any type of laundry detergent.

Step 3: Wash clothes at 30°C

Follow the pre-wash by washing your clothes at 30°C (86°F) with a liquid detergent. Avoid bleaching agents and powder laundry detergents. Take particular care when washing cotton as is this the fabric most susceptible to sunscreen stains.

How does Eucerin’s ‘Anti-Stain After Wash’ technology* work?

Eucerin’s ‘Anti-Stain After Wash’ technology helps to reduce the intensity of sunscreen stains after washing, and it does so with no compromise to quality or level of sun protection of the product.

The innovative formula Eucerin’s ‘Anti-Stain After Wash’ technology works in two ways. Firstly, it contains an anti-redeposition agent that prevents so much of the filter from binding with the fabric in the first place. Secondly, it contains a complexing agent that works like a magnet, attracting and binding-in the metal ions in the washing water so they are less able to react with the UV filters and to intensify stains when clothes are washed.

Which Eucerin products contain ‘Anti-Stains After Wash’* technology?

Eucerin products that include the innovative ‘Anti-Stain After Wash’* technology

The technology has been added to the following adult sun protection products:

It is available for children in:


* Helps to reduce the intensity of sunscreen stains after washing

1 In multiple Beiersdorf AG laboratory tests, in independent tests carried out by textile experts at the Hohenstein Institute and in PiU consumer tests on Eucerin Sun Photoaging Control SPF 50+ and SPF 30+, Chile, September 2017.

Related Articles

Our brand values

Pioneers in skincare

We deliver a holistic dermo-cosmetic approach to protect your skin, keep it healthy and radiant.

Recommended by dermatologists

We work together with leading dermatologist and pharmacist partners around the world to create innovative and effective skincare products they can trust and recommend.

Committed to innovation

For over 100 years, we have dedicated ourselves to researching and innovating in the field of skin science. We believe in creating active ingredients and soothing formulas with high tolerability that work to help you live your life better each day.

You May Also Like